Challenging Myself | Behind the Apron

As I realize that we have already been in Rwanda for almost 3 months and time is quickly flying by, I sat down to think about what are my goals during our 2 years here {well, now 21 months} and in life in general. From the get-go I have said this was going to be a great opportunity to finally take some time to challenge myself and to delve into the things I love most, which I didn’t always have time to dedicate to in the past or the energy to do so at the end of a workday. I’ve really only done this intermittently since arriving here in December with trying to get adjusted to the food and the change from what I was used to as well as trying to get ourselves settled into our new home here.

With all the unpacking done, although not all organized, I began to think about how fleeting our time is, seems like just yesterday: I was playing without a care in the world with my neighborhood friends or at the pool or playing soccer; graduating high school (the 10 year reunion facebook page brought me back there really quickly!); meeting my husband; graduating college; and the list goes on and on. The same can be said for the two short years that we will be in Rwanda and whatever posting after that. I know I’m not the only one who has ever said, I’d love to do this or spend more time doing that, but you don’t always seem to get around to it. Next thing you know years have past but your desire hasn’t wavered or maybe your interests change slightly.

I decided today that I would set out a list of goals for myself that I want to accomplish in the next 2 years, although most would carry over afterward as well. This is not simply a new year’s resolution which usually gets forgotten once the year gets rolling when other obligations get in the way or are an excuse to use to tell yourself why you are neglecting those resolutions you set for yourself. The goals I have outlined for myself are ones that I can look at on a daily basis and evaluate how I’m doing and what improvements I should make to my goals as I achieve them or realize new ones as well. It is a way that I can say, “you are only cheating yourself!”… a sort of personal accountability.

In my last job we had performance appraisals at the end of each year, where we had to rate ourselves and be rated by management for how well we accomplished the objectives that were set out for us in a number of categories and what was the “so what” of what we spent all year working on. Having used that metrics system for a number of years now, I think I naturally resorted to using a similar approach to my own goals focusing on three specific areas: personal, professional, and interpersonal. Of course, this blog and my culinary journey is a big part of my personal goals – actually has it’s own sub-category.

Over the next two years, I plan to spend more time improving my cooking skills, sharing those I’ve learned, recipes and cuisines I’ve tried, improving my food photography skills (and photography in general as it has always been a passion of mine), and challenge myself to expand my palette. This means you all get a front row seat to what I do in these two years and what I see on travels to explore Rwanda and Africa at large!

As far as professional, this category covers a wide array of goals focusing on challenging myself in the workplace, taking every opportunity to grow and learn new skills, and to increase my network of resources for now and in the future. This is an area that I would argue I have been successful with in the past, however, as I embark on new experiences with Embassy employment in the coming months, it is something that I want to ensure I start right off the bat to get the most out of it.

For interpersonal, I want to work on things like being more social and adventurous in the opportunities that come my way with regard to other people. Many of my friends and coworkers in the past have always scoffed when I’ve said that I am a shy person. Since meeting my husband, the charismatic social butterfly that he is, I have been able to become more comfortable in social settings when I don’t know anyone and occasionally even relish the opportunity to put myself in situations that growing up would have scared me. I would say to some degree that this has helped improve my public speaking skills by increasing my confidence in being able to communicate with others. Of course, this is an area where I know I can continue to improve. This lifestyle of moving every couple years, is a perfect way to force myself into these situations, so why not take full advantage of it.

All this is to say, that I hope to share some of my accomplishments with all of you not just the culinary related ones!