Before setting new year’s resolutions, what did you learn from last year?

Braided-rug-2015Last January, I wrote this post about what I wanted to accomplish in 2015. The concept I used to help me set my goals was based on identifying one word that reflected your priorities. So here am I, one year later, with information to share on how I did. In truth, things did not work out as I had planned.

I had two main projects I wanted to achieve last year, one personally and one professionally. Both would require creativity as well as a commitment of time and learning new skills. I thought one of them (the braided rug) would be a breeze; I thought the professional venture (creating a new video library) would be challenging but I never envisioned the number of obstacles that kept getting in my way.

It wasn’t long before I realized that both projects were becoming very hard. I ran into continual issues with both — reaching moments time and time again where my work was lacking the results I wanted. Despite the diligent efforts and many hours, I felt like I was failing. The rug was not the right size, which was impacting the color distribution; the videos had a host of issues, none with easy (to me) solutions. I found myself so frustrated, especially after repeated attempts to improve. My skills and patience were tested — and re-tested! It was so tempting to make excuses and just move on without making those adjustments. But I knew I wouldn’t be content if I gave in to inferior outcomes. I wanted to feel good about my work.

Call me stubborn. Or persistent. But during 2015, I did indeed complete the projects I set out to #create. But what is even more important to me, I am happy with the results. 

Learning Resource Center logo

The braided rug project was originally planned for the area in front of our kitchen sink. But as I neared the finished size, it became obvious that it was not the right proportion. It was too wide, bulging out to the middle of the room instead of stretching alongside the counter. Ugh! It wasn’t possible to go back and rebraid because the very first row (and the corresponding turn of the next row) dictates the shape (more oval versus rectangular for example). My husband agreed it wasn’t quite right and I knew I would never be happy with the chubby rug there, so we found another spot in the house that would accommodate this rug’s shape more appropriately. That meant I needed to make the rug considerably larger than I originally planned, which in turn impacted the color choices. The combination of lights, mediums, and darks are not as I would have done had I known it would be that large, but I did make adjustments that I think work well. It adorns the upstairs landing beautifully.

During the year, I wrote a few times about the challenges that I encountered during the production woes of my new Learning Resource Library. You can find those posts here and here. This had been the most challenging project I’ve ever undertaken. Along with the many cases of disappointment and despair over the last year, it now brings me the biggest sense of accomplishment and joy to see it come to fruition.

What does any of this have to do leadership? Here are the lessons that were reinforced for me and will serve me well as I move forward in 2016.

  • Your goals won’t always turn out like you think they will and that’s ok, as long as you remain flexible for changes while being steadfast to your quality standards. Don’t settle for less that you wanted even though it may look different.
  • Things are hard, even things that may appear easy (like my rug). Stretching to make needed adjustments can be annoying, but worthwhile.
  • There are times when you feel you can’t go on, but when you do, the rewards are much larger than the aggravation.
  • It’s important to celebrate the fruits of your work and recognize what you’ve overcome in order to move through those tough times.
  • Your success at one level allows you to build new goals at the next level.

What did you experience from the projects you undertook last year? Did things turn out as you planned? What will you do differently as a result this year? Share your comments so we can all benefit.

I welcome the beginning of the new year, with full awareness that I’ll face tough challenges, especially if I am expecting worthwhile achievements. Now I need to decide my new #oneword for 2016!

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2 comments

  1. judyringer says:

    You are a committed person, Robin. I’m impressed not only with how you handled all the challenges, but with all the great learnings you shared about the process. Thanks and here’s to 2016!

    • Robin says:

      Judy, it feels so similar to the TedTalk that you recommended in your recent blog post (http://tinyurl.com/j6m5f5t); I just finished watching it and her closing statement was so profound — just as you had indicated. I loved that she implored us to discover the wonder and magic of our world, instead of being stuck in being right. On many occasions last year, I wanted to be right (“these videos are fine as they are” and “the rug size will work”), even though I knew I was wrong about both of those things! It is certainly not easy to be wrong, but it’s really worth it. Thanks for your comment here and here’s to a 2016 full of discovery for all of us. Cheers!

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