Monday, December 31, 2018

Life in 2018

I wrote a record-low two posts in 2018 before this one. I still enjoy this medium for self-reflection, though I use it rarely now.

I mentioned just a few things that I expected for 2018:

Make monthly resolutions
I completely failed at this. I think I'll try again in 2019, but with a better plan. I hope!

Start my dream job
Yes! It's been more of a roller coaster than I expected, though. More on that below.

New job for Jon
Yes! He ended up changing jobs right after I did, and it's been a complete 180 for him. It's a great company and an incredible fit for his personality and skills. It's a great reminder that if your job sucks and you're depressed about it, there's probably someplace out there where you can shine. I'm so glad he's found that in his new job.

Big family trip
Yes! We had an awesome time traveling with several nieces and nephews for a week over the summer. They are wonderful people.

Big gardening plans
Yes! We put in a rain garden and a lot more native plants. I love puttering in the garden.

Many things about this year were predictable, but they certainly weren't boring. I worked really hard. Probably too hard (Jon would say definitely too hard). For the first half of the year, I was also working on a carryover project from my last job. Seeing that through was a lot of extra work, and it was a relief to have it finished. However, I was pretty crushed by my new boss's response to it. He thought it was so... unimportant. I've learned that it's very difficult when he and I don't see eye to eye, and I had a few particularly stressful incidents with him. I hadn't anticipated this kind of conflict, and there were definitely several times when I regretted leaving my other job when I did because of the stress with my new boss. I spent 4 years working mostly for and with badass women who gave me just enough guidance and independence to flourish. There's a different dynamic with my new job and I have struggled at times to understand how I best fit into the team. I feel it's on the upswing now, but I expect there will be other rough patches. I've contemplated getting a therapist or a coach or both.

I spent part of the year feeling somewhat socially isolated and feeling like I needed more quality social time with friends. We decided to throw a holiday party for the first time since leaving Big City and that was a big success. Although that itself wasn't a time when I got to have lots of the kinds of conversations I was craving, it was helpful for encouraging some new friendships.

My weight has crept up slowly for the last couple of years, and I know I've been less active this year. I need to eat a little less and be more active (the recipe for almost every weight loss plan ever). Sigh.

I didn't travel nearly as much for work in 2018 as I did in 2017 and 2016. I had just 3 work trips, and only one was international. We did a fair number of weekend driving trips to see friends or family, and that one big family trip.

I got a holiday card out this year for the first time since 2014. In years past part of my hang up was having "the photo" for the card. We've never had a professional family portrait, but sometimes Jon takes one that we pose for. I decided last holiday season that this year I should just pick some photos and get something done rather than getting hung up on "the photo". I had the cards made pretty early, but since last sending cards in 2014, it seemed half our list had moved, died, or added new family members, so updating it took quite a while and we didn't get cards out until Christmas Eve. Next year should be easier!

Adele gets more and more awesome. She's in kindergarten this year (Montessori) and her math skills are exploding. She's doing some simple mental addition and subtraction with ease. She's starting to read a little, learned to ride a pedal bike, loves to play and invent games, and tells people she's a scientist.

All in all we've had a good year and cannot possibly complain about our lot in life. The country and world... oof. I'm really hoping for some improvement (modest, realistically) on a number of fronts in 2019 with a change in congress, but I know we're just halfway to 2020 and how much more important that will be for political change in the US.

As usual, I'll post my expectations for 2019 and some goals in January.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Starting my dream job!

This has been a long time in the making, but I'm about to start my dream job.

Back in 2015, I mentioned at the end of the year that I had envisioned my nearish-term dream job. I talked about it with a few close colleagues of mine, and then got up the guts to tell the person whose buy-in was absolutely essential to make it happen. We talked about it some, but there wasn't much to be done at that point except talk about it hypothetically.

Over the next two years, we kept talking. Before leaving my job at Exciting Non-Profit (ENP), we talked about a lot of organizational strategy, and I pushed with my questions until I realized that I hit the limits of their thinking and planning. I saw directions that I thought they needed to go, but I didn't know how to help them get there.

When I changed jobs in 2016, I shifted focus considerably, away from direct involvement in the type of work I had been doing at ENP and wanted to return to later. The new job had a specific emphasis on professional development, so I told my boss about my career aspirations. I was super nervous about choosing such a specific job at which to target my skills development, but she was amazingly supportive. I started talking with other people about it, and giving that dream a voice. I wrote about it when those feelings were fresh, just when I was starting to commit to the dream in some sense.

I feel like I should take a moment here to write about what a cool experience the last year and a half has been. I haven't written about my work nearly as much as I did in my job at ENP. I think it's mostly because it has been much less stressful! I haven't had looming anxiety about getting laid off (this job has always been a short-term thing) and I haven't suffered under leadership decision paralysis (well, not too much). I managed to keep a foot in my previous work on the side while exploring this new area.

Even though I've had a very specific job in mind, this experience has radically broadened my perception of what I can do with my career.

I've learned how to be effective in a totally new professional space with new organizations and new key players. I got to work with some incredibly talented people and definitely felt many times like I was punching above my weight. I was flattered that my work had their attention at all. I watched some great leadership in action, and I started taking notes. Seriously, I started writing down things they did. I watched many awesome women diplomatically negotiate difficult, influential personalities.  One woman did a remarkable job of leading a group by laying out the social contract for their deliberations and inviting everyone's feedback and buy-in. I had great working relationships with my closest colleagues. And on top of all that, my job had awesome travel opportunities...almost too many. I traveled to seven different countries and four different states in 18 months (10 trips in all).

Once I got the hang of the new field of work (about 6 months in!), I could imagine myself continuing in that career. I see plenty of opportunities to make an impact and I honed some of the knowledge and skills to make a difference. There are exciting things happening, and I am sad to be stepping out just as many things are taking off.

But I never wavered much from the dream job I first articulated in 2015. I went to all of these meetings and professional development sessions with two minds: one on applications to my current position, and one on applications to my dream job. Many times my mind was buzzing with ideas for the latter. It's like everything that I absorbed was filtered through "how can I use this for my dream job?" I observed every meeting and workshop not only for content, but for process. How did they organize the committees? What tools are they using?

Over many months of conversations, my ideas about what I would want to work on evolved. I realized more and more that I had a unique skill set and perspective to bring to the team I wanted to work with. I thought I was going to have to find the funding to make this happen, but then an opportunity came up a bit sooner than I was prepared for. After deliberating with many people about the timing, I decided to go for it.

That person who I anxiously told about my ambitions in 2015 is about to become my boss. This is happening!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018...let's do some big things

I'm writing this much later than I would have liked, but still trying to squeeze my thoughts for the year into January—barely!

Last year, a friend of mine did monthly resolutions instead of year-long ones. I find this idea appealing, though I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do each month. February is really the only one I have figured out.

February is going to be about getting my email under control. My goal is to get to inbox zero for my personal email and basically stay there. I am recruiting an accountability buddy who I can check in with.

My friend said she liked best the monthly resolutions that involved a daily action rather than less habit-forming ones, but I think I'll probably have a mix of both. I like the idea of setting a goal of tackling a big, looming, one-off thing in a particular month.

There are other big things to look forward to in 2018, especially related to jobs.

I am going to start my dream job! More on that next month. *grins*

Jon is also going to change jobs, though he hasn't found his dream job yet. His current job is a terrible fit and he's actively looking for other opportunities.

We have a big trip planned with our nieces and nephews over the summer and I have big gardening plans.

I am still discouraged about the state of our country and world, but I am trying to find hope and make change in the places where I can.