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Selfish enough?

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

How much time have you spent in the last week focusing solely on yourself? How much time in the last two weeks? Month? If you’re like most people, you spend the majority of your time helping family, friends, co-workers, your employer or your job in general. All the while, the loose change in your head rattles around, piles up, and puts off dust.

Self reflection in the name of identifying our true self and our purpose is tough. Thinking about how we’re a little soft around the middle, don’t drink enough water, and live in a constant state of low grade anxiety is a blow to the ego. If we just keep the focus on someone else it’s easy to lead ourselves astray. We convince ourselves that we’re contributing, and we are, but we’re also emptying our batteries.

Remember that feeling as a kid when you learned to ride your bike without training wheels or someone holding you up? Probably not vividly, but I bet you can imagine it. Feeling pride is NOT a bad thing. Feeling whole is NOT selfish. Creating new positive habits and crafting a better you serves everyone everywhere. A few ways to do it:

Find a hobby. The word amateur once referred to someone who did something solely for the love of doing it. The word has since taken on a negative tone meaning inept and/or unskilled. I say we bring back the OG “amateur”. Find something you like doing and do it regularly. Learn to play music. Build furniture. Plant a garden and learn to can your own vegetables. Take a bar tending or cooking class. Research shows that people who practice hobbies are less likely to be depressed and less stressed. Hobbies also help the brain remain malleable. Keeping the brain active can help to avoid mental illness and rewire the brain to improve overall well being.

Be patient. In today’s world of cell phones and instant delivery we’ve lost our patience. Low time preference is the ability to delay gratification. If you know of the marshmallow test from some years ago, you know what I’m talking about. People with low time preference tend to be grittier and able to work through issues of tough learning or physical practice or slow processes like fat loss. People with high time preference only see benefits of what is immediately in front of them. The 3rd slice of pizza instead of the salad. The Hilde Palladino purse instead of the perfectly functional 2 year old Kate Spade they’re already carrying. Taking care of your future self with low time preference decisions takes advantage of the compound effect and leads to significant gains sooner than we anticipate.

Don’t do it alone. There is no shame in asking for help or seeking guidance in a coach or mentor. By studying other people’s paths we steepen the learning curve and avoid making the same mistakes they made on their journey. Obviously everyone’s journey is unique to them, and there will be pitfalls along the way, but there’s no sense in not getting past some common ones without falling in.

As we said above, putting in self work can be tough on the ego. We’ll put ourselves in a position to fail, and we will from time to time. We’ll be failing forward though, and it'll be worth it.

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