It's that time again. When we welcome the new year, enthusiastic about setting new goals and developing new habits. The problem is, we don’t always follow through. So to gain perspective, we invited Ahniwake Rose, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, to the VEST Her Podcast, to talk about her approach to goal settings and to keeping herself accountable. We also talk about the barriers affecting women in the workplace today and how she maneuvered some of these same challenges in order to get to where she is today.
Ahniwake Rose is a VEST Founding Member and the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute where she works to advance equitable and fiscally responsible policies in her home state. Prior to this role, Ahniwake served as the Deputy Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), a national organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities, where she worked with a diverse coalition of civil and human rights organizations to address economic inequality and systemic injustice. Ahniwake is a Rockwood Leadership Institute Fellow and currently she serves on multiple education and youth related boards. Ahniwake is a mother of two daughters, Waleah and Tahna, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and is of Muscogee (Creek) descent.
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It's that time of year when we're all planning, whether it's resolution plans, goals, habits, it's that time of year to do it. And you know, different people have different philosophies, right? I mean, you have Oprah that has like the word of the year and that's what she focuses on. And then you have other people that instead of adding new goals or habits, they deduct things from their life in the future year.
So I'm just curious. What do you do to get your year started?
Ahniwake Rose 00:27
So I've been thinking about this a lot and thinking about it, not just personally, but for my team as well. One, I don't do resolutions. I think. The concept of a resolution automatically starts us off from a deficit perspective, right.
That we're not already our best selves or we're not already accomplishing everything. Right. And so it automatically makes us feel like there's more that we need to be doing. And I think over the last two years, I've learned that I don't want to frame my life in that way. So instead I'm thinking about kind of quarterly grills, half-year goals about happiness fulfillment work-life balance, if there is one, and I know that's kind of a tricky term too, but mostly centered around family and how I can continue to bring joy in my life.
And what does that mean? And look like. So it's. Long three-day weekends with my girls, right. To really make sure that we're a building community. It's making sure that we're taking the time to do the things that we really enjoy and not putting things off. So to not sound too hippy, a little bit of manifestation.
Right. And, and I think a lot about that and not specifically where I'm at in a deficit, but how can I enhance my life focused around joy.
Absolutely. And I think it's a true on like, not focusing so much on the resolution because we all know that 90 plus percent of people drop resolutions by February.
Right, right. Yeah. It's incremental changes is the habits is it's how you choose to live every single day that ultimately gets you to those goals. But has that always been your philosophy?
Ahniwake Rose 02:13
I am very goal oriented and most of what I do. So I've always had probably longer term goals that I have also learned over the past two years.
My need to be more flexible with, right? So what succeeded for me in the past could not succeed now in the way that life is continuing to evolve. I think at such a rapid pace. So I've had to change the way that I approach that. So goal setting has always been very important to me. It's just finding the flexibility in that and being gentle with myself as maybe they don't come out looking exactly the way that I want them to do or they, or I thought that I wanted them to and really recognizing the purpose behind what ends up being fulfilled in my life.
And I love how everything that you're focusing on. It's not necessarily about. You know, achieving goals, but the person you're becoming as a result of how you're deciding to live every day and kind of like you said, prioritizing time with their girls and building community with them. I love that.
Tell me your rake up of the year. What were your biggest accomplishments this past year?
Ahniwake Rose 03:23
Can I just say surviving, right? It was a difficult year, absolutely on time. So I'm a single mom two girls and a homeschool. One of them doing virtual, actually both doing virtual last year. So we survived us doing that, doing it well.
I was so excited to when my third grader got her math assessment back and she was still scoring right above grade level. And I was like, okay, we won. Right? Like that's, that's our win. So to me, the accomplishment was coming out of a year. That was incredibly challenging, still loving each other, still holding each other tightly.
Mostly. And both physically and mentally and emotionally, and being able to really look at life, as I said before more gently and being more gentle with myself. I'm I am just like, everyone else is my own worst critic. And I'm really harsh on myself when I can't meet the goals that I've set. So learning to be flexible in what that looks like in all aspects of my relationships.
And so when I come out of last year, I hope that I can say that I've become a better mom, a better friend, a better daughter as the T from the time I've been able to spend with them and then really reflect about how I want my relationships to look at the end of that. Yeah.
Well, that was actually my next question.
What were the biggest lessons learned? And that's a great one, right? What else, what else? What did you learn big or small?
Ahniwake Rose 04:50
I learned, I love to bake. Oh, really. And then I learned to eat everything that I baked. So like, the COVID-19 for me was, was real. It was like the freshmen 15. So I've learned to do that and, and baking for me is really it's very measured, right?