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The awesome folks at Thought Questions.com have some excellent questions to ask yourself.

What’s one simple rule you live by? What is that little voice inside you, the one that drives your actions. As you evaluate a decision, what are the elements you weigh? How do you chose what to prioritize?

Do you chose to put your own needs first?

Do you put the needs of others before yours?

On first glance, putting your own needs first seems to be selfish. From a young age we are taught to make sure to think of others, to not always put our needs first. This makes sense. If you go through life constantly ignoring the needs of others, you can sow destruction and chaos in your wake. Ignoring the needs of others can often result in causing pain both figurative and real.

Putting the needs of others first sounds noble. Being available for others, being someone that others rely on is something society considers a sign of virtue. Who wouldn’t want to be highly regarded by his peers? Yet putting the needs of others before your own constantly leads to other problems. Ranking yourself last can allow people to take advantage of you. It can also be dangerous. Remember that airlines ask you to put your own oxygen mask on before you help others.

Why? Because if you pass out, you aren’t going to be able to do much for a seatmate.

Taken to extremes, either position is problematic. So now ask yourself, is your simple rule putting you in a position where you can’t be successful? Does your rule result in you going to an extreme? Do you ignore your needs, putting your physical and mental health last? Do you ignore the needs of others and say to heck with what other people want?

For a long time, I used “do unto others…” as my rule. It sounded like a great way to go through life. It is a great way to go through life. Unless you forget to treat YOURSELF the way you treat others. When I started looking at it that way, I realized that I’d fallen into the trap of putting myself last. So over time, I’ve shifted from doing unto others, and started focusing on doing the right thing, not the easy thing.

At times the right thing means telling people no and putting myself first. That’s not always an easy thing to achieve. That’s what tells me that this is a good rule to follow.