To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is to be in trouble... This mantra has been with me since a childhood summer camp and was further ingrained during a decade spent working for a retired Marine Colonel. To this day timeliness is close to my heart. I strive to be on time - even early - for appointments, meetings, social engagements, and personal commitments. And even though I work for myself, I am a stickler for deadlines. I post to the blog every Tuesday and Thursday, and I send this newsletter the first week of each month. While these deadlines are somewhat arbitrary and entirely self-imposed, their rhythm provides an important anchor.
But as we approached the beginning of February, I found myself falling behind. December and January travels and a busy start to the year ate away at my carefully cultivated margin and left me writing just in time for publication. Then there was the disruption of Jonas... and the resulting (unplanned) extension of my visit to the Midwest... Where the wifi disappeared... taking with it my ability to work online. To quote my favorite two year old, "I was SO FWUSTWATED!" With deadlines looming and no ability to make progress, I saw no clear path to staying on schedule.
As I fretted, I stopped to consider why I was so uneasy... Lest you mistake my anxiety for self-importance, I can assure you I am well aware that not even my most faithful readers [Hi Mayjo!] would be distraught if a blog post or newsletter was delayed - or disappeared entirely. But I felt acutely distressed nonetheless.
What I began to recognize was that meeting my deadlines had become a proxy for validation. As a solopreneuer, I am without the metrics that offered consistent reassurance in my former professional life. There is no one to offer an annual evaluation. No colleagues to encourage me to keep up the good work. And while it is rewarding to see the progress clients are making in their practice (on and off the mat) from week to week, there is no "sunshine file" to pull out for reassurance in challenging moments.
But I also realized that as scary as it is to operate in this new reality, it is also liberating. I have an opportunity to find a reward in the work itself - moment by moment, but I can only do so by staying grounded in the present.
We all fall victim to unnecessary pressures and deadlines. How often do you choose the most challenging yoga class when your body really needs a restorative session? Are you the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave - even when your workload doesn't require it? Do you insist on setting personal records with every race you run rather than simply enjoying the company of friends and beautiful scenery?
If a goal you set for yourself is creating more fear and anxiety than joy, ask yourself why it is so important. Reflect on what matters most, and let go of the rest...