Slow Down and Celebrate in 2019!

Today I want to talk about Kohls. You know – Kohls – the department store that lures you back after Christmas with Kohls cash that expires faster than milk left in a hot car in July. Who knew a quick trip to Kohls on Saturday would make me rethink my new year’s resolutions for 2019?

No, I’m not adding a resolution to spend more time banking that Kohls cash in the new year, although I’m pretty sure I would enjoy that resolution more than sweating profusely with Jillian Michaels or eating more leafy greens and quinoa.

On Saturday, I was enjoying some rare, quiet “mom time,” just minding my own business and scanning the sparse shelves of Christmas leftovers at Kohls in the hopes of finding the deal of the century, when a voice on the loudspeaker interrupted the music. The voice spoke in some kind of secret Kohls code that only Kohls employees understand, so it seemed a little unfair to broadcast the message to us shoppers anyway, like when a parent starts spelling out words to exclude their children from a conversation they are having right in front of them: “You know, I thought we might go to the P-A-R-K or the Z-O-O this afternoon, but now I’m too tired, so that’s not happening.” Just like the kids, you know you’re missing something.

I will be the first to admit that I have NO idea what kind of reward system Kohls has for their employees, and I will also be the first to admit that I returned something during that visit a few days after Christmas  and this Kohls was running like a well-oiled machine. Really, it was impressive. I didn’t understand much of the Kohls jargon in the announcement, but here’s the gist of what I could translate, with the name changed to protect the employee’s identity, and also because I don’t remember her actual name at all: “Congratulations to Kohls associate Angela who met the goal of 10! (Insert some words and numbers I didn’t understand here.) You did some great work at your job today! You are awesome!” And I thought to myself, “Kohls, that is SO NICE! I mean, I don’t understand exactly what Angela did, but giving her recognition is a wonderful thing to do – because we all know that the people who work the hardest and for the lowest pay are often the least recognized in our messed up society. Kudos to Kohls!”

But then, before the voice had even paused to take a breath, it said: “New goal: 15.”

Ugh. Poor Angela.

Basically, Angela was commended for approximately point five seconds. Then she was told that the “great thing” that she just did wasn’t really that great after all. And if she could do that, then she can do MORE. And more and more and more and more. And that great thing she did? Well, that’s old news BECAUSE WE HAVE TO CONSTANTLY TRY TO PROVE THAT WE ARE MORE THAN THE LAST GREAT THING THAT WE DID.

Now, I’m not bashing Kohls here. I love that place, and I have no idea how this announcement fits into their overall employee growth plan, and, as I said, their processes were operating seamlessly that day. I’m just making an observation that I think is worth considering as we move into a new year and spend too much time this week making lists of all of the ways we are not measuring up. Not measuring up to our own extreme standards. Not measuring up to the imaginary bar set by people who put on a good show whenever they are in public. Really, have you EVER felt like you truly measured up to the expectations that you have set, EVER in your entire life?

I’m also not opposed to setting goals; in fact, I’m setting some new goals this week myself. But maybe, just maybe, we need to celebrate what Angela, who just worked her tail off in the retail industry during what had to be the month from H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS, accomplished for more than a freaking hot second. And maybe, just maybe, before you think about all the ways you need to improve, you need to make a list of everything that you did REALLY, REALLY WELL in 2018.

Because here’s the thing – unless you actually sat on your couch eating Doritos and binge watching Netflix FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR, you did some stuff that’s worth applauding. And for every “failure” that is now being converted into a new year’s resolution, there is the TRUTH that you invested that time into something else – something that may have been equally or even MORE important. For example, I can beat myself up because my blog was woefully neglected in 2018, or I can acknowledge that I invested a lot of the time that I could have been writing in being the BEST MOM that I could be throughout that year. Sure, my parenting is probably one mistake after another, but I made a conscious decision to focus more time on my family, and I should not regret that for one stinking minute. In fact, I would like to invite Angela over so that the two of us can actually celebrate what we have ACCOMPLISHED this year before someone else tells us that whatever we’ve done – no matter how many hours I spent advising my high schooler and sitting on uncomfortable bleachers and no matter how many rude customers Angela addressed with a smile – it wasn’t enough.

So here’s to 2019. Sure I’m setting some goals for myself, and maybe you need to set a few, too, because growth can be good. Stretch your mind. Take care of your body. Work on your relationships. Show love to your very own self. Find inner peace. But FIRST take some time to consider what you did really well in 2018, and throw some confetti around or something.

GIVE YOURSELF SOME CREDIT. Maybe that list of what you did WELL will explain why something else fell through the cracks, and maybe you will see that this was perfectly okay. Maybe adding more to your list of expectations in 2019 isn’t going to make YOU the best YOU that you can be. Maybe just trying to be the best at the things you are already doing or even simplifying what you expect from yourself is the first step to improving your life in the coming year.

And Kohls, maybe just ask Angela to keep on doing an excellent job of serving your customers like she did when she reached 10 (whatever that means). Maybe set a goal, and then, oh, I don’t know, let your employees ENJOY THE SATISFACTION OF REACHING IT for more than a single second. Maybe we all need to resolve to spend just a little more time celebrating our accomplishments than logging our “failures,” which maybe weren’t really failures after all.

Happy 2019!

**Hey, friends!  Yeah, I know, the blog has seemed like an orphan as of late.  But mama is back!  Here’s the even better news . . . I HAVE been posting, but those posts have been on Facebook on the Still Chasing Fireflies page.  Some of my essays (like this one) that would have been blog posts before are now on Facebook because posting there is faster, starts more conversation with our Fireflies community, and gets shared more often with others.  If you aren’t following Still Chasing Fireflies on Facebook, please “like” the page so you don’t miss any posts that might speak to you, and more will be posted here on the blog soon!  Thanks, friends!     ~Mary Ann