When I worked at Google, we used a system called OKRs (objectives & key results) to set goals and track our progress. I wrote a whole post about it on my old blog (it’s quite good, if I say so myself), and about why I now use the same system to set and track my personal New Year’s resolutions. This year, however, I’m thinking that for the first time the OKR system might not be what I need in order to steer me towards the kind of year I want to have.
2016 was, in many ways, one of the best years of my life. I continue to be retired / unemployed / self-employed / a housewife (none of those labels seem quite right!), which has been an amazing gift and privilege. I finally have the time and energy to not just dream longingly about what I want to do and who I want to be, but to actually put it into practice. One of my big focuses in 2016 was on doing tangible things to help those around me and to make the world a better place, and I felt really fulfilled by that work. I continued my volunteer work with the Threshold Choir and my correspondence with prison inmates; became a volunteer driver for the American Cancer Society; and sang in two Street Requiem benefit concerts (Seattle and NYC) to raise awareness and funds to help homeless people. I traveled the country to take care of family members, including a 1300 mile road trip from Michigan to Florida with my snowbird grandma, and (what will probably be the first of many) trips to Wisconsin to help my dad through his recent cancer diagnosis. I also took an Arabic class, became a godmother, continued my tech editing work for Tolt Yarn and Wool, and got my first editing contract for Interweave. Throw in near-monthly traveling, and by the end of the year I was exhausted, but also very fulfilled. I feel like I’ve found my niche, and I basically want to keep doing what I’m doing.
Ironically, when I look back at my resolutions for 2016, I didn’t accomplish most of them. Finish three sweaters? Only finished one. Lose 20 lbs? Nope. Blog more often? Ha! But those didn’t end up being the things that mattered. And in thinking about resolutions for this year, I realized that the purpose of New Year’s resolutions is to steer yourself from the life you currently have toward the life you want to have. They’re about change. So what do you do if you already have the life you want? Just resolve to be grateful and stay the course?
One area where I do see room for improvement is in my knitting. 2016 felt full of knitting frustration: seemingly every project ran into a roadblock, had to be frogged, or I found myself avoiding it because I was at a decision point that required active thought, research, trial-and-error. I never had anything mindless to bring to knit group, and every time I traveled I struggled with which project to pack, feeling certain that I would come to a stumbling point halfway through the week and would then be knitting-less until I could get back home to my full set of tools.
After some reflection, I think this is because I went off-script a lot. I felt confident enough in my knitting skills that I was knitting a lot of things without a pattern, or making significant modifications to the patterns, or re-trying things that I’d been unable to make work in the past (like trying to modify a short-row heel to fit my high instep). 11 of the roughly 21 projects I worked on were either improvised (no pattern), or I modified the pattern. Sometimes I succeeded, but often I struggled. I’m not ready to say that it’s because I lack the skills, but going into 2017, I’m going to keep that in mind: if I do choose to go off-book, I may be opening myself up for some frustration. With that lopapeysa sleeve, for example, I was trying to modify a yoke pattern that was written for Álafoss Lopi (bulky weight) into a sweater knit with Léttlopi (aran weight). I’ve frogged it twice now, so I think I need to accept that it’s not working and just choose a yoke pattern written for Léttlopi. Luckily there are approximately a billion, so I should be able to find one I like. :-)
So here’s to 2017: may it bring me stress-free knitting, and insight and fulfillment to all of us. <3