Walking down our street nearly everyone has their Christmas lights up, and its only just December. We are all craving a bit of light and joy, and maybe a bit of it is trying to rush us through the end of this year. Not everyone has had a difficult year but many of us have. And even those who have secure incomes, enjoyed working at home, don’t have any illness in family and friends and quite like isolation and distance from people, can’t help but be affected by the weight of this year and the crushing impact it has had on so many. The early bonhomie and community spirit dimmed with the seasons passing and progress seemed to stall then retreat. It is hard.
Often when talking to people about any difficulties they are facing at work I will hear them say, ‘but I know it’s a development experience’. The shorthand often for some thankless task working with some ogre. But sometimes a miserable experience at work is just that – miserable, and a signal to make some changes. And sometimes there is something to learn. I wonder what plans we all had this year, what were we thinking about 2020 back in January? As we approach 2021, with more caution, with muted expectations, with a much greater acceptance of how changeable things are and how flexible we will need to be, inevitably we will start to be more reflective. A few thoughts that may help;
- Be kind to yourself, because look how well you’ve coped! No-one predicted just how big this was going to be, no one could have shown you just how much you would have to face. Yet here you are, still curious, still determined to make a difference, still wanting to be better, still standing. Or maybe just still making it through the day. That counts. Whatever you faced this year you’ve made it. Brilliant you.
- Capture the best moments; what did that teach you about yourself. Did you fire into action and make stuff happen, become even better operationally than you thought you were? Did you plumb depths of energy you didn’t realise you had and kept going when you thought you could not? Were you the one who provided support, care, compassion, fun and respite to those around you when they most needed it? Could you see clearly a way forward when others couldn’t and help provide direction and clarity in a murky world? Remembering the moments when you really felt the best of yourself points to where you should focus your growth and development now. Don’t worry about where you fell short – being the best version of yourself at work means building on your strengths, this year will surely have shined a light on them?
- A time to rethink. In December 2001 working in the NHS, I launched the Gateway to Leadership scheme, for mid-career entrants into healthcare. The programme had been designed and commissioned earlier in the year and we were looking to recruit people from outside of health to join the NHS and bring difference, diversity, new skills and new thinking. None of us could have predicted 9/11 and the global impact that would have. So when we launched the scheme just a couple of months later we read the same thing over and over again in applications from brilliant people; what has happened has made me rethink what I want to do and how I can make a difference. People drawn to working somewhere they felt had a greater sense of purpose. There are some parallels where we are now. A good time to use your reflections from this year, to spot what brought you joy and what brought you nothing but grief and think about what that means about your career. But don’t do it alone, having someone help you through that thinking helps you to make choices from a position of strength.
And maybe, if you haven’t already get your decs up – everything look better under the glow of a fairy light!