I work within the library system at the University of Florida. In effort to increase my professional development for my role there, I have been taking the Supervisory Challenge courses at UF (that is where the values survey that vexed me came from).

In addition, I applied, and was accepted to the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute (or SSLLI). With the SSLLI, I have a mentor who is there to help me along my journey of gaining leadership skills and the practical application thereof via our class project.

In preparing for my next meeting with my mentor (we use Google Hangouts, as she is in Tallahassee, and I’m in Gainesville), I decided it would be prudent to review the handouts and notes from session 1. That then drove me to describe how I would define success in my current position, and in my career. I also looked at what I thought were the skills the “perfect candidate” for my position would have, noted the ones where I didn’t feel confident in my own skills, and flagged those as areas of improvement.

This took a while, and a lot of hard thinking. So hard, in fact, that I got up and walked away from the introspection a few times because I was uncomfortable. But I came back to it, every time.  I ended up with a list of talking points for when I meet my mentor. And I have a better idea of where I am actually heading with this process – I have a metric of success, not just the vague notion “I want to learn leadership skills.”

I acknowledge these goals will change over time. That the job will change. I will change. But I feel more confident my my enrollment in this program now that I know what I expect to get from it.

And I realize that the same kind of evaluation of my self outside of my work environment – at home, with my writing, with my relationships – would be just as beneficial to me. If I know what kind of person I want to be (and yes, this does include going back and looking at the values survey), and can set goals that I know can change, I think I can make the most of each day. Or at least feel that I’m heading towards something, rather than just floating free, aimless, in the ether, waiting to see what life brings me.

I’m beginning to understand that life is about choices, but sometimes you need to know where you are headed – at least for now – to help you limit those choices so you are not overwhelmed. So you don’t shut down. So that you don’t lose days just drifting.

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October 2014