Years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution not to make any more New Year’s resolutions. I managed to keep that one for years. And each year, on New Year’s Eve, I would write down what I felt were my accomplishments for the past year and what I hoped to achieve in the new one. But I resolved nothing. Usually, I accomplished a great deal and was able to move forward with a sense of purpose. Then life changed, and it seemed like all of my accomplishments related to work or parenting.
Parenting…well, it is what you do when you have children – or it should be – so patting myself on the back for that seemed inappropriate. And work – I have a good job with a great company, but what I do at work doesn’t exactly feed my soul, so writing down those accomplishments didn’t feel good, even when they were pretty darn impressive. Seriously – I started a regional chapter of a women’s professional networking group in 2007 and ran it for years, holding events and awarding three $1000 scholarships. I was promoted. I stayed current with more regulations and requirements than you could shake a stick at, and did a decent job of being a key person in moving some very necessary things forward. But in the end, it wasn’t enough for me to feel like I accomplished anything towards my life goals. And anyone who has led a technical support group of almost any kind can tell you, recognition for what you do (unless it ticks people off) is rare. And I won’t lie…I like getting outside acknowledgment that I did something; it helps.
So, I was a bit surprised when I looked back at my (very modest but challenging) goals from the beginning of 2011 and realized I’d made meaningful progress. I had written “If what’s waiting is not an emergency, I have time to floss my teeth each morning”. This may seem silly, but I had reached a point where I felt I was being selfish to take time to floss my teeth. And yes, I was receiving feedback to that effect. I won’t go into that here, but suffice it to say, I now floss my teeth daily and I know that such feedback is absurd. Anyone who ever struggled with a similar situation can tell you this is not an easy journey, no matter how silly it looks from the outside.
I also wrote that I’d take the time to “put myself together” each morning. Though it seems more than a year ago, I clearly remember the morning I put in earrings for the first time in years. I now wear my earrings, a little makeup, some other special jewelry daily. And most days, I don’t feel like I arrive at work looking like a homeless person. I may still occasionally have to remove the jewelry because of little tugging hands, or I may go to work with signs of a food-covered toddler hug. But that’s fine. In fact, that’s wonderful. Especially now that I don’t think it’s pointless to take the time to (try to) look nice, and I don’t listen to anyone who tells me so.
In short, I began expanding the “setting boundary” skills I learned in my mid-30s and began learning to be assertive. I lost my temper a few times. And I made a few people angry. Some of that was valid anger, since I didn’t always handle things well. Some of it was not – people learn to expect YES. And I am quite convinced that I shouldn’t have to be assertive not to be steam-rollered over. It’s not my fault if people are jerks. But it’s also not my job (literally or figuratively) to tell them what they want to hear either.
I worked on my YA science fiction novella, The Pied Piper of St. May. With a lot of editing assistance from my friend Tracy, it became something I was quite pleased with. I decided to take a break from sending out stories for publication and put it up on Amazon for 99 cents. It’s doing pretty well. I even found time to paint a cover for it, though in retrospect, much as I like the painting, the story needs a book-covery cover. I have a goal to take care of that this year.
There is more about what I did not accomplish in 2011 and how I hope to achieve those goals in 2012, but I will save them for my next post. And post them I will, because I think that sharing that here will be a good thing.
What about you? Do you make resolutions? Set goals? How does 2011 look in retrospect? What is on your horizon and in your hopes for 2012?