2021 Year End Message
This Season Give Yourself a Break!
The 2021 Edition of Work From Home Life was just as frantic and busy as the 2020 Edition for many of us. And now it’s the holidays… But rather than taking the time to reflect, most of us are probably scrambling to see loved ones in order to make up for the lost lock down time, and then rush our way into 2022!
This season, I’m inviting you to just give yourself a break! Just take a moment to reflect on all the things you’ve actually accomplished this year. I know it’s hard to do, but I’ve found it to be a refreshing way to regularly recharge.
Taking a breather is easier said than done. I remember when my former coach and a former mentor both suggested I give myself a break and acknowledge myself for how far I’ve come, I would poo-poo the notion. I’d say I’m not as good as <insert famous tech marketing genius billionaire who is younger and better looking than me>, or make the excuse that I don’t have time because of <insert all the “busy”-ness I have going on in that very moment and for the foreseeable future>.
But after hitting a major wall for myself a few years ago, I’ve learnt that giving myself a break to acknowledge where I am presently actually makes me a calmer, more positive, and happier person! …not to mention a much more pleasant human being to be around for my family and team.
So, if (like me) you have trouble finding ways to acknowledge yourself and give yourself a break, here are some tips that I’ve incorporated into my daily life. None of this takes a long time at all and most of it is quite fun!
Write down a list of all the things to be grateful for
2021 was not any less “lifey” than 2020. My 2021 was no picnic, as I’m sure yours wasn’t either. But if we take a moment to really look and reflect, there are many things to be grateful for. I spoke a bit about this last year in my A Little Hope, And A Lot Of Gratitude blog post. Here’s a small list of mine:
- My family and our parents are all healthy and happy
- Marisa and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary
- We welcomed a new niece to our family
- We weren’t personally affected by the floods, fires, nor Covid
- Our team culture has been exceptional this year, with everyone willing to support one another through difficult projects and celebrate when we hit our clients’ marketing goals
- Ballistic Arts is gradually expanding into the US West Coast
- We made the most out of our home gym (I got myself a MaxTrainer!)
- Marketing News Canada has been a lot of fun, and I interviewed one of my heroes Col. Chris Hadfield – yay Space!
- Our daughter Charlotte decided she wanted to start playing soccer, scored her first goal and was recognized as team captain!
As many of you know, mental health was something of a struggle for me a few years back, and with Marisa’s encouragement, I went to see a professional. The first guy I went to told me to take a 3 month leave of absence from work, which is impossible for a small business owner like myself. Taking a 3 month leave of absence might as well have been closing the company for good. Needless to say, I didn’t go back to see that guy again.
The next guy, Dr. Patrick Myers agreed that it’s not realistic for me to take such a long leave of absence and as such, he suggested I take “Date Days” with myself. He suggested taking long lunches where I’d take myself on a little date and spend time doing stuff that I’d enjoy doing (ex. read books, paint, hit the beach, walk the lake, but something outside preferably and not inside watching a screen). This was all in the effort of “leaving everything behind for a few hours a day”. As Patrick noted, “the stuff can wait. Focus on yourself. It will still be there when you get back”.
I remember taking an extended lunch on a random Wednesday in July to lay down in my backyard with a book and a glass of iced tea for 90 mins and feeling super guilty doing it. After a while, my guilt subsided, and I got the very much needed reset for my mental state. If you can’t take extended lunches, many workplaces including Ballistic Arts have mental health days for team members. If your workplace has this, take them up on it. For me, doing “date days” was probably one of the best pieces of advice I ever got. Thanks Patrick!
Meditate (there’s app for that)
If you hang out with me for any length of time, you’ll know that Ted Lau ain’t no monk! 🧘
That said, I have found that meditation to be a very useful tool to give myself a little breather to start out the day and to close out the day.
I simply use the Calm app, but there are plenty of apps out there. I usually just pop in their “Daily Calm” feature. I meditate for 10 mins in the morning and 10 mins with Charlotte before bed.
Pro tip: meditation before bed helps with the sleeping for both you and the wily kids…
Get enough sleep or sleep in – But not too much on either account
Speaking of sleep, and I think we all know this already, but sleep is crucial to mental health and peak performance. Pre-pandemic, I would almost brag about how little sleep I needed to function, but that was the thing, the only thing I could do was function. I wasn’t performing at my best on 4 hours of sleep a night.
Tom Brady swears by 9 hours, and he’s the G.O.A.T. playing elite football at the ripe ol’ age of 44 (and still getting punked by Gronk!). Regardless, there’s some truth to it, kids! I find for myself I’m a little groggy with 9 hours, but I tend to get 8 – 8.5 hours a night now. And again, see above about how much more pleasant of a human being I am to be around these days.
Treat Yo Self!
We run around getting presents for the kiddies and our loved ones, but not many people learn to treat themselves. This is not something I learnt from Tom Haverford. Actually Mama Lau (i.e. my mom) would always treat us after we studied hard for an exam to a nice lunch (which meant a White Spot Pirate Pack or Monty Mushroom Burger in the 80’s) or a present. She’d also treat herself to a little gift when she sold a big home back in the 90s as a realtor.
I might have gotten myself a little bottle of the Port Charlotte PAC: 01 for hitting a particular milestone this year. Yay me!
Know what you can control and what you can’t control
I used to get hella angry when stuff didn’t go my way, and worse, I would blame myself as if I controlled the universe. But over time, I’ve learnt that I can only control what I can control. Period.
And how does that help give me a break? I’ve found that understanding what I can control and what I can’t control allowed me to free myself from that “faux responsibility, guilt and not good enough” syndrome that I carried around. Rather than blaming myself for things that are completely out of my control, I’m now able to reflect on what lessons I can learn from the present situation, and what I can do better next time. It’s freeing!
What situations have you been in where you’ve blamed yourself for something that wasn’t your fault? Can you free yourself from that?
So, what are you going to do?
Like the airplane diagram^ shows, we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others!
So seriously. Take a ponder, try some of this out, and share with me what you discover.
Or better yet, share some other suggestions you have with me.
My wish to you for 2022 is for you to give yourself a break! Your loved ones will thank you for it.
Signing off with the wisdom of Michael Franti.
“So stay strong, and sleep long, and when you need to
Let the morning take you out on to today” ~Michael Franti & Spearhead, Yes I Will
Until next time my friends!
Happy 2022! 🥳 🍾 🎉
Ted Lau, CEO
Taking care of our own Mental Health is crucial this season. If you or someone you know needs support, act now, and contact HealthLinkBC’s Mental Health Resource.