By John O'Leary. This was originally posted on JohnOLearyInspires.com. When John O'Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching more than 50,000 people around the world each year how to live inspired. John's first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and Parade.com. John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.
On December 21st, while wrapping up our final team meeting for the year, I shared with a colleague some items I had to accomplish over the holidays.
The list included two articles that had to be created, a couple video messages that had to be recorded, a substantial number of thank you notes that had to be written, and perhaps most exciting and daunting of all, the very first chapter of my next book that had to be produced.
Well, after sharing the list of items with Abby, she thoughtfully looked at me and responded by reminding me why we do the work we do in the first place, the gift of being fully present to those we love and the power of returning from a break actually rejuvenated to do the work.
She then stood up and offered a final piece of advice: “Leave it all behind.”
How to Ensure Our Greatest Joy
For two weeks, instead of writing articles for publication, I went on walks with my wife, shot baskets with my boys and baked pies with my daughter.
Instead of recording videos of me speaking, I recorded videos of my family gatherings, friends at parties and kids opening presents.
Instead of writing hundreds of thank you notes to clients, I wrote a few sincere love letters to dear friends.
And instead of disappearing into coffee shops and quiet nooks to write a chapter recalling memories from the past, we surprised our kids with a ski trip to create new memories to last a lifetime.
My friends, don’t read the above as permission to procrastinate for our entire lives. Don’t ignore important work projects of the day. Don’t burn that to-do list of tasks to accomplish. Don’t stop striving to succeed mightily. Hard work, professional growth and personal progress are important aspects of a meaningful life.
But, in the end, what’s the point of accomplishing anything if it’s at the expense of the family, the people, the things and the health that fill us with the greatest joy?
Focusing on What and Who Matters Most in 2019
As you sweep up the holiday parties, put away the Christmas decorations and return to the worthy work of your life, remember to occasionally take pause. Although some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength, the truth is that there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go. And then to have the courage to do it.
In the mundane periods of each day, the stress of the task, or the disappointments of the season, it’s critically important to return to what matters most, give thanks for all we already have, control the things we can and then leave the rest behind.
Because, in the end, that’s where you’ll leave it anyway.
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