People you work with will take as much as you are willing to give. Have you ever noticed how the same 10-15 people get tasked for every special project or team that springs up ? Where do the new ideas and thinking come from if the same people keep being tapped for their time, passion and wisdom on every initiative?
Last year at this time, I had just flown twice in 10 days to the east coast. I was about to go to a friend’s special birthday in Thailand and I also had a project to finish before I left. I was at my last meeting when a huge task fell on my lap and when I heard the words, “oh she’ll get it done before she goes. She always comes through,” I cringed. There were three other people in the room and yet, I was the one given the honor of doing even more work before my much needed vacation.
They’ve probably said it a million times and I must have been so exhausted that I took it as a compliment. I got rewarded with more and more work all the time.
But this time, I had a three week vacation, without my work computer, to reflect on it. And I did. One jet lagged night, I woke up in deep sweat from a dream where work was a giant vacum cleaner sucking up my every minute. And then I looked out at the ocean and reflected on what I truly wanted in my life.
People will take. What do you want to give them?
Sometimes, we can get so used to playing our roles that we get boxed into a certain way of being, and that can be restrictive for us—along with letting others take us for granted. Try breaking out of a particular role and see how it feels. What role do you play in the world? What sort of role model are you? Has the cloak of authority become too restrictive?
Shake things up a bit. If you’re the one in charge where work is concerned, try offloading some responsibility. If people are used to you behaving in a predictable way, try changing just one little thing and see if it makes you feel different. Keep an eye on guilty feelings and refuse to berate yourself for any mistake you think you might have made. Move away from the victim stance of guilt and toward the empowering position of courage.