If you’re researching how to learn to be selfish, that’s a good sign. You’re probably not a self-absorbed person who is too pre-occupied with themselves to ignore the needs of others.
An element of selfishness is essential if you want to succeed in life and enjoy yourself as well. A touch of selfishness can also make you a stronger person who is better positioned to help others.
On the flipside, extremely selfless people can actually be annoying. If you’re not a lazy narcissist, who is happy to exploit them, an overly-giving person’s lack of balance can make for bad interpersonal chemistry. Sometimes you just want someone to tell you what they want; what actually makes them happy.
An Example of Virtuous Selfishness
This article is a great lesson for learning how to be selfish. It was originally written as a guide on how to succeed with online classes. I soon realised that online learning success was extremely difficult, if not impossible in some cases, if you weren’t prepared to be selfish.
When you’re juggling different demands on your time, there comes a point when you have to set priorities. With online classes, this is when you say forget what other people want, I’m doing private, uninterrupted study. A good online learner has traits that include literacy skills, persistence, motivation – and selfishness!
There’s something about studying online that makes it easy for people, including yourself as the student, to forget the importance of what you’re doing. That’s why being selfish can make a big difference to outcomes.
Most online learners study at home on a computer that is used for more than study. This blurs the lines between academic and leisure pursuits. Other people think you’re available at all times. And it’s all too easy to switch from study to less important things.
1. Recognize that Selfishness is Good
Selfishness is good in many cases, one of which is online learning. Selfishness allows you to set aside the time you need to succeed. You block out potential distractions and focus on academic goals. Other people learn that your study takes priority over whatever demands they want to place on your time and attention.
Selfishness for an online learner is greed for knowledge and academic success. It has parallels with Gordon Gekko’s famous words on the subject:
In my own life, I’ve found that this “selfish” approach is valuable. When I started setting boundaries in my job and personal projects, things shifted. Just like I block out distractions for a study session, I began carving out “me” time.
Gordon Gekko might have been talking about Wall Street, but there’s truth in his words for everyday life. By putting myself first now and then, not only did I become more productive, but I also felt more balanced and satisfied.
2. Guiltless Personal Time
I’ve always found myself juggling – balancing work with family, personal passions, and the ever-present tick of the clock. Life’s demands keep me on my toes! Managing my time became a lesson I had to learn.
Setting guiltless hours for my pursuits was a game-changer. I recall those moments of inner conflict, wondering if preparing for a major presentation or investing in a personal hobby was truly more valuable than spontaneous hangouts or family dinners. But each time, I’d remind myself: these decisions, these sacrifices, they’re for my growth, my aspirations.
At the start of every new chapter in my life, I’d make a pact with myself: to be fiercely dedicated. That meant giving my all without the self-doubt. It also meant occasionally explaining to loved ones that my availability might wane, but my commitment to them would never waver.
3. Set Clear Boundaries
There is a difference between being selfish with priorities and being a jerk. The key to softening the impact of your selfishness is to set boundaries. Let the people around you know that serious stuff is happening when you’re meeting important responsibilities.
During my online studies, I crafted a strict study timetable, and I made it clear to those around me that during those hours, I was fully committed. This principle of setting boundaries and adhering to a timetable isn’t limited to just studying.
In every part of my life, whether it’s work, personal projects, or even leisure, having a clear schedule has been indispensable. It ensures I stay focused, while also helping those around me align with and respect my time commitments.
4. Give Extra Time to the Task
One key element I’ve discovered, whether it’s mastering online courses or any other endeavor, is the importance of being generous with time allocation.
While studying, I found myself tethered to my computer not just for coursework but also for other tasks. Some activities were directly related to my goals, while others were for relaxation or personal pursuits. The common thread? Commitment to the task at hand.
There’s no need to explain or justify time spent on a project or activity if the results speak for themselves. To put it in perspective, Statista highlights that the average adult devotes nearly 8 hours daily to digital media. For many, this doesn’t even account for specialized tasks or learning.
The bottom line? Whether online or offline, dedicate the time, focus on your goals, and don’t let external pressures derail your objectives.
5. Practice Regular Self-Reflection
Personal growth requires consistent self-reflection. I’ve often set aside moments in my week to truly evaluate my choices, priorities, and the direction I’m headed in.
These moments of introspection allow me to ensure I’m aligning my actions with my true desires and aspirations. It’s not just about being selfish; it’s about understanding oneself deeply.
By knowing what truly matters to me, I can make more informed and authentic choices. For anyone, this reflection should help you stay on a path that resonates with your core values.
6. Prioritize Self-Care
I cannot stress enough the importance of self-care in my life. For years, I would burn the candle at both ends, thinking that constantly pushing myself was the key to success.
Over time, I realized that taking time out for self-care – be it a day watching YouTube, a hobby I love, or just some quiet time in the garden – rejuvenated my mind and body. This “selfish” act made me more effective in all areas of my life, from professional pursuits to personal relationships. Taking care of myself was the foundation upon which I built any successes.
7. Learn to Say ‘No’
Arguably one of the most transformative lessons I’ve learned is the power of saying ‘no’. In my earlier years, I often overcommitted, wanting to be there for everyone and seize every opportunity. The result? Burnout and dissatisfaction.
I eventually realized that I need to selectively say ‘no’ to tasks or gatherings that didn’t align with my immediate goals or well-being. The result was that I was better able to excel in my chosen commitments. While it felt a bit selfish initially, this approach led to a more balanced life.