It is the first few hours of a new year. At the personal, professional and institutional levels, we all are seeking to serve ourselves and our interests in the best possible ways. The jury is out on whether it is worthwhile to make resolutions or not, but I admit to being the type who will at least reflect on the year’s journey before embarking on it.
On the personal level, the journey continues to health and happiness. My first hatchling leaves the nest this year. It is truly how amazing how fast children grow. The other day we were negotiating the first day of school and his afro which he has always worn with pride, sometimes in contravention of ‘the rules’.
Now it is time to allow him to travel and study, live and hopefully, work in another country. That means my nest is getting empty! I have lived motherhood in such a way that I have always given myself permission to continue with my life. All I feel at the beginning of this new journey is an immense sense of pride that I could have poured into moulding a person that I think is an awesome human being.
If it is one personal achievement that I am forever happy about, it is motherhood. While I am still very much working out some of the other types of personal relations, I feel as though my children have grounded me and made me better, and hopefully, the journey has been reciprocal.
In terms of setting professional and institutional goals, I think we all strive to get to a certain place in life. We set time goals on studying and upward career movement. I think some of the bottleneck in the Barbadian context may be that we do this planning in a very individual way. We talk about career planning for children in secondary school as if that is the only dimension to it.
If we are asking our children to plan their careers, we must also be planning jobs for them. Not just jobs in the sense of placements but also in terms of the quality of job environment. I think a lot of us get frustrated and stilted in our jobs because adequate planning is not being done in terms of ensuring that the jobs we hold are changing with the training we are getting and our approaches to life.
The way that baby boomers approach the world is very different from the generations behind them. If our ways of working and thinking about tasks have not changed, then I am not sure how much room there is for professional growth in spite of how much we may plan on a personal level.
This point ties into the one about the type of institutions we have. There are a lot of collective decisions for us to make as a people. The first two decades of the 21st century have seen us continue to talk about our issues and how to move our societies forward. Alas, I don’t know how much gain we have made tangibly. There are still issues that we talk about in isolation which are inextricably linked.
Take the behaviour of many of our young people and the unstable family environments impacted by domestic violence in Barbados. To my mind, talking about these issues in isolation does not make sense. Further, the disjointed conversation results in disjointed institutional responses.
Again, for the sake of example, we are tackling school violence with responses from the Police and security point of view. What about responses that bring support and services to families that badly need skills in a range of areas to raise well-adjusted persons?
These are just a few of the thoughts I find myself with as I seek to chart a work plan of sorts for myself at the beginning of 2020. The good thing about forming questions as a type of planning is that even where answers are not obvious, there is at least some basic frame for the work to be done.
I wish all of you the very best for the New Year. The very best means different things for different people and as I said above, sometimes the ability to make our year the best does not lie squarely in our hands alone.
I think the very best starts with staying grounded in our realities and having the courage to continue the willingness to self-check and do the personal work required to achieve our goals. We can make our professional lives better, as well as create stronger institutions with the same type of approach – even though I concede at those levels we need like-minded individuals to help us.
Marsha Hinds is the President of the National Organisation of Women.