September 24, 2015

The Transparency of Making Choices

I’m on my way back from France – and I didn’t even write a blog post while there about what I was up to! I had some vendor workshops in Nice, so got to fly over and spend a few days in those. It was kind of a grueling schedule, what with the time change and work meetings/events going until 11pm or midnight every day, so it really felt like a whirlwind. I am exhausted now!

I did, however, sacrifice 30 minutes of sleep to a quick run on the beach before work – and it was totally worth it!

My flights out to Nice were long and stressful, in part because two of my four flights had mechanical issues! After a particularly long delay getting out of Phoenix (the first leg of my trip), I had to call and rebook on the fly… boarding a new flight while still on the phone with the American Airlines agent as she tried to get me confirmed for the rest of my new itinerary. Thank goodness for the Platinum desk, or I never would have made it there in time for the workshops! (As it was, I got there two hours late… but that was just in time for me to kick off the sessions. Phew!)

Usually, I am a huge advocate of avoiding jet lag by operating on your “new time zone” the second you board a plane.  I pretty much did that on the outbound, but the return was a different story. In this case, my TATL flight home left Madrid at 11am (which is 5am New York time) – so I should have stayed up and pretended like that was the start of my day rather than partway through. But I was so exhausted that I actually took a two hour nap after takeoff! Good for my body, bad for the workload I am now going to have to make up.

Also not good for my body – all the French food I glommed down, partially because it was super delicious, and partially because I was so tired. Exhaustion makes my appetite skyrocket! But this spaghetti carbonara, where the “noodles” are actually made of seafood, was incredible.

On the plus side, all those flights meant that I got a lot of leisure reading done, and I actually made it through a couple of books. Highly recommend the thriller Until You’re Mine – it’s a fascinating read, though also fairly dark and disturbing. To lighten things up, I picked up Rachel Bertsche’s new book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time. I had read Bertsche’s first book, MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, and really enjoyed it, so I was curious to see what was in store for this one.

At first, Jennifer, Gwyneth, and Me reminds me in concept of Jenn Lancaster’s The Tao of Martha or any of AJ Jacobs’ books. Essentially, Rachel embarks on a series of challenges to spend one month trying to become more like one aspect of various celebrities. She wants Jennifer Aniston’s body, Gwyneth Paltrow’s cooking, Sarah Jessica Parker’s fashion sense, and Jennifer Garner’s marriage. However, very early on, she got into some interesting social psychology research on why we admire celebrities. I was specifically really intrigued to learn that celebrity worship seems to be inherited rather than bred. I am not very into celebrities, so now I can blame my mom for that 🙂

But way more interesting to me was the middle of the book, when she starts to have some revelations about the celebrities that she’s imitating. It’s while trying to “work as hard as Tina Fey” that Rachel has an epiphany: none of these women have it all. At this point, Rachel has already imitated a half dozen celebrities, and she’s found that while she loved working out two hours a day like Jennifer and cooking an hour a day like Gwyneth, she’s run out of time and can’t, in fact, become perfect in all ways. Tina Fey is very up front about that fact, noting that she has specifically made the choice at times to focus on work at the expense of other things – but that’s brought her a ton of success.

I’m heading back to Discover on Sunday to talk to a new group of seniors about making intentional choices, so this lesson really resonated with me. How much do we lose in life by trying to have it all instead of throwing in the towel and admitting that we simply can’t? I’m definitely a big advocate of being decisive in what I prioritize and what I don’t, but maybe it would be helpful to be more clear with others about what I’m deprioritizing. For example, sticking to my days off at work instead of trying to be the superhero that takes a conference call at an airport halfway to my vacation destination. I have a tough time saying no and am more inclined to try to hide the fact that I’m prioritizing one thing over another… but we all have time constraints and times where we have to say no. Perhaps more transparency wouldn’t be a bad thing, as I discovered with my OOO a few weeks ago.

Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done. Who wants to be the one to tell a friend, “hey, I’m deprioritizing our relationship for a bit because I need to prioritize work right now?” I’ve had that conversation many times before though usually with less awkward verbiage. But as I stop to consider, it somehow seems to me to be very socially acceptable to bail on friends/relationships when something big is going on at work. (Ugh, I sound like a workaholic… but doesn’t everyone get stuck canceling fun plans for work every so often?) On the flip side, though, would it be as acceptable to say, “I’m not going out for dinner with you because I need to go to the gym and do laundry?” Sometimes, going to the gym and doing laundry are more important to me at the moment than seeing my friends… but that feels like a huge slap in the face if I were to admit it. So maybe transparency in choices and priorities isn’t cut and dry.

Anyway – lots of random thoughts, probably made even more ramble-y by my sleep deficiency. Hopefully I can remedy that tonight! I’m headed to NYC right now, where I’ll get to hang out until a friend’s wedding on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to catching up on both sleep and all the work/action items coming out of our workshops. I am really excited about all of those things! Right now I seem to be making the choices that are right for me.


2 thoughts on “The Transparency of Making Choices”

  1. Trying to be the best of all celebrities is an interesting thought, but I feel like it is fraught with issues from the start. I am a firm believer that a lot goes on behind closed doors that people don’t know about. Who knows, maybe Julia Child loved take out Chinese food? Maybe Martha Stewart doesn’t make her bed? That said, I certainly think that there is room for everyone to improve, regardless of the catalyst!!

    Also, totally, completely, and utterly jealous of your trip to France. I have to admit that I would likely roll my pants up and put my feet in the ocean (sea?). It has been known to happen before!

    1. To your initial point: one of the celebrities she admires/emulates is Jennifer Garner, for her amazing relationship. Unfortunately, Jennifer and Ben recently filed for divorce 🙁

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