While I rarely struggle to say “NO” to my children, I am still trying to learn the art of saying “no” to the rest of the world. I like to think I thrive in chaos, but time and time again I prove myself wrong…when we as a family are over scheduled and overdone. I forget what its like to sit at home and relax for an afternoon.
I am fortunate to have a wonderfully flexible job that allows me to put forth great effort with my family and life outside of work. Anyone that knows me knows that my work follows me wherever I go – and I am actually okay with that. But, I still know that my family and I need designated time.
When I started in my career in academia, I remember getting advice early on trying to teach me the skill of saying no to opportunities that would come my way. As a young faculty member, it was hard to turn away from any opportunity. I wanted opportunities to meet other people, get outside my little space and of course add some much needed content to my resume. So listening to no one, I foraged on adding thing after thing to my plate. This was all fine and dandy until I found myself pregnant with my first little love and in a massive pile of “things.” The worst part, these things were not necessarily things I was passionate about or even slightly interested in.
A few years after having my first daughter, I was sitting in a career development workshop and listening to successful women in academia give advice on early career decisions. I remember vividly one esteemed colleague advise the group to limit travel when your kids are little. She said it is more important to be home and present and that the travel (likely speaking engagements and such) wouldn’t do much for your career anyway. Make the decision to stay home. So of course, I thought crap…I had been doing a lot of travelling for the last three years with two little girls at home. I needed to change that, and that process has taken some time.
Routine is key with little ones. And when my career requires us to deviate from the routine – we all suffer. My husband is truly my partner in managing our lives and is always willing to step up when I am called away. But, it is finally time say “YES” in smarter way.
Throughout the last year, I have significantly reduced the time I travel and am away from the house. The most important lesson I have learned is to space out travel. This allows for adequate time to prepare for the trip and then recover. The most significant thing I can do for my family it to jump back into routine. This includes being present to take the kids to school through car rider line and if possible, pick them up. And of course, time to catch up on sleep, grocery shopping and laundry!
So as this year begins, I will be saying YES to more family and NO to more commitments that don’t include them. I will say YES to commitments that serve my family, close friends and self; YES to commitments that serve forward movement and growth in my career; and YES to commitments that give me butterflies in my stomach.
What will you be saying YES to in 2016?