Before I get into my #LetItGo day post, I think a fairly obvious soundtrack is needed…
Between my love of books and Idina, there was no way I couldn’t combine the two for this post.
I’m Going to #LetItGo
What am I letting go of? Unrealistic expectations for myself and others. (Tweet this if you’re letting go of it too!)
I’ve always been very hard on myself. I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist because I realize you can never be perfect. But I still wanted the work I completed to be perfect, or close to it. And as I moved up in the world, without realizing, I was projecting that onto others. And when I realized it, it made me feel like crap.
Let’s back up. I’ve always been hard on myself, even since elementary school. I remember being in fourth grade and basically having a panic attack when I didn’t feel prepared for a quiz. I know now that how a student does on a quiz in fourth grade doesn’t matter in the long run. But back then, it mattered to me.
School has always mattered. Work has always mattered. I’ve always been good at both. And that’s because I put pressure on myself.
But I actually liked it that way – I didn’t crack under the pressure, I thrived. By my senior year of college, I was taking a full course load (although I actually had an overloaded schedule by choice several semesters because I had a double major and double minor), working as a Public Relations Specialist 20 hours per week, studying hard enough to make Dean’s List, on the executive board for three different student organizations, and an involved member of three others.
But spring semester of that last year in college, I became somewhat of a manager at work. It wasn’t in my title, but there was an intern reporting directly to me. I tried my hardest not to be hard on her, but I let her see how hard I was on myself.
That was a big wake-up call for me.
Because even though I would tell her I didn’t expect perfection – she was writing about topics she knew nothing about, and she didn’t have much writing experience in the first place – she saw what I expected from myself. That I demanded perfection. So while she may have truly believed I had more rational expectations for her, I was being an awful role model.
She became putting too much pressure on herself in that job. So even though it wasn’t coming from an external source, it was there. And it got to her. And eventually it began affecting her schoolwork and she had to leave the internship program early.
That was the first time I realized that perception is reality. I actually just had a discussion with my boss about this today. Even though I’m telling my team that I don’t need them to be perfect, the way I treat myself makes them not believe me.
While I’ve become better at internalizing my pressure, it’s still there. My company’s culture is casual and relaxed, so most people don’t arrive early or stay late. Yet, I show up early enough that I normally can’t even get into the building yet, since the managers with keys don’t show up until they need to be there. And I stay late several times a week. And there have been entire months where I worked straight through lunch, stayed an hour late (which is when the building closes), and came home and collapse for working 10 hours with not even a 15-minute break.
Recently, it really started getting to me. After a particularly busy time at work, I realized that this wasn’t how I wanted to live. I loved the sense of accomplishment of seeing a marketing campaign go live, perform well, and feel like my “baby” was all grown up. And I actually enjoyed doing the work – it’s a lot of writing: email campaigns, press releases, blog posts.
Between those two factors, when I finally had someone to delegate to when I got promoted six months ago, I was hesitant to do so. I enjoyed doing it myself, and yeah, I had trouble trusting that someone else would do it well.
But I try. Because I wanted to be able to leave at 5. I wanted to have more time to read. I wanted to start this blog for so long before I actually had the time! And hell, I wanted to be able to go home and not immediately pass out from exhaustion. That’s always good.
So over the past few months I’ve been trying to manage expectations. Does that mean that sometimes someone else puts out a press release I’m not completely happy with? Yes. Does that mean that sometimes I put out work I’m not completely happy with? Yes. But I try to #LetItGo.
It’s going pretty well so far, and I hope that as I move up in my career and manage larger teams, this will help my team members as well as myself.
Wait, Back Up. What’s #LetItGo Day?
#LetITGo day all stemmed from Ann Aguirre’s I Want It That Way. One of the characters finds freedom when he lets something go that he had been holding on to. In the book, you see him physically do something to represent the act of letting it go and then finding peace.
While reading, the wheels started turning! We all need to have a day to let things go. We’ve all had those moments when things play over and over in our head, when we hear the whispers of being told we’re not good enough, when we find ourselves paralyzed by something. Some of us are affected by this in ways we think others could not possibly understand. So…#LetItGo day was formed. In the midst of ugly and dark things happening all around, we want to focus on freedom and finding peace.
And September 3rd, 2014 is that day. The sky is the limit in how you want to celebrate and share it with your readers and followers on your blog and social media. Tell what freedom and peace mean to you, tell about a time you had to #LetItGo, take pics of you doing a #LetItGo ceremony. Whatever…but this world has a lot of heartache. And we don’t have to hold on to things. We want freedom and peace to reign! So join in on September 3rd and #LetItGo!