Happy Birthday to Me!

By Ramon Barajas (Follow us on LinkedIn)

April 7 marked yet another trip around the sun for me. As I sit and reflect on some of the highlights and lowlights of the last 52 weeks, I am humbled by the accomplishments and am grateful for the people in my life that have empowered me along the way. So much has happened in the past year. We are further removed from the dark days of the pandemic. Los Angeles County lifted its Covid emergency declaration last week signaling the official end of the event that dramatically changed our lives three years ago. My department is fully staffed for the first time in a long time. Sure, we could use more headcount, but in budgetary terms, we are fully staffed. My department has a new name, having been recently rebranded to “Research Services.”  There is much change to celebrate. 

Image by Rosy from Pixabay

The other day I opened up my work notebook containing 2023 department goals to take stock of how far behind we are after Q1. In a moment of self gluttony, I wanted to further fuel the negative state of mind I was languishing in. When you have that constant feeling of treading water, never completely sinking, but not quite getting ahead, it’s easy to fall into a mental downward spiral. And, what better way to fuel the sinking feeling than to review unaccomplished goals. However, much to my shock and surprise, many of the small items on the list were checked off as completed!!! How did this happen? In my mind, 2023 was off to a horrible start. I started the year sick with Covid, which set me back physically for about a month and half. In my mind, I was way off pace in Q1. There is still much work to do in 2023, but what a relief it was to see that many of the little to-do’s were checked off. 

The fact remains that one or two of the larger 2023 goals will go unaccomplished, and that’s okay. I removed them from the list. My first law library manager and mentor taught me early on that when my plate becomes too full, the best remedy is to clear off my plate by removing non-high priority tasks. That’s exactly what I did. I refocused on goals and initiatives that are within reach. To be clear, this is NOT the same as quiet quitting. It’s a form of level setting with myself. We practice managing expectations and level setting with attorney research requests all the time, we should employ the same practice with our personal goals and initiatives. 
As I gear up for a busy rest of the year, I need to remind myself to celebrate the small victories and not get pulled down into the depths of despair by the self-perceived shortcomings. We all work in fast paced, ever changing environments with high stakes and hard deadlines. It’s important to check in with yourself when you reach calendar milestones like birthdates and quarterly endings to assess progress and reassess goals. Remember to celebrate the little wins.


Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.