In considering this year’s New Year’s post, I’ve observed folks on Facebook and Twitter giving the usual “Hoping for a better 2023!”, but also, and notably: “All right 2023, what sort of bullshit do you have for me? Let’s get this over with.” Perhaps it’s always been that way, and I just haven’t noticed. I know lots of my friends and acquaintances have had a tough year, some life-changing, some downright tragic. Others did okay, with lots of travel to wonderful places, or perhaps paid off some debt, or maybe took on a new job.
I’d characterize my year as good, overall, but very, very tough. After a quick agreeable discussion with the wife, we decided that this year, we should have an ‘epic’ Christmas. Everyone got something surprising that we normally couldn’t really afford: computer, iPad, all the Lego & video games, and even kittens. I wanted to do this in part because we’ve all had a really hard few years, and still managed to keep on going. In part, I wanted it to be a day where I didn’t have to say “I got what they had” or “I didn’t have time to…”.
Myself, I got a new VR headset for flight-simming, which is among my favorite things to do in the simulator, when I have time. It’s not a thing I’ll get to spend much time on. After all, I need 1-3 hours uninterrupted to really get anything out of it. That’s not something I feel like I can get these days. I tried a few flights over the holidays but had to give up on more than one attempt because there was just too much going on in the real world. I think last night on new-years eve was the longest uninterrupted relaxation time I’ve had in as long as I can remember.
In 2020, the pandemic hit, and I rolled with it. We redesigned whole workflows, from surveys all the way through the writing. It was 40 years of program development pivoted within a year. This December, the report representing the most complex and comprehensive attempts was finally published. It was a huge accomplishment, but the amount of work the team put into it involved many nights and weekends of intellectually challenging work. We continued at that same pace moving through 2021 and into 2022 as we worked in totally unprecedented conditions and then tried to ‘return to normal.’ The pace 2020 set hasn’t let up. In returning to normal, we’re trying to do it with a ton of new staff, new procedures, new software, and new problems. All that AND we’re trying to catch up with work that was postponed. To say the last few years have been exhausting would be a real understatement.
With that in mind, I think, what I’d really have liked for my ‘Epic Christmas’ this year to close it out is some real time off. A break that doesn’t involve getting up by 8 to deal with email or answering questions. A break that doesn’t require 4 meetings over two days with substantial follow-ups. A break where nobody needs me for a couple of weeks without a massive detrimental impact on my entire section. A break that doesn’t cause a backlog in my own workload that I simply can’t fix. If I’d found that in my stocking, it would’ve made the past few years seem a bit less. As it is, you can’t just go and buy that on Amazon, no matter how big the PFDs were this year. Now I’ve got a very nice headset that I may not see again for six months, but it is a thing just for me where I get to be alone with my thoughts and picture myself flying over some far-away place.
So having said that, what’s my point? Well, my hope for 2023 is this: People start to realize that it’s NEVER that people don’t want to work, it’s that there is too much being demanded of us, and we’ve all hit a brick wall after running with low staff, high expectations, and something new literally every day for almost 3 years. Some to the point where it’s not even worth going in anymore. We’ve given all we can, and there’s nothing left. It’s time to stop complaining and be kind, maybe take a deep breath and tell that barista thank you even if they did screw-up your order.