The most important thing I learned (or taught myself?) over the past 37 years is that my energy is finite. That my energy - personal and professional - is limited. While I don't set boundaries for myself per se (or goals, but let's save that for another blog), I do believe that our daily stash does have limits and bounds. And yet, HOW I give it away can also somehow be the thing that gives me MORE energy and life! Following yet? Have I confused you? Read on!
I used to believe that my energy was an unlimited well. Let's go back a few years....Professionally I was rocking it, personally --loved my life and friends. Travel was ON POINT. Just bought the new house, new car, got married...Life was GOOD--until I had a nervous MELT DOWN. At 27. Seriously.
So, you ask, what happened? Well-- a perfect storm of giving so much of myself to things that didn't fill my "well" and never allowing space for my own thoughts. What does that mean? I love bullet points so read on, reader!
I ALWAYS said YES. It didn't matter if my boss or a colleague asked, I always said yes to any extra work or project. I said yes to EXCESSIVE overtime. I said yes to every work outing, every happy hour, every event for meeting planners in the industry. Every EVERYTHING. A friend needed my space, time, ear, advice? Then check, check, check, CHECK! I felt the need to always be ON, so I was never OFF. I never gave myself REAL downtime.
Vacation? What is that? I passed up almost ALL my vacation each year "because people needed me" and when I did take a few days off I was ALWAYS available. Sorry--so many caps, but you really need to understand that ALWAYS meant ALLLLLWAYS. My husband at the time hated my job (and probably me) because I just had ONE speed. FULL. ON.
Almost NOTHING I did, I really loved or cared about. Yes, I was saying yes to projects and getting my "name" out in the industry. Totally at the expense of myself, doh! Joke was on me. While I was saying yes to volunteering for organizations whose missions I truly didn't KNOW if I believed in, opportunities to fill my own well were passing me by like crazy. I was exhausted trying to learn what I should have let my heart guide me to. I was involved in everything at every organization I could get involved with and while I learned a LOT (like, a lot, a lot) I also burned myself right out.
So, now that you get the picture--there was an *ahem*, breaking point. No, literally. I grabbed my degree off the wall and smashed it in to 10,000 pieces (just the frame-I can send you a frameless shot of my degree if you want proof lol). I promise I am normal and not a sociopath. Seriously. :)
So what changed? I realized that I didn't know sh*t about this game called life. I thought it was sprint after sprint after sprint. Know what happens after days and months of sprints? [Insert sad broken degree here]. It could have been much worse. And honestly, for those that loved me it probably was. I had NOTHING left to give of myself back then. I wasn't a great partner, spouse, employee or friend. I just was zapped 100% of the time and "zombie'd" my way through a terribly long time in my life. With the help from a lot of prescribed drugs. No dice.
What I believe in Now...
So all of that pain came with great lessons. You are a well. You empty out water, you need to put water back in to keep the village going in the future. (Hint: The Village is the holistic YOU). You are a fuel tank to run the machine that is your life. Take it out, it has to be put back in or the gears burn out. You get the point.
Back to my fave bullet points...
My life is MINE. I live it with INTENTION (mostly!). I choose joy. I choose projects and people that I enjoy. That being said, I had a lot of breakups with...
TOXIC FRIENDS. Oooh this is a tough topic for me. I am a people-pleaser to my CORE. I used to be the person that listened to the dirty jokes with the old guard and laughed along and did a lot of things I am not pleased with because it made OTHERS happy. NO MORE. That had to go. If you didn't ADD to my life, then most likely you didn't make the cut.
Annual Social Media Breaks. Say it out loud, do it. Put it in to practice. Take whatever amount of time you think you can take and double it. Usually I try for a full 15 days each year. What doesn't happen? The world doesn't miss me, or burn down. Friends lives go on. My parents are just fine. What DOES happen? I gain some sanity and yes, clarity. I am not getting upset on the daily about my "friends-sisters-dog's" Instagram chat feed. I am also not angry about politics or the news. I don't have to see what my cousins are up to, what the latest trends are and most importantly--I feel LIBERATED. I don't have to post SHIT. I secretly enjoy the crap outta it.
Give yourself a gift. The gift is finding what you enjoy and enjoy it. Finding what fills you up and GOING for it. For me, it actually FILLS my well to coach other professional women to success. It isn't a chore and it adds to my energy. Some goes out--but MORE comes in. What did I get rid of? I gifted myself the newly obtained art of saying NO and F*CK NO sometimes. The fat got cut, and I thrived. Meditation. Actually caring about my health. Eating things that also fueled me instead of crap. My other *favorite* gift was learning golf and sticking with it through being just terrible. Some day I am still terrible. I gifted myself something that can take a lot out of me, but that truly makes me happy. Even if it isn't always popular, trendy, hip or whatever. Who care? I love it.
So, dear readers. Do I have ALL of my shit together ALL of the time? Absolutely not--but I can share with you these lessons that totally changed my life in hopes that you will stop and assess your own gas tanks and boundaries.
Always with love,