Do you have a highlight reel that plays in your head from time to time? Or one that you can call up when you’re feeling a little blue? Does your highlight reel just start playing sometimes when you least expect it? Or when you are just zoning out?
I have a highlight reel but my highlight reel doesn’t get as much playing time as my “lowlight” reel. My “lowlight” reel consists of clips of all the times I’ve embarrassed myself, all the times when I didn’t act as professionally as I should have, all the times that I’ve lost my cool when there really was no need to – all of my human moments.
Often, my lowlight reel starts playing without any warning. Out of the blue, a memory will pop into my head of an incident from 10 or 15 years ago. I’ll be driving along on my way to work and the memory of an awkward incident will come up. Or I’ll be walking around in a store and the memory of a time when I was tongue-tied will flash across my mind.
I don’t know what causes this spontaneous playing of my lowlight reel. But a couple of years ago, I started using a mantra whenever those memories enter my mind unbidden. Let it go. I usually say it out loud but if I’m in public, I’ll say it in my head. Let it go.
It’s taken a lot of practice but usually when I say it, the memory blinks out. It doesn’t stop the memory from coming back but it is nice that I can banish it with three little words – Let it go.
I’ve started using my mantra for more than just banishing unwanted memories. Whenever I’m feeling uncharitable about someone or something – let it go. Whenever I’m feeling angry about a situation that I have no control over – let it go. Whenever something didn’t turn out as it should have, as I planned it to – let it go.
The thought processor churns on!
I have a confession to make. I haven’t run in over a week. My last run was a 5-miler in Dallas last Friday, 11 March.
That wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have a half-marathon in four weeks. So what’s going on? Why am I not running even though I know that I need to be? Why am I lacking the motivation to get my runs in, to log my miles, to put some time on my feet in preparation for this half-marathon? Who unplugged my motivation machine?
I don’t think my motivation machine has been unplugged. Most mornings when my alarm goes off I lie in bed and think about going for a run. My clothes are already set out. My Nike+ sensor is tucked into the pair of running shoes that’s next in the rotation. My Garmin Forerunner is charged – just in case I’m in the mood for an outdoor run. My MP3 player is charged and cued up to my running soundtrack. Mentally, I’m ready to go. In my mind, I see myself hopping on the treadmill or heading outside for a quick spin around the lake. In my mind, I can feel my heart pumping, feel my legs moving, feel the sweat dripping down my face. Mentally, I am eager to run. Physically, not so much.
This past week my excuse has been exhaustion. The leadership retreat in Dallas was exhausting. Not only was I “on” for more than 12 hours each day, I had difficulty sleeping so most nights so I ended up only getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep each night. When I finally got back home, there was a lot to catch up on both at work and at home so I ended up choosing an extra hour of sleep instead of going for a run. I know that exercise boosts energy but sleep is also an important element of a healthy lifestyle.
The other problem is that I’ve run several half-marathons before. I know that I can grind out the distance despite not having a lot of training runs under my belt. To be honest, I think the longest run I’ve done when training for a half-marathon is 8 miles. Once. So knowing that the distance is manageable is another excuse for passing on my training runs. But I also know that I enjoy the race so much more when I’ve logged regular runs leading up to the race because I know that I’m physically prepared for the race.
This week, my goal is to sync my physical self with my mental runner, to put my mental motivation into action. What’s your goal for the week?
I just spent a week in Dallas, Texas on business. Whenever I leave the office, people think I’m off having fun. They don’t realize that when you’re at a conference or a retreat, which this essentially was, it’s not like being in the office. When you’re in the office, you go in at 8 (or 7:15 in my case) and you leave at 5 (or much later in my case). You get to leave the office at the end of the day and leave your office persona behind.
When you’re at an off-site, there is no end of the day. Often you’re having breakfast with colleagues before you head into sessions. Then, lunch is a group event and whether it is a formal working session or not, work is often discussed. Then you head back into sessions. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an hour or two before the group dinner where, once again, work will be discussed whether in passing or intensely as a follow-up to the day’s meetings. After the group dinner, people will either congregate at the bar or in a hospitality suite. While this is optional, a lot of good discussions and ideas pop up during the informal networking that takes place with a round of drinks in hand.
At a conference or an off-site, you wear your office persona the majority of the time. And that’s exhausting.
But, if you’re with a group that you enjoy being with, it’s exhilarating and energizing. Even though the days are long, the time flies by because you’re with people who like you despite your personality quirks, who respect your opinions even if they’re not expressed as diplomatically as they could be, who want to hear your point of view even thought they know it’s different from theirs. When you’re with colleagues who are friends, work doesn’t seem like work and the impossible seems possible.
I wish things were like this at my office. But life is a series of choices, right? Even if I can’t be energized by the people in my office, I can choose to be energized by my projects. I can choose to be motivated by knowing my work has an impact. I can choose to look for bright spots in my day wherever I can find them. And in the meantime, I look anticipate my off-site meetings and conferences and I cherish the time I have with those colleagues.
The thought processor churns on!