You guys, we made it. We have closed the door on 2016.
I feel like we all deserve a standing ovation for enduring.
On a mass scale, 2016 felt long and hard and full of loss.
On a personal level, 2016 felt long and hard and had some loss.
In short, last year was not my favorite. And that's being kind.
Even so, in the midst of the hard, there was definitely much good. So much good. As there always is.
My kids are more awesome than ever. We had a lot of fun. I went on some really cool trips and met some amazing people. Dreams were fulfilled. My husband and I grew stronger together as we went through the proverbial fire of life.
I do not make new year's resolutions because I have pretty much figured out who I am and what I do and don't do in a given day.
I will eat healthy when my jeans get too tight, but I will never turn down a cupcake. I will like the idea of working out, but when I calculate the time it takes to wash and dry my hair after a workout, I will make a mental note to skip the cupcake instead. Which I won't actually do. I already spend a million hours a week with my kids, and my husband and I prioritize date nights. I will delete Facebook from my phone, but I will download it again when I remember I can be present with my kids and still enjoy downtime. The two are not mutually exclusive.
This is a long way of saying resolutions and I have never been friends.
What I do like to do, however, is reflect on the last year (what worked, what didn't, what I enjoyed, what I loathed, etc.)...then use that information to dream about the upcoming year (what I hope to do, dreams I hope are fulfilled, things I want my kids to develop, etc.).
When I reflect back on 2016...the good, the bad, the ugly...one of my most favorite experiences was (and will continue to be) learning to better understand myself by meeting with a personal coach as a part of my PeopleTek Leadership Journey.
The awesome part of this experience is that many of my friends, family, and colleagues completed an in-depth questionnaire about me. Along with my own assessment, the feedback from my people was absolutely incredible. My coach talked me through the results and allowed me to better understand my strengths and weaknesses.
I am naturally pretty hard on myself, so identifying my faults comes easy. Even so, I loved getting specific ideas for how to work to improve those.
The part that was the most freeing was actually realizing my strengths and owning them.
More than anything, I came to understand that relationships with people matter more to me than anything else. I love people. I enjoy being around people. I like to connect people together. I love talking, and I love listening. While I can be alone, I don't prefer it.
Part of the reason 2016 was so hard for me is that I did not spend nearly enough time with people. And by people, I mean adults. I spend approximately six million hours a week with the ten and under crowd. Which, as important as that is to me, does not count towards fulfilling my need for people.
And while there are a variety of very valid reasons why this happened, I know I have to make different choices in 2017. My emotional health depends on it. But as I brainstorm ways to do this, if I am being honest, I am saddened by the state of our culture. In an era when we are more connected than ever, we are more disconnected than ever.
Busyness has become a way of life and even a badge of honor in our culture. It feels like we don't have time for each other. And while I realize now that relationships are more important to me than most, I think we are all feeling the loss of meaningful relationships. Even well-intentioned friends find it difficult to connect because kids are time consuming and exhausting (and also awesome...but that's not the point here).
I am a girl who likes solutions to problems. I do not like talking about problems unless we are looking for ways to solve them. According to my assessment, creating an influential social network is my strength. Since I take issue with the lack of connections in our culture, I plan to use that strength to bring the change I wish to see. Pushing against all of the social norms to be busy busy busy, I am going to figure out a way to connect with people more in 2017.
If you're someone who has great success with this, I would love to hear what's working for you.
If you're like me and looking for deeper, stronger friendships, let's figure this out together.
The thing is, I have great friends...people who I love being with. And I am sure you are the same. But there is definitely a disconnect between the number of people I enjoy spending time with and how much time I am spending with them. Which definitely needs to change.
Social media connections are incredible and so much fun, but nothing replaces face-to-face friendships. The surface connections that come from Facebook will never fulfill the innate need to be known and loved and cared for.
I am not sure how it will look, but my goal (NOT my resolution, because, as I previously established, we are not friends) this year is to know and be known by the friends in my life...to not let the busyness of life rob me of the joy of friendship. I've been the guiltiest of all in letting too much time pass without connecting with the people I dearly love, and because I know it is as nearly as essential to me as breathing, I will find a better way this year.
Do you feel the same? Are you feeling the disconnect among all of the connections? Tell me I am not alone in this.