Usually, when the year is passing by to make way for the new one, I sit down, deliberately, in a reading corner, to look back. Usually, what comes to my mind are the big topics at work that made an impact or were close to being damp squibs. Or family holidays which either relaxed me or made me want to take another one right after. This year was different because I took the leap and tried different things.
I learned that doing different things makes for a different story. This year as the year passes by to beckon the new one, here are some lessons from 2019 that are worth taking forward to 2020.
Recently I noticed that as part of my to-dos list, with all the meetings I wanted to call or attend to, I saw ‘Pay Milkman’ and ‘throw all the bills from your bag’ as two topics under ‘urgent, not important’. Work takes up 60-70% of life, therefore there is no saying let’s leave work at the doorstep before entering the house or vice versa. It has helped me immensely to integrate the two, which are seen as two sides of the same coin – that never see each other. Work is not just something that pays the bill, its occupation to a lot of us. Which is why people ask, ‘what do you do for a living?’ This, of course, is a simple example, but I am with it and on it. If it makes things easier, why not?
Bring your whole self to work
Imagine wearing a mask for eight hours. I have seen a few movies on environmental or medical crisis where people, to avoid contaminated air are seen wearing oxygenated jumpsuits or masks. It’s terrible to see let alone having to face it. Yet, we wear a persona to perform in a work environment. What if we bring our whole self to work, without being unprofessional or hurtful of course. Whole self, with all our vulnerabilities, humour, love and sometimes craziness. I’ve done this my whole work-life and while I do receive the occasional flak, most of the time it’s a win-win. I’ve met colleagues who are either waiting to go home or dreading to come to work. Just not me. It’s a seamless world and it’s more peaceful. Give it a try.
Take up the challenge to be your best self
If there is one thing I always found challenging, it was public speaking. I just didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t see the need for me to be doing it. I let opportunities go by until I had one which, for the life of me, I couldn’t refuse. I was asked to speak about Communications to young people from my community back home. It was just something I had to do. I had a sense of strong calling, like social responsibility, of giving back. It was tough, but it was my topic and I had all the expertise and knowledge. So I prepared as hypochondriacs prepare for winter, I practised as my life depended on it. And it was a great experience. To be your most effective self, to be your best self, sometimes you have to take that step outside your comfort zone. Showing up, speaking up and preparation opens up new opportunities. You’ll surprise yourself!
This year I learned that 15 minutes of alone time with a face mask and a book is not self-care. There are physical, social, emotional, spiritual, financial and work-related issues, a book and a face mask might not quite make the cut. Once anxiety caught hold of me, naturally, curiosity led me to meet a lot of counsellors and psychologists. I enjoyed some of the sessions so much, one of the counsellors told me that we are not repeating any sessions. I did all of five, a lot of introspection and liberated myself from a lot of self-limiting thoughts and behaviours, including seeing these experts. Self-care helps you become your best possible self without having to burn out.
Put your appearance on the agenda
Sylvia Ann Hewitt who wrote ‘Executive Presence’ and was surprised to find out that besides gravitas and communications, appearance ranked third when it came to presenting yourself as a leader. It’s not about being the most well-dressed but about adding value to the conversation through your appearance – think about a party or a wedding you are attending. You add value by being appropriately dressed. It’s about respecting the topic at hand. The well-groomed, polished look and good manners never go out of style and open many doors.
Having said this, ‘stop biting nails’ was always on my ‘New Year Resolutions’ list, which is also putting appearance on the agenda while refusing to give in to anxiety!
Happy New Year 2020 everyone!