09 Jan 2016
2015 was a rough year. I started in a new position at work in December of 2014, and although I knew that it was going to be rough since my boss had been out for much of the previous year on medical leave, I was unprepared for just how bad it would be. I had thought that the situation surely couldn’t last another six months. It went on for the entire year. In 2015, work took over my life.
Predictably, I feet terrible about what the situation has done to my family (I was not able to give them the attention and time they deserved) and, to a lesser extent, to my writing (it slowed to a crawl), but it was exacerbated by how I felt about work. I was not able to cover both my and my boss’s responsibilities anywhere near my expectations and as a result I felt like I was failing at every aspect of my life which I valued (family, writing, work). I felt like I was killing myself for my work (and to some extent, I was, I gained 25 pounds and started to experience physical symptoms of stress) and hurting my family in the process, all in the name of a job which I wasn’t doing to anywhere near my expectations.
As if that weren’t bad enough, somewhere along the line I picked up an expectation that I should be more appreciated at work. Sure, I received an Excellence in Service award in addition to the rest of my department, and people thanked me on a regular basis (without everyone’s support, I would have quit months ago), but part of me was hoping that I would receive something on the anniversary of my starting in my new position. Even at the time I realized this was unrealistic, and that I was setting myself up for failure, but it still hurt nonetheless when the day came and went (compounded by the fact that I dropped the ball on my wife’s birthday).
In short, 2015 sucked.
But while the suckage was largely due to external factors, the suffering that resulted was almost entirely my fault. I had impossible expectations for myself and when I didn’t meet those I thought praise would make up for it. It didn’t.
In truth, the only expectations that make any sense are for me to do the best that I can given the circumstances. Everything else is out of my control. Likewise, there is no such thing as enough praise (and beyond doing my best I have no real control over how much of it people choose to give to me anyway). I did get praise. A lot of it, actually, from just about everyone. And yet it wasn’t enough, I wanted people to remember a date (as if they weren’t busy enough themselves) that is pretty arbitrary anyway (I chose my starting date to make life easier for the Payroll department rather than any numerical significance, and what’s so important about 365 days?).
So, in 2016 I have a single resolution: I want to go easier on myself. That doesn’t mean letting myself off the hook completely, but it does mean being realistic about my expectations and not letting myself get worked up by praise or lack thereof. I imagine that this will be both very simple and very hard and that I’ll probably have to apply my resolution recursively (I’ll have to give myself a pass on failing to give myself a pass).
I should also point out that I have plenty of goals (finishing the story I’m working on, finishing another section on my climbing wall, blogging more, etc.), but they are things I want to do, this is something about myself that I want to change.
Anyway, enough whining, back to work.