Why sometimes the least selfish thing is just saying "no"
Time: It’s the one thing that keeps on rolling, no matter what we do. And if we could choose a superhero power, many of us would probably choose to freeze it, just so we could buy ourselves a few more minutes, hours or even days to get something done. It’s one of life’s most precious gifts, no doubt. Why, then, do so many of us spend time inefficiently or even give our time up so willingly?
When you find out the silly ways in which most of us waste our limited, precious moments, you may rethink some of your time-wasting habits. Mindless moments add up. But what if you began to take note of how you spent your time, and made a few small adjustments?
Take your time spent watching television. What if you decreased that by just 10%? For the average person, that’s about 100 more hours that he or she could devote to pursuing goals, giving back or making memories with loved ones. Or what about time spent in a car, running errands or making your morning commute? What if you spent that time feeding your mind with podcasts, audio-books and powerful talks?
Time management is not just the ability to effectively accomplish your goals by planning and controlling how you spend the hours in your day. Time management goes far deeper, as it speaks to a more fundamental source of inner potential. It is a way of transforming the way you think so that you can consistently and sustainably use the time you have to create what truly matters for you.
With that said, start to also take note of how you give your time away to others. While we all want to be helpful, sometimes it behooves everyone if you say “no” instead. Because you cannot always afford to take on someone else’s tasks. And it will not serve others if you cannot be your best self for them.
You know when you get on an airplane, the first thing they say to you is, “If we run into trouble and we lose oxygen, these masks are going to drop.” What is the first thing they tell you to do — put the mask on your child? No. They tell you to put it on yourself first. Sounds like a selfish approach – your kid’s gasping for breath, “Oh, let me get myself some air.” But the reason is, if you don’t have oxygen while trying to give it to someone else, you’re going to pass out. You can’t help anyone if you don’t help yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s actually the least selfish thing you can do.
Make sure you are your best self first, then you can show up for others and provide the most value possible.
Now, this doesn’t mean that “free time” is “wasted time.” In fact, your free time may turn out to be just as valuable as the time spent being productive. The time you spend to rest and take care of yourself, the time you spend with your partner, or with your kids – this produces real, tangible value. In essence, you are strengthening your relationship with yourself and with your loved ones. And if that is important to you, then it’s worth devoting time to.
By becoming more cognizant of how you spend your time, you are making small shifts that will ultimately transform the way you think so that you can consistently and sustainably use the time you have to create what truly matters to you. Over time, these practices will help you regain a sense of certainty that you are in direct control of every aspect of your life. You will learn to be more assertive and self-disciplined. You will help relieve a significant amount of stress as you delegate and learn how to say “no” to others. And you will find more opportunities to create a powerful sense of purpose, drive and fulfillment every single day.