(extract from Words of Bek published October 2018)
As women, we are not encouraged by society to ask ourselves “what is in it for me” as a natural attribute. In fact you may already be feeling uncomfortable about the question, before you even read the article.
We are told as young women to “behave”, to support and nurture those around us. Who has heard “nice girls don’t do that” in a response to a spoken wish, perhaps to something as personal as desire for a tattoo or even as simple as a haircut.
When it comes to time management, as women we usually put ourselves last in factoring the allocation of minutes to tasks in our work, let alone in our personal life (and sometimes they are the same). Add children into the equation and there is even less ability to put ‘you’ first. Some of that is practical. Some of that is a societal condition that we have been encouraged to believe – that we are not allowed to be selfish. And that definition of selfish can be very broad depending on who wants your attention. It often gets thrown around when we, as women, dare to say “NO”.
Boss wants you to stay back and work on his presentation and you have sick family to attend – “are you going to be the one to let the team down?”. Significant other springs a surprise dinner party on you for their work colleagues and wonders why you don’t have time; between soccer, the ballet lessons and cleaning; to just whip up that 3 course gourmet meal in less than an hour. Children forget to tell you about a project that is due the next morning and requires you to build a science project or bake a cake.
All of these things are unavoidable and often just have to be dealt with in the moment. However, ask yourself how many times, both in work and home life, do you get asked to do something and just say “yes”? You don’t stop and think, you don’t know if you have the time, but it becomes easier to just say yes and worry about ‘how’ later.
What if there was a question, that if you allowed yourself to ask it, could help you, in that moment, to have a second thought and decide on your answer; instead of that instant, automatic response?
That question is “What’s in it for me?”. WIIFM. This question allows you to take a moment and realise if the activity you are about to agree to is something that adds value to you and your life. When it is to do with your children, the obvious answer is the time you spend with them, the joy of their achievements and watching them learn. Similar might be said of your significant other. There are benefits. This question asks you to check in and see what those benefits are in that moment.
When it comes to the work place, often, if you are an achiever, you might find that you are asked to complete tasks simply because you get them done. Which is fantastic if you receive acknowledgement of your efforts; a pay rise, or a promotion. How often does that happen?
Does your senior management thank you for those extra hours, or do they now just expect it? Do your work colleagues commend you on the time spent to achieve the outcome, or do they take the credit for themselves? Do you get any satisfaction out of what you have achieved, or is it just momentary relief another task is complete, before you start the next one?
It is not a selfish act to ask, why am I doing this – what is in it for me? It is an act of sanity. It allows you the space to realise that this particular task may not benefit you – and if it doesn’t – allows you to ask “Why am I undertaking it?”.
Obviously you get paid to achieve certain things in your work role, but you don’t get paid to be treated like a slave or whipping post for others’ inability to meet deadlines. It is a fabulous skill to be able to “get things done”, but if you are not getting them done for yourself, or for some achievement that you want – what is the point? Why are you fixing the mistake of others? Why are you allowing yourself to be used in such a manner? You might have answers to these questions, or you might be wondering to yourself why you didn’t ask these questions a long, long time ago. The answer doesn’t matter as much as allowing yourself the space to ask the question in the first place.
You might have to simply undertake the activity, but, now that you have asked the question, you can be aware that is why you are undertaking the task. If the task isn’t important to you, then you know to spend the least amount of time on it, and not to engage in sleepless nights over the outcome. You can let go a lot of anxiety with this simple little question. It doesn’t mean do it poorly, it means do it efficiently. Which gives you more time for the things you do love, such as spending time with family or that hobby you never get to.
It assists you to check in with where you are going, what your goals are, and filter out the things that do not align with those goals, whatever they may be.
So, what is in it for you?