December is an interesting month. In business it signifies year-end for many. Closing out ‘the books’ and analyzing expenses among other things take up the time of many a finance professional. The first three weeks are often a flurry of activity preparing for the near shut-down of businesses world-wide between Christmas and New Years. Traffic increases, stores are crowded, kids are bouncing off the walls trying to stay on the nice list. Countless managers are gathering feedback for performance reviews, and checking if goals were met or exceeded. Some organizations tie pay to performance. Others provide COLAs (cost of living increases), others give holiday bonuses, or extra time-off.
I set some personal goals for myself in January, and tried to be intentional in reviewing my progress since I really do not have a manager asking me to do so. I tweaked my goals along the way to reflect changing environmental factors. My goals were focused on managing stress, and taking care of myself and family. I set business goals for The Ermi Group which included researching/writing a book, keynote speeches and workshops regarding Leading Millennials. The book is a work-in-progress and I conducted a few keynotes and several Leading Millennials workshops. It was a good year overall. And my streamlined personal goal was quality time with family, and I feel good about achieving that too.
It was an important year of discovering where my energy was most needed. If you have been reading my entries you would know that my husband is a stroke survivor. Ten years ago on July 1 he suffered a ‘freak’ stroke at age 38. He no longer works outside the home, and has been an amazing stay-at-home dad. The six year old started kindergarten and the 20 year old is a junior in college. So new routines had to be created, and if you know anything about brain injury, the short-term memory is often impacted, and hard-wiring new concepts takes a lot longer than for other people.
Very busy times for both girls and mom and dad. My biggest discovery this year was I need to be more present at home. Both physically and mentally. I spent much of the last 10 years as a workaholic in corporate roles, then starting my own consulting firm. I pretty much buzzed in and out of the family on a part-time basis. But I realize that Kate will be a 20 year old before I know it, and I was missing these precious moments of discovery. Cuddles, snuggles and laughs. And Todd needs some help in creating those routines that make things run smoothly.
So, I declared more quality time with family, and it has truly been a gift. I created additional office space on the main floor of our home in order to be more plugged-in to the day-to-day events. As a result, I am being more intentional about traveling, how long I can be gone and making sure I plan in family time before and after being away. I feel very strongly about volunteering and have a service-oriented value system. I used to do it all on my own, now I am choosing things we can do as a family when possible, like going to Hurricane Sandy survivors with donations and a heart to help.
In past years I did not think life balance was possible. I have learned much from my Millennial colleagues that assume balance should be part of the employment proposition. Of course there are some compromises in achieving balance. Having an executive salary versus your own firm, prioritizing family, it changes the landscape a bit. And it does not have to be a negative. I started clipping coupons. I saved $38 at the grocery store last week. I used to have a hard time passing by a Gymboree or Kids Gap, but Target has some great clothes for kids. And how many outfits does she actually need at age 6? Going out to lunch is one of my guilty pleasures. And if I am working from home, I can eat leftovers or soup and not starve! Setting priorities and focusing on what is really important makes lifestyle shifts a gradual process and quite doable. Those Sonoma/Napa boutique vineyards were sure fun while it lasted, wonderful memories were created. There are some very decent wines at a reasonable price point. We once belonged to a wine club that was about $100. We recently rediscovered the original Wine of the Month Club for $34! And the wines were really good!
The curse of the younger Baby Boomers, especially we Generation Jonesers who grew up wanting it all and wanting it now. I hear many of us planning our downsizing, minimizing, and prioritizing. Some have burned through 401Ks as the economy dropped, underwater real estate, college tuitions, starting our own businesses and reinventing ourselves. And it’s ok. We are going to have to work until we are 80 anyway! The fiscal cliff. What’s the diff? As if.
So it is about finding something you love. Discovering your gifts, passions, potential. We are not done yet! Not even close! We are resilient. We are flexible. And we are ready for what’s next.
In 2013 I want meaningful work and priceless time with family and friends. God will take care of the rest.
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