The only resolutions that work are lifestyle changes, and if you are really ready to do a lifestyle change, you don’t wait for January 1. Which is one of the gazillion reasons why most New Years’ resolutions don’t stick. 

At New Year’s I used to do summaries of the most popular posts from the year. I didn’t like the posts that came up as most popular, so I started redefining the phrase most popular. Until I was just giving an end-of-year lists of posts I wanted you to read.

And then I realized what was happening is that the posts I chose for everyone to go back and read were tending toward those where I wrote about women and families (they had the most impact online).

But I don’t want to be known as a person who writes for women. I’d really rather be known for my posts with good pictures (because I’d like to be known for having a life as charmed and gorgeous as The Pioneer Woman.) or posts with particularly good writing (because someday there will be National Book Awards for bloggers, and I want one.)

Resolutions work best if you pick just one. And the best resolutions are those you can write in a simple way.

So for 2016 I’m going to accept who I am:  Someone who struggles every day to accept the realities of parenting in the context of a world that celebrates people who give up everything for work.

I am always trying to figure out how to get credit for being a stay-at-home parent and get credit for being a successful entrepreneur. Probably this means I have to redefine those terms.

So don’t  know exactly what success looks like. (and, maybe it looks like the picture up top – my son playing in the window of my banker’s office.) But somehow, last year, I earned six figures coaching people about how to have a successful career.

I think I did it by being a good sounding board for other people, and the reason I can be that is because you are all together such an amazing sounding board for me. The conversation on this blog about defining career success and stay-at-home parenting, and about all the pile of lies we feed each other—that conversation is more difficult and more stimulating than any I’ve had in my life.

So, in the interest of embracing who I am in 2016, here is a list of the posts that made a big impact in 2015. They are all about careers, but also about women and parenting:

A fresh view of feminism for 2015

Ten bad reasons to get a job

Do we still have to lean in if Dave Goldberg is dead?

What would life look like if we said no to work-life balance (and a nod to Amazon, of course)

Science behind high-powered women leaving their job

35 replies
  1. LisaP
    LisaP says:

    “because I’d like to be known for having a life as charmed and gorgeous as The Pioneer Woman”

    It seems like people are mainly drawn to her out of envy. Whereas people are drawn to you for your personality, honesty, and interesting views. The former seems boring and shallow to me. I prefer your blog.

  2. Lynn in Florida
    Lynn in Florida says:

    Penelope,
    Please, please, never, ever, ever, doubt that you have an impact on people’s lives.

  3. JK
    JK says:

    “So for 2016 I’m going to accept who I am: Someone who struggles every day to accept the realities of parenting in the context of a world that celebrates people who give up everything for work.”

    Yes! This is why you are relevant and why I read you.

    • Erin
      Erin says:

      Penelope –

      I was just about to copy-and-paste this quote, too. Best line in the post. I love it. Not only because it is a definitive (and eloquently crafted) statement, but also because it shows your recognition of personal development. You’re always open, throwing yourself into life, trying to be better or truer or just more honest and kind. And I love that about you. I really truly do. You’re good people.

      <3 Erin

  4. Michael
    Michael says:

    Penelope:
    While it’s noble to want the distinction of getting writinf awards and being in New Yorker, please don’t lose sight of those who have helped you get to the point you are at. Those single sentence praises from your readers are the most worthy awards you can get.

    Here is to a great 2016 for you and your readers.

  5. Caroline
    Caroline says:

    Your writing seems to get better and better, maybe because of that self acceptance and clarity of who you are.

  6. manda
    manda says:

    “I am always trying to figure out how to get credit for being a stay-at-home parent and get credit for being a successful entrepreneur. Probably this means I have to redefine those terms.”
    I can totally relate to this. Penelope, I think you’re on the cusp of something that will eventually gain momentum. Your words are too painful for those not practicing your parenting principles right now. As time goes on, more and more power (highly intelligent) couples will fall into attachment parenting and do right by their quirky kids and themselves and unschool and use their abilities to protect their nests rather than to gain acceptance externally. At the same time, we will make our mark on the world. Thank you for helping inspire our family to do so.
    I’m not a huge fan of the Pioneer Woman, but in the mornings when I am anxious about our life I like to get up before everyone else and I envision myself as a true pioneer woman. I think about, if we were pioneers and living in isolation, foraging a new path, is this the way I would envision my family interacting and living? If my kids bounce out of bed in the morning and my husband and I, on balance, love each other’s company and exchange of ideas, and we have enough resources to continue to do so, I feel I have attained success.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Manda, I really like your definition of success – if your kids bounce out of bed in the morning and you and your husband love each other.

      I get nervous that I don’t know if that would make me bounce out of bed in the morning. Because confession: I bounced out of bed this morning so I could read the comments on this post.

      Penelope

  7. J
    J says:

    Most years, I make extensive, detailed goal lists (which I’m usually pretty good at achieving). This time, like you, I’m just trying to accept who I am and to enjoy the life I have. This quote has been in my ears a lot:

    To be what we are
    And to become what we are capable of becoming
    Is the only end of life.
    -Robert Louis Stevenson

    Also, something you said months ago, as a simple post title for an INFP workshop:

    Your inner life is your hidden strength

    Those words have become a mantra for me when I’m stuck. So this unschooling INFP sends a big thank you, Penelope. And happy New Year.

  8. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Crying while reading this. Yes, so ENFP of me. Everyday I read Pen’s posts, I realize how much I want to be a mom and a woman that thinks and works like her, (and well, earning 6-figures from home.ha!). You are a breathe of fresh air, Pen.

  9. Best of luck in 2016
    Best of luck in 2016 says:

    Let me guess, your most popular post was your vicious David Goldberg suicide post where you slandered David, and did your best to tear down his wife, a successful woman. Not sure if the page views were worth it but take this into 2016, you have been black listed by every tech VC.

    • Anya
      Anya says:

      Totally agree, and not just by tech vcs…that was just horrible. I don’t know why this woman thinks she has to rip apart other people to justify/support her own choices.

  10. ohmygodwhatamireading
    ohmygodwhatamireading says:

    How is your website still going when you give the worst advice I’ve ever read? Especially some of your potentially dangerous ‘advive’ about Aspergers. You need your modem disconnected.

  11. Cindy Allen
    Cindy Allen says:

    I’ve decided to accept who I am as well. It sure as hell helps to have a life partner who is a good balance for my weaknesses, thus, helping me be successful at the things I love.

    Anyway…..about the Pioneer Woman, as one of your other commenters said, she’s a machine. Not only that, seriously, the woman has no personality, none of them do. It infuriates me, to watch them blandly interact. Where’s the personalty? Where’s the spark? Anybody? My son says she talks like a 4th grader.

    Not trying to bash her, really. I know she’s a success and appeals to so many. I think that’s it…to have such widespread appeal, you kind of have to be bland and average in a lot of ways so you don’t piss anybody off with your individuality.

  12. Caroline
    Caroline says:

    As one who turned down project work this time last year – even as colleagues were being laid off due to oil and gas prices and as one who at the same time waded into homeschooling for my fresh 5 year old and then couldn’t focus on anything homeschool-like except Penelope’s blog and subsequently enrolled my daughter in Kindergarten this past September, I am often so energized and inspired by these posts to keep struggling to figure it out.

  13. Yari
    Yari says:

    I’m reading your blog in Australia Penelope and although some things don’t translate down under, I always find it interesting and insightful, often uncomfortably so. I’ve never commented on a blog before, so take this as a compliment! I’m about to return to work as a lawyer after 14 months at home taking care of our first baby. I’ve loved my time at home with her, much more than I thought I would. I used to be a six day a week-er at work but have relished the slower pace this year, with time to think and be (and even read on the odd occasion!). I don’t really know why I’m returning to work, other than it now seems to be the expected behaviour for professional women. Funny how things change. I worry about being out too long. It seems like it needs to be now or never (or a career change). Keep making grist for the mill Penelope, maybe I’ll make the leap one day. Thank you.

  14. Ben
    Ben says:

    “if you are really ready to do a lifestyle change, you don’t wait for January 1.” How true. If you really wanted it, why not start on April 12th or September 14th?

    But regarding getting credit for being a stay at home mum and entrepreneur…credit from who?

    Some part of society is always going to think you’re a loser for staying at home. Another part of society thinks it’s the best thing you could ever do for your children.

    Give yourself credit for what you choose to do and have a great 2016 and beyond.

  15. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I also thought about this paragraph – “I am always trying to figure out how to get credit for being a stay-at-home parent and get credit for being a successful entrepreneur. Probably this means I have to redefine those terms.”
    I think you already know the credit has to come from yourself. And you can get it from practicing self-compassion. It allows you to accept yourself for who you are and become a better person in the process. Be more kind to yourself as a resolution for this year. More details are contained in this article by Amy Morin – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-morin/kindness_b_8244822.html .

  16. Przemek
    Przemek says:

    “So for 2016 I’m going to accept who I am: Someone who struggles every day to accept the realities of parenting in the context of a world that celebrates people who give up everything for work.” – this is great man! greetings from poland, love to read you

  17. Hannah
    Hannah says:

    Sorry to see that you included that horrid, insensitive, and all-around nasty article you wrote after Dave Goldberg’s death.

  18. ihlas su arıtma
    ihlas su arıtma says:

    Hi Penelope! As you said above , if we are ready to change our lives time is not important we can change in the first day of every monthnot especially in January.
    You are such an eminent blogger that if one day there will be one I am sure you will get one “National Book Award”.
    In today’s world parenting is much more precious than giving everything for damned work.
    Finally I want to say that with your sincere and realistic writing style you are a charming and gorgeous figure among bloggers.

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