The “Process”

Every January I go through a self-evaluation process. It is bookended by my favorite two days of the year, New Year’s Day and my birthday, which is near the end of the month. The process is like goal-setting but less formal. I look back through the previous year, see what I did or didn’t accomplish personally and professionally, and look ahead to the coming year.

I’ve been doing this for almost twenty years now and the process serves me well. It gives me a guideline for getting things done and establishes some measurement for progress or lack thereof.

A goal across those two decades has been to approach life more proactively than reactively. I think you can have a much more interesting life if you take it by the balls and squeeze. The years in which I’ve done that have been memorable and often set the stage for great growth in life. There is not much to show for years where I just let my life live me.

A few self observations so far during this year’s process month:

- Professionally I have proactively improved my career for several years in a row. Actions I took, based in part on this January thing, have paid off year after year, especially last year.

- Personally I have been letting problems build up and I’ve been mostly reactive. By that I mean I just let things slide and avoided dealing with them rather than accepting the emotional pain that is an inevitable part of facing personal issues head on. I’m talking in circles in this paragraph because this is very personal. Friends who read this know what I’m talking about.

- I got a slow start on the process last year, but 2009 ended with many goals reached and a new understanding of who I am. It all sets the stage for this year.

- My work involves reacting to other people’s agendas. I accept that; it’s part of the job. I control those parts of it that I can and that balance usually works out just fine for everyone.

- My home life has been so reactive over the past several years that I almost forgot who the hell I am. That changed in 2009! One of my goals in last year’s process was to test myself and begin a specific self-discovery journey. It seems ridiculous that I have to look at it that way, but it worked.

- The turning point last year was my July vacation. I can even identify three specific days during that week-and-a-half in which things came together for me. I made a beautiful new friend, I wrote a new chapter on an old friendship, reconnected with two old friends and several cousins and became better friends with my sister. And I did what the hell I wanted to on my vacation and had a blast doing it.

So where am I in the 2010 process? This year will be about finishing some things I started in the fall. It’ll also be about music, photography, travel, cooking, Italian lessons, hiking, friendship building, career networking and being totally me.

Two friends, my newest and my oldest, will say I’m over-thinking this. I will disagree. I am a complicated man and make no apology for it. Ironically, my keyword for 2010 is “simplify.” The ‘process’ will guide me toward making all of this make sense.