Posted by: Michelle | January 1, 2013

Reflections of the Way Life Used to Be


It’s that time of year. The “let’s look back on the year” and the “what do we want to do different next year?” I, for one, do not buy into the whole “New Year’s Resolution” premise. I believe – if you want to change, why do you have to wait for January 1? Or Monday? Or tomorrow? What’s wrong with the here and now? If not now, when?

As human beings, we all tend to put off the things we don’t like to do. At least this human being does. Yet I strive to become a better person most days (I would say every day but who would I be kidding?), not just once a year when January 1st rolls around. This is why I do not make New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I would say they are more of a demotivator because of higher expectations associated with success and failure of such proclamations. So the only resolution I make is not to make any. That way I know I can succeed.

However… when it comes to my professional life, I have little choice but to reflect on the previous year before moving into the next. Raises and promotions tend to be effective as of January 1 so one cannot avoid the “what now?” (or at least I can’t).

I’ve never been satisfied with status quo. It goes against everything I believe. Maybe it is the ADHD brain – I become bored easily so once I master something, I’m always looking for something new to challenge me. So as I prepare procrastinate in preparing for a meeting with my boss later this week, I decided maybe I need to work on a better work-life balance in 2013. For starters, I decided I need to take all of my vacation days (all 35 of them [not including holidays]). For the past three years, I have lost over a week’s worth of PTO (paid time off) because at my employer if you don’t use it, you lose it. So essentially, I’m lowering my own salary by not taking my paid time off. Even when I do take time off, 80% of the time I’m still checking email. And I’m convinced that I’m not doing myself (or my employer) any favors. At the end of the day, not taking off means I am not performing at my peak and my attitude goes down the drain. I become cranky butt and burnt out. At one point this summer, I actually stood in the bathroom and looked in the mirror and asked myself if it was worth it. Then I started practicing for my next line of work “Welcome to Wal-Mart,” picturing myself in a blue vest greeting the customers as they entered the store. Surely that was less stressful than what I was currently doing… Seriously, I was THAT stressed out! A lifetime of work habits die hard and this will be a tough one for me to break, not to mention, I’ve trained my boss and colleagues to expect this. Now is the time to set the record straight and realign expectations for the future. So I have been practicing…

These past 10 days, I’ve actually unplugged from work (with only two exceptions where I was specifically looking for emails associated with scheduling travel) and for probably the first time in my life, had NO guilt associated with it. In fact, I’m still not ready to head back to work the day after tomorrow when I head to the airport at 4 AM. Funny, I thought I had all the time in the world because I was home and “off” to take care of things I have put off (oil change, new tires, unpacking boxes, donating stuff to Goodwill, deep clean, etc.) As far as preparing for my upcoming meeting Wednesday, I had several of those Scarlett O’Hara moments… “I won’t think about that now, I’ll think about that tomorrow.” (You see, I knew I had to reflect on my year and make some decisions on the direction I’m headed career wise so I could build goals for next year). But here I am, New Year’s Eve and I haven’t accomplished anything. Oh, I started a few projects, jotted down some notes but nothing worth while and whilst some would say “but at least you got some time off” being lazy will hurt me later as I being a month of travel and too few days home to do all the stuff I should have done when I was home for two weeks.

Then again, there is always tomorrow and the day after. I have roughly 8 hours of travel Wednesday (including airport/layover time) – plenty of time to throw together a career plan. As for the rest, there is always the next time I have two weeks of unscheduled travel (famous last words). Sigh.

For now, I won’t go to bed with any regrets. Work will always be there. There is never enough hours to do everything so prioritizing rest and relaxation over and above anything else will (hopefully) prove beneficial as I get ready to hit the road.

If only the pesky neighbors would stop shooting off fireworks, I could enjoy what’s left of this evening heading into my last day of vacation.

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