by Olivia Miller
In one of my classes this week the topic of overcommitting came up, why do we in student affairs overcommit ourselves, and how do we best help the students we work with who are having the same issue? The idea that as graduate students we need to gather up as many experiences, competencies and skills before we land our first job was brought up, that and we want to be highly involved in the things we care about. For me, both apply, as well as the fact I have a genuine problem in telling people no – especially those I highly respect. This issue is not a new one to me, I have continuously been someone that will say yes to anything asked of me, because I do want to be involved and help, but I also want to be seen as someone who is responsible
and committed. Yet, at the same time this constant “yes” has caused me to stretch myself thin, and at times have caused my commitment to be turned into an expectation.
My professor ended our discussion with a recent article she had read and framed this issue into the question “what’s the best yes for you right now?” Out of everything you can say yes to, what is best for you right now. In defining your best yes you can commit to this and focus all of your energy into this task rather than stretching yourself to multiple projects and giving less than your best. While this makes sense, and I have been told this in different ways, I still have trouble with focusing on my best yes. Later that day I put my name into consideration for a committee that plans our student affairs lecture in the spring. It is something that I wanted to get involved in after attending the lecture last year, I knew I wanted to work on this committee and bring a student affairs professional to campus, but I also checked off the work as a perfect addition to my resume. Should I have said yes, or should I have passed up this opportunity?
How do we as a society, and a profession, teach ourselves and others to not overcommit and burn ourselves out? Students and young professionals today know that marketing themselves and their experiences are more important than ever, but so is a balance of commitments with work and other aspects of life. Work-life balance is a constant topic and concern in our profession, and I myself have not found the answer. However, the simple step of knowing if my next commitment is my best yes or not should help me in the future. May this next week allow you to find your best yes, or allow you to say no.
Your Best Yes
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