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Monday, June 17, 2013

What is Your Time Worth?

I'm a people-pleaser and a peacemaker. I've always been that way--I think I learned it from my mother. Actually, I know I learned it from my mother. It's a really annoying habit to have, and one that has always caused me to take on more than I can handle (often more than my fair share), and then grumble and complain about it in the end.

It's not really a very healthy habit to have, so I can't say I recommend it.

Any time someone needed help with something, if they asked me to help, I would agree, whether it was something I wanted to do or not. Did it matter if I was already overwhelmed with my own life and responsibilities? Nope. So-and-so needed help, and they came to me, and so I helped.

It might have been borne of a need to be liked. Maybe it was because I didn't value myself enough to say no when I needed to say no. There are all sorts of psychological reasons behind my people-pleasing ways.

But there came a point where I'd just had enough. I realized that I couldn't be everything to everyone, and so it wasn't helping anyone if I tried to be (least of all myself).

I had to set some boundaries.

I won't lie. It hasn't been an easy adjustment to make. There have been ample times, still, where I've been asked to do something that I really didn't want to do, and I gave in. Every time I've done that, I've regretted it, and then I've increased my efforts to resist that urge the next time.

But now, I think I've come to a point where I can sit back and evaluate better. When I'm asked to do something, I ask myself a number of questions. Do I want to do this? What will it cost me in time and money? What will it cost in emotional drain and stress? What will I gain from doing it? Is the potential payoff greater than the potential cost?

Recently, I've taken my evaluation a step further. Now that I've been earning my living from writing for the last couple of years, I sat down with a calculator and figured out what an hour of my time is worth in terms of my writing. It has been really eye-opening, to say the least, and I'm sure it will affect the way I make decisions about my time in the future.

Are you a people-pleaser like me? Do you find yourself agreeing to do things you'd rather not do? How do you make decisions on things that will steal time from your work, family, or self?

30 comments:

  1. I like to think of myself as a good friend. If I consider *you* a good friend, there's not much I wouldn't do for you. True friends are rare and I've been fortunate enough to have some that have gone the distance for me when I needed it. So I strive to do the same for others. In order to have good friends, you need to be a good friend. At least that's the way I see it. BUT these are things I'm making the decision to do out of the goodness of my heart. I don't let anyone bully me into anything. (But then a bully wouldn't be a good friend, either.)

    If you're not a good friend, or just an acquaintance...it would depend on what it is being asked. I'm not a people-pleaser in that I'll do anything for anyone. My time is valuable, and lines have to be drawn some places.

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    1. You know, there's a difference between being a bully, and taking advantage of someone, though. That's more what I was getting at. There have been many, many people in my lives who have willingly taken advantage of me over the years (and, admittedly, who I've allowed to take advantage of me). They are people who I care about, which makes it even more difficult to draw those lines you speak of. How much give should there be, before there is give in return? That's been a very fine line I've tried to learn to walk. It's only made more difficult because, when I DO draw the line, often they feel I'm suddenly being selfish, or disrespectful, or any number of other things. People don't react well when their doormat suddenly develops a backbone.

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  2. I can honestly say, without any hesitation or doubt, I'm not a people-pleaser. And for dang sure, peacemaker doesn't make it into my top 100. Of course I help those I love and others should they need it. Who doesn't? But I won't drop everything important to me or my family to meet another's expectations. It's probably because I'm selfish. Or maybe it's that I'm perfectly fine with conflict and don't fear upsetting someone applecart . *shrug* Either way, I'm soooo not in the business of making peeps happy at my expense! ;}
    Well, except my kids. Those beasts rule me. :D

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    1. LOL. Andris, I love your honesty and ability to deliver the truth with humor. :D

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    2. Samantha, I'm totally showing this to my husband. Maybe he'll learn to appreciate my approach! Ha!

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    3. Just the other day. I said "(insert my son's name) is the only person whose BS I have to put up with." Not that he gives me a ton to put up with, but... you know what I mean.

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    4. I don't think it is selfish to take care of what is important to you first. :) I admire your willingness to do what is right for you, regardless of what others think about it, Andris.

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  3. Catherine,
    I know what you mean. I used to feel like I couldn't say no to people, but then I'd resent every minute I had committed to doing something I didn't want to do. I grew up in a family where anytime I tried to set boundaries, I was told I was being selfish.

    My husband helped me to see that my time is valuable and taking care of myself physically and emotionally is not selfish. Now I think of my time in terms of how much I make an hour. It helps to have a job that already defines that for me. :)

    That being said, I'm much more likely to do things I don't want to do for the people I love, but there's payoff for that. I like seeing them happy and making their lives easier. But I have no problem saying, "No, but thanks of thinking of me" to acquaintances.

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    1. That's precisely what it's been like for me, Samantha. And the backlash that comes from trying to take care of myself first (because if I don't take care of myself, how on earth can I feasibly help anyone else?) is often painfully difficult. It makes me want to give in and ignore the boundary I was trying to set, sometimes. But every time I do, I regret it. Still...it's hard.

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  4. It depends. I'm a people-pleaser with my friends and family, in the way of how I sometimes take on too much, then feel like I can't back out because I'll be letting people down. But I've learned, especially this past year, that sometimes I have to say no, even if it hurts feelings or causes disappointment. I still bite off more than I can chew, but I do it less often!

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    1. It's hardest with the people we love, Olivia. We don't want to let them down, we don't want to upset them, we want to make things easier for them. Keep trying to find that right balance. :)

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  5. Boy does this post hit home today. If this past year has taught me anything, it's be true to myself and that I can't be everything to all people. I'm not really a people pleaser. I have learned to say no as a self-preservation method. Some people really don't like that, but that's okay. I keep my sanity. My family just doesn't get that I work from home but that doesn't mean my time is for them. Also, sometimes it grows thin helping a person who keeps making the same mistakes (money, wrong SO, etc) so I just don't. *shrug* Sometimes I've had to make decisions just to keep the negative at bay. But on the flip side, in my working life, I have the best payoff. I have a couple of friends I'd do anything for, and of course my husband. Outside of that, demands on my time are considered on a case by case basis. And yes, I have said no to stuff in my gut I feel will be a train wreck for a variety of reasons. It does get easier. :-)

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    1. I moved to a different state because my family didn't understand that I actually WORK from home. :)

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  6. 100% people pleaser. If I feel as though I've let someone down, my stomach turns to knots :( It was particularly brutal for me when I had a boss who was bi-polar, and who became increasingly impossible to please. I was an emotional wreck by the time I finally had to quit - my body couldn't take the stress anymore!

    Recently, however, I have had to learn to say no since my deadlines are so strict. I may want to help someone else, but know that it isn't possible at that time.

    I've never thought that people who aren't people-pleasers are selfish, or people who are are doormats - its just a matter of what my conscience says is right or not for me.

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    1. I understand completely about the stress turning against your body, Erin. I have been amazed by how much healthier I've become from finding healthy ways to eliminate stress. Good for you for learning to say no. It's hard.

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  7. I needed to hear this. I say yes to everyone even if I don't want to. I really need to think about my time and my energy and what I'm worth. I can't burn myself out helping others. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It was a huge eye opener for me, Melissa, to one day realize that the more I tried to help everyone, the less I was actually helping anyone. Good luck with setting your boundaries! I've found that it helps to really sit down and make a list of your priorities (what you WANT your priorities to be). That way, when you decide what you can and can't tackle, you can objectively compare the task to what is important to you.

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  8. Saying no was an incredibly hard thing for me to learn, but I've had to become better at it. One person can only accomplish so much, and I'm so much happier picking and choosing the projects that mean something to me to throw my heart into...

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    1. That's the key I've found, too, Deb. If I really focus on those things I'm 100% invested in, then I feel better, and I'm able to give more.

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  9. I could probably copy/paste Andris's comment because that's exactly how I am. As a matter of fact, the very first fight Eric and I had was about this. He's a big-time people pleaser, and at the time, he had overextended himself tremendously. He kept asking me to help him hash out how he could be in 5 places at once and finally, I blew up and yelled, "Stop trying to please every-freakin'-body!!" He didn't like that very much, and we fought, and then he realized I was right, and 12.5 years later...here we are :)

    "No" slips off my tongue very easily. But I always aim to be gracious about it. And if I do take something on for a friend, I always preface it with, "I'm very busy, and I may not get this done soon...if ever." Setting realistic expectations is the greatest gift you can give someone!! LOL!

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    1. I can't tell you how jealous I am of people for whom this comes naturally, Jerrica. I'm curious...after 12.5 years, does Eric still have problems with people pleasing, or has he gotten better at saying no?

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    2. He's gotten MUCH better! I still have to remind him sometimes with family matters, but for the most part, he's practically cured ;)

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  10. Definitely needed to hear this today, Catherine. Thank you.

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  11. Hi, Catherine!

    I had to chuckle at your remark about learning to be a people pleaser from your Mother. As the middle child, my Mother was always telling me: Keep the peace; Keep the peace. This made me keep telling myself to bite my tongue and go with the flow. So, for many years, I was the first one to offer to help people in any way that I could. However, now that I’m older, I’ve become a bit more stingy with my time because I love to read and review novels. It’s my passion, and I intend to indulge myself MY way! Life is good. :-)

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    1. Connie, my mom is the biggest people-pleaser I've ever met. I swear, she never does anything for herself. She's always doing what is expected of her by anyone and everyone. It drives me crazy, because she's always stressed and never takes care of herself. :( Good for you for indulging in what makes you happy! I think we should all do that.

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  12. Oh, I'm a people-pleaser to an unhealthy level. I have a hard time saying no to people and always want to keep everyone happy. It seems to be my entire family and it is funny because when I saw my own parents doing it when I was a high school/college student, I would always say, I will NEVER do that. I always had grand intentions to just say no when/if I wanted to. However, I find as I've gotten older, it seems to get worse. Good to know I'm not the only one!

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    1. You're definitely not alone, Christi. And I swore I would never be like my mother. Yet here I am. :( Still, we can work to change.

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  13. For me it depends. I'm a people-pleaser when it comes to people I'm friends with, but for the most part, I'll give you an honest answer. If I have time, yes, and if I don't, no. Unless it's an emergency.

    So don't none of y'all start having emergencies, m'kay. ;)

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