How Targeted Selfishness is The Most Generous Thing You Can Do

Short Term Versus Long Term

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Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

And I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them/So I got rich and gave back, to me that’s the win-win. — JAY-Z

Popular perception says that you should do generous things for people and always try to help them with their problems.

Makes sense.

My grandmother was excellent at giving her last to people. Her last food, her last money, her last bit of advice.

My mom is the same way.

That mentality is so amazing and noble in the short term, and this world is definitely a much better place because of people like my mom and grandma being so generous and selfless.

But I’m here to suggest something even more generous, long term:


I’m not saying you can’t do small, random acts of kindness. You absolutely should do that regardless of your circumstances. I’m talking specifically about long term things involving those closest to you.

When you spend so much time and effort helping other people, you actually debilitate your overall ability to help them in more significant ways.

That’s because you’re not helping yourself enough.

Here is the caveat; if you happen to be financially or mentally secure or abundant, sure — go ahead and help people with what they need anytime and anywhere.

But if you’re broke, or even rich and you have your own non-financial issues, and people need you emotionally or psychologically, you can’t elevate them properly until you get yourself right.

You would also be overusing your most essential asset: time.

Sure, you can give folks advice here and there. You might even be able to hold each other up. But ultimately, you’re only going to be at your most effective once you address your own circumstances.

Having to always be someone’s superhero can be exhausting.

The best way to pull people up and help them significantly is to practice something that I call “targeted selfishness.”

That is selfishness targeted at loved ones.

Those are the people that you really want to help, and who will be most expecting it. But the selfishness you must adopt above all else is with your time.

Be very sparing in your time usage, but make sure that you’re using your time away from them to level up and upgrade yourself. This could be your habits, discipline, focus — whatever it is that moves the needle in your life.

Consider missing family gatherings and casual visits. Sure, you can spend time with your loved ones, but be more brief than normal.

And if the event is of little importance, it could be worth it to use that time to hone and sharpen your skills or habits.

Of course, in a COVID-19 world, you’re probably already limiting your face to face time with people. But this applies to the current situation as well as any other life situation.

Above all else, work on yourself. Be selfish with your time and attention in the short term.

Enough weeks, months and in some cases, years doing that and you will have put yourself in a position to make all your loved ones’ dreams come true!


Use random acts of kindness to help people always. But, if you’re struggling mentally or financially, be selfish with your time and resources.

Do that by using those commodities to lift yourself up to be a much better resource for your loved ones in the long run.

If you’re abundant with money and you are mentally secure, you have much more flexibility to invest more time into helping people.

Do it.

Let me know in the comments about your experiences with helping people as well as being selfish with your time.

Personal Development Writer | Deante Unlimited podcast, Host | Deante: Under Construction web series, Star | Deante Young Enterprises, Chief Creative Architect

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