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Whose Agenda Are You Moving?

Librada Estrada

In a few weeks I will be visiting with my family in Texas. I am very excited because I am already imagining being with them, eating homemade tamales and fresh flour tortillas, attending a Mariachi mass and introducing my kids to the decorated trees along the Riverwalk. I will also be visiting the extended families of my seven siblings, catching up with friends and taking my family to new attractions in San Antonio.

As I have been preparing for the travel one thing that is in the back of my mind is that I have to be practical about what I can realistically achieve during this vacation. Although I am not worried about it per say, I think about it because every time I travel to visit family I return home and get sick. Now this could be because we are traveling during cold and flu season or the change in climate from Texas to the DC area. However, other’s think it is because I run myself ragged trying to do everything with everyone while visiting.

This got me thinking about how I want to be with my parents and siblings and how that will impact what I do with my children. More importantly I have been considering what family traditions we can carry with us to Texas. The bottom line is: who’s agenda or plans will I be following during the holidays?

In broad terms, there are at least four options available—my agenda (I want to carry out my own plan/vision), somebody else’s (I will do what you want), my ego’s (If I am not there it won’t be as much fun or fear of missing out) or that of my inner critics/Tu No Puedes Committee (She’s going to think you don’t want to spend time with her if I say no). I imagine this is familiar to you as well.

I have left my agenda unattended for different reasons personally and professionally. How many times have you said yes to someone else’s agenda and you are not even sure why? It happens all of the time. Some of the reasons are because you:

  • Don’t have your own agenda/plan—If someone else knows what they are doing, have an idea of how to achieve it or it’s similar to what you want to achieve, why not support their agenda. It’s very easy to do when you don’t have a vision for yourself.
  • Are afraid to disagree or say no—You are fearful of what might happen or another’s reaction if you say yes to your own agenda.
  • Don’t think your ideas are good enough—It might be that when you think of your agenda, you may think it is not good enough or that it needs to be further developed before you are ready to take action on it. 
  • Are uncomfortable disagreeing—You believe that saying no will rock the boat.
  • Don’t know how to say no—You might feel obligated or you do not have boundaries in place to feel empowered to say no.
  • Are unclear on what is next—You might have an idea of what you want to achieve but maybe don’t know how to proceed.
  • Don’t want to work on your plan because it’s too hard—Sometimes you say yes when you consider what you want to accomplish and think it might be too hard, require too much time or that you will have to stretch yourself in ways that you are not ready to do.

It is an easy thing to fall into. And, it can apply to any area of our lives. What you say yes to during family vacations, how you show up and what you focus on as a leader, or who you choose to support as a team member, volunteer or friend are just a few examples.

The key element is to say yes because you want to and not based on what your ego or Tú No Puedes committee is "telling" you to do. It’s about being intentional.

So, how can you determine whose agenda you support? Here a few strategies, Si Tú Quieres:

  • Clarify your agenda: Get clear on your own agenda/vision for your life/leadership/relationship/job/etc. It’s difficult to say no or create boundaries if you don’t know which way to go.
  • Pause and ask why: If you are saying yes to someone else, take a moment and ask yourself why. What appeals to you about what they are trying to achieve?
  • Consider if this supports your agenda: Does supporting someone else help you achieve what you want? If you are working towards the same goal consider being flexible in how you achieve it. 
  • Share your agenda with others—Often it may seem as if you are working at cross-purposes. If you take the time to explain your intentions you may find that others are willing to support you.
  • Seek an alternative solution:  Is there opportunity to compromise or to achieve consensus? In the case of the holidays, I may decide to create a new holiday tradition, something that will honor both my immediate family and my siblings.

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