Last weekend was super-fun! It began with a full day and evening spent with my fantastic small-business coach on Friday, surrounded by lots of great energy and ideas, accompanied by delicious food and good company; that’s my idea of a day well-spent. Saturday found me helping a dear friend find the most beautiful wedding dress ever (such an honor to be a part of that process, btw) followed by an evening celebrating her and her betrothed over dinner. Sunday provided more opportunities to catch up with fun, inspiring friends over brunch and the rest of the day out and about with my Love. Throw some work in there during the small windows of downtime I had and I’d call that a great weekend, without a doubt. Just one task left to accomplish; write my newsletter story and off to bed I'd go...
Then Sunday evening rolled around and I was completely S-P-E-N-T.
A weekend filled with engagement, activity, friends and good times is always a great way for me to refill my Inspiration Bag of Tricks, but all that movement can sometimes leave me exhausted. Plus, throwing work into the mix during my in-between moments zapped any energy I might have had left to try to use for normal brain function by 5PM Sunday evening. So when it came time to write my Inspiration Monday newsletter, I was almost completely useless.
And this manifested loud and clear in my story last week. Wait, it wasn’t a story, I don’t think I even signed it! I just offered some quotes to bring something (better than nothing) to your inbox that morning. I hit “send” and hoped that what I’d created with the limited energy I had left would provide at least a little bit of value for you, friends.
The reason I share this with you today is because it was REALLY hard for me to hit “send” last Sunday night. I don’t like feeling like I’m going to let someone down, not show up for them with 110% of me there in that moment, or worry that I’m not really adding value for you just because I’m tired. Maybe that makes me “Type A” or a “perfectionist” (my clients and those close to me say it’s that I’m “loyal” and “dedicated”), but I set high standards for myself, my reputation and the ways in which I help the people I care about, you included.
Now, in spite of it having been a tough decision to hit “send” and pass along work that I didn’t feel like really represented me and my level of commitment to you, I made a conscious decision to do it. My body and spirit were worn out, and I knew that if I didn’t acknowledge that depletion, anything I tried to create for you would have reflected much more poorly than a handful of quotes might have. I actually took two hour-long passes at real stories before I threw my hands up in the air and surrendered. "Inspirational quotes it is. I'm exhausted..."
So is surrender a bad thing?
I’m here to tell you it’s NOT. When you’re in touch with exactly why you’re waving the white flag, and even when you’re not exactly sure why but you have a conscious “knowing” that giving up for the moment is the best thing for you, surrender is a fantastic, self-affirming strategy. I highly recommend it.
If it seems tricky to wrap your head around this concept, or if you’re unsure if surrender is something you’re entitled to embrace from time to time, take a look at the following Surrender Do’s and Don’ts. Then go try it. Really.
Surrender Do’s and Don’ts
DO: check in with your body and spirit from time to time. It’s important to keep a connection to yourself in order to ensure you’re all there when you really need to be.
DO: take a look at your calendar so you can proactively identify IN ADVANCE times when you might feel the urge to surrender. Are there events or tasks on your to-do list that might end up being too time-consuming, stressful or are more like obligations than soul-filling activities? Think about strategies you can incorporate to either a.) ensure you don't hit burnout level to begin with, or b.) you can prioritize the ways you choose to surrender.
DON'T: be afraid to prioritize... and cut the shit that doesn't land at the top of the priority list! Once you've reviewed your calendar and to-do's, make a commitment to only allow items to remain that either bring joy to complete them or will help you move forward in your life. Do a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the energy output will match the spirit benefit you get from doing a particular task or attending a particular event. It really is OK to decline a previous commitment if it's going to be better for you to do so. REALLY.
DO: give yourself permission to choose surrender! Repeat after me; “I don’t have to be everything for everybody. I don’t have to do it all. I can’t do it all.” There is NO shame in knowing your limits and being able to identify and embrace your boundaries.
DON'T: feel guilty about it. We all have needs, and consciously acknowledging yours is your absolute right and obligation in order to maintain your health and your sanity. By the way, those who care about you will likely be the first ones to congratulate you for choosing to surrender. (Think about it... I'm right, aren't I?)
DO: communicate your needs to those who rely on you. After you've done your proactive calendar check and identified that you might need to surrender a task or event, talk about your needs with the people who are counting on you in life. If you notice a pattern of saying "yes" to everything and then feeling depleted all the time, let them know that you're no good to them at 50% of your physical and emotional capacity and that you're going to be more selective about how you spend your time as a result. By letting friends, family members, groups/organizations know what your new commitment to them really is, they'll understand what they can expect from you and what your needs for yourself really are. It's a win-win.
DON'T: forget the
Oxygen Mask Theory. Whenever I fly I tune out the flight attendants during
their safety schpiel, but every time they do it they provide a fantastic life-lesson
sprinkled amidst their exit door arm waves. In order to be 100% there for the
people who count on you in life, you have to care for yourself first. When
those oxygen masks drop down, you need to put yours on first before helping
those around you because you’re no good to them if you pass out before you can
assist, right? Same goes in life. Take care of you so you can fully take care
of everyone who counts on you. And if taking care of you means surrendering to
what your body and spirit are telling you are necessary for survival, I give
DO: know there is great strength in surrender. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a sign of weakness to give in. As the other do's and don'ts have explained, prioritizing yourself isn't selfish, and in fact, is a really selfless act because you're acknowledging your limits in order to be your best self for those who need you. It takes great strength and a real conscious connection to your spirit to be able to say "I've got nothing more to give right now".
DO: remember you deserve it. If you're a small business owner, like me, and you love what you do, like I do, you can probably relate to the idea that "work" doesn't always feel like "work" and can make it tricky to know when to identify a stopping point. For me, working with clients, creating content for my newsletters and programming, working with my coach to improve my business model, really fills me up. It's fun and inspiring! So the idea of saying "stop, go watch some New GIrl now" is a tough decision to make. But I remind myself that I deserve a break too. It's good to have an escape now and then, and even better to make a specific decision to do so.
So, the next time you're feeling a little overwhelmed or overcommitted, try surrender on for size! You'll thank me for it later, I promise.
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With love and inspiration (and a little white flag in my back pocket, just in case I need it),