How many of you have heard the saying “The most important thing we can give someone is our time”? We Student Affairs folks think this means devoting our time to our work, our team, our students, and our craft. But did you ever think maybe the person who coined that phrase meant that “someone” to be ourselves? The most important thing we can give ourselves is our time, because it is our time and our choice what we do with it.
Raise your hand if you ever felt as if the only way to show your true worth professionally was by showing up early, leaving the office late, volunteering for all the committees, answering emails after work, and ultimately stretching yourself too thin. We have all been there at some point; some of us probably feel that we are still stuck at that point. A previous #SAChat regarding the “First 90 Days” made me reflect on my own first 90 days. I was always the first person in the office and the last one to leave. Heck, there was even one point when an officemate jokingly said to me, “Man, you need a girlfriend, some friends, or something.” We both still laugh about that to this day because it was true, all of it.
Like many of our #SAColleagues we may have accepted a job in an unfamiliar territory, leaving behind our friends, our favorite places to visit, and any sense of social capital we may have had. When starting over in a new place, sometimes the only thing we have is our work. My personal life is much like my professional life; I need to be doing something for someone else to feel validated.
Once those first 90 days were over and the voices of my supervisor and other colleagues were telling me to think about improving my work-life balance, I began hanging out with many of them outside of work. We played video games, went to happy hour, went to the movies, etc. Finally, for the first time, I felt like I was valued personally and professionally.
As Student Affairs professionals, we need to recognize that the saying is true, “The most important thing we can give someone is our time.” But we also cannot fully immerse ourselves in giving our time to others if we’ve stretched ourselves too thin. Stretching ourselves too thin to prove our worth can result in mindlessly going through the motions and burning out.
How do we get away from this idea of worth being directly correlated to time spent in the office? How can we find our true self-worth outside of the office? Here are some suggestions that I am still working through myself:
Find a hobby
Sounds a little harsh doesn’t it? But it’s true. Think about what you love (or used to love) to do: reading, exercising, going to amusement parks. Immerse yourself in those types of hobbies to increase your own self-worth.
Explore your new area
If you moved to a new area, explore the city you now call home. Use apps such as Meetup or go to a Young Professionals meeting in your area. Ask others what they like to do and then invite them to do that activity with you.
Find a “side-hustle”
I mentioned the importance of taking time for ourselves. This may seem counter-intuitive, but find a part-time gig or volunteer. A little extra money doesn’t hurt!
“Your time is not up, your time is now!”
Do you have a philosophy, a hobby, or something that makes you feel more valuable in your day to day life? Tweet it at @IJustBarted and he will share his favorites.