At this point in the year, I usually am barely hanging on to what’s left of my shredded sanity, as I feverishly wait for the new year to rescue me from the current year’s challenges. Not this year, though. For the first time in a very long time, I am not looking back on the year and assigning it a rank on my The Worst Years of My Life list. 2018 will not be competing with 2011, 2015, and 2016 for a spot in the top three worst years of my life. No; this year was different. Very different. This year was not perfect, but it was very meaningful.
Meaningful was a word that came to me in the midst of last year’s fervent countdown to 2018, and it became the underlying theme for this year. As I pondered what this word meant to me and where it fit in my life, three goals or resolutions emerged:
Find a meaningful job that could support my family.
Create meaningful relationships with new people and people already in my life.
Create a meaningful life.
In my head, these sounded like solid goals, but they also sounded a bit too lofty and, perhaps, unattainable. In my heart, though, they felt truly meaningful, and I trusted my heart to guide me in my pursuit of each goal. It did not fail me.
The first goal, find a meaningful job that could support my family, was daunting, as I was not sure what I even wanted to do any more career wise. In many ways, I felt like I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up, despite being on the verge of turning fifty years old. In some ways, that still rings true, as I continue to figure out how to legitimize and expand my writing, but I digress. I kept my eyes, ears, heart, and mind open, and as frequently happens in my life, I found what I was looking for, without first knowing what it was that I was actually seeking.
As the first quarter of the new year got under way, I stumbled upon an internal opportunity at my company that allowed me to do meaningful work on a number of levels and that allowed me to use a variety of my professional and personal skills to help others. It also provided me with the financial stability that I desired for my family and flexibility in my work schedule. It was exciting and scary, all at the same time, but I knew that this was the right decision for my family and for me, so, I put aside my fears and pursued the opportunity. At the beginning of March, I began my new position and checked this goal off of my list.
The second goal, create meaningful relationships with new people and people already in my life, was the one that meant the most to me. In an increasingly growing virtual world, I entered the year craving connections with others in the real world in real-time. As convenient as it is to keep up with people via texts and social media platforms, I missed telephone conversations and meeting up with people in-person. I also had grown weary of my broken promises to others and to myself to stay in touch. Something had to change, and I had to be the one to change it.
In the past twelve months, I have accepted and extended more invitations, put more miles on my car, spent more time on the telephone, racked up more frequent flyer miles, made more friends, and strengthened more of my current relationships. All of these things were more than worth it. They also were more than meaningful.
As I look back on 2018, I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for each of these meaningful relationships. There are people who began the year as strangers to me who have now become treasured my friends. There are people whom I lost contact with over years whom I now cannot imagine going a day without having in my life. There are people who have been long-time friends who are now more like my family. There is one other relationship in a category all of its own, but I am going to keep that one in the safe confines of my heart for now. These relationships are profoundly meaningful to me, and I plan on carrying them with me well beyond 2018.
The third, and final, goal, create a meaningful life, was the most esoteric of them all. It really is not a definitive goal, as what makes life meaningful is constantly changing and being redefined. When this particular goal popped into my mind, I saw it as the end result of being able to achieve the first two goals. To do meaningful work and to create meaningful relationships are important contributors to creating a meaningful life, and it is my intention to keep creating a meaningful life, whatever that may look like from day-to-day and from year to year, until my life comes to an end.
As I reflect on my word of the year and the three goals that it inspired, I understand that 2018 really was only the beginning of the things that I most wanted, and that the things that I have not created or accomplished yet await me in 2019. This year is ending, but I am just getting started.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story