New Year, New Me: A Reflection Not A Resolution


Dear 2018,

What a beautiful conundrum you’ve been.  In your presence, I have failed in so many ways – as a mother, as a marketer, as a wife, and as a friend.  The failures left in your wake have made me stronger, smarter, more resilient and powerful – yet also humbled, intentionally candid and so enthusiastically prudent. As I reflect on these failures, I do so with the understanding that these failures, though painful to admit and even harder to overcome, will serve as the foundation for my 2019.  I have learned, I have grown, and I have absolutely no regrets. For that, I am thankful.



In 2018, I failed as a mother

Failing as a mother is admittedly the hardest failure to face. We are all good mothers, we are all trying our best – but there are times when our best is just not enough. It’s ok to admit this. It’s ok to acknowledge that we miss the mark sometimes.

For my family, 2018 was the perfect storm. As many already know, 2018 is the year my husband and I separated and began the process for divorce. Before making this decision, we tried hard to hold on – not for us, but our kids. When it comes to these things – you can talk to people who have been through it; you can read books and articles; you can seek the assistance of counselors for guidance – but in the end, everyone tells you the same thing: Kids are resilient.

But, are they?

See I believed this fact.  I thought that yes – the kids can adjust; yes –  they can accept, and yes – they can have their whole world turn upside down and go on with life as though nothing has changed.  

As it turns out, though – that’s not true.

Sure, they will adjust over time – they aren’t damaged or ruined – but that adjustment takes effort. It takes work – they won’t just miraculously fall into a perfect pattern. I should’ve known this – I should’ve prepared for this – I should’ve put a plan in place.  

But, I didn’t.

In 2018, I failed as a marketer 

Now, to be clear – I didn’t fail entirely as a marketer.  I mean, I did many great things for my firm, for the blogs and for all of the organizations I am involved in (ahem, in case my boss is reading this).

Having inserted that disclaimer let me now please confess:  I failed as a marketer.

I missed deadlines.  I NEVER miss deadlines. But in 2018 I missed deadlines.  This piece – this one right here that you are reading right now – it was due two weeks ago. I’m still not done writing it.

See, in 2018 I allowed myself to get overwhelmed in all aspects of my life.  Maybe my failure wasn’t in being a marketer – but more in my ability to balance work and life.  

Raise your hand if you’ve figured out how to achieve work/life balance.

There’s no such thing — the two blend into each other. Work is not separate from our lives, and our lives are not separate from our work.  So here I was trying to accomplish a goal that is completely unachievable.

It’s no wonder I failed.

In 2018, I failed as a wife 

Not that anyone should ever look at their role in a marriage as pass or fail.  It isn’t a chemistry class – it is life. We are all human – we are going to have June Cleaver moments, and we are going to have a few Peg Bundy moments too.  

When I talk about my failure as a wife – I am not talking about my inability to be the picture-perfect-honey-your-dinner-is-on-the-table wife.

Anyone that knows me knows that was never going to happen.  

No, I’m talking about the fact that somewhere along the line I allowed being a wife to become my identity.  I was no longer me. I lost track of who I am as a person, where I am headed and what I wanted from this crazy journey.  My life became a series of to-dos, checking them off each day – or not.

So, really – did I fail as a wife? Or did I fail myself trying to be a wife?

In 2018, I failed as a friend

Throughout this year I’ve told you so much about my life.  I’ve confessed my feelings of mom guilt; discussed my incessant need to please; shared trials and tribulations of life as a newly separated mom and a few funny antidotes along the way.  You’ve been great friends, great confidants – you read, you share, you comment – you provide a platform in which I can cleanse my thoughts, and when my words resonate with you, I know – I’m not alone.  

That’s what friends do.  And that’s where I’ve failed.   

See, I’m so caught up in what is going on in my own little world that I don’t take the time to be present for my friends.  In 2018 I had a friend who lost his home, another friend who lost his job, and two friends that both had babies while opening up new businesses.

And I’m over here being all oh my life is hard – when did I become so selfish? It happens though – doesn’t it? We become consumed with our situation we fail to recognize when others might need our support.  

We are going to fail, but we are not failures

One of my favorite quotes is that of J.K. Rowling, “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”

Failing is a part of life.  We’ll fail at work, we’ll fail at home, and we’ll fail in school, in sports or relationships.  There will be little baby failures and then there will be massive, life-altering failures. In each of these failures, there is a lesson – whether we acknowledge it or not.  

I may have failed this year, but I am not a failure.  Every one of these failures has offered me the opportunity to improve in 2019; to do better for my children, my career and my relationships.  

I don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions because the truth is; I have never stuck to a resolution – ever.

So this is not a resolution but a reflection.  2018 is over, and I am so excited to start the journey into 2019 – with just one simple promise:  This year I will do better.

To all of you, I wish you great success in 2019 – but I do hope that in the journey, you fail as hard as you possibly can.  

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Meet the Author: Denise Lee

Denise the Director of Marketing for a midsize commercial law firm in New York City and the creator of iDeaLee, a marketing consultancy dedicated to helping professional services companies execute marketing strategies that blow the mind not the budget. In her spare time, she is hell bent on making an impact on the world in a kickass positive way, celebrating and advocating for women. She is the Alliances Committee Chair for the National Association of Women Business Owners – NYC Chapter and is a contributing writer to Women on Business.  She has been described by colleagues as a “bright, proactive, high-energy leader who thinks creatively and acts decisively.”

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