Giving up the ghost

Control. Ugh. Janet Jackson has a whole song about it (dating myself here). As a new faculty member or new member of anything, we didn’t get here by being passive about everything.

As I write this post, I’m coming off of one trip, heading to another in 48 hours, and haven’t had enough time to actually do my ‘job’ well this week trying to get ready for trip #2.  Needless to say: I’m feeling flustered.  You may ask, “why is she blogging then, get to work!?!?” and you’d be correct.:)  As I stand here at my desk, planning logistics for my students, my after school sites, the site leaders, community days, meetings, hotel reservations, and the host of 1000 other things we all have on our plate, it comes back to control.

Just like my email and other digital communications, that feeling that things are getting out of hand creeps in because I can’t monitor them. As I reflect, this is a humbling lesson for anyone, not just a new faculty member.  I have to remember: I have hired good people, recruited excellent students, coached grad students, and have surround myself with ‘good’ people to take care of these things to help ensure that I can leave for a few days for some professional development of my own and know that the fort will be guarded and executed well.

Giving up the ghost is important because it’s causing me undue stress. This article came across my FB feed and I have to admit, the points resonated.

1) Notice your relationship to time, your schedule, and your commitments.

There are days when there is simply not enough time. There are days when my relationship with time looks like a 5 year old not getting her way and other days, where I have hours of time to devote to something with minimal interruption.  Those great days, I have set aside enough time, communicated I needed the time to work or do other activities, and they feel stress free, even if I don’t get done what I had intended, it never feels like I ‘wasted time’ doing them.

2) Start saying “no” to things.

I said no last night.  After a full week of working well into 8 or 9 p.m. (not hunting for sympathy) I had told myself that once I got done at schools, I would be done for the day. I received a frantic email at 5 p.m. from another commitment and made the conscious decision to say “no.” There wasn’t enough time for me to meet the request and I had told myself, “no working until 8 or 9 tonight.”

3) Give yourself more time than you think you need.

Too true!  How many times have we told ourselves, “this will only take an hour” and three hours later you’re still doing that activity or waiting????? It’s like a Dr.’s office: you’re appointment is at 9 a.m. and at 10 a.m. you’re still in the waiting room.  The stress comes in when we are crunched for time and lose control.

Some of us may thrive on deadlines, some of us like to be done farther in advance, no matter our personality, it’s easy to want to take the reins of everything and be in control.

As I evaluate my issues with control, things unfolded and worked themselves out.  My students and other folks came through for me, my site leaders and volunteers were well coached to handle a few days of life. Maybe it’s fear that drives our issues with control, we don’t want to feel un-needed or disposable. Maybe the fear of stamping our name on something for career advancement or the fear of losing family time due to being too involved drives us.  No matter what it is, finding the time, saying ‘no,’ and coming to a peaceful agreement with your time and all those involved in your time can be important steps to avoid burn out in your new position.

When do you feel most at peace?  On the couch, out for a run, in a place of worship, or surrounded by family and friends?  How can you get back some time in your life?  What can you start saying no too?

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