The word “selfish” comes with negative connotations, especially for women. When we think of selfish people, we think of unlikeable people. We teach our children from a young age to share—don’t be selfish! Fast forward years down the road, and we’ve become professional women who give so much of ourselves within our workplace, and elsewhere we’ve forgotten a little bit of selfishness can be a good thing.

All companies love a team player and value employees who are willing to take on extra work. However, there’s a fine line between working hard to excel in your career and not giving yourself and your goals the attention you deserve.

Here are some instances where it’s always acceptable to be selfish at work:


We’ve all experienced days where we set big goals for ourselves, but by the end of the day, we feel like we’ve accomplished nothing. When enough small stuff pops up, it’s easy to lose sight of the big ticket items (the items that are probably more beneficial to your career). We end up assisting a coworker or taking on a task simply because no one else is willing to do so.

We found a to-the-point and effective way to deal with this issue. Our knee-jerk reaction is to tell someone we don’t have the time. Everyone struggles with time management, and most people have a full calendar. No one really wants to hear about how busy you are or how little time you have. Instead, one expert recommends using the phrase, “That’s not a priority for me right now.” Reclaim ownership of the work you consider a priority that will most benefit your career the in the long run.


If your schedule is similar to most professionals, you signed up for a 40-hour work week with a few weeks of vacation time to be taken for whatever purpose you see fit. So, how did you get to the point where you’re arriving early, staying late, and/or working through lunch just to make your to-do list work? How did we arrive at the point where we feel guilty for using our vacation time? Learn how to be selfish with your time and enforce boundaries when necessary when it comes to working overtime or asking for time off.


Burnout is real and our tendency as women to ignore the issue is even more prominent. When we work late, hard hours and ignore our physical and mental health in general, we do ourselves a huge disservice. Give yourself permission to be selfish when making decisions about your health.Whether it’s taking a mental health day or simply ensuring you leave at a reasonable hour each evening, you should never feel guilty for decisions you make in favor of your health.

Let’s forget the guilt we create for ourselves. Let’s learn to be selfish about the things that really matter, and that will, in the end, make us a better person and employee.