Pin You to The Top
Why I Did It:
- To embrace my personal sense of adventurousness and own my eccentricity.
- To have the freedom to not consider anybody else’s preferences.
- To force me to make myself a priority in terms of my time and money.
- To reduce burnout and to get the clarity that comes with not being perpetually rushed.
- To enjoy a bit of luxury.
So, what did I do? I went to DC for a week by myself.
Just before the Covid lockdown, I took the first of what I hoped would be a quarterly trip that would be a cross between a regional staycation and a business focus retreat. The purpose would be to reduce stress, take all regular responsibilities off my plate (cooking, laundry — the everyday basics), and choose one important business issue to focus and brainstorm on.
It was a great trip! I kept the agenda simple so that I didn’t run the risk of ever having to rush. I even made a point to travel light and to take with me ONLY things that I knew I’d need. My plans included the following: attend oral arguments at the US Supreme Court, visit the African American Museum, run the National Mall, and work without being disrupted for meetings and phone calls.
Here’s what makes this post blog-worthy. I created the purpose of my trip in my mind way before I talked about it with anybody. I created this trip because I was starting to feel spent, like I was constantly running. Some people say they do their best work under pressure; I am NOT some people. When I finally nearly all of the details nailed down, I shared my plan with my homegirl, and guess what she said: “That sounds like a lovely trip! Can I go with you?” Uh oh. So, I stalled at first because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I knew that I wanted to go alone. I didn’t want to have to be concerned about anybody else’s needs or preferences. If I wanted to get up and run at 5am, I didn’t want to worry about waking her up. If I decided that I didn’t want to go to dinner and picked up crap food to take back to the hotel, I didn’t want to have to discuss it. If I decided on the third day that I wanted to take an early train and come back home, I wanted that freedom. If I lost myself in my work, I didn’t want to feel bad about her feeling ignored. My friend even offered to stay somewhere else, but I didn’t even want the hassle of figuring out where to meet up or having to talk. I just wanted to do me. Thankfully, she came to understand and respect that.
After I got to DC, I turned into the tourist that I’ve always wanted to be and the gave myself permission to explore not hiding how curious and smart I am (I’ve had a lifetime of programming that’s hard to shed about being uppity because I am a little different, smart, and enjoy $10 words (Somebody once criticized me for my love of language…but what do you expect when Toni Morrison is my favorite author! Duh!). I stood in the FREEZING cold to get into the US Supreme Court and loved every minute of it! Interestingly, I went the day before a huge abortion rights case, and the activists were setting up already. It was quite the spectacle. Then, I spent nearly a whole day in the African American Museum and fell in love with Ida B. Wells and even moreso with Fannie Lou Hamer.
I spent the rest of my trip alternating between brainstorming on business issues and taking running breaks. I felt like I was living the life that I’d imagined for myself, and it was wonderfully affirming. All of the striving to grow my business was finally paying off: I’d worked to put my own peace of mind in my budget! And I didn’t give in to client requests for engagements during that week. You have no idea how hard that was.
As my week drew to a close, I realized that taking the trip was NOT an act of luxury NOT, but to actually decide that I was a priority was something that I was not honoring enough. I could’ve made space for myself in a number of ways, but it had to start with a commitment to making myself a priority. And another commitment to protecting the time because I had several requests for things that presented scheduling conflicts. As I said no and dug in on my commitment to me, a thought occurred to me: how much more enjoyable could my personal and business journey have been had I made space for myself along the way? What if I had made space for myself, no matter my what was going on? Isn’t that how we make the work worth it, by celebrating all along? We say that’s what we’re supposed to do, but do we do that?