Have you ever had one of those moments when you find yourself resenting your calendar?
When you find yourself grumbling about how busy you are – only to realize that there's no one to blame but yourself for your schedule of back-to-back meetings and obligations?
I had a few of those moments last week. We're heading into our annual July 4th summer break here at Plenty – a lovely tradition that allow us to celebrate, relax, and recharge after what is always a busy spring. Jen is already enjoying some time away, up at her family's cabin in Maine for a couple of weeks. I've been doing my best to clear my desk and my inbox so I can join my own family to enjoy Independence Day.
We all know that when you're exiting the highway, you put your turn signal on, move into the right-hand lane, and take your foot off the gas. But last week it was like I was accelerating onto the off-ramp! Instead of easing myself into vacation, I stepped on the accelerator, filling my schedule with meetings – and my to-do list with self-imposed expectations to "get things done."
I finally had to call a truce with myself. I woke up grumpy and stressed, days before summer vacation. Instead of relishing in the upcoming time off, I was anxious and worried.
I realized my stress wasn't a sign that I had too much to do – it was a sign I had ridiculous expectations of myself. I cleared out some meetings, deferred a whole set of tasks, and permitted myself to say, "I need a break."
Wow, sometimes allowing myself to relax is the hardest part!
Today, those of us in the United States are going to celebrate freedom, independence, and liberty. Our celebrations will center around the courage, bravery, and sacrifice it took to create our country – and the empathy, care, and community it takes to keep it. These are absolutely wonderful things to celebrate this year and every year.
Somewhere in there, I hope you give yourself a chance to imagine another kind of freedom, equally important: freedom from worry. Freedom from your own expectations. Freedom from your self-imposed limits. Freedom from your past mistakes. Freedom from feeling like you aren't good enough.
All month long we'll be looking at this idea of freedom, and the wonderful truth that the freedom we're seeking is seeking us, too.
Happy Fourth of July! And – happy birthday America. We need more of you around.