Take a deep breath and shake your shoulders out. Are you stressed? Overworked? Underappreciated? Stuck in traffic? Take another breath. When it comes down to it, our lives are made up of millions of these tiny breaths, strung together, until we run out. Most breaths we take are mundane and forgettable as we type away at work, fix dinner or snore soundly. Some are rushed, leaving us catching our breath from stress and worry. Some moments even take our breath away out of beauty and awe. What is the key to ensuring that more of those breaths are in peace, joy and happiness?
It’s actually really simple – and it lies in what you can control.
Outside of my neighborhood is the unavoidable road that leads to all of my clients, my child’s school, friends’ houses, and the grocery store. On this road are the only entrance and exit to and from my neighborhood. This highway stretches for miles into Montgomery, Texas through Conroe, Texas where the powers that be have decided to conduct years of construction, adding medians and turn lanes that have made my daily travel needs often tangled and frustrating, to be kind. There are a plethora of posts on Facebook, NextDoor, and other outlets of people complaining about TxDOT, the government bloat, guys just standing around, barrels and cones being strewn about, lane markers not being clear, and the length of this project on the whole. Many people are talking about how this ongoing project is making them late to important meetings and doctor appointments, leaving their children stranded at school longer than anticipated and the like.
I ask you, of the complaints waged above, which ones do the residents of Montgomery and Conroe have control over?
When I looked for the original discussion of this widening and redesigning of this long stretch of highway on the TxDOT website, I can find various public information sessions as far back as 2003, several in 2016 and a few more in 2021 and 2022 that outlined, publically, what was to happen and when.
Yes, it’s a pain. Yes, the traffic seems thicker. Yes, there are always ways that the government could communicate better and streamline processes. But in the meantime, what can these bloviators control? No one is moving their kid’s school or their work. It’s been in public discussions for upwards of 20 years. Montgomery County is growing and it’s not looking like it’s stopping any time soon – and they’re MAD about it. Hey, here’s an idea next time you’re hopping out on this main drag through town…
The happiness lies here in what you can control. You can set your alarm earlier. You can get yourself and your child(ren) ready earlier. You can meal plan on the weekends and use curbside and Instacart instead of navigating the blue hairs at Kroger in their motorized scooters. You can leave earlier for meetings. You can schedule your meetings more effectively or handle them remotely. You can schedule other errands around your schedule so you aren’t going out as often. You can schedule more time between meetings. You can run a tighter meeting with less fluff. You can email instead of meeting in-person entirely. You can coordinate with your child’s friend to carpool some days. You can download a crap-ton of podcasts or audiobooks to listen to when you’re sitting out there to educate or entertain yourself. You can pack a few snacks or a lunch if your day is extra tight. Heck, you can do your kegels; no one will know the difference and your sex life will thank you for it.
But, please note: Those ten minutes crafting what you feel is an articulate diatribe about how crappy the traffic is (that will make you feel righteous and justified when you just didn’t get up on time), how frustrating the government is (that you voted into office), or how late you have been – DOESN’T MAKE YOU HAPPY. It doesn’t make the person who scheduled the meeting (that you’re late to) happy. It doesn’t make your kid (that has been standing outside in the pick-up line for 15 extra minutes) happy. It doesn’t change that construction takes a long time and sometimes, you’re going to see some dudes putzing around instead of working. Guess what? They probably aren’t happy either.
…And you’ve wasted ten more minutes.
I used this example because it was top-of-mind, but Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – this is a tenet that can be used in absolutely every facet of your life – and even to the point where you are happy with your marketing. (Check out that segue!)
If work is getting frustrating, figure out what you can control and do it. If you can talk to your boss about adding more responsibility for a dull day, delegate your overflowing workload, negotiate a day to work from home, or if your company can finance some continuing education to expand your horizons, great. If there are no options for the time being, use your PTO for a short trip or staycation to refresh, or find a new hobby to do when you’re not at work that fills the creative/active/philanthropic hole your work isn’t. If the culture is THAT bad at your job, give your resume to a friend or headhunter (who is oftentimes not paid by the job seeker) who is good at editing such things and start looking for a career that is a better fit. Put your own light at the end of your own tunnel.
In your personal life, if you’re in a rut, you can find a new hobby, take a walk each day, play guitar, volunteer, or find something else you like, even if for 5-10 minutes before bed to commit to for your mental health. We can’t always control work or the kids, but outside of 9 – 5 and after they are in bed, take those BREATHS back for you. Oftentimes, this is a bubble bath and a good book for me, even if I can just get through one chapter.
In marketing, we can’t always predict how a campaign will work. Marketing is a fickle and subjective beast – subjected to time, audience, budget, length, shades of colors, subtle messaging, and more. Admittedly, it is inherently frustrating. But what can we control? You can hire someone third party (AHEM!) if you don’t have the hands or expertise or time to do it right. You can create evocative, moving campaigns and test them in different spaces, on different platforms. You can create and supply a good product or service that markets itself through word of mouth. You can feel good about what you are providing for your community and can sleep well at night knowing you are on the journey to your satisfaction and success while someone is working behind the scenes for your brand.
You, and only you, can refill your cup, and move towards your satisfaction in life. Only you can control your happiness – and it’s a choice with each breath. Accountability is SO much more freeing than blame because if it’s someone else’s fault, you have no hand in fixing it! THIS you can FIX, even if it starts small. Pick something this week or weekend to start on this path – if it’s your attitude in unavoidable traffic, handling a bad apple at work, boredom in your personal life – or a lull in your marketing – and take your happiness back with your next breath!