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Embracing joy by burning your map

Embracing joy by burning your map. What were you supposed to be doing this year? At the beginning of the year, did you sit down and establish your plans for what you would accomplish this year? It’s a common ritual for so many of us as we hope, dream, and plan for the upcoming year. We reflect on what the previous year brought, and make glorious plans for the upcoming year. Our plans help provide our compass and our roadmap unique to each year.

Then the pandemic hit. It turned out the carefully crafted roadmaps were missing a few items. Our plans missed all the upcoming construction that would alter the map. We now encounter road closed signs, painful detours, and the bridges over our rivers are out. Some of our bridges may be out permanently due to business closures. It’s like we got a hand drawn map while the world was running on constantly updated GPS. We’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from loneliness to anxiety and depression.

The isolation we have all been feeling has been more than challenging.

As I returned from Mexico a few months ago, I returned to a country that what shutting down. Depending upon who you listen to, you may or may not have had an idea for what was going to happen. I knew from many friends abroad it would get rocky fast.

At a certain point though, the inner maverick nature kicks in. You know, that determined little rebel? Listen extra carefully, and I bet you can hear yours too. My inner rebel has gotten downright blunt. It’s time to burn what was left of our hand-drawn out of date map. And dance around the flames.

“But the world will never be the same!” Yes, I know. Then let’s go build a new one.

“I just can’t keep managing it all. Between the family, the kids, the work, it’s too much”. Yes it is to much – you are exactly right. Time to have a conversation with everyone about what is real and practical. Remind your inner rebel you get to be human too. Super-woman need not apply in our new pandemic ridden reality.

I was on video call recently where the moderator said something like “times are difficult right now and it’s hard to manage everything.” It was a little too politically correct for me. I blurted out “It sucks right now – I am just trying to stay sane!” This evoked tremendous laughter and sharing in the group as we all just acknowledged our collective reality. There is something about this situation that sucks for pretty much everyone.

I found a huge unexpected benefit on the other side of map burning, rebel embracing newness. An emotion I had not experienced in a few months snuck back into my life when I wasn’t looking. Joy. It was unexpected. It started popping up periodically. Prepare to be a little startled when this starts popping in. But instead of being a thief in the night, Joy starts filling up our emotional bucket. It tells us we have made it this far, and we can do it until we all have this thing sorted out.

What’s the connection between map burning and Joy? It’s about the expectations. Letting go of the expectations for this year brings a new freedom. We can’t know what this year will be. We assume that means everything will be bad. But it could be good things just around the corner as others also throw away their maps.

Throwing away the map allows us to be present in the moment. Some of those moments are difficult, some peaceful, some happy. For me, I started seeing things that had become ordinary as once again extraordinary. The absolutely lovely smell and delicious taste of that first cup of coffee in the morning. The early morning sights and sounds of construction across the street reminding me that life continues. What can you embrace in the present moment?

Embracing joy doesn’t lessen our challenges. It doesn’t solve the disruptions in our business or our life. And it certainly won’t pick up the socks or dishes the family keeps leaving all over the house! But it is your helpful friend reminding you of your resilience, your determination, your grit. And your wonderful delightful maverickness.

Amber Christian
Amber Christianhttps://wonderlysoftwaresolutions.com/
Amber Christian is the founder of wonderly software solutions. Prior to wonderly, Amber spent 18+ years implementing SAP solutions for Fortune 500 companies. Based on her experiences as a small company working with a variety of Fortune 500 companies, she uses human centered design processes to build solutions that address the unique productivity and collaboration challenges in today's work world. Amber is a regular author and speaker on a variety of technology topics.

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