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Last year, I actually made some New Year's resolutions. I don't usually get into that, but I had read a special post by a fellow blogger that inspired me to do some introspective reflections and use my challenges to create goals. Goshagolly, she was SO right!
I was scared to reread my post "Jenny's 2011 UII & Me Resolutions". Maybe I had met one target, but really, how likely was I to have actually accomplished anything? Goodness knows I didn't reference the list much over the course of the year, and a quick retrospective over the last 12 months didn't seem to yield a lot I thought would hit. I'm so glad I looked anyway.
Here are the resolutions I set for UII, and me, for 2011 and how my 'actuals' compared to my goals:
I had declared "this year, I will use others as a source of inspiration" but not as a "benchmark". Actual results...I think I may have actually done well with this! Naturally, we compare ourselves to others all the time, but I really feel better that I'm making these comparisons about growth and not races. I don't feel the urge to minimize my own work so often, while being able to happily praise the work and successes of others. Arthritis Ashley has had multiple achievements lately including being named one of "40 under 40" in Pittsburgh; and RA Warrior Kelly has created the only foundation dedicated solely to rheumatoid arthritis (the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation - Rheum4Us). I didn't even get UII not-for-profit standing yet. But it's ok - I did plenty of what I would call 'strong activism' and did it while being promoted at work, handling my first big projects in this role, and trying to support my husband in his first super-intense semester at Villanova. What I've done may not be as momentous as what these other women have done, but I'm still proud of me:) (This is pretty significant - I'm not known for being secure enough to be satisfied with my own approval.)
2. Blog more often.
My resolutions post was #50 (that's 50 between September 2009 and December 2010 - 16 months), and I had a goal to blog an average of 2-3 times per month in 2011 (or 24-36 posts over the year). As you know, I recently passed the 100-post mark, meaning I've put up more than 50 posts in 12 months! A+ for me!
3. Feel good when I achieve goals.
Historically, I often set reasonable goals but when I achieved them, discounted them as not having been valuable enough. I wanted to work on changing this behavior pattern, and start valuing myself for all my contributions & achievements. Again, I have to say I believe I did it (lol, even this sentence proves it)! I refer to number 1 and 2, above...I am proud of what I've done this year, and I'm happy with being proud of myself. Similarly, I met a goal - and not an overly ambitious one by some standards - with the frequency of my blogging, and I'm giving myself the gold star for doing it, without any clauses! In fact, I think I did so well I'll be happy if I repeat it next year! Of course, in all honesty I do still seek plenty of external approval, but without it I'm still happy.
4. Make at least one or two concrete gains with the DN.
The DN (Disability Network) is now AIM (Abilities in Motion) - the diversity network at KPMG for partners & employees with a disability AND those caring for someone with a special need (parent, child, spouse, etc). I tried to do a lot when I got involved in 2010, and wanted to realize gaining some solid ground in 2011. Again... mission accomplished! We've had HUGE strides! Nationally, there were many achievements I had no role in, but I did get to attend the Disability Matters Conference (where KPMG was named an Employer of Choice) and was key in a national online training about the meaning, purpose, and tools available to us to be "ePatients". Our growth locally was even more exciting - we brought a new, extremely dedicated partner champion on board, got a network budget approved (for the first time in our office), sponsored the the Sjogren's Walkabout, and were one of a handful of offices nation-wide to host the first Disability Mentoring Day! These changes were all special projects of mine, made possible by some truly special, supportive, and caring people in the firm. And now, we have a wealth of new contacts in our office who want to be involved, and therefore ample hope for the development of programming around their passions as well!
5. Continue to grow UII's connection with VU.
My goal was to "identify...3 main projects which can keep me connected to VU". While not a 100% success, I substantially achieved this goal. First, we had the HUGELY successful nursing student event with "Invisible Illnesses Made Visible" campaign in February. Second, Stacy Andes (Director of Health Promotion at Villanova) joined us as our moderator when UII presented a patient panel at the recent Social Media in Pharma conference in NYC. The third is a little more of a reach...we've definitely kept communications open about doing future projects, though none have firmed up at this time. However, now that Shawn's in the nursing program and SNAP (student nurses association of PA), I have some firmer ideas around how we can ask SNAP to get involved with the Sjogren's Walkabout in May - at least, in some awareness efforts in the months leading up to the walk. So not an A+, but I'd say about a B+ on this one:)
6. Not lose my health in my activism.
Didn't quite hit this one out of the park either. Actual results were closer to a sac fly - made some big noise, got some attention for a moment, but ultimately in trying to help the runner advance I put myself on the sidelines for a while. I certainly didn't make any great improvement in my health, or even my self-care. I did, however, get off Prednisone and start allowing myself more rest when the opportunities arose. In my new role at work (senior associate - now I tell people their schedule instead of waiting to be told my own to an extent), I've dramatically cut down on how late I stay at work and the number of weekends. This, incidentally, is probably also a function of my managers, partner, and nature of my clients, but my own choices now play in as well. I didn't make headway but don't think I lost much ground either. I've probably earned about a C here.
7. Continue to listen for God working through me and play second fiddle to the Holy Spirit.
"This year, I will...make sure I let my thoughts, words, hands, and actions be guided by the Holy Spirit." My year started off well enough, continuing a conversation I had with a WEGO friend about faith, but it wasn't a particularly good year for me and my relationship with the church. I tried a few times to participate in some outreach efforts with my parish, and as much teen ministry programming as I could handle. But over the months, I had to make the extremely painful decision to officially end the ATM (Annunciation Teen Ministry) program and wasn't the most effective at the parish visits. For reasons I can explain another day, I had to make these decisions. Currently, I'm at another 'lull' in my activity at church - I'm still a lector though with the recent influx I'm rarely on the schedule, and still an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (and love it). We still have our teen masses, though they now run without much involvement on my part (a good thing for those stepping up). But, similar to my thoughts above (number 3) about being content with myself, I'm not freaking out about this. My roles at work and as a health activist are particularly energy consuming right now, and I think that's where God wants me to focus for a while. I also still have an ear open around church for what my next role or project might be - it just may not be immediately around the corner. And that's ok, sometimes it's nice to assume my role as a regularly part of the congregation and enjoy my faith and all it's mysteries & glory from this view for now.
So what have I learned? I've learned that by reflecting on my current challenges and recent experiences, I can draw on disappointments and frustration to develop fruitful goals. I've learned that the acts of thinking my goals all the way through and committing them to paper (or the web) can help ingratiate them into my thought process, making them far more attainable. That a few of the 'smaller' goals and achievements can directly drive larger scale successes all on their own. And that some of my biggest challenges still include balance - balancing my health and activism, work and medical needs, and personal versus external expectations. I just might have to write a new list for 2012...what do you think?
How did you do? Did you set formal goals? What about general or informal plans? What were your achievements - planned or unplanned? Who do you want to be and what do you want to do? I just love sharing:)!