Christmas morning in State College with the Snavely’s. Katharine is such a big girl (4 in this picture, but five days to her 5th birthday). This holiday Katharine seems like such a grown up little girl. Between her snuggling with Gigi and Gaga in their bed, giving hugs to Matthew with “I love you” whispered in his ear, and doing her projects (learning to knit, making bracelets, sticker mosaics and her butterfly pillow), she is no longer just tearing into the gifts and not enjoying them. Her enthusiasm to live in the moment is motivating to all around her. More than once this vacation, someone has said to me, “Katharine has such a positive outlook on life.” This is one of the most important things that I hope that she learns in life. The pure joy in her eyes when she is excited melts my heart and most around her. It is wonderful to get to spend two weeks off with my sweetheart.
It has been a month of very few blog posts and very little free time. Tonight, I find myself writing from 30,000 feet with two little kiddos perched next to me watching movies on our long flight back from Christmas in State College. It honestly feels like this may be the first free moment in my life in December. Maybe I will say this every year, but this seems to have been the busiest holiday season yet. All fun things, but lots of things.
We traveled back to Ohio for Thanksgiving and flew back to Park City on November 28th. From that day, until today, every work day and every evening had a purpose. Some work or holiday preparation task that had to be completed. November 29th – get the Christmas tree and decorations up. November 30th, first ski days planned. December 1st – begin the board meeting at the kids school. December 2nd – Christmas cards created. December 3rd – finish the full lists of who gets Christmas cards and get the hunt for addresses closed for the year. December 3rd – work event. December 4th – prep for Christmas cookies. December 5th – Christmas cookie party. December 6th – holiday calendar started. December 7th – finish and order holiday calendars, 3 holiday parties. December 8, 9, 10th – work trip to Ft. Lauderdale. December 11th – kids school holiday party. December 12th …. Gingerbread house….you get the point. This schedule went on all the way up to December 21st when we flew back east. We survived. It all happened, and we had a wonderful Christmas with Jon’s family. But, today I am tired and a little sick. I can’t help but wish for a relaxing night or two in front of our Christmas tree at home with no place to go, no task to complete other than just relaxing.
It makes me wonder, what has to give in my life to have things be just a little less scheduled? I don’t want to give up any of the fun things we fill our life with, but I also feel like keeping the pace we keep makes things go by at the speed of light. I worry that with all of the things going on, I am not able to live in the moment. My brain is always planning or processing the next thing to do as that is the only thing that makes them all able to fit into our schedule.
The funny thing about this is that I have always been of the belief as a parent that I won’t over-schedule our kids. I see so many families of elementary age kids (and older) and they have so many activities going on that it seems like they don’t get time to just “be” together. Jon and I talk about this and purposefully work to have our kids only in extracurricular activities if it is something they really enjoy, and only about 2 a year. Ironically, I don’t apply this same principle to myself.
A Feeling of Obligation – Bad, even Ugly at times
I feel obligated to do as many things as I can with my time. Obligated to my family, to my work team, to myself. I feel like if I can do something, I should. I feel lucky that throughout my life I have learned to be confident in my ability to take on almost anything. This confidence is based in a belief that although I may not be great at whatever it is that I am trying, I will try to figure it out. I also love variety. The problem with the combination of these personality traits is that they lower the barrier of saying “yes” to things. And when I say yes, I build obligation. So, why do I feel obligated? Who knows.
A Desire to Be Helpful – Good, but also Bad when it means no time for me
At the core of who I am, I like to help people. I see something that I can help with, and I offer to help. Often times this adds things to my list to do list and I want them there. The most obvious sign of this is my list of both formal and informal mentees. Over the years, this has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my professional life. Ultimately, it is what has led me to want to lead a large team of marketers. The trade-off, and there is always a trade-off is giving up time that I have for myself.
A Way Things Should Be Done – Generally Bad, and even Ugly
This is the one I have worked the most on in my quest for self-improvement. I have historically had the perception in my life that there is a “best” way to do things. This standard that I created for myself often times added a fair amount of stress to my life as when things aren’t done this “best” way, I get frustrated. In the beginning of leading teams, this belief that there is one way to do things (my way) made me a horrible leader. Nothing was ever good enough. The best thing about this experience was that it forced me to change. Having kids was the next big life change that helped me to value things not going my way. My kids almost never see how brilliant my way is! By having this belief, it has historically caused me to take more time doing things than they need. In a life of time scarcity, this is a problem.
I Love Doing Things – Good!
I truly love relationships, challenges, being active and trying new things. This is the most honest and good reason that I over-schedule myself. I like it. Doesn’t mean I like some of the consequences of the over-scheduling, but I do truly enjoy doing the things that I do.
So, good, bad and ugly this seems like why I do what I do. Any advice out there from other over-schedulers? Is it a lost cause, or can you change this about yourself?
I began writing this post on Thanksgiving Day as I was feeling I needed to have the obligatory “I am thankful for…” post on the blog. It was rough. Although I am thankful for so many things, what I found myself doing was writing what I thought I should write versus the things that were on my mind. The original intention of this blog was to write from my heart and my head, and not to write what I thought people wanted to hear or what I “should” write. So, for that day and for the last week or so, I stopped writing.
Once I lived through this writing crisis, I became increasingly more skeptical. All of the “Thank You” messages that I saw in my Facebook feed and of all of the articles I was reading on other blogs about thankfulness didn’t seem authentic. I wondered if those were real thoughts from people or if they were just posting/writing about what they thought they should say much like I had been about to do. So much of our world today is about broadcasting our social “status.” Therefore, how much are people broadcasting thankfulness versus being truly thankful?
Tonight, I am a little less skeptical. I have decided that this broadcasting of thankfulness is a good thing. We all have a lot going on in our lives every day and night. Our brains can get filled with worry, stress, to-do lists, work, family and so much more. Being thankful requires a purposeful direction or redirection of these thoughts and energy toward celebrating the good in our lives. By being purposeful, does that mean it is isn’t real? I don’t think so. The forced thought, and ultimately broadcasting of these thoughts, helps to move my mental energy toward what is good in my life and away from what may be dragging me down.
As a way to direct my thoughts toward thankfulness, I will start another category on this blog describing things in my life that I am thankful for. Look for this, coming soon!