No, Taking Caring of Your Self Is Not Selfish
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree," he said, "and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
You might have guessed, but that's a page out of the book of my man Abe Lincoln (or, at least, he's commonly attributed to saying that).
Your body and your mind are your two greatest tools and the synergy between the two is arguably the most powerful thing in the Universe. How is properly maintaining and caring for your most valuable assets in any way selfish?
Now I understand that’s somewhat of a rhetorical question. I do understand, though, how this can happen. I get it.
When you’re purpose driven, it’s easy to attach your work to your identity. So when you take any time away or any focus away from that purpose-driven work, you feel guilty. Unfortunately, this is not a dose of healthy guilt.
Guilt can be healthy when it helps maintain your integrity.
Guilt can be a powerful compass. But this guilt we’re talking about is not guilt at all but fear.
Let’s say you’re in the process of a job hunt. You’ve just spent the last four years of your life, followed by another two year’s of your life with a laser focus on this path for some grand plan. Undergrad, followed by graduate, then right into a job in the field I want, then I’ll work my way to the real position I want, and I’ll be able to do all sorts of good stuff. So. Much. Good. Stuff.
What’s happening here is you have so much tied up in this identity you have for yourself that you’re scared that something will deviate from this plan, and you won’t accomplish what you said. You’re a man or woman of integrity. I respect that.
But what if integrity wasn’t about the result but the journey toward some result? What if integrity was all about the long game? The direction. The vision. What if?
Chances are, the route you WANT to take is not going to be the one you ultimately do. I know, I know. I talk this big game about mastering your life into this solid, unbreakable form. Mastering your life is not controlling your life.
Part of mastering your life is learning to go with the flow. Controlling what you can, and accepting what you cannot.
How do we do that?
Stop focusing on the result. This isn’t to say don’t set goals or create some awesomely amazing and epic grand vision for your life. But don’t tie your entire livelihood or happiness into that result. Don’t bet the farm.
The journey is what makes the man or woman. Who you are at any given moment is a cumulative result of everything you’ve done. You’ve learned what you like, what you don’t like, and are getting closer and closer to learning what you truly want.
You’ll get there. I promise. If you stick with it, I promise you’ll get there.
So stick with it. Make us proud. Don’t worry so much if you strike out a few times. You’ll figure it out.
So take care of yourself in the meantime. Show us through your actions that you’re in this for the long haul. What good will you be if you body is beat up and your mind has gone to waste? How will you serve? How will you create?
Take care of yourself. We all depend on it.