How are you doing?

As the end of the year approaches, we may ask ourselves how this year went. On balance, did I do what I intended? Am I, are we headed where we want to go? After all, things change. What’s pressing in on this life of mine and what can I do about it?

How would this reflection be different if you set aside – or just plain rejected – the standards that others might apply? 

I thought I was a pretty accepting person, but I have a knee-jerk suspicion that those who don’t work hard and make a living have something wrong with them. Now that I see this, I wonder: When did conventional success become a not just benchmark but a moral value to me?

I was talking with my father-in-law today. We reflected on a recent trip with a somewhat distant relative. He is fascinating, irascible, charming, often disheveled, and always underemployed. From one perspective, he makes little contribution to society. From another, he’s more thoughtful, more knowledgeable, and better company than me. By someone’s measure, he falls short. By others, he’s awesome. 

So, when you stop to ask how you’re doing, stop to wonder whose standards you are applying to this self-evaluation. Or at least, consider that the measures you’ve used so far may be outdated for the present job, family, community situation.

You could even ask, What standard have I held that I can drop, and what could take its place that comes from within?

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