Monday, January 13, 2014

Looking, Learning, Moving On

In keeping with my anti-tradition, I didn't make a New Year's Resolution for the year. The concept of waiting until beginning of an arbitrary date before implementing changes seems absurd to me: I don't need permission from the calendar for me to start doing epic shit. And lots of epic stuff happened during the year 2013.

Most of my learning objectives and passions were not on my radar at beginning of 2013. I didn't reflect back at my life trajectory and bemoan about those resolutions and desires which failed to materialize. Had I made resolutions and clung onto the notion of meeting those goals as a sole basis for defining success, then I had failed miserably in 2013.

I didn't get the dream job that I had interviewed for back in January of last year. I didn't extricate myself away from a work environment that was full of waste, stress, and toxicity. I didn't make any headway info making a relocation to the East Coast a reality. I didn't lose twenty pounds. I still can't fit into those awesome Uniqlo shirts that I bought back in 2011 without my midsection looking rotund.

But serendipity and building my career capital led to many amazing things that happened during the past year. Most of them were not even only radar back on January 1, 2013. I learned the basic concepts of lean concepts and processes, which I have integrated in my work and personal life: critically examining my relationships with other people, pursuits, belongings, or activities to see if they are adding value to my life or not has been a great barometer for reducing the clutter in my life. Adopting lean is not just for manufacturing work: I am convinced that it is a viable way of living.

And through exposure to many happenings this year—the various professional conferences, World Domination Summit, TEDx Portland, Wordstock 2013, and the skunkworks passion project that I am involved with—I learned the transformative impact of storytelling. The art of telling stories is what brings people together to rally behind great notions, to place human touch to abstract ideas, and to create community. There are many stories to be told, and I am going to tell the stories and help create a space where others can tell their stories. I feel so fortunate that I am able to do the latter with a lunchtime Lightning Talks project at work, with an amazing co-conspirator.

I also learned how to apply my passion for creating an inclusive culture. I have promoted inclusion in my social circles, in the workplace, in my professional tribes, and elsewhere where I felt that a sense of belonging was needed. I am forever grateful that a friend complimented me about my "inclusive" nature when I first met her in person back in the mid-2000s: I have accepted and embraced that promoting inclusion is in my personal brand—and I am running with it.

There were many unexpected teachers, kind souls, and otherwise amazing people who appeared out of nowhere in the past year. They encouraged me to learn, grow, share, and open my heart. They were not on my New Year's Resolution 2013 Stakeholder Registry, but these lovely beings helped me live a kick-ass year. They dared me to feel, take chances, and make deals. They urged me to stop being an island who was shying from trying. They convinced me that there is no future without tears and uncertainty—but it is worth taking chances every day. They told me that it's okay for me to be a creative person, and encouraged me to reconnect with my dormant creative pursuits.

So did I fail in my pursuit to attain the mythical 2013 New Year's Resolutions? Perhaps. Did I learn more from new opportunities and serendipities than from an outlined list of preordained objectives? Hell yes! Do I regret not making any New Year's Resolutions last year? Hell no! Instead of writing inflexible and firm resolutions in stone at beginning of every calendar year, I see each day as a blank canvas full of possibilities. I want to open myself to entertaining new directions and new connections every day.

Many of the best plans that I entertained at beginning of last year have been mislaid. But it didn't matter since most of the lessons learned involved new interests that were not in the original plans. Whether they were in study or in play, the serendipities and chance experiences led to the the forming of new connections and new passions.

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