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The Art of Being Selfish

The Definition (according to Wiki):

Selfishness: Denotes the precedence given in thought or deed to the self, i.e., self interest or self concern. It is the act of placing one’s own needs or desires above the needs or desires of others.

Four or five years ago I began to fall into the trap that many women fall into as employees, mothers and wives. I began to eat, sleep and breath for my family, my business…basically everything and everyone except, yep- you guessed it, myself. You always see these women on Oprah or Good Morning America talking about how they’ve raised kids, worked and taken care of everyone but themselves for over 20-30 years. It’s usually some sort of make-over Mom show celebrating the selflessness of amazing women. I think it’s wonderful to be selfless. Yet, completely unnecessary to ignore your own self 100% of the time, as many women do. Your kids have clubs and sports. Your husband has golf and football. So why can’t you have something that’s just all about you? That makes you feel alive and amazing!

Back to my story. For me, I began to notice that the things I did simply for enjoyment were becoming less and less. The things that I used to do to decompress, unwind or get inspired became few and happened less often. At my husbands urge, I decided to do a Dream Line. For those that  follow my husband Rob and the 4 Hour Work Week, you’ve heard of this before. So, I grabbed a glass of wine, a blank piece of paper and began to think about the things that I truly LOVE to do. I asked myself one questions. If I had all the time and money in the world, what would I do? I wrote of all the things that light me up inside. At first this exercise was not easy. I couldn’t write anything that was not business related, relationship related or related to raising my daughter. This needed to be about what is inside of me, independently. After a second glass of vino, I had a pretty amazing list. I found out that I wanted to write, to dance and to explore the cultures of the world endlessly. There were just so many things I had always wanted to do, some I just forgot about or talked myself out of because I was ‘too old to take dance classes’ or ‘I didn’t have the time to write’. It’s crazy how the day-to-day chaos of life can actually make you forget about your dreams and passions.

This exercise in ‘dreaming’ inspired me to commit to doing at least one thing for myself. Something that would light me up and get me excited! Thankfully I have an incredibly supportive husband that was encouraging me to be ‘selfish’. That day, after I expressed my desire to dance. We searched and found an adult-only dance studio with drop in classes. I signed up, bought new dance shoes and grabbed a schedule. I was like a kid in a candy store. Hip-hop, jazz, funk…it was all here. That one ‘selfish’ hour per week, that one hour just about me and my passion, reinvigorated me. It gave me a break from my day-to-day life and allowed me to get in touch with myself. So what impact did my ‘selfishness’ have on my family? Only positive. I was a more balanced and inspired- therefore became a more loving wife, focus business woman and caring mother.

Over the last few years, I continued to take a weekly dance class. And, I’ve added a few more ‘selfish’ things to my life. The first is a monthly massage, which is actually courtesy of my husband and daughter for my last S’Mothers Day. The second is that I began competing in fitness competitions again. This is something that has been a passion for me since the late 90’s. But I abandoned when I met my husband. Again, this was something that my husband actually encouraged me to get back into. Fast forward one year and my husband has now jumped on the bandwagon and has found his own love for fitness and our daughter is quietly stalking doing a junior fitness competition. Just to think, my selfish action has inspired my family to stay in shape in a fun and healthy way!

Okay- so here’s where the ‘art’ comes in. Once you find one, two or three things that light you up and make your life complete, you’ve got to learn how to balance them. When you have things in your life that you enjoy and fill you up, you want more and more. Sometimes it feels like spinning 20 plates. It honestly takes organization and support from your family. There are days when I have to rush to my dance class after breakfast, so my husband does the dishes. Yes ladies and gents I said my husband does the dishes. What can I say, he’s amazing! Then there are days when he does ‘his selfish thing’ and I handle the household stuff so he can be free. Yes, it’s a balancing act, but a worthwhile one to accomplish.

So- now it’s your turn.

Step One: Choose what activity or hobby you want to add to your lifestyle. Is it a weekly French class? Is it horse back riding lessons? Join a book club? Make sure it’s something that lights you up! If you are drawing a blank, read my hubby’s article on Dream Lines here.

Step Two: Set a date or a schedule.If you don’t make this new activity a priority, then everything else in your life will skip ahead of it and it’ll go right back to the back-burner. Don’t let that happen. Move mountains to make this happen! You are worth it!

Step Three: Get your family on board. Explain what you’d like to do and why. Let them know that you’re excited about your new adventure. Maybe you’ll inspire them to try something new or find what lights them up!

That’s it! You are officially selfish. Okay, not really.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Kimberly November 13, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I think its nice to think of yourself first before others because without your well-being, you can’t do something really good=)

  • Reply Christine July 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I LOVE THIS POST and want all the women I know to read it. My husband is just as supportive and I think we’re lucky to have mates who encourage us to take care of ourselves. I think I do a decent job of making time for me and keeping up with things I love like running and recently starting to garden and decorate more but it’s always great to have reminders like this one. I’m also lucky I love my job; I work for a company that promotes well-being, so it helps me keep the balance in my life despite having a job, a husband with a sometimes crazy work schedule and two kids that have school and activities to manage.
    Enjoy your dance classes!

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