A lot can happen in a year

2015 was a year of exploring.

I started the year getting married to my wonderful husband Juan. Oxytocin — the happiness hormone — was out in full force. But career-wise I felt restless and ready for something new. I had been working as a marketing consultant for the past three years since leaving my agency job. I loved the clients, the work, and the flexibility but I was craving something different.

Early in the year I saw this:

I’m not usually a Steve Jobs disciple, but something about this struck me.

I printed it and pinned it over my desk. And I began exploring. I wrote down what I thought I wanted and started meeting with people — agencies, entrepreneurs, big-company executives. As opportunities emerged, and then fizzled or just seemed off, I would come back to the poster for encouragement. I probably looked at it 4–5 times a week, reminding my impatient self that this was indeed the process. In June I heard about FUSE Corps and decided to pursue it. A leap of faith, but it seemed right. Three months in, it’s even more right than I had hoped for. More on that later.

Now it’s time to retire 2015 and think about 2016. This year’s inspiration comes from brilliant writer/coach Marie Forleo.

If 2015 was about exploring, 2016 is about getting stuff done.

Three months into a this 12-month opportunity I’m very ready to do some great work. But it’s not so simple as a newcomer, and I have no team, budget, or resources — just really big ambitions.

So as we head into January this year’s poster reminds me that as slow and difficult as this government job may seem sometimes, I have the gift of a year. I’m meeting smart, incredibly interesting people who I would have never crossed paths with otherwise. I have a license to talk to nearly anyone I want to and to do work that I love—all in service of helping the people of San Francisco access better health care.

Yes, working in government is challenging. There’s a lot of complexity and it can take weeks to do something as seemingly easy as procuring a $60 software license. I stumble upon new organizational nuances nearly every day. Nothing is straightforward. There are days when you wonder if you can accomplish anything in a year.

The flip side to this complexity is that there is a real hunger for innovation, for creativity, for clear communications. And when you step in and start to fill that need, things do start to happen. What I’ve learned so far is that it may not go exactly in the grand way you envisioned it. But if you can just keep things moving, you will create something that wasn’t there before and it will be great.

A lot can happen in a year. But I’ve got to make it happen in any way I can. Here are my resolutions:

Don’t say no until you have a better yes. There is lot of great work underway by the people who have been here. I still have a big learning curve and I can’t slow down others to wait for me. So I seek out the people doing interesting things. If they’ve got momentum, I try to build on it, innovate with them, invite myself onto the team. This has been one of the most fun parts of the job to date.

Hit as many singles as you can. You cannot transform an organization by yourself in a year. I repeat: You cannot transform an organization by yourself in a year. What you can do is a lot a of great work that puts a foundation in place for long-term change. And enlist others so the impact continues on when the year is over.

Stay focused on the customers — our patients. As complex as the organization is, we are all here to help people feel better every day. Every time I get to talk to a patient— yesterday she was a subway busker/mother of four—I get new energy and passion for the cause. It helps to clear the barriers and focus my energy on what we can do. In a year. A lot.

Super excited for the year ahead. Happy 2016 to you.

Patti