Lessons I Learned From 2017
Don’t you just love when one of your favorite movies comes on TV...a movie that you haven’t seen in awhile, but always makes you smile when you watch it? Well, that is how I feel about the movie Shawshank Redemption. I absolutely love this movie. Aside from the fact that Morgan Freeman is one of my favorite actors, there are so many lessons this movie has to offer. One example is when Andy (Tim Robbins) says to Red (Morgan Freeman), “I guess it comes down a simple choice: get busy living, or get busy dying.” When I look back at 2017, that statement really wraps up some of what I have learned. As this year winds to a close, I fully understand that I have a choice. I can get busy living or get busy dying - it is totally up to me. In that spirit, as I start to think about the lessons I have learned for the year, I hope you will find these “living” lessons are as powerful to you as they have been to me.
Just say No.
I’m not sure why the word ‘No’ seems to be one of the hardest words to say, but over and over again when it comes to saying ‘No’, it brings up all kinds of emotions. Before this year, I would cringe at the thought of having to say ‘No’ to a request. I would feel like I had to explain my reasons why. When you start to explain yourself, all of a sudden you are giving your reasons up to be judged by the person you are saying ‘No’ to. Now, you are convincing them that you have the right or justification for saying ‘No’. Yikes! Talk about an uncomfortable exchange. So, if you don’t quite feel comfortable with saying ‘No’ and offering nothing else, you can try saying “No, and” as a way to tell them what you can do. For example, when asked to attend a party, you could say “No, and I hope you will consider asking me another time.” Either way you go about it, having the courage to say ‘No’, without reasons, excuses or justifications is an acceptable answer and allows you to retain your power. Just remember that ‘NO’ is a complete sentence.
Time for some Truth Telling
If one more person asks me, “how do you achieve work life balance?”, or “how do you make it all work?”, I think I will flip. Let’s be real...how many times has that question been asked of a man? Yet, women get asked that all the time. Now to be fair, we do have a trend towards having a lot to manage and deal with but, the question itself implies that this is a possible goal to strive for. Having it all and doing it all is not realistic. ‘Work life balance’ is overrated. There is no balance. It is not a 50/50 proposition. The truth is when you are at work, you are not at home. There will be things you will miss or give up or not be able to get to. When you are home, you may feel guilty that you aren’t at work or at that after hours social event. There is no equalizing here. Balance is unattainable. What we really should be striving for is a blend. Sometimes we will be spending more time and effort on work, while other times we will be 100% in our personal lives and that is okay. Blending means making it work... in whatever way works best for you. This may mean asking for help when you need it. It may mean saying ‘No’. It may mean giving up the shame that is cast upon those of us who feel like having and doing it all is a real thing we can accomplish. The point is, blend your life to make it work for you. Tell the truth when people ask if you can have it all. Yes, but the “all” I want is the “all” that is perfect for me.
Play is not a four letter word
At the beginning of this year, I made a startling statement to my core group of friends. I said, “I can’t remember the last time I actually had fun”. As a matter of fact, I am not entirely sure I would even know what fun is if it fell on top of me. It is not that I don’t want to have fun, but when things get so hectic, I find myself thinking taking a nap is fun. This absence of fun has stirred up something inside of me. A bit of resentment and cynicism. Not a great feeling to have day in and day out. And while fun is what I might be missing, one of the best ways to get it back is to consciously build play into my world. Now, I know what you may be thinking...is this girl for real? Is she actually suggesting that she schedule some playtime? That is exactly what I am saying. Creating an intentional time to play just might be the thing needed to bring back the fun. Saying yes to the opportunities where fun might occur may also mean being willing to say yes to playing with others. If you are missing the fun - if you are wondering how it feels to play, consider creating time to do just and only that...play. This might mean sitting down with your kids for a round of Mario Brothers or it might mean going skiing or getting a massage. For me, I make it a plan to take 5 minutes on a Friday night to have a dance party to end my week. Whatever works for you, just make sure you are not treating play like a four letter word. Schedule it. Block time to do it. Be intentional about it, but don’t neglect it. Play sparks creativity. It creates joyful moments. It is vital to living.
Overall, 2017 has been a year of learning for me. By implementing these lessons into my daily life, I’ve found myself a lot happier. I think it’s time we all start to get busy living.
*This blog was inspired by The Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes