It’s been a year since I started a new job, became a “workin’ mom,” and dove back into the agency world. A year since I had to call in sick on my first day with the stomach flu (thanks for that daycare germs, you rock.). A year since I thought the hardest thing I’d face in 2020 was how to fit back in my office clothes post-maternity leave (spoiler #1: turns out, that concern was short-lived). A year since I set out with high expectations of being a great parent, student and consultant at the same time (spoiler #2: I was rarely all of those things at once). Looking back, here are a few things I learned along the way:
Find work that lights your fire
If you can find the work you would volunteer to do, seek more of it. I don’t believe that if you find work you love that you’ll never work a day in your life, because even exciting work can be extremely difficult. But if you find projects that get you really jazzed, even if it’s a small part of your day-to-day, I believe you’ll become better at all the other parts of your job too. I remembered what that felt like this year, and it was those passion projects that made days go by quickly (and, in a pandemic, what a blessing that is).
Find people that help you fan the flames
This is everything. Whether they’re your family, or your coworkers, find the people who challenge you to grow, find opportunities for you to do more of what you love, and who support you. Stick with the people who give you more energy than they take. I am thankful to so many of my family members, colleagues and clients who gave me all the energy this year. Turns out, I needed every bit of it!
Look for superpowers
If we were all carbon copies, the world would be a very boring place. Celebrate differences: different perspectives, backgrounds, and strengths. Take the time to learn about them. Whether you’re looking at Myers Briggs or Gallup Strengths, or just taking the time to observe and learn what your teammates strengths are, it’s 100% worth the time investment. Learn their superpowers and find opportunities for them to shine, so you can be the one to fan the flames for them. Let me tell you, I work with a lot of superheroes.
Make sure even superheroes take breaks
Unplug for a moment, take a walking meeting and don’t skimp on sleep. If you find work you love but you’re too tired to do it well, it’s all for naught.
Don't try to do it all at once
If your list is long, it helps to pick a place to start, and be focused on what's in front of you. There's a place for multi-tasking, but trying to be everything and everywhere at every moment of the day doesn't help your family, your colleagues or your clients. Where you can, create boundaries, and take things in shifts and chunks. I don't always do this well, but I often think about this article from Harvard Business Review that talks about how it's not necessarily about the amount of hours you're available to your children, it's about being completely available for the hours you are with them. I think that principle applies to friends, colleagues and clients as well.
I’m going into this year with the confidence of having an amazing team, and a group of incredible clients doing big things, and a happy, healthy family. I’m excited for what’s to come. It won’t be another easy year, I’m sure, but it won’t be boring either. Here’s the mantra that I’ll be channeling, compliments of a new colleague Brian Rolle: “I’m handling it, and I’m happy”.