Some people make New Years’ Resolutions. Some people make them before January 2. I would not be one of these people. But, instead, I publicly declare (for accountability’s sake), that this year is going to be different. 2011 was the year of extremes. Life is great! (I learned so much!) Life is horrible! (Anything to do with needles and hospital beds.) I’m not going to limit myself to what I will or will not do, but here are some goals.
Goals are not the same thing as resolutions, and I know this. I am making a conscious decision to set a theme which will influence goals for 2012.
1. Combating insecurity with talking too much. I remain in an environment that is fantastically amazing. I finally am able to name these people as colleagues, and look them in the eye. But when I put on my “tough girl” face, I think I come on too strong. Am I listening enough to others’ perspectives? Would the reporters, editors, bureau chiefs pay me as much, or even more attention if I was less heavy-handed? Less “We need to do this,” less “I’m just the new kid,” more “I think this could be a good idea”.
2. Less chalking it up to being a newbie. I will forever be a student, and so I tend to think of myself as someone who has never really left school. This doesn’t help give me the confidence I need. It also doesn’t help, when I ‘m not hitting conventions as well as I should. I have years, and I think, decades less experience than most of my colleagues. It’s possible to level up, and not be surprised things work. Yet, I don’t want to lose my enthusiasm. I’m still the person, who, when Jonathan explains some new tool, can’t stop herself from yelling “Really? That is SO cool!” And then, I hurt my own ears listening to the aftershock of the screech. Maybe I can be a little quieter. But I won’t lose that enthusiasm, and I probably won’t be able to tone it down much — this stuff is still really exciting. I hope it’s just as exciting decades from now.
My point was, I’m too much of a newbie. This is not absolutely an asset, nor absolutely a detriment, just a fact. I must not drag the overall work down. The colleagues are more patient than I would be, but I must meet that patience with consistent leveling up. Suck less. Accept this: “I am no longer a beginning programmer. I am at an intermediate level.”
3. Help others, but get help yourself. I spend a lot of time paying it forward, and that’s not going anywhere, but I should spend just as much time getting the help I need. Go back to the strategies of beginning Python, and apply them to new skills.
4. Don’t become a full-fledged computer scientist. This may seem counterintuitive, but I can feel myself getting better by leaps and bounds. Yet, I spend my free-time reading up on closures, whereas I once would spend it keeping up on the news. I long to do more of a certain type of work, yet I wonder if I get too bogged down trying to be an exceptional developer. Continue to pursue what it means to code in the service of journalism, and try to strike a balance. Problem is, I don’t yet know what the balance looks like. Seek to find out.
5. More work/life balance. The culture at the AP has encouraged me to have more of a non-work life than I have in years (thanks!). And I don’t feel guilty about it, because I give 200 percent at work itself. Yet, I want more time to keep up a gym routine, practice cooking skills, visit with friends, go to the theater, pursue my other passions, and be a person, not merely the operator of a computer. I’m the only one who can make this happen, but it will be a priority.
6. Less medical stuff. I can’t do much about this, I suppose, but I spent too much time in hospitals this past year. People say it was impressive I maintained the pace I did, oh, and conducted a job search through chemo. Hair is coming back, and I am feeling better than ever. Moderation. Take care of myself. Take those meds, eat healthy, get more sleep. As my kidney doc says, take care of your body, it’s what enables everything else. This year, for real.
7. Divide my intellectual pursuits, and read things that don’t relate to journalism, Web development and cartography. One thing I’ve noticed recently: really smart people pay attention not just to the field they’re in, but get to know the exceptional thinkers in other fields. I hope to do more of this. I will follow more diverse people on Twitter. I will read more things. I will try more things. This means expanding my reading habits, and going to a more diverse group of events in the DC area. This city is perhaps one of the best in the world for self-teaching. Curious about astronomy? Head to the Air and Space museum? Want to influence your designs with classical Greek art? National Gallery. I’d like to make better use of these resources, and bring them back to my work.
2011 was spectacular, in the good times and the bad. It’d like 2012 to just be…very good on many levels. That’s more than enough.