Lighten Up

As I write these words, I am just a few hours shy of my Second Life Day. March 3rd marks the 15th anniversary of my discovery of being diabetic and the entire ordeal that was my diabetic odyssey. I’m not going to rehash that tale in detail again, as I’ve written about it in detail in past years. You can read my multi-post blog starting here.

As I approach my Second Life Day each year, I become very introspective and look at my life; this year has been no exception. What I’ve come to discover I need to focus on is quite simple. I need to lighten up.

To put it shortly, I’ve been taking life way too seriously for some time. I’ve started to realize that I’ve been letting stress get the better of me. It’s impacted my sleep, my moods and just my overall enjoyment of life. And now that I’ve taken some time to be still and contemplate what I’ve been living these past few months, I’ve realized that I am at the source of much of the stress that I’ve been enduring.

Yes, there is some added stress at work due to our needing to revamp most of the reports that I maintain and update daily, but the real stress has been self-imposed. I put far too much pressure on myself; pressure that is not being dictated or imposed by any of my leaders. I have long been a highly performing individual. I have nearly always excelled in my various roles. And as such, I have instilled in myself a belief that I must always perform at that level. So when work demands started increasing, I took it upon myself to make sure everything was moving along, and setting my own expectation levels twice as high as they needed to be. I felt like I needed to make sure everything was working seamlessly, that there were no impacts on any of the leaders who use our reports, and all the while make sure that I added even more value to our reports. Why not make them more complex, more complete?

These were not expectations of any one other than myself. And for weeks now, I’ve been ramping up my own stress. I hate to fail. Hell, I wouldn’t even consider any of what went on failure – it was more… things were more complicated than I anticipated, and it was going to take me longer to get things working than I felt they should. But that wasn’t acceptable in my mind.

Now as I take a moment to step back, I see that I’ve been taking life too seriously and letting the stress get to me. It’s not the end of the world if I have to tell some people with a different title than me that I can’t give them exactly what they want (yet). Or that it might take me a little longer than expected. What’s the worst that happens? Things will take longer to get done. And the leaders may have to do a bit more work on their end to get data to manage their teams’ productivity and performance. Nothing that we are doing is life-saving. You’ll survive, and so will I.

We all take life a little too seriously from time to time. Life is much too fragile, much too short to let yourself get worked up. The point of life is just that – to live! It’s like the old adage goes – no one is on their deathbed and thinks to themselves, “I wish I had worked a little harder, or a little longer…” We need to learn to inject more fun and laughter into our lives. Take a moment to just step back and breathe. Maybe listen to a podcast (and maybe not another one of those murder podcasts…you know who you are…). Take a walk with your loved one, or by yourself. Read a good book. Watch a movie. Partake in a yummy meal or beverage. The choice is yours. Just do something fun! If you’re starting to feel a bit stressed, take a pause and have fun.

So my focus now will be to take life less seriously. Stop getting stressed out over things that are out of my control. Stop putting higher expectations on myself than others are. It’s time to learn to be okay with not performing at 100% at all times. It’s time to be okay with failure. It’s okay to be less than perfect and to potentially let people down. Life will go on. But first, time to remind myself to not take life so seriously.

Me, not taking life too seriously.

So what can you do today to lighten up a little? Where do you put too much expectation on yourself in your day-to-day life? Do you have any self-imposed expectations that probably aren’t realistic?

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