Don't Do the Dishes! Cogs in the Wheel




Q: Hi. As a parent and social worker, I am underpaid and overworked. My question is: How do I know when enough is enough? For instance, I never know when it’s okay to take time off. How do we not give into the all the pressures around us, like the increased pace of things caused by technology? How do we keep from falling into being cogs in the wheel of external systems?


W.T.F (Worn to a Frazzle)


A: Dear WTF,

My answer is, you don’t. If you’re looking for permission to establish boundaries from The Outside, where all that pressure is, you may as well go to work for Disney. Seriously, you’ve not only fallen, you’re officially a ToonTown Cog.

So yeah. Boundaries. That old euphemism for ‘back the f*!*k off!’ I mean, WTF!? You’re a social worker, you know how to do those. Now I’m not trying to make you feel bad; believe me, as a life coach I know all too well what it’s like to be the shoemaker parent of barefoot kids. Those of us in the ‘helping professions’ are notorious for that, as well as for the resulting burn-out. The way I see it, whatever our personal and professional situations, there are going to be unique external policies to contend with. Ergo, without our own internal policies in place, we do indeed become ‘cogs in the machine’.

So to get the ball rolling, here are some examples of internal policies I recommend: “I do not check email more than three times a day.” (Think about it; if it’s that time-sensitive, what’s it doing in an email anyway?) “I keep my cell phone off between 10 and 3, but check for emergency messages every two hours.” (Face it. If your kid is hurt and someone is calling or texting to tell you about it, chances are someone has already called an ambulance. If you can’t handle that, then start with “I keep the cell phone off while I’m eating or watching Big Love.) Another might be: “I take 2 weeks off a year no matter what. “ (Then go block those weeks out on the calendar and make some plans to look forward to.) Money is an important area in which to establish some internal policies: Do you feel as though you’re always spending money on others, the rent, Starbucks, and never on a new coat for yourself? What internal policy can you establish there? (Hint: That’s not a rhetorical question.)


Now, I’m not saying there can’t be any wiggle-room; you’re not a Cog after all, but there’s no getting around drawing your bottom lines in the sand, and letting friends, family and co-workers know what they are. How else are you going to train them?


If you’re really feeling like life is flinging you by the seat of your pants, I would go so far as recommending you put together a little personal policy manual to refer to, and review it for updates a couple times a year.

Thanks for writing, WTF. Lemme know how it goes!



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Rahti Gorfien, founder of Creative Calling Coaching, is a Life Coach whose practice is primarily comprised of group and individual sessions for artist and freelancers, and while her client roster includes artists of all persuasions, she specializes in those that are parents. She also coaches adults with ADHD, their spouses, and parents of children diagnosed with ADHD. Her blogs have been featured in Hip Slope Momma, Talent Development Resources, Momasphere, Sanemoms and Rahti is a professional actress and playwright whose work has won critical recognition and is highly regarded by her peers. As a mother who coaches other moms, she believes that balancing domestic responsibility with vocational goals is a crucial component of our ability to connect to, and be present with our families. PH: 917 804-9572


You can hear her every week on Radio Rahti AKA Making It: A Show for Creative Thinkers and Doers at: