2019 was a year of change for me and December is an ideal time to pause and reflect on what went well and what I learnt to take into 2020. I hope my reflections help you when looking back at the past year.
Table of contents
Slow down, you can’t do it all
I’ve always kept myself busy, both in and out of work, but at the end of 2018 it impacted my health so after taking some time off I had to make some hard decisions to look after myself. The first big change was starting a new job followed by a tougher decision to step down from some of my volunteering duties. With the support of colleagues, instead of spending three to four nights a week helping a local youth group, I reduced my commitment down. This made a remarkable difference, and I soon found a chore becoming a hobby once more.
The hardest part of stepping back was getting over the feeling that I was letting people down and that took some time to get over, but now I’m finding myself enjoying my volunteering commitments once more. A surprising outcome was that I no longer felt guilty about spending an evening at home either reading a book or watching a movie, something that I would have never done previously.
Take small steps towards your goals
It can be so easy to create to-do lists or getting caught up in the short-term tasks and forgetting about the long terms goals you want to achieve. An approach that I discovered worked well for me was downloading an app called ‘Mindly’ and then every time I thought of something, it was easy to capture it before I forgot. I then set myself 3-4 personal objectives each quarter, nothing big but some for my shorter-term CPD and then others that would help towards my longer-term ambitions.
Another set of resources I found helpful (thanks to mad and sad club for the signpost) were from Josephine Brooks, who creates materials to help you plan a slower but more meaningful lifestyle. The weekly planner is a massive help both in work and at home, keeping focused on the important tasks for the week. It saved me many a time getting caught up in all the daily tasks and prompts me to make time for myself each week.
Your connections are so much more
I’ve said this before in previous posts, but there is a thriving community on social media ready to provide help and support. This year I made more of an effort to take part in Twitter and LinkedIn chats and share my own experiences. This is partly what led to the creation of Horizon Comms. It was a way to not only share my experiences but provide a resource for new, internal comms practitioners to visit.
Don’t be afraid of reaching out for help, asking questions or saying hello online. I’ve met some amazing people who I first connected with on Twitter and have since become good friends. Events such as Comms Unplugged showed me the power of virtual communities coming together. You can check out my reflections on #CU19 here. I now know that should I need some advice or guidance there is an incredible group of people who I can turn to for support.
Looking ahead to 2020
It can be very easy to fall into the trap of adding new ideas onto the to-do list or coming up with more projects that you want to deliver so 2020 for me is about keeping a steady pace, focus on existing projects and keep wellbeing front and centre in my plans.
A big help in my focus for 2020 has been the use of the five steps to wellbeing approach taught by the Comms Unplugged team and to think about how they apply to my personal and professional development. For each of the points below, jot down your thoughts on both personal and professional goals but remember, limit yourself to just one or two for each.
If you take only one thing away from reading this, I hope that it’s slowing yourself down and put yourself first. The world might appear it’s operating at a million miles an hour but it’s not. Give yourself space and time to reflect on what really matters.