Although there’s nothing wrong with helping people to achieve their aspirations, never become so engrossed in their goals that you neglect your own. Your goals are just as important as those you’re aiding others in accomplishing. It’s critical for you to strike a healthy balance between working to attain your aspirations and working to assist others to achieve their goals. When you have given considerable time to aiding others, you deserve to devote as much time as necessary to pursuing your dreams passionately.
Many of us who are committed to serving others become disappointed with ourselves when we dedicate time to focusing on our goals. This has to stop! Being a selfless person does not mean that you have to surrender living your dreams. Never allow someone to make you feel like you have to devote all, much, or a majority of your time to him or her to be considered a selfless person. Your record of service will evince you’re a selfless person.
Unfortunately, too many of the people who we sacrifice our goals for don’t appreciate what we have done for them. They elect to criticize us for not being at the level of success they are at and/or for not having accomplished the things we have stated that we desire to do. Of course, this represents the ultimate slap in the face. We could have been accomplishing our goals while we were making their dreams come true. Don’t dwell on how ungrateful these people have been to you. Take some time to care for the wounds they’ve inflicted on you, and then get to work on executing your goals.
You also have to understand that when you’re working on achieving your goals, you’re positioning yourself to serve people more effectively. Completing your goals, therefore, isn’t selfish—it’s a buttressing of your ability to perform charitable work. When you’re in an improved social and economic position, you’re better able to aid others in moving up the social and economic ladder.
It’s essential for you to realize you cannot save the world; you can only do so much to help people. With this reality in mind, think about how much time you invest in doing things for people. Do you always do whatever someone wants you to do for him or her without refusing him or her? If so, you’re bringing too much undue stress into your life. Learn to say, “No”! Really, it’s okay to refuse to do things for people, especially when you’ve always given to people and you’ve developed a distinguished track record of service.
Empower people to do things for themselves, so that you will not have to do every little thing for them. You cripple people’s evolution when you allow them to depend on you for every little thing. If you’ve been doing this, stop it today! Let people learn to become independent. You will discover that you will have more freedom to do the things you need to do, and they will have more liberty to live a life devoid of extreme dependence on you.
As T. I. and Rihanna say, “Just live your life.”
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison