"Pshaw!" What was the point? Terry thought.
At 43, he was too old for fairy tales and happily ever after dreams. He had lived enough of the real world to know it was a fool's errand to wish, to dream, or to make those ridiculous "New Year's Resolutions" . . .every time he had tried, there was never success. . . .
"Might as well let fate have its say. That's how it's going to be anyway. No point in fretting about it." he said aloud to himself.
He wasn't sure why he was letting this work challenge get to him. He usually could ignore those silly work challenges: self-improvement, power of positive thinking, growth mindset. They were always coming up with ways to make people better. Trouble was, they never worked. Everyone, every day -- just going through the motions. Doing the bare minimum to get a paycheck. Nobody wanted to really get better. They just wanted to survive -- just enough to get by -- just enough.
Somewhere along the way, he HAD bought into THAT philosophy -- just enough; that's how he lived his life these days. He wasn't sure how he had gotten here, either.
He used to be a man of integrity. He worked hard, went beyond what was expected in order to serve a higher good in the workplace. He was at work on time, often stayed late. He helped others with projects when they were nearing a deadline (When had he done that, last? He wasn't sure he could remember specifically . . .how long HAD it been?) He had friends in the company. They spent time together outside of work, but then those to whom he was closest had retired or left the company and he found himself spending time alone -- at work and outside of work. He wasn't sure how that had happened either. He enjoyed being social, but he hadn't really been making any attempts at that. He barely greeted new employees when they joined the company. He and his friends used to always invite the new guys out for lunch or dinner when they started. They'd play some pool, have a drink -- make them feel like somebody cared. As a matter of fact, that's how he had come into the company -- some of the guys included him in lunch his first week on the job. In fact, that's how he got that bunch of friends in the first place! He had somehow forgotten how it had all happened.
Terry took a deep breath as he thought back to his beginnings at the company 20 years ago. Much had changed, but many things were the same. He missed his group of buddies, and since he was the youngest of the group, he was the one left. Why hadn't they picked up more young guys when they entered the company? "Well, shoot! I guess that is my fault. . . .somebody took me under their wing when I came in and I should have done the same. I rested on my laurels -- on the shoulders of my friends when I should have been proactive. " The thoughts kept bumping the walls of his mind and disturbing whatever else he was doing -- imposing and insisting he pay attention to them.
From there, his brain reminded him that his lack of "happily ever after" was his doing, too. His decisions along the way had led to keeping women at arm's length. "I'm not ready to settle down," he would tell himself. "She's probably not the right girl for me," he predicted. Over and over, excuses had kept him from taking any kind of leap -- well, even from taking a step.
When had he become such a wuss, an introvert, a bad neighbor and a worse co-worker? He wasn't always this way. "You've drifted, my man, that's what you've done. Lost your grip, lost your purpose, lost your hutzpah!" He lectured himself for a while, then laughed at the fact that he was talking to himself.
All the company talk was just getting to him.
The next day, as he pulled up his work email, he was reminded -- "Only a few days left to make those resolutions! Get yours into the company pool... if New Year's Resolutions aren't your thing, then here's something to try: choose a word to guide you over the coming year -- just one word -- something that inspires you, motivates you, moves you forward. Everyone can think of one word."
"Pshaw" he said again, to himself. "That's just a stupid New Year's Resolution dressed in different packaging. Who do they think they're kidding? Are these company guys that foolish?"
But as the day wore on, Terry kept seeing words highlighted in his mind -- bouncing around like the words on a screensaver. The one he kept seeing the most was "ENGAGE!" The more he thought about that word, the more he thought it could make a difference in his life.
If he engaged more at work, he'd turn out better quality, perhaps even work up to a raise or a promotion. If he engaged more with the people at work, he'd have friends again-- people to spend time with, people to build relationships with. They could do lunch, play pool, invite the new guys out. How cool would it be to really CARE about his job again? And the other people who worked there? If he was honest, he missed that part of his life.
Fairy tales? Well, he wasn't ready to tackle that concept, but maybe just one word? Maybe he could do that. After all, it wasn't really a New Year's Resolution, was it?
ENGAGE . . . he wrote it -- scribbled it on a sticky note, looked at it, balled it up and threw it away. Then he shook his head, thinking, "No, it's time for a change. I am the master of my destiny. I can change my stars if I don't like the ones I'm looking at. . . ." After his little pep talk with himself, he took a sheet of paper from his printer, found a Sharpie marker in his desk, and in his best handwriting, he wrote, "ENGAGE!" Then, he drew some doodles around the edge and pinned it to the board near his computer. Then he sat down at the computer and sent an email to the company secretary. "Can you shoot me a list of the 3 newest guys we've hired? I'd like to take them to lunch."
A few minutes later, the reply came, and then the emails went out to the three new guys. It's a start. ENGAGE. It might not be so bad -- maybe New Year's Resolutions are only bad if you DON'T keep them, and besides, it's not REALLY a New Year's Resolution if it doesn't start with 'I resolve', right? Right?!!?!? Well, dang, so maybe he, Terry, who doesn't make New Year's Resolutions just made a New Year's Resolution -- or at least he had chosen a word. And he had a feeling that word might just change his life.