Advertising

The One Time Your Ego Serves You Well

The One Time Your Ego Serves You Well
Advertising


    I’m sure you’ve heard that the ego is a bad thing.

    While stereotypical egotistical behaviour is never a good thing, there is one time when your ego serves you well. It’s when you let it do what it does best…make you think of yourself first.

    Advertising

    Many of us have been raised to think this is a bad thing – that we should always put others first. The problem with putting someone else first is that unless that person is putting you first in a reciprocal fashion one hundred percent of the time, it is a downward spiral. It may be a very slow one, but if you are not caring for your own needs first, you can end up at the bottom of the food chain, so to speak. If you put others before yourself, everyone else will get taken care of and you will be last; and since there is always someone else who needs something, you will not only be last on the list, you may never get anything you need. If you put yourself first, you can take care of your own needs quite quickly and then tend to others that need it.

    Remember what flight attendants always say during the pre-flight briefing on an airplane?

    “People travelling with children or persons requiring assistance should don their own mask first before helping the other person.”

    Have you ever thought about why they say this? It is because if oxygen levels are dropping, there may only be time to put one mask on before you pass out. If you put your child’s mask on first, while he/she will have oxygen flowing, he/she may not be old enough or know how to put yours on you. You have to put your own mask on first to save you both. Is that being selfish?

    No…it’s being smart.

    As a volunteer firefighter, we have to take care of ourselves first, too. On the fire ground, there is nothing worse than a “man down” — knowing that one of our own is in trouble really makes it difficult to focus on the job we have to do. Our instructors often remind us in drills that if we hear of an emergency situation, we are to continue to do the job we’ve been tasked to, unless we are asked to help directly with the rescue. We always have a dedicated rescue team, called a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT), standing by when a team goes into a burning building. If we are careful and make sure we don’t get into trouble in the first place – run out of air when we go interior, or fall through a weak floor because we forgot to check it – then we can do our job to maximum capacity and so can everyone around us. Then we can save the victims and/or prevent the fire from spreading any farther.

    Advertising

    Putting yourself first doesn’t have to take much time. Trained firefighters can don their full protective gear in less than a minute, some of which is done en route, and then they can focus on the job at hand, being courageous and saving the day and all that. How can you make sure to put yourself first? What one or two things do you need each day to start your day in the best possible way? Answer these questions for yourself and then make the commitment to take time for yourself each morning, no matter what.

    The one time it is alright to put someone else before you is when you do so consciously. This means that you carefully and selectively allow one or two people’s needs to come before your own (usually these are children), but then you firmly draw the line there so you do not end up at the bottom of your list. So if you have small children, by all means, care for them first — but don’t let anyone else creep up that list ahead of yourself.

    Put your own mask on first.

    Advertising

    (Photo credit: Leo Reynolds via Flickr – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

    More by this author

    Teresa Griffith

    Teresa is a passionate writer who shares about productivity tips on Lifehack.

    How to Tap Into Your Subconscious Mind for Effective Problem Solving Top 20 Time Wasters and the Top 5 Worthwhile Activities How Failure Helps You To Succeed and Grow 3 Things to Keep in Mind When Making Decisions How to Deal with Annoying People

    Trending in Productivity

    1 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 2 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
    Advertising

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

    Advertising

    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

    Advertising

    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

    Advertising

    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

    Advertising

    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Advertising

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

    Read Next