My Year of Play: Day 1

by | Feb 12, 2024 | Energy Leadership Model, Well-Being/ Self-Leadership

I always feel optimistic at the new year; it represents new beginnings and growth. This year, I’ve decided that my primary intention is to PLAY. This is important to me because I tend to get deeply engrossed in “work”.

I was taught a very robust work ethic, leading me to expect long hours and big challenges. Although my parents, especially my dad, emphasized the importance of relaxation and celebrating wins, this message didn’t quite stick with me. While my dad reminded us to take breaks, my mom consistently followed up on our work to ensure it was done to her standards. If it wasn’t, we had to do it over until it met her expectations. Growing up with both influences, I found myself more emotionally triggered by my mom’s follow-up than my dad’s reminders to take breaks. This emotional energy reinforced my commitment to working hard and led me to believe that, despite my efforts, I am not enough.

My work ethic has paid off in the past, rewarding me for productivity and precision. It provides a sense of accomplishment, as if I’ve conquered something or overcome an obstacle.

But what is this work ethic costing me? When I become consumed by work, I deplete my physical, mental, and emotional energy. In the past, I interpreted this outcome as a sign of success and pushed through to maintain momentum. However, this also meant that I was not physically, mentally, or emotionally available for those closest to me. While I congratulated myself for “winning” at the end of the day, I realized I was shutting out everything and everyone as I recharged, leading to a lonely experience for us all.

I’m not seeking to quit working altogether and spend my days idly hoping for success. Such black-and-white thinking limits our potential. Instead, I seek a middle way—a way to use my energy intentionally, drawing from both my strengths in systems and productivity, as well as my intuition, and allowing space for unexpected opportunities that I may miss with a rigid, planned approach.

Nor am I attempting to make this shift simply by changing my actions. We’re conditioned to believe that if we do the right things, we’ll achieve our desired results. But if we fall short, we often blame our lack of ability or discipline. This belief overlooks the fact that our behaviors and results are rooted in our beliefs about ourselves. Did you know that January 19th is considered “Quitters Day”? This is when many give up on their New Year’s resolutions because they’re trying to fit new habits into old belief systems. The belief system typically wins out.

To effectively integrate the intention to PLAY into my life, I won’t focus solely on actions like calendar management. While protecting my calendar is essential, it’s not driven by external advice; rather, it naturally arises from shifting my core beliefs about work and energy management.

What are these core beliefs? I’ve outlined a couple, but they’re not the only ones influencing my approach to work and play. If they were, I’d already be playing as much as I desire. As I continue to practice this intention, other beliefs that drive me to overwork will surface.

I didn’t have to wait long for them to emerge. By the middle of the first day back at work after the holiday, I felt my internal motor revving up. My insides felt jittery, and my mind raced with thoughts of what I might have forgotten and who might still be waiting on me. When Marco came home, I found myself trapped in the pattern of “Just one more thing…” and neglected to connect with him.

That’s when I finally stopped to observe what was happening. In the past, I might have concluded that playing just isn’t for me. The feelings of anxiety, mental chaos, and irregular breathing felt familiar, even comfortable—this is my comfort zone. But as I paused for reflection and listened to my inner chatter, I recognized the underlying fear—and core belief—that no matter what I do, it probably won’t be enough. From an external standpoint, this makes no sense, but to my nervous system, it’s ingrained.

This is the time for grace and compassion. We must grant ourselves grace for ever believing we’re not enough, and offer compassion through self-forgiveness. This is how we draw closer to ourselves; by listening with compassion and committing to observe our emotional reactions rather than dismissing or condemning them. These triggers simply point us back to our limiting beliefs. Through acknowledgment, acceptance, and release of the painful emotions they provoke, we begin to love ourselves.

This was my experience yesterday, and I’m still acknowledging and giving myself grace today as I manage my energy. With practice, I’ll continue to draw closer to myself, and PLAY will become as natural as breathing for me.

For more content like this, check out my Fully Alive podcast. This podcast will inspire you to live with purpose, expand your impact, create with ease, and PLAY.

About This Blog

I’m Mary Meduna-Gross, a professional coach and the founder of Plena Vita, a company that offers coaching services and products to help people rewire their success.

Embark on a transformative journey with me as we challenge the conventional notions of success. In our blog and Fully Alive podcast, discover a unique path that prioritizes energy management, enabling you to effortlessly bring your dreams to life by embracing a state of creative flow.