Saturday, June 2, 2018

Apparently the secret to changing your life...

is to only change one thing at a time. I certainly find this to be a fascinating idea, as someone who is at something of a crossroads. I'll be the first to admit that my life could use something of an overhaul, especially when it comes to work-life balance. My initial approach this past year was to try to fix a bunch of facets of my life at once. As I reflect on how well acting on that particular approach was working out for me, I had to realize that the answer was not especially comforting. Then again, I realize that we as a species do poorly at multi-tasking, and making a lifestyle overhaul can lead to the temptation to multitask. So, I am trying something different for the remainder of this year, and see how well that works: I am starting by only working on one facet of work-life balance, which is the practice of saying no to requests that go beyond what I already know I can reasonably handle professionally and financially. I decided to start with repetition of that one modest act in part because that was part of my overhaul process already, and because I could already see the beginnings of some reinforcement for doing so. The idea is that by the end of this calendar year, I will be more of the friend, family person, and colleague that I want to be as opposed to someone who is chronically overextended and stressed out. If there were ever a time to do so, it is now. I have the privilege of being at a place where I am well-enough regarded, I perform well enough as an instructor, and I am coming to my own in some other service areas where I work. By focusing on a few things I like and which I do well, and declining on those tasks or requests (usually these are ones that fall outside my primary aim of prepping students for the workforce after graduation) for which I may be capable, but for which there are probably others who are just as well-suited or better suited, I can take time to relax and spend with those I love. The time I could take tonight in order to watch the Supernatural episode Scooby Natural (which was freakin' awesome by the way) that I had on DVR with my daughters was due to simply taking a pass on something else. The time spent watching that episode and the conversation that followed is a memory each of us will cherish for as long as we live. There will always be demands on my time, but being at a point where I can just do my job and no more, to volunteer only when it makes sense to do so, etc. is all I really wanted in the first place. But to get to that point, I have to keep practicing saying no much more often. It's a modest start, but one that may lead to my saying yes to other activities that will truly improve my life over time. In the meantime, I hope I don't end up reading that the research I am using to guide me is not replicable.

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