Don’t be too eager to please other people, no matter who they are. This can be easier said than done, though, as we are social creatures who are driven to help and support others. Helping others is definitely not a bad thing, but far too many of us do this while forgetting to help ourselves first. Ideally, there needs to be a balance between the amount of time spent working on yourself, and the amount of time you donate to other people.
Be clear on your priorities and the things which are non-negotiable in your life. Once you know what these are, start saying no to requests and other commitments which get in the way of your priorities. Work through your own to-do list before you help anybody else with theirs. This is essential in order to feel happiness and fulfillment.
When you prioritise the requests of others over your needs, you make them happy, while simultaneously making yourself miserable. They get what they want or need, while you miss out. Your gym session gets missed because you were helping a friend with their tax return and ran out of time. You can’t make it to the game because you stayed late at work to help a colleague with a project which they’re working on. And so on. No matter the scenario, the result is always the same. The other people enlist your help to get their to-do list completed, making them happy. You find yourself with less time or energy to do what you value. Any positive feeling you get from helping others is erased by the disappointment and frustration of not being able to do those things which are important to you.
So, learn to say no to others. There is nothing wrong with prioritising your own wants and needs. If you have enough time for others, then great. If not, at least you have done the things which are important to you, in the time which you had available. People will understand. And for those that don’t, that’s just selfishness on their part. We spend far too much time and energy chasing the approval of others, that we forget to seek the most important approval of all – our own. Before you start listening to others’ demands on your time, ask yourself if you have completed all the tasks which you set for yourself today. If you have, that’s great because you’re free to help whoever you like. If, however, you haven’t that means that you still have work to do..on yourself.
When you prioritise yourself, people will respect you more. This sounds counter-intuitive, but people will value your time and help more when it’s not so freely given. When you choose the needs of others over your own, on the other hand, you end up being treated like a doormat. The more you sacrifice your own wants and needs to help others, the more they will expect or demand from you, as you become a tool to help them lighten their load. You almost end up living the lives of others, and that is never going to be healthy.
When you put yourself first, you not only become more productive but also happier. You do more and learn more, and thus feel the warm fuzzy glow of accomplishment. Needless to say that the more knowledge, skills and experience which you acquire through working on yourself, the more you will be able to do for others.
So, before you do anything for anyone else, make sure you have taken care of all of your priorities first.