Oh. My. God. It actually happened: This past weekend I actually took a weekend.
Like, the whole thing. Both days.
On Saturday I drove to San Francisco for a gallery walk & talk at the SF Public Library, where the Friends of Calligraphy has its triennial members’ exhibit, Kalligraphia, in the 6th floor Skylight Gallery.
(Here’s the piece I have in the show:
I have to confess it was a nice stroke to my ego when I saw a number of people snapping pics of it! 🙂
I was so absorbed in the gallery talk that I didn’t take any pictures myself, but Raoul Martinez, who has a beautiful blackletter piece in the show, created an online gallery of some of his favorites–check it out.)
After taking my leave of the library, instead of doing the workaholic (read: normal) thing and driving home to boot up the computer, I drove in the opposite direction for an all-too rare visit with my good friend, Fawn.
Nothing like girl talk over a good meal (followed by an ice cream cone) to make you feel like it’s a weekend!
When I finally got back home after dark, I still resisted the pull of my computer (yay me!), and I maintained my resolve throughout the following day when MB and I drove back up to the City where I spent almost 8 hours in an all-day Write Your Life Story workshop with writer/performer Ann Randolph.
(And can I just say, it was brilliant! So brilliant, in fact, that I signed up for a 4-day workshop with her in September.
A workshop with Ann Randolph is like crack for a writer/performer, and I need more of it!
Um, except that there’s the somewhat significant detail of an Ann Randolph workshop actually being good for you. So I guess a workshop with Ann Randolph is like a highly addictive good drug, if there is such a thing. (Huey Lewis, anyone?)
Maybe catnip is a better analogy…
The point is, I had an awesome weekend!
And that has not been a regular occurrence in my world for longer than I care to remember.
In other words, although I have made great strides this year in my goal to be more self-compassionate (I’m getting more sleep, making time for exercise, created “Date Night” with MB once a week, and have generally been more loving and forgiving with myself — all of which is huge!), I have, until now, not made much of a dent in my workaholic tendencies.
All of which brings me to my larger point, which is that it is time for this to change.
“This” being my workaholism, in case that wasn’t clear enough.
Last month I had to scramble like a… a quickly scrambling thing… to set my life up so that I could leave (and completely unplug!) for a week at Jazz Camp West, and then leave again mere days after my return for the World Domination Summit.
All that scrambling (for the umpteenth time in my life) made something in me finally snap.
“No more!” I said, “I’m so done with this workaholic scrambling sh!t!” and I set myself the biggest self-compassion challenge yet:
The Pledge to Give Up Workaholism
Yep. You read it right here, folks.
The last week in June and the first week in July served as a rather elegant dividing line between the Old (Workaholic) Melissa and the New Melissa, right smack dab in the middle of my Year of Self-Compassion.
This is not to say that I will never become overly, ridiculously busy again, or that I will never work late. I probably will. In fact, I
strongly suspect pretty much know I will. But I am certainly not going to beat myself up if that happens (after all, beating myself up wouldn’t be very self-compassionate of me).
It is to say that I think I have finally gotten it that ending my workaholism is not going to happen of its own accord.
Kinda like finally “finding time” to do my creative things didn’t happen of its own accord — I had to make the time. (Still have to.)
Ending workaholism means:
1) Looking realistically at my life, at my commitments, at how long things really take (read: usually at least 7 times longer than I think they will)
2) Taking transition time into consideration when I plan my schedule (hat tip to Cairene for pointing out this seemingly obvious strategy, which has eluded me for decades [and which is part of why things take at least 7 times longer than I think they will])
3) Learning to say “no,” or “not right now,” to a helluva lot more than I have been
4) Allowing myself to stop, rather than pushing through, when I’m still working on something when the clock (and my body) says “bedtime.”
Which in turn means lowering my expectations, posting less frequently, leaving dishes in the sink sometimes, forgiving myself for not being super-human.
How I will do this:
One way, as I told MB the other night, is to set a goal from here on out to focus on no more than one Big Business Project at a time. (See item #3 in the list above.)
That may sound obvious to you, but it was Revelatory to me.
(Apparently I wasn’t ready for obvious until now.)
What this looks like in the real world:
Here’s an example: Right now I’m in the middle of running a 4-month program for women, Time to Glow, which is definitely a Big Business Project. I have content to create for every session: a “script” of about 13 pages of notes to draw from during the video conference; a downloadable PDF reading/worksheet; a web page of resource links to compile. All of which takes a decent chunk of my time in the two weeks between class meetings.
When I re-run version 2.0 of Time to Glow, the launch will definitely count as a Big Business Project, but the course itself not so much. I’ll still have tweaking/editing to do, sure, and I’ll need to show up with my best self to each session and ensure the recordings get processed and uploaded in a timely fashion.
But the creating? It will be maybe 90% done the next time I run Time to Glow.
Right now, though, while I’m still in creation mode for this program, building as I go, it simply does not make sense for me to also take on one (or more) of the 8 or 10 business project ideas waiting in the wings.
Again, this may sound pretty obvious to you. To me, though, it was a major epiphany.
If I want to live a humane existence, I need to say “No, not now,” to the 10-week class I’m chomping at the bit to create using Kelly McGonigal’s The Willpower Instinct as a workbook.
I need to say “No, not now,” to the big JV project that’s been haunting my daydreams for months.
I need to say “No, not now,” to the full CD I’ve been itching to create since recording 7 tracks last December.
I need to say “No, not now,” to the UkeDiva website I’ve been dreaming about for more than two years, with tutorials of all of my ukulele songs.
I could go on…
The upshot is, I need to get realistic about how much I can actually take on without driving myself into the ground, and into an early grave. Which means slowing down. Which frustrates the hell out of me, but I’ve finally come to the conclusion that this is better than the alternative.
Change happens when the pain of the status quo finally becomes greater than the pain of changing. [Click to tweet this!]
Take the Pledge
When I emailed an acquaintance to set up a phone date, now that I have more breathing room because of my new No More Workaholism Pledge, she replied: “I’ve also made a no more workaholism pledge but I think I need a 12-step program or a winning lottery ticket.”
Yeah, I used to think so, too.
I also used to think I didn’t have time to do my creative thing (make art for me, make music, dance, whatever). Now I know that it all comes down to priorities, choices, and taking responsibility for my own happiness.
Not everyone gets sucked into the workaholic way of being. MB is in no danger of ever becoming a workaholic (opposites attract, I guess. Which is probably a good thing, because I have enough ambition for the both of us.)
Now I’m learning to be more like him. And I will confess to you that this is hard. Really, really hard. I am going against my way of being for decades.
But hard is not bad. In fact, sometimes hard is really good.
So that’s where I am. What about you? Are you more like MB, or more like me? And if the latter, what would it take for you to take the pledge?
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!