So the first thing I should say is that, for anyone who was following my 7 Day Set Yourself Series, I'm sorry that I didn't finish it.
As I went into the holiday season, I had been feeling both a little bit burnt out and a little bit stressed about all of the things I was telling myself I needed to do and accomplish in 2014. I noticed that the more I thought about what I wanted to accomplish, the more my mood started to change (not in a positive way). I found myself focused on all of these things "I have to do": Write, develop, grow, serve, help, succeed. The more I focused on it, the more I realized that these things weren't serving my personal or professional growth the way they had in the past.
And there are a few really good reasons for this.
First, I'd become a parent and was really struggling from a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out) as I watched all my non-parent friends live their lives the way I used to. This was a big struggle at times and a big realization that I can't necessarily have EVERYTHING I want right now. I was struggling with this idea that I could do everything. I could exercise, grow in my career, help others, be a great partner and parent, and prepare for the zombie apocalypse (that's only partly a joke) all at the same time and nothing would have to give. But things did have to give. Unfortunately, for a while, what was suffering the most was my relationship with my partner, Allie.
Over the holidays, we agreed that I would take a break from everything. Little to no work (I did some reading and writing but that was it) and a lot of time just spent with my family. We spent hours on the couch watching TV together, playing together, and just reconnecting.
And it was perfect. It provided me with some lost clarity on what's really important right now. It brought me closer together with my family and, personally, shifted my perspective and focus on where I should really be investing the largest amount of my time right now.
Second, I learned that I need to let go of the things I've been attached to over the past year: set schedules, things going the way I want them to, this idea that I can be everything to everyone.
The past few weeks I've been really focused on non-attachment to some of the things in my life that originally started out as activities that helped me and slowly, because I became so attached, activities that started to hurt me: getting upset if I didn't make it to the gym in the morning, not getting time at night to reflect, read or have alone time.
I realized that I can have some of these things, but I can't have them all. I also realized that it's important to step back from time to time and reassess what's working and what's not. I changed my game. I've started focusing on giving my family more than I give strangers. I've started going to bed early so that I can get up super early for that reflection and alone time I need. I've started planning my life more with my family than with my career.
And it was scary.
I recently went to an event that was hosted by the Toronto Power Group. A group of super achievers who support one another on their goals through regular meet ups. The event was focused on setting yourself up for the most powerful 2014 ever.
Based on what I was going through at the time and the reflection I was doing, I was hesitant at first. I thought "Is this really what I need right now? More goal setting? More thinking about success?"
But I went because it was an opportunity to spend time with a friend who I've known since Grade 10 and probably knows me better than anyone else in my life. It was important because of that.
One of the activities we did was reflect on the past year and go through a visualization activity that help me identify the most important moments for me in 2013. At first, before I went into the process, I really thought that those moments would be mostly about my career. About the work that I did and the success that I'd had over the past year.
But it wasn't.
Every moment I visualized had to do with my family or my friends. It was the trip my family took to Kenya, the time spent at the bar having deep conversation with Good people, and spending a weekend with my best friend learning zombie survival tactics (you know, just in case).
The most important moments in my life in 2013 had everything to do with the most important people.
The next step was to identify your accomplishments in 2013. All of the accomplishments had to do with my career: developing a successful onboarding program, speaking and facilitating to over 2,500 people, being accepted as a contributing writer for Actionable Books.
Those are things that are important and that I'm really proud of. But they don't make me a better person.
What makes me a better person is being the person I want and need to be to the people who are closest to me. I think I forgot that for a while.
It's easy to justify work over relationships at times. It's easy to think that the people who mean the most to you will be there when you finish. But, the reality is, they might not be. I've lost some friends this year. I've disconnected with people who were important to me because I got too busy. I don't want that to be the case for 2014.
So this year I'm focusing on reconnecting with the people that are most important to me. I'm focusing on taking on less and letting go of things that I've been attached to. The Set Yourself Series was an exercise in letting go. I got so focused on thinking that it mattered. That people were relying on me for this. Any maybe that is the case to a small degree but you know what?
Nobody said anything.
Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.
Matt Tod is an international speaker, leadership facilitator, writer and lover of all things Zombie-related.