I have heard the following statement twice in the last week:
“new faculty, you need to stop being so generous with your time.”
I was chatting with my office neighbor (also female) and she had finished a meeting with the director of our school (also female) and had heard the exact same message, “stop being so generous with your time.”
I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolution’s. If you look at the statistical data on them, they’re usually not very successful long term. So, I choose not to set any. I do try to remind myself throughout the year that there are often key words that I need to work on. Work/life balance was my goal last year and I’m happy to report that I did work to make gains in that area. I was laying on the chiropractor table recently and my chiropractor asked me if I worked over the ‘break.’ I told her that, yes, I did work much of break. She followed up by asking, “do you work on weekends too?” I was proud to say that, “no, I don’t work on weekends anymore.” There is always an occasional weekend commitment that cannot be avoided, but for the most part, writing articles, reading, prepping, etc… is done M-F and I have worked extremely hard to get to that point. My ex-husband would come back and agree: I used to work on weekends all of the time. I’m still guilty of emailing, but for the most part, the computer is used for facebook and pinterest on weekends. There, now you know my deepest, darkest Internet browsing on weekends…
For 2013, I need to stop being so generous with my time and guard it more. I let it get away from me, allowing me to be sucked into projects that honestly, I just don’t need to be involved with. These ‘extra fatty’ projects are the ones that are the slowest (speed is not a factor in success mind you), but slow from the standpoint that they have little direction, no clear goals, and are often wrought with leadership issues. These are also the projects where I’m asked to merely consult or serve a minor, yet necessary role. Let me describe one situation that I’m involved in and perhaps you’ll understand my reasoning for 2013:
I was asked to be on a research team as a consultant a few months ago. Incidentally, it’s also with the same dept I had a somewhat disastrous interview with. The research team wants my consult on a piece of advanced software that they don’t know how to use. They offered up a pub as a carrot and initially, I was fine with it because I wanted to greet the waters of potential employment carefully and professionally. After this disaster interview, my feelings have changed. It’s no longer about the interview, it’s my time. It’s my skill set, it’s respect for me as a human being. The last year I’ve been too generous and after a lot of reflection ove the holidays, it’s time to get a little selfish. The other part: the research team is a mess. They have not set a question, methods, or anything in between and I can see it falling apart quickly due to lack of leadership (ironic since it’s a leadership dept) and no one wants to take charge of it. I have been to three meetings, about 4 hours of my time and there have been few decisions. I was so bored/annoyed at the last one because of the lack of progress, I excused myself after an hour because my time was not being utilized well.
After thought and reflection, I no longer see the professional (or personal) value of continuing with this group. It has taken me several weeks to get to this conclusion, but I don’t see it as a professional gain for me to continue. The only way I would continue is as a paid consultant. I am valuable. I am worthy of a few dollars. I am not a fearful graduate student any longer.
So, my professional resolution for 2013 is to stop being so generous with my time. Not be a jerk but stop being so giving. As a female, I know it’s somewhat genetically built into me but I need to start ignoring it. My boss and I were chatting a while ago and his comments went something like this…(paraphrased):
“stop being so generous, even if you don’t have anything else going on, just stop. you’re too valuable. you have too much to offer. you deserve to be compensated with more than your name almost last on a byline.”
You know what, he’s right. This is not a situation with young students but I think our society has programmed all of us to just keep on giving until there’s nothing left. When I was teaching middle/high school, it was the same way. I would give and give until there was nothing left. I’m doing the same thing right now and I know it’s affecting me. I’ve started to gain a few pounds back (not withstanding the excuse of the ‘holidays’) and it’s time to stop. Finding that work/life balance continues to be a struggle for me and unless I begin learning to say no more now, I fear for my future as a faculty, a daughter, a sister, a partner, a parent, or whatever hat I put on.
As a new faculty, we all need to stop being so generous. Go home. See your people. Cuddle your dog. Have a drink of your choice. Sleep more. Whatever floats your boat. Stop being so generous with your time. As my boss said, you are valuable. You have too much to offer. You deserve more respect than that.