(New Year 2009 in Hong Kong)
I am very results-oriented. I like goals, targets, measurements and evaluations. I make pros and cons lists for every personal project and I judge people all the time. Financial background aggravates the problem further. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” – right?
When it comes to your past year achievements, numbers and measurements are not always helpful. For example, how would you measure the following? Are those achievements or just samples of lucky inertia?
- Have not had any serious arguments with my husband (quality of the new windows for the living room dispute does not count)
- Everyone in the family is healthy and happy.
- Meeting with friends have been exhilarating.
- Still very proud to work for the company, still find the vast majority of colleagues increasingly smart.
It is considered to be a bad habit to assess people based solely on their material accomplishments, positions, titles or income, a number of their children or houses or books they have published. If this is really the case, why when it comes to your own self-assessment, you start thinking about these material things again and again and you do not feel quite satisfied if your personal numbers don’t boost?
In 2013 I have not visited new countries, have not changed jobs, have not won any awards, have not started any new business, have not had any new babies – does this mean that the last year was a lousy waste of my time? Maybe – or maybe not.
It’s tricky, because it’s good to have ambitions and goals and metrics to measure yourself against. At the same time, not everything you do brings immediate benefits. (Or, possibly – is this just a lame excuse for the weak losers, spiritual and broke underdogs everyone is laughing at?)
2013 started into high gear with my book selling like hot cakes and getting very emotional reviews. The momentum was high and well worth exploiting. I played with good PR and bad PR and very controversial PR – and it’s been fun while novelty lasted. Then it gradually stopped being entertaining and started being very predictable.
Work presented enough challenges to keep me busy working 90-hours a week.
My boss, the best one I had in years, left the company. The answer to both personal and professional “what’s next for me” questions was really simple: keep learning, preferably something unfamiliar (modern art, opera, classical music, Luxembourgish language and history); try new things (expand your personal network, reach out to people); and believe that something would crystallize soon from these efforts.
Working with mentors and attending FIRO-B training put in plain words what I suspected for quite a while. I happen to be someone who does not need and does not depend on public endorsement and pays little attention to other people’s opinions. What motivates and inspires me is novelty, experimentation and a very close loop of selected few role models, gurus or mentors.
I launched an English blog. It was not difficult, but it was symbolic. I just love learning how to write in English, I love mastering new expressions and trying out new techniques. It’s still far from perfect, but I know I can do it.
Don’t get me wrong – I do want immediate gratification, promotions, bonuses, growing my blog, publishing a new book, and all other sorts of adventures. And I want it yesterday. But I learned how to funnel these feelings into something productive, without going bananas myself and driving everyone around me crazy. I am focused, composed and not too obsessed with my own ambitions. I feel in control – the best achievement of this year.
(visiting ArcelorMittal steel plant near Fos-sur-Mer in France, September 2010)