Instead Of A New Year’s Resolution, Make An Oath Instead

“I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions. I made an oath. Just one.”

Too often, we keep things locked inside. Important things. Things we should be saying out loud.

The I statements:

“I love you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I miss you.”

“I was wrong.”

The you statements:

“You hurt me, and that’s not okay.”

“I believe in you.”

“Please stay.”

“No.” <–Tricky? It shouldn’t be. Remember, “No” is a complete sentence.

The we statements:

“We can do this.”

“We must do this.”

“We will do this. Together.”

But locked in with those and countless other examples of things we should be saying are things we should say for our own sake, our own peace of mind, our own sense of worth.

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These drinking horns will make sense in a moment

At a Yule party, sitting in a circle with some of my closest friends, our host described this ceremony:

Brandishing a bottle of homemade strawberry mead, he said, “We’re going to pass this bottle around the circle three times. For the first round, we tell about something we’re proud of accomplishing this past year. For the second round, we thank or commemorate a person. For the third round, we make an oath for something we will do in this next year.”

With some nervous laughter, we all adjusted in our chairs and fell into thought. Then the bottle passed, three times.

Want to know mine?

#1 Something I’m Proud Of Accomplishing This Year

Based on the latter half of the year, people may have been expecting me to say that I was proud of helping get my dad through his recent fall. Much of my time and energy were thus devoted in a relatively short but intense span.

But you see, I don’t see it as something to be proud of; it’s more of a fact of life, something with a fortunately happy ending.* Something where it never occurred to me not to do anything about it.

(I don’t know if that makes sense outside of my own head. I suppose the short answer would be, “It’s what you do.” I’d link to a meme about it but they always play a commercial about it in the movie theatre to get you to turn off your cell phone, and I’m sick of it.)

Anyway. I instead picked the fact that this year, I’d finally, successfully made my case to become a people-manager for the first time in my career. Since September, I’ve been managing an intern (who is coming back next year, too!).

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Not quite the “boss” image I was looking for.

#2 Thank Or Commemorate Someone 

For item 2, I thanked my husband. He’s been there for me through all of this and more, especially through these latter months, from taking unpaid time from work to being so incredibly efficient at packing up my dad’s entire household to just listening.

In times of trouble, you really do find out who’s willing to help, not just say they want to help.

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Sheer helpfulness during a monsoon.

#3 Make An Oath For The Next Year

Here’s my oath. I am going to publish my first children’s book in Q1 of 2017. That’s January-March (I always have to look this up).

See, I’ve always been a writer; now I’m ready to become an author.

I’ll arrange for a sneak-peek of the story soon, but for right now, exclusively, here is a deliberately low-res, copyright-splashed cover image of the star of my first children’s book, Sidney Snail!

Edit: It’s out! Get “What’s at the End of Your Nose?” today. Officially on Amazon as of January 27, 2017.

copyright 2016 Kelly Cline

copyright 2016 Becky Benishek and Kelly Cline for “What’s at the End of Your Nose?”

What really happened

So here’s where the magic comes in: All of these things in this end-of-year ceremony were said out loud, with witnesses yet.

And none of them were resolutions.

Without taking this time to slow down and think about this one instance among so many other instance, I may never have fully realized what an accomplishment it is to achieve my goal of being a person-manager.

I may also have always felt that nagging feeling that I didn’t thank my husband enough for who he is.

And I may never have decided that this is it for publishing, because let me tell you, 2015 was supposed to be “that” year, but that was a New Year’s resolution. I don’t remember saying it out loud, but I remember typing it out. Unfortunately, even shouting it inside your own head doesn’t always help.

As we speak, I’m getting my book formatted by knowledgeable others for CreateSpace and Kindle. I have the next steps laid out in my head like a grid.

And I have that little surprising ceremony to thank.

What are your three picks?

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*I haven’t been updating on Subject Dad nor been here much at all in these latter months; my latent goal of posting everyday in 2016 fell with a mostly-unmourned clunk by the wayside when real life started happening with a vengeance. But my dad is doing well, thank goodness!

Do you know a person like this?

From a letter to AskaManager.org entitled “Coworker keeps making gross bathroom joke”:

“He’s an encyclopedia of groan-worthy dad jokes, and he believes that if a joke was funny once, it’ll stay funny forever, and he’ll repeat it whenever an opportunity even remotely presents itself. This extends to jokes that weren’t ever funny.”

Issue: Dude keeps saying “Everything come out all right?” loudly every single time. the letter-writer comes back from the can, and only when that person comes back from the can.

I have not encountered Gross Bathroom Joke person, how I don’t know, but I have encountered the Takes Any Opportunity To Insert Somebody Else’s Witty Line person, whether it’s quotes from the movie Airplane or “My grandfather always said . . . . ” or the afore-mentioned groaners.

This was also repetitive, and also implemented to the point where you’d have to wait for him to finish each interjection before getting on with the actual conversation.

I limit my contact with that person.

If you, too, need advice for someone like this, or want to indulge in a little schadenfreude while getting great advice for navigating the tricky shoals of coworkers, here’s the whole of it.

Ask Why, Not “What Do You Do?”

It makes sense. We all ask the “So, what do you do for a living?” or a variant when we meet someone in a professional (or otherwise) setting.

What would happen if, instead of or following hard on the heels of that question, we ask, “Why do you enjoy what you do?”

Sure, you may get some flat “I don’t!” responses, but for the others, you may find out something really cool.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s Simon Terry’s spin.

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Read: 5 People We Wish Would Stop Using Linkedin

A good read!

Of course there are more than five types of people we wish would stop using LinkedIn. From opportunistic “inspirational!” posts to the person who connects only to go into sales mode immediately after, marketing is marketing, whatever gloss is put on it.

Pro tip: If you’re unsure as to whether your own status update, profile picture, or connection request belongs on LinkedIn or Facebook, go with Facebook.

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Is this my best side? From kids.nationalgeographic.com

Fighting Your Way Out of the “Um”s

Whether you’re doing a public speaking stint or not, peppering your verbal sentences with “um” and “you know” can make you appear uncertain at best and unconvincing at worst.

So says Paula Statman, one of the expert speaking coaches quoted in the BBC’s “The secret to stopping your ‘ummms’,” which I found quite timely as I’m preparing to do some speaking in the upcoming months.

I already do a weekly stand-up report, and have resolved to watch my phraseology.

Here’s one of the tips I just learned:

Instead of using filler words to allow your mouth and thoughts to catch up, just pause instead. An ‘um’ only takes a second. So will pausing, but it’ll have far less of a damning impact.

Unless, of course, you lose your entire train of thought at this crucial moment. Stay engaged!

Get more tips here.