Guiding Principles for 2015
So I’ve been writing this post in my head for the past few weeks in a variety of different places. I made a lot of good progress the other day in the last 10 minutes of hot yoga, which is my favorite part of the class (and the part I’m the best at … because it’s just laying down, not moving.) I’ve done a lot of driving lately, and started to formulate my thoughts a little better, and in the shower just standing still for a bit. So in my head, I’ve got this whole post written down and it’s noble prize worthy, but we’ll see how much of that I’m able to actually get out eloquently in this post.
It’s a New Year. Which means it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. I’ve been making resolutions since I was in second grade. I remember this vividly because my second grade teacher made us write our resolutions on a construction paper star to hang on the bulletin board and mine was “walk on the treadmill more.” Like just stop it 7 year-old Rebecca. I wasn’t one of those 200lb obese children needing to be on a Fed Up documentary. But I think since second grade I’ve been resolutioning to eat healthier and exercise more, because even to a kid, that’s just what I thought resolutions were all about. More or less. Literally. When I think of resolutions, they all start or end with “more” or “less.”
- Eat less processed food
- Eat more clean food
- Exercise more
- Stress less
- Sleep more
- Worry less
- Spend less time on my phone
- Spend more quality time with friends
All the pressure can turn you into a crazy person. I mean, just look at NYE 1990. Maybe I was just drunk off apple juice, who knows.
And so on and so forth. Well in 2015 I’m not making resolutions. I don’t believe in them anymore. Now maybe I’m a little mental because I’ve spent too much of my life in consulting, but every year we have to set objectives, and we’re told they have to be SMART goals. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is defined as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. So saying “sleep more” is not a SMART goal. But you could say I’m going to sleep more in the next month, by shutting my laptop down at 10pm and increasing my nightly sleep time from 4 hours to 8 hours. Now maybe I’m a little cray cray because I took a 3 hour online training class for work yesterday that was ALL about goal setting, but I can get behind the principle behind thinking of a goal as a SMART one.
However, knowing myself, I probably don’t need any more specific goals and objectives to be focused on right now because it will just stress me out more. So there’s something we use a lot in consulting especially when we’re building out sweet powerpoint presentations called Guiding Principles. A Guiding Principle is any principle that guides an organization throughout its life in all circumstances, irrespective of changes in its goals, strategies type of work or top management. Okay, so behind the corporate speak, it’s any idea that you reference when making a decision or considering a matter.
The nice thing about guiding principles is that there’s no right or wrong in writing them – whereas with SMART objectives you need to hit those 5 attributes for it to be “right.” All companies need them to be successful. Even Google. You can read Google’s here. So I think 2015 is the year we say goodbye to resolutions, and hello to our own personal Guiding Principals. You can also always add to them, which is nice because there’s less pressure to figure it all out right now. So in the spirit of openess, I give you my guiding principals for 2015.
Namastay away from the cellphone. So this one applies to lots of things, but it starts with my cellphone. I’ve read a lot of articles on the benefits of disconnecting from technology for a while before you go to sleep and even not reaching for your phone as the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning. I’m guilty of working on my laptop late at night, and spending the first 20 minutes when I wake up checking email, Instagram and Facebook. I can also tell you that 90% of my dreams (nightmares?) are work related on the nights when I work late. When I’m traveling I rely so much on my phone because I feel like it’s my connection to people at home. The reality is, just because I’m not on Facebook at night or liking photos on Instagram doesn’t mean people will forget about me or think I’ve forgotten about them. Quality time is the essence of being present. So I have less free time than I used to, which means I need to make the most of the time I do have with people when I am with them. Even watching TV or a movie, put my phone in the other room, so I’m focused on what I’m doing or watching. Having dinner with a friend or being out at the bars, leave the phone in my purse. Just because I didn’t get a great photo of what I ate doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it. I had a really nice dinner with my friend Kristen the other night, and didn’t think about or look at my phone the entire time. So my social network didn’t know I had a great dinner with Krankin Reinken at Deep Ellum where I had my first Poutine experience …. but I had some really good uninterrupted conversation with an old friend and that was great. I’m also going to invest in a real alarm clock at home, and rely on wakeup calls on the road, so that my phone isn’t constantly within arms reach. The other thing this applies to is just letting go of the past. I have a tendency to always reference things that happened in the past. Not even in a bad way. But for example, sometimes I catch myself always talking about how an ex boyfriend and I used to love to travel together, or we’d go to dinner on New Year’s Eve instead of a big party or we’d book a vacation instead of buying presents for eachother. It’s fine to have good memories, but it’s time to live in the present. I book vacations with my friends and do lots of other fun things that I don’t need to bring up things from the past anymore. Like Elsa says while dancing in her ice castle “I’m never going back, the past is in the past.”
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU HAPPY
So you’re not supposed to have a favorite guiding principal, all are created equally, but I really like this one. When you’re little, your friends are your friends because your parents decided to live in a certain neighborhood so you all went to the same school. In college, you make friends with different people but essentially you’re all in one place because you chose to go to the same college. But when you’re a real grown up (I think I qualify as one by now?) you get to pick your friends from a whole slew of different places. You might live in the same building as some friends, work at the same company, go to the same gym or play on a sports team together, frequent a favorite bar, or just have mutual friends that you meet through. You may still have friends from home, high school, college or past jobs. But it’s likely your 20 friends don’t all live on the same street or on the same floor of a dorm. Personally, my friends are spread out all over the country. I keep in touch with friends from my past few jobs, summers on the Cape, home, tennis, dance, Southie, college, and just people I’ve met along the way. But in my mind, the biggest difference as you grow up is that you need to put a little more effort into friendships to make them last. Making plans, taking the time to send emails or cards, keeping in touch with people isn’t just seeing them in the dining hall anymore. And we all work hard and have things going on in our own lives, so with limited time, it’s important to invest in the friendships that make you happy. When I surround myself with friends that make me happy, I’m the best version of myself. When I am around people who engage in drama, shit-talking, or just are emotionally draining to be around, that’s just no good for anyone. Friendships aren’t meant to be one-sided. They are mutually beneficial relationships that definitely grow and evolve over time, and sometimes because of a variety of variables and circumstances, friendships just grow apart. Accepting that is important and also realize it’s okay. You don’t have to have a huge blowout with someone to decide that maybe the friendship just isn’t what it used to be and you don’t enjoy eachother’s company as much anymore. I have some friends that I see once a year, or talk to every few months, and some of those people are much better friends than the people I can ping or text on a daily basis. And sometimes friendships fade for a bit and come back months or years later, and that’s fine too. This one is a hard one for me because I just want to be liked by people and considered a good friend – but I’m starting to realize my own limitations, and time is definitely a big one for me, so I’m just going to continue to hang with the people that make me happy, and Irish exit some of those that don’t.
If I could surround myself with people that always had me smiling like this, that’d be alright by me.
Now these people may have been my best friends growing up because we lived on the same block … but it’s safe to say I was pretty happy being around them too.
DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
Another important one, especially as I continue to get older and progress in my career and just in life. A job is called a job because it’s work. They don’t call it Going to Fun every day for a reason. But fundamentally it’s important to enjoy what you do. Would I like to quit corporate America and bake cookies and have a bunch of kids and live the dream? Yeah, absolutely. And maybe one day I will. But for now I’ve got a mortgage to pay and the job part is an important piece to keeping all the lights on. It used to be that people stayed at companies for 25 years or longer. The nice thing about the world we live in now, is that it is more acceptable to move jobs and take on new opportunities as you continue to grow your career. So there shouldn’t be the overwhelming feeling of feeling stuck in a bad job situation. Sometimes there are tough patches or bad projects, but if a job situation just ultimately blows big time, go do something else. Life is too short to be miserable. For me, I’ve had a few jobs and had the opportunity through consulting to work with over 20 companies in the past few years, so I’ve got to experience a lot. And the one thing I want to do with my life and my career is help people. And the nice thing is, there’s a lot of ways I can do that. Whether it’s building a digital pharmacy to get sick patients their medications faster. Or starting a mentorship program at work. Or my favorite, working as part of a team and supervising and mentoring other team members. I love helping people grow their careers and be successful. One of the best working moments for me was when my first supervisee got promoted. It’s just a great feeling. Sometimes you hit a point at a job where you just aren’t fulfilled or happy anymore. And I’ve learned it’s okay at that point to move on to new opportunities. So I am challenging myself to look for opportunities in every work situation that I’m in to help people. And this applies outside of work too. I love baking, and blogging, and playing tennis, and traveling, and cooking for my friends. So I need to make the time to do those things. Because life is meant to be lived happily.
When we organized a company bake sale benefiting Cookies for Kids Cancer December 2013. And if the whole corporate America thing doesn’t work out, I used to be a pretty good t-shirt salesperson so I guess this could be my fallback career, right?
LET GO OF WHAT’S OUTSIDE YOUR CONTROL
Now this is a tough one for me. I hope one day I’m twirling around in my ice castle singing “Let it Go” at the top of my lungs, but to get to that point I need to get better at letting things go. And this applies to a LOT of things in life. Work, friends, weight, the world – you name it, it applies. I l like to live in the black and white, and a lot of life lives in that gray zone. I have a hard time letting go of things I can’t fully understand. So it’s exhausting because it consumes me trying to make sense of things, that sometimes I need to just accept will never make sense. It’s time to let the ex-boyfriends live in the past. They aren’t coming back from the dead, you don’t WANT them to come back from the dead, and while there were good and bad things about all relationships, just leave it all right where it belongs – in the past. The weather. This one stresses me out to an unhealthy degree. Getting on an airplane twice a week for work means inevitably there will be weather-related travel delays. I can’t fly a plane. So there’s nothing I can do about that. Adopting a “I’ll get there when I get there” mentality will be better for me than a “I’m going to cut a biatch if my bag doesn’t get in the overhead and I have to gate check it” state of mind, which I am often in. With food and exercise, sometimes I have a great plan for the week. And if everything goes according to plan, I’ll eat clean all week, sleep plenty, drink tons of water and workout daily. Most times, things don’t go according to plan. I need to go with the flow a little more. If it snows and I can’t get to the gym, I can eat a little healthier that day or do some at-home workout that will ease my mind but maybe won’t be the same calorie burn as the gym. Sometimes a work dinner or last minute plans with friends results in a brownie sundae or lots of drinks. It’s not worth stressing over or punishing yourself at the gym the next day to feel bad about. Just enjoy the ride. And I need to stop associating a specific size or weight with happiness. Being a size 6 doesn’t mean you’re life is rainbows and sunshine. So focusing on health and happiness is where I’m going to try to refocus myself on. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned I can’t control it’s other people. Sometimes people will do things that will hurt you, surprise you, disappoint you and you might never understand why. Just let it go. The more time you spend stressing over things that are out of your control, the more of an impact you’re letting other people have on your happiness.
LIVE OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Now this, this one is going to be fun I think. I’m definitely not a huge risk taker in life. It took me a long time to even wear bright red lipstick. I like to live in a comfortable bubble sometimes. In the past few weeks, I’ve gone to parties that two of my friends were hosting where I wasn’t sure I would know anyone else there. Normally I’d want to go with another friend to make sure I wasn’t alone at all. But instead I decided to attend solo – and you know what? I had a great time. I’ve met a bunch of new people in the past few weeks who are just great. I’m excited for these new friends. And yeah maybe at the parties there were a few instances where I had a momentary second of panic when I didn’t know anyone, but I just introduced myself to some new people and had a great time. Travel is an area I’d like to be a bit more adventurous in. Maybe it’s time for a European adventure, going somewhere where I don’t speak the language. Or spending a little more money than I normally would for a memorable trip. Taking a trip with new friends. I think this all relates to being more open minded. Maybe if an opportunity presents itself to live outside of New England, I should consider it. Nothing is permanent, and I think I can benefit from being a little more open minded. Even with dating. I am sure in my head I have an idea of the type of guy I think I’m supposed to end up with, so maybe I’m not giving some people a chance right away because I don’t think it will work out. Well I think I can admit I’m clearly no expert in this department, and I’m not doing something right, so it can’t hurt to change my approach a bit. This relates to the principles above – if I am with someone who makes me happy, who cares about anything else. But at the same time, I don’t want to be one of those girls who needs a relationship to validate who I am. I have learned a lot about myself the past few years since my real serious relationship ended. I’ve dated a lot of different people, I’ve changed jobs, bought a house, traveled with friends. I’ve done things I never thought I would do. And I hope to continue to do that.
Biking over a very windy Golden Gate bridge and down some hilly streets in Sausilito maybe had us almost peeing our pants, but was totally worth it and a great experience in the end.
So these are my guiding principals, at least for now, and the world’s longest blog post that involves no cookies.
I bought this necklace last month from Dogeared, one of my favorite jewelry brands to gift to friends. I actually bought the necklace for someone else and when it arrived, it just felt exactly what I needed to be reminded of. The necklace is called Balance and the inspirational card it comes with says: A happy life is not built upon the goal of perfection, but balance. It’s a good reminder for me that I can cut myself a break and I don’t need to be perfect, I just need to find the right balance in life to be happy. And synergy.