Making Maki is the home of Maki B. It’s where all of life’s parts meet. Figuring out the work-life balance, managing finances, navigating relationships, finding the things that give us joy, appreciating life’s journey and caring for ourselves along the way. Making Maki isn’t about finding any particular thing; it’s about always searching for the best versions of ourselves and making the most of all of life’s lessons and opportunities.
This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited to present at SHTA’s SMILE. It was my second time at SMILE and my first time presenting at the event. My presentation partner was pretty great so I had a grand old time. Our presentation was about building communities and partnerships via Corporate Social Responsibility. I’m super passionate about national development and public private partnerships, so despite being completely exhausted from a long week, I was on cloud nine.
Somewhere during our presentation, we were sharing tips about partnerships and the benefits of giving back. At some point during our giving back talk, I started seeing a teeny bit of uncertainty in the audience. As it was a mixed crowd of business persons, I figured the fear was about how much is enough when it comes to giving back. As I saw folk doing some quick mental math to find the right amount of dollars and cents, I figured it was a good time to mention that no company should give to the point of bankruptcy. There was some immediate relief so I followed up by explaining that communities need businesses and businesses need communities.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. While we all want our business community to give cash donations or offer services in kind, I think it’s irresponsible to give so much money that you can’t maintain your payroll. Not that giving is irresponsible, but if businesses have to let go of employees, the unemployment rate rises and the socioeconomic impact of that would likely make matters worse – it would be super counterproductive to sustainable national development.
When I got home that evening, I thought about the balance between giving what you can and giving too much. Businesses can run the numbers to calculate what they can give. They can measure their income against their expenditures. They can see profit margins and pinpoint almost down to the exact dollar that they can safely give without putting the company in jeopardy. As individuals, we can do a similar exercise with our personal finances. We can guesstimate if we should buy a barbecue ticket for a local fundraiser. We can quickly decide if we can afford to drop a few dollars in the donation jar at the checkout counter. If we really want to, we can take it to the spreadsheets and figure it all out. Where numbers are concerned, we can calculate it out.
Where the numbers don’t exist – human interaction specifically – is where the trouble starts. Despite humanity’s best efforts, human interaction can’t always be measured down to six decimal places. We can’t accurately measure how physically, mentally or emotionally taxing an experience will be. We don’t know how a conversation or meeting will be. We don’t know how we’ll come out on the other side afterward. Talking to a friend about this, we both concluded that it comes down to knowing yourself, taking care of yourself, and protecting yourself.
Give openly and freely, but don’t bankrupt yourself. Don’t give to the point that you are unable to function. We all want to give and give some more. We want to be there for family and friends. We want to be supportive and be a shoulder that others can lean on. We want to be reliable and the go-to person. We want to be the team player. But at some point, being something for someone else can become too much. While we may be physically able to be a great listener, can we take in anymore?
When we start feeling like it’s too much, we have to set some boundaries and start dropping some nos. I’m pretty proud of my ability to say no. I used to feel super guilty about it, but not so much anymore. I say no to unhealthy environments or commitments I can’t keep. I also check out pretty often. I can stay at home alone and take care of me without feeling bad about it. We should all check out every now and then. Give that time to yourself to do things for yourself – maybe it’s a beach day or some time fishing or crocheting.
As a wonderful mentor often reminds me, at some point, you won’t have time for you, and then what good will you be to the world?