Are you a Strong Out of the Gate person? Do you make your biggest, strongest strides at the beginning of a project, then slow down to a pace that you can maintain throughout?
Maybe you’re a Slow and Steady. Do you pace yourself from the beginning, maintain that pace and finish pretty much like you had planned?
Or are you like me: Sprint and Glide? Strong out of the gate, get as much done as humanly possible while enthusiasm is high, then slow as enthusiasm wanes or unexpected challenges mess up the momentum, and desperately hope that there is enough forward motion built up to cross the finish line.
There have been projects where I fell flat on my face with the first step, some where I stumbled around for a while before crashing and burning the whole plan, and there have been projects that take a dogleg and end up somewhere completely different from the original goal. I’m super motivated by deadlines, not very good at mid-plan self-motivation, and many a project has crashed right before the end never to be resurrected.
By “project” I really do mean anything — actual work projects to hobbies to personal goals and, if I’m being regrettably honest, parenting. I have gardens almost fully planted, rooms almost fully painted, 10 pound left toward my goal and regrets a-plenty for not following through on all the cool stuff I wanted to do with my kids before they went to college.
But the project that’s been on my mind of late is the 365-day long one known as 2018.
In my mind, I left 2018 behind in early December. I’d had enough, there wasn’t anything left to do besides glide through the holidays and hope for improvement in the new year. “Glide” is probably wrong word, it implies graceful, it was more like, “stumble,” “flounder,” or “careen.”
So much careening.
2019 is just another page on a calendar, Baby New Year is the only creature that actually changes overnight, and Susan of January 2019 looks and acts exactly like Susan of 2018—but she, I, feel like it’s a fresh start.
2018 wasn’t the worst year I’ve ever had, it wasn’t the best either but the thrill I had throwing that calendar in the recycling bin was unprecedented. Maybe it was the exhausting, unrelenting pace of politics, maybe it was the adjustments to two kids away at college and the one that was still at home being a teenager. Maybe it was as simple as the lack of a vacation, or the discovery that a career goal realized means a lot of scary, unknown work is ahead.
It’s possible that empathetic extremes contributed to the 2018 sayonara elation. One of my dearest friends had a truly horrible year and it hurts to see people you care about in pain and know that there’s nothing you can do for them. But on the other end of the scale, my brother happily retired and, because he’s free from the demands of his career, he and I talk more now than we have since the 1980s. There were days when I could be sharing sorrow with my friend and, and an hour later, recipes with my brother.
The truth is that the theme of the year, the overriding memory that I will carry of 2018, was established by everything that happened. The good, the bad, the frustrating, the rewarding, the hard and the easy. All of it.
Whatever it was that made 2018 weigh so heavily on my shoulders and heart, when that calendar went in the big blue bin, I felt lighter, optimistic…hopeful.
The lid closed and — whooosh — relief.
Susan is a Kansas City based writer and podcaster. To listen to her history based podcasts or read more of her work, visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.