For weeks now I've seen people writing about having one-word resolutions, choosing one word to summarize what they want out of the coming year. That's great for them, I thought, but I can't roll everything I want from 2015 into one word. I need an entire uber list. Then, after seeing yet another one-word resolution link it came to me. There is a word that should be my motivation for 2015:
"Progress" is a bit of a punch line in my house because both my husband and I used to work for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The GAO investigates government agencies and programs then issues reports and congressional testimony on the findings. The GAO is tasked with being unbiased assessors. They need to present factual accounts without subjectivity. Even if something is going horribly wrong at an agency, a GAO report will not use an entirely negative title when there is anything at all positive to say. A GAO title needs to acknowledge both the good and the bad.
The joke then is that every GAO title follows this format:
[Agency Name, Program Name]: Progress Has Been Made, Challenges Remain.
When I worked at GAO the dramatist in me hated those boring titles. I wanted to use words like debacle and fiasco! Focusing on the negative would make the reports sound more exciting, which is why news headlines about GAO reports tend to highlight the bad stuff.
Still, I chose "progress" as my one-word resolution. Why? (Other than "debacle" isn't a very good goal even if it is an excellent word)
Well, much like my dramatic instincts with those GAO titles, I tend to focus on my own failures without acknowledging my successes. I let the challenges that remain overshadow the progress that has been made.
The problem is challenges always remain. I don't expect to ever reach the true pinnacle of my career goals, artistic achievement, personal relationships, or home organization. There will always be more work to be done.
I want to focus on the progress. I want to celebrate what I have done no matter how much more there is to do.
If I can accurately title a year end recap as "2015: Progress Has Been Made, Challenges Remain" I'll be pretty happy with myself.
Do you have a one-word resolution? Let me know in the comments.
Get notified of new posts by email. Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.