A New Year’s Resolution: Remembering “Why”
If we’re being honest, 2016 has been a challenging year for many, including many of us here at Mainstream Living. Employees and members alike have felt the effects of massive overhauls in the way our services are funded and regulated. The changes came quickly, sometimes with minimal communication by our government and regulatory bodies, giving our organization little time to respond. In turn, leaders at Mainstream have had to quickly react in order to find solutions that will allow us to continue to meet the needs of our members. As a result of these changes, our staff has often felt the pressure of additional burdens, while being asked to do more. In an ever-changing environment, an already difficult job can easily create additional stress for employees and the people we serve.
There has likely been a time during the past year when your supervisor asked you to do something, and you asked, “Why?” Maybe you were wondering why the change was necessary or what was wrong with the old way of doing things. You may have even asked yourself why you were doing the job or, “What’s the point?” On the contrary, perhaps you’ve just stopped asking why and you’ve come to see your job as a series of tasks done for no other reason than because they’re required. The particular use of the word “why” can be a double edged sword. Asking the question while you’re in a negative frame of mind can lead to cynicism and bitterness, but if we stop asking, we risk losing sight of the big picture. With a shift of perspective, “why” can become a powerful motivator; or even a word that you would return to time and again when things seem bleak.
When employees are asked why they work for Mainstream, they often give an answer that deals with the relationships they develop with the members and their families. Whether you are here because you want to create a better life for members, or because you want to make the world a better place for all people with disabilities, you have likely stuck with this job because you feel passionately about the people we serve. This is your “why”. It is the thing that can often motivate you through challenging times.
As the new year approaches, consider adopting the following resolution. Instead of allowing negative thoughts to take over, ask yourself “why” you value this job and the work that you do. When you’re completing what seems like your millionth progress note, remember that it’s for the members, and without progress notes, our funders would not provide the money and resources needed for their services. When you are struggling with a new online system, remember that this system was likely put into place to better organize information that ensures that members maintain eligibility for staff at their homes, day after day. Resolve to do at least one thing every day that helps reaffirm why you remain a part of Mainstream Living. Help a member who is feeling upset to find grounding. Push a member to overcome a fear or a social barrier. Encourage someone to take one more step toward a personal goal. Or simply let a member know that you believe in them. These are all moments that we relish as people working in this field, and challenges aside, these actions are always the most important. Regardless of the obstacles 2017 may bring, pausing to remember “why” will surely lead to a successful year.