Saturday, December 31, 2011


The former president of the place where I work used to like to start our all-staff meetings with an ice-breaker exercise. You know, everyone around the circle takes a turn saying something personal but not too revealing so we'll all like our co-workers more.

She didn't bother googling ice-breaker ideas like the rest of us. She invented them off the top of her head. The best one was, "What is one thing you just can't seem to get rid of?" The oddball dude in charge of agency events informed us that he had a dozen empty hummus containers in his fridge because he couldn't bring himself to throw them away.
Toldya he was odd. I think that was the last time she ever made us do ice-breakers.

 Coupla years ago in January she thought it'd be appropriate to ask us for our New Year's resolutions. Half of us lied and said we planned to lose weight. I hadn't made one, had no intention of starting a diet, and couldn't think of any endeavor I really wanted to work on. I gave a characteristically snarky response: "To get a raise."

Do most people really make New Year's resolutions? I'm guessing a few do, but I can't think of anyone who ever told me in December that they'd met their goal for the year. I'm thinking most are forgotten by January 15th. A whole year is just too long a time frame to stay focused on something you want to change. A lot of us look forward to the new year, a "fresh start." But what if everything is just peachy on December 31st and you want to continue the old ways? Makes January 1st seem a bit arbitrary for goal-setting. 

I always thought goal-setting was a very middle-class concept. The poor people are just living for today, trying to get by without getting sick or arrested. No energy left to think about the future. Besides, for many the future is kinda scary. When you don't have enough to meet your needs today, thinking about tomorrow, next year, old age... gets overwhelming.

When I was a Head Start social worker, as part of the regulations, we insisted that the preschoolers' parents set goals for the year. I can't tell you how many blank stares I got. Goal? Like what kind of goal? Whaddayamean?
I couldn't end the home visit without some goal on the paper. More often than not I'd have to give them a prompt. "SO, from what we talked about, it sounds like your goal is to help little Johnny transition to school, blah blah blah."

Once the boss was reviewing the paperwork and asked, "Were those really her words?" You want her words? How about, "Can we get this over with so I can get this monster out of my hair 5 days a week?" Not an appropriate goal, but one widely shared, I'm sure.

I'm not making a resolution this year either. Really, I just hope I wake up each day. Preferably, not in pain. Everything else is frosting on the cake. Ooooo...caaaakke.