Earlier this week, I was struggling to get out the door. I followed my four year old in his snow boots, carrying his backpack, my work tote, my lunch box, my gym bag and a heavy bag of library books to return. I had a nighttime board meeting after work, and wanted to hit the gym on the way home. I thought about my upcoming week-a church event for my daughter, an interview for a marketing campaign at my all girls high school, a lunchtime meeting I was supervising at the med school, a musical with my mother, a craft night with my staff and a family baby shower. Woah. I took a deep breath and threw my totes in the car.
As a mom, I say “No” all the time to my kids. No, you cannot have a third cookie. No, you cannot have a sleepover. As a doctor, I say no in my daily work life. No, this is a virus and antibiotics are not indicated. But on a personal note, the challenge lies within saying no so I don’t get buried under commitments.
This has been a year of great opportunity and lots of invitations have come my way for exciting projects, whether an amazing women in medicine committee, a writing offer, a board position or a unique opportunity at the medical school. And I’ve had to say “No” often. It’s tough to say no to such incredible activities, but for me, it is necessary for self preservation.
I co-own a busy primary care practice, supervising physician assistants and teaching medical students in addition to my usual patient load each day. At home, I have three school age kids and an incredible husband who also works full time. These obligations necessitate careful consideration any time a new opportunity comes my way. First, I always wonder, “Do I have time for it?” My husband and mother are great at guiding me as I tend to be more optimistic. I am thankful for this as I hate clutter, feeling overwhelmed and being pressed for time and disorganization. I value my sleep, regular exercise and time with my family. Sometimes adding one thing means not being able to participate in something else.
Equally as important is the idea that whatever I add to my already busy life MUST be inline with my goals and priorities. Will it lead to personal development or open doors for future career opportunities? I was on vacation in Toronto recently and came across this quote from a Canadian astronaut that really resonated with me. I find it extra cool as he tweeted it from space:
“Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you and start moving your life in that direction…Look at who you want to be and start sculpting yourself into that person…Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.”
So far in 2019, I have had to say no to some really wonderful opportunities. But, I think that when it comes to your career, when you are able to say no, you’re in a good place. After all, it really is about you, your goals, aspirations, and family priorities. And it has to be. It’s a matter of self preservation.