It’s no secret that I like words. I draw every now and then but quite often my nonverbal gestures are misunderstood. Suffice it to say I am a fan words, whether they are written or verbally communicated. Every year, I choose one word that I hope will define my experiences. Last year, I chose the word accomplish but mistakes were made and I didn’t end up achieving as much as I would have liked. Still, undaunted, I press on, trying again. Those failures are still in the back of my mind but instead of focusing on the benchmarks I didn’t achieve, I wanted to spend some time understanding why I didn’t meet my targets and what I need to do differently this time.
I spent the better part of my teens and twenties being afraid of a lot of things. Hesitant. Afraid to strike out. It wasn’t that I was shy but I thought being demure was the way to go. I didn’t go for the things I wanted because I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable achieving what others around me didn’t have. It was a foolish attempt to fit in, and of course, it didn’t help. I didn’t feel comfortable letting people know too much about my thoughts because I was afraid if I gave them too much access, I would give away parts of myself that I couldn’t get back if those relationships didn’t work out. So I kept my roommates away from the other people I knew, kept work friends confined to the 9 to 5 hours and limited interaction with church friends to Bible studies. When I was unemployed, I didn’t want my church friends to know that I didn’t have a job because I was afraid they would think I was a bad steward and it would impact our religious conversations. Silly, I know. I had people in my life that could and would have helped me except that I didn’t want them to know that I needed that kind of help because then they wouldn’t see me the way I wanted to be seen when I was working in whatever capacity I was in then. Silly, I know.
I have a list of contacts, it’s hundreds and maybe thousands of people long but I never tell any of them about the blogs I write, the books I publish, the videos I make, because I am afraid that they will think I am trying to change the nature of our relationship. Guess what, I am. Unless I work with them, most of the people I know don’t know what kind of work I do. Why the cloak and dagger secrecy? Because I have firmly believed in not mixing business with pleasure. I didn’t think I should push the boundaries of my relationships. Good one! That means that I might share a pew at church with a publishing agent or fellow writer but they’d never know that I have a novel I am shopping around. That has to change, if I am serious about meeting my goals, that is. And I am!
On New Years Eve, I listened to a message by A.R. Bernard, senior pastor of CCC in Brooklyn. Every year, he chooses a word of the year and discusses it with his congregation. This year, I decided to adopt his choice: Optimize
Optimizing the way I use the resources I already have to help me reach my goals = making the most of my time, talent, treasury and relationships. Optimization means efficiency in all aspects of my life. If something isn’t working, find a way to make it work or reassess whether it can work and if not, move on. Optimizing means being optimistic about the likelihood of it working. If you don’t think it will work, why do it? But it also means being realistic instead of sentimental about making evaluations.
I am not new to the idea of optimization. I am a trained engineer. Optimizing and streamlining chemical processes, I could probably do in a speed race. And it’s sad that I can do something professionally without applying it to my personal life.
I made some changes this year. I’ll tell you more about them later. I’ll continue to make changes as the year goes on because I am optimistic about what I can achieve when I optimize my resources. I hope you are too.