Annual reviews were one of the most loathed things when I worked for Boots. I was never sure who really got anything from it, what the learnings were. It surely generated a whole industry of paperwork and meetings.
But looking back at a year can be many things when you run a small business. Enlightening, frustrating, joyful, thought-provoking.
So, what learnings are you taking out of 2021? Here’s a few of mine.
Lifelong learning can be about anything and still be valuable
This year I did The 7 Rules of Newsletters with David Hieatt at the Do Lectures. There were tons of things I took away from this for how I approach newsletters for myself and clients. But there were also loads of things that David said that made me think about life as well. Wasn’t expecting to get the best advice on keeping a marriage or relationship going on a newsletter course!
I also did a seminar on posing for photographs, which I wouldn’t have thought of doing apart from I had a brand photoshoot coming up. Like many of us, particularly women, I don’t love having my photo taken. But that couple of hours with the Brand Stylist was full of hints and tips that I could put into practice, which gave me more confidence. Perfect outcome from any kind of learning.
Lifelong learning isn’t just for the corporate world. Learning new things keeps our brains cells working at optimum levels. That can help to limit our cognitive and memory decline as we age. And it doesn’t matter what you try to learn. Knitting or woodwork, tap dancing or judo, just learn something.
That said, my Greek is coming along very slowly. Hopefully, by the time I head out to a small island for a cookery course in the autumn, I might have progressed past please and thank you.
Saying no is hard, but worth it
What I learned from last year is that there is always some work that it’s better to say no to. You just know it in your gut. But in 2020 I ignored that on a couple of occasions, given how weirdly the year was going.
This year I never said yes to any work that I meant to say no to. And I’m happier and no worse off financially. And even if billings were down, it would still be worth it. I took the lesson to heart to know what you want to do and with what kind of business and people, and to only say yes to other stuff if it makes you go “hell yes!”
It’s always about the people
The people you work with, the people you work for. The people you help. The people who help you.
All of them are what makes any year, the good ones and the less good ones, worthwhile. That’s a learning for every year.
Reading piles never go down
But that’s never a bad thing. I’ve still got a whacking huge stack of books (and this is the year I learnt the term tsundoku (and no, it’s not an alternative to the crossword). It’s not the same stack that it was at the beginning of the year, and I think that’s an important thing. Things are better when they’re not static.
There’s also a good chunk of the books that have come recommended by people’s whose paths I’ve crossed this year. They help to add something different to that pile each year, and to things generally.
What about you? What are you taking out of 2021? Here’s to 2022, with whatever new version of normal we’ll be working with. If nothing else over the last couple of years we’ve all proved our ability to adapt and change.