If you ask people how they’re feeling this time of year, they’ll likely talk about how swamped they feel or how they’re desperately in need of a break. It’s classic December-itis.
I get it; I’m feeling it too. Even though this year has been filled with some really exciting things for me, such as returning to Australia after three years of living and working in the United States and working with the amazing team at mwah. to continue scaling our business, I’m noticing that I’m craving space to step back, look at what we’ve achieved and reset for the year ahead.
Giving yourself adequate space to do that is critical. And most of us are bad at it.
It’s often the work you’re most passionate about that has the greatest potential to burn you out. If you love what you do, it’s tempting to go and go and go and go, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. That’s why, here at mwah., we are huge advocates for giving yourself deliberate space to reflect before you jump back into work for 2023.
Take a few deliberate moments to think about what you’ve learned in 2022 and what you’ll take into 2023.
We’re calling this your ticket to space. We want you to take some space then revisit us back in the world of work in 2023!
A guide to your reflection time
Everyone will have their own ways of reflecting and goal-setting – something like this can’t be prescriptive. But if you’re looking for a helping hand, or some inspiration, here’s how I like to approach it.
Block uninterrupted time into your calendar
Get the time in there – 30 minutes if you can. It’s 2022, and we care about people, planet and technology. Take the ticket template, and get it on physical (recycled) paper and grab a pen.
Kill the notifications, messages and screen time. Go somewhere to sit and think. Quietly.
Having done variations of this activity recently with a range of people (and hearing many others taking similar tacts), even 30 minutes of time used in this way can feel a tad luxurious.
But I encourage you to stick with it for a much needed, much appreciated moment of catharsis.
As the catharsis clears, it’s likely you’ll feel a valve release on some emotion and energy, and have a pretty good handle on 2023.
Just write, don’t judge
I was talking to someone the other day who said the last 12 months have felt like they’ve lasted for three years. This really resonated with me. Not only have these pandemic years felt like they’ve dragged on, they’ve also brought with them a huge amount of change and plenty of valuable lessons.
But because we’ve consumed a huge amount of information and change over the last 12 months, it can be difficult to make heads or tails of the insights to be gleaned.
This is why it can be helpful to take time to brain dump your thoughts on a page without feeling the need to judge or polish your responses as you go. Just get it all out. Often you’ll be surprised about some of the things that have been hiding in the shadows of your brain.
Six reflection questions – look back to look forward
I suggest you stick to the questions below. Answer with no filter and no judgment – just go with the activity.
The questions we asked each other this year, were:
- What tested your resiliency this year in general?
- What tested your resiliency in relation to the pandemic?
- What are some things that are left unresolved as we go into 2023? And what’s the plan for tackling them in the new year?
- What are you most proud of from the past 12 months?
- What’s the big lesson you’re taking with you from 2022 into 2023?
- What will you be unwavering on achieving in 2023?
We very deliberately balanced moments of emotion, moments without resolution, moments of pride and achievement and moments looking forward with these questions.
There is some power in looking back, then looking forwards. To me, this is the central thread of positive psychology. Humans are growth and momentum players; we actually like going forward with energy. Sometimes we just need a minute to reset on how to do this.
If you want to hear some of mine and Rhonda’s responses to these questions, listen to the latest episode of our podcast.
Start putting insights into action
At this stage, you’ve probably uncovered some pearls of wisdom from the recesses of your mind, so, the landing is simple – share this with your team.
COVID-19 has given us shared experiences, and some deeply personal and unexpected ones. We need a break, but also, this moment has the opportunity to be the defining one for psychological safety.
Yes, it’s buzzy. Psychological safety is a lot of things (information flow, safety to make mistakes, ability to speak up, resolve things and be supported), but, ultimately, it’s a state of deep care and connection.
If you’re leading a team, a business, or part of one, your team needs to know what tested you to your core. They know that you, like them, have unresolved things on your mind. And you, like them (and probably with them), have achieved some pretty cool things. And you’ve got ideas and plans and energy for those in 2023.
Your ticket to space is your ticket to reflection, but really it’s a ticket to connection, belonging and humanity. It’s your ticket to true psychological safety, in a moment where we can reset it more than ever before.
So, in the wise words of David Le’aupepe from Gang of Youths (thanks Spotify for reminding me how obsessed I am with this band in 2022…and before), it’s a chance to “say the unsayable, say the most human of things”.
Over to you to go and say them.
And the final sign-off is simply this.
Stay safe and enjoy yourselves.
We’ll be back on deck in mid-January, feeling refreshed and refuelled.
We can’t wait to continue working alongside our clients, existing and prospective, to create work cultures that put humans front and centre. Making Work Absolutely Human is our name, our vision and our mission. That is unwavering.
However you choose to give yourself space from work – getting lost in a great book, immersing yourself in family time or perhaps going off-grid – I hope it gives you everything you need.
See you in 2023!