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Saving Yourself: That Little Two-Letter Word That Begins With N

| 12/28/2012 9:28:09 AM

Just say no 

In 1976, I began my first teaching job at the University of Colorado in Denver. It was a dream come true. Eager to do my best and make a career out of teaching and research, I soon found that I had piled on so much work that I worked extremely long hours, easily 10 to 14 hours a day, rarely stopping to take a break.

Not to waste a second, I would bury my nose in a book on my morning and evening bus commute to and from the University. Most evenings I spent reading books and articles that expanded my knowledge. I even worked most of my summer without pay, doing my research and expanding my knowledge.

During the spring and fall semesters, I was required by the University to teach two classes each semester. I typically taught three — the extra one for no pay. Why the overload? 

Part of the reason for taking on more than I was required had to do with impressing the dean of the college and my department chair. Part of it had to do with hopes of earning a decent pay raise. Anorther portion had to do with an eagerness to know more. It is through teaching a subject that one truly masters it. And, finally, a good reason for my running in constant overdrive was a nagging sense that whatever I did, it wasn’t quite enough. Plagued with a nagging sense of inferiority, I have spent most of my life over achieving.

When you become one who achieves a great deal, others catch on, too. The old adage if you want something done, ask a busy person, is true. So, on top of all my self-imposed overload, came volunteer work. I testified before the air pollution control commission. I wrote dozens of articles for environmental publications — for no pay. I took on additional faculty responsibilities because other faculty kept asking if I would take on a little more to help out this committee or that one. Being one who loves to help others, I never refused.

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