Put yourself in the best possible position to succeed by making decisions that are consistent with who you are and what you want to accomplish
Take care of yourself. No one else will do it as well as you can.
Put yourself first.
Look out for number one and try not to step in number two!
You have probably heard one or all these sayings before. If you have, it is possible that you misunderstood the value in the message and wrote it off as something intended for a person who is selfish or disinterested in the world around them. I’d like to suggest an alternative way of thinking that may help you better evaluate this advice the next time you consider it.
When we conduct financial training with members and prospective members of the credit union, one of the concepts we share is to pay yourself first. We offer this advice to assist someone who is interested in establishing or maintaining habits that form the foundation for sound personal financial management. If you make savings a habit by ensuring you save first and pay expenses second, you will help yourself to a stronger financial situation. Saving before you spend helps you to ensure that you live within your means and may even set the table for a time when you do not have to borrow or carry credit card debt.
You will always be stronger financially if you pay yourself first. If you are stronger financially, you will preserve more options for yourself and be in a much better position to spend or even splurge when the need or want arises.
Concentrating on yourself in the broader sense is no different. Those who have already ascertained the value of this concept and are applying it in their lives understand that the best way for them to achieve their goals and contribute value to the world is to be the best person they can be first.
Police Officers are known for, and deservedly so, making sacrifices in the line of duty. To be the best Police Officer he or she can be, a person must first decide that the work of being a Police Officer is their calling. In other words, the sacrifices they ultimately make are made possible through the decision that being a Police Officer is the vocation that best represents who they are and what will put them in the best possible situation to enjoy success and happiness in life. The process of becoming a Police Officer is not a sacrifice. Every Police Officer knows that the inevitable sacrifices take place later and are part of the job.
Parents make sacrifices every day, especially those that are active participants in parenting. Becoming a parent is a wonderful, life changing experience and everything, but a sacrifice. Plenty of sacrifices will take place from that day forward, but the decision to become a parent is by no means a sacrifice.
This is an important delineation. If you believe that the decision you make to pursue a career or become a parent is, itself, a sacrifice, you are making that decision for the wrong reason. Sacrifice is not a motivation and basing your decision to do anything on a belief that you are making a sacrifice is not sustainable.
If you begin a conversation by guessing what the other person wants to hear, you are sacrificing your insight and the value of your true thoughts.
If you take action without a core belief that it is the right action to act, you will undoubtedly act without conviction.
Anything worth pursuing takes your whole heart and mind, and a skill set that helps you to rise to the challenge of the pursuit. Starting with the idea of sacrifice will only drag you down, however, sacrifice that occurs as the result of your whole-hearted, all-in pursuit is just part of the deal.
The bottom line is that you will put yourself in the best possible position to succeed in life if you make decisions that are consistent with who you are and what you really want to accomplish. When you do this, you will be at your strongest and you will be most capable of effectively handling whatever challenges you face. The strongest and most valuable representation of you is the one who will be able to best face up to and minimize the sacrifices that are inevitably part of any worthwhile pursuit.
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.