By Samantha McKenzie
U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters is one of my heroes. She’s intelligent and fearless. She’s a woman who isn’t afraid to speak truth to power and she won’t back down from a tough challenge. This doesn’t mean she’s perfect. Over the years, we’ve seen her take some losses. But her bounce back is impeccable. She’s wise enough to speak the truth, yet humble enough to understand there is still so much to learn.
It was no surprise when she shut down Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin at a House Financial Services Committee hearing last month for side stepping her question and derailing the meeting with a bunch of empty words and bogus compliments.
Auntie Maxine showed the world that day that she’s taken down more formidable opponents than him. On that day, she taught us all a very valuable lesson. With three simple words, she showed us how to reclaim our time.
Her words, “I’m reclaiming my time” lit up the social media community. It inspired witty hashtags, video memes and even a gospel-styled song written by Mykal Kilgore, titled “Reclaiming My Time.” The internet is swift and equally hilarious.
So why did her words resonate with so many of us? She really made me ask myself, what do I do with my time that I feel like I have to reclaim it. Do I squander it? Do I give it away? Do I use it to reinvest in myself? My answer: I give it away too freely, to almost anyone who asks for it. I knew I needed to reevaluate my use of my time and start thinking about ways to reclaim it. So for all of you out there that heard the congresswoman staking claim to her valuable minutes, here’s a quick list to help you start reclaiming yours:
- Say no and say it so often that it feels natural rolling off your tongue. I know you’ve heard this before, but I won’t stop saying it until we all learn how to do it without regret. Men are great at it. Learn from them. We have to relearn how to help, but with limits. We don’t owe anyone or everyone all of our time. Reclaim your voice and see how it will also free up your time.
- Decide how you’d like to spend your time. That’s right. You have to decide how you’d like your day to go. If not, it will be quite easy for others to use it up for you. Do this daily or plan for the week if you’re the “to-do” list kind of person. It’s easy for us to get sidetracked in doing things for other people when we don’t have anything planned for ourselves. Make a date with you. Spend quality time with you. Do the things you love to do on a regular basis. Reclaim your joy and spend your time wisely.
- Make your life revolve around you. Trust me, as narcissistic as this sounds, everyone around you (including your spouse, your boss and your children) thinks about their needs first. It’s human nature. And then those people look around to find others, like you, to help them with what they need. Give up the idea that you have to be all things to all people. Be all things to you because you deserve it. Reclaim your mind and put yourself first.
Start with little things until you can build up to reclaiming all of your time. It starts by reclaiming you. Thank you, Auntie Maxine. Thank you, Congresswoman Waters. You have taught us so much through your example.