How good are you at asserting yourself? How good are you at saying “no”, or “not at the moment”, or “only if…” or “if I do that, this won’t get done”? How often do you go with less than you deserve because it seems easier to do that than it does to confront an issue and work through it?
What if you challenged yourself to consider how different your work or home life or relationships would be if you started to assert yourself more often in respectful and kind ways? What if you stopped trying to do “all the things” and instead asked others to do some of them – or better still, explained that some things just won’t happen, at least not while you’ve got so much on?
Better still, what if you talked to your colleagues and you decided to do this as a group? When everyone starts looking after themselves and paying heed to what they are taking on, there is strength in numbers. What if you became the trend setter and encouraged others to come on board? Wouldn’t it be great if, through consultation and a reflection on what currently happens at your workplace or in your family or community group, you all decided that there are some things that just aren’t essential and that the world won’t stop turning if you let them go?
If you keep adding things on to the pile of things you do without taking some things off, eventually something will fall off the pile and break – or worse the entire pile will collapse. In fact, if you value the work you do as a professional, the very best thing you can do is have a stocktake of what’s on the pile. List everything you do, reprioritise and remove some things.
Think through the following questions before agreeing to take on more or when considering whether to let something go:
- Do I have time to do this?
- If I prioritise this thing by making time for it, what else won’t get done?
- Do I have the capacity, knowledge and resources to do this? Can I negotiate to get support?
- Can someone else do it or part of it so the load is shared? Can I teach someone else this time so they can do it next time? (Remember that when you say yes to something, no else even gets asked!)
- Will I enjoy doing this or will it make me feel stressed? (Hint: feeling stressed isn’t necessarily a reason to say no to a new challenge, but it is much better to consider how to mitigate against the stress before you begin to experience it!)
- Is it a reasonable part of my job to do this? If it isn’t, then SAY NO! A foundation of unionism is the solidarity of workers upholding their conditions. When you say no or when you negotiate a better way of doing things, you make us all stronger.
I encourage you to take the time to engage with the excellent wellbeing materials the Union has commissioned from wellbeing and productivity advisor and coach Thea O’Connor (www.qtu.asn.au/wwam) to create especially for QTU members. More than that, though, I challenge you to choose one or two actions from the self-care recommendations she makes and have a go at injecting them into your life.
This November is the perfect time to do a personal or collegial “spring clean”! Don’t start 2019 doing things that have ceased to work for you, just because that’s how they’ve always been done. Of course, if you need any assistance or guidance to support you, contact your local QTU Organiser or QTAD.
By Sam Pidgeon, Vice-President