One year ago, at the start of 2012, I reflected on two main questions:
- What are the 3 things or persons that you will definitely leave behind in 2011 and not bring with you to 2012?
- What are the 3 things or persons that will flourish because of you in 2012?
While these questions remain useful and valid, this year I started out reflecting on what I have learned in 2012. After all, inevitably, I will bring whatever I learned with me into 2013.
So, what is the baggage I am bringing from 2012?
For starters, I learned about motivation. Motivation is a powerful force whether you have it or lack it. It definitely helps to have a clear vision of where you want to find yourself or your organisation at a certain moment in time from now. And it helps if you feel ownership of both that vision and the actions needed to realise it. For that matter, it is certainly helpful to have a clear view of which steps you need to take to achieve the desired situation. And to make sure that those steps are concrete and realistic and meaningful in terms of the set goal.
Personally, I have found it rather challenging to maintain a high level of motivation at certain moments in 2012. I full well knew where I wanted to end up, and I was very much aware that the only way to get there would be for me to take action. I also had a grasp of what possible steps I could take. But somehow, it was not that easy to kick my own butt and get going in the right direction.
I found that I was easily distracted by things that seemed to need more immediate attention than my own long-term goals. In other words, my actual priorities in daily life were different from the priorities my mind was set on. So while initially my plan was clear, I let life get in the way. Naturally, I would prefer to say that life got in my way but of course the simple truth is – I let it get where it got in the way. It was just easier that way, it seemed, even though it did not feel right.
Some time mid-year I realised what was bothering me and decided to create more space for myself to focus on things I had classified as important for me in 2012. I created this space by freeing up time for my focus and by setting small goals for those slots of time. A tool that helped me a lot in discovering my focus was on the wrong things and after this realisation helped me monitor if I managed to do better by myself than before was I Done This. This is a very simple tool: it sends you a daily e-mail, at a time of your own choosing, asking you “What have you done today?”. You reply to the e-mail, and your answers are collected online, and you are reminded of them via e-mail as well. After a couple of weeks I could discern a clear pattern – I had done lots, which was good to see, but most of these things were not really the things I had wanted to be doing. Nowadays I am still using I Done This, but I am reading the daily question now as two questions:
- What is one thing that happened today that you are happy about?
- What is one thing that made you proud of or happy with yourself today?
A simple tool, that helped me get back on track. And through that, helped me regain enthusiasm and creativity. And, ultimately, helped me get back to the core of my motivation.
Of course, a tool is just a tool. Its impact depends largely on what you do with it, and how you use it. But sometimes it can give you an insight that is helpful, that simply clicks at that moment in time, making things more clear and easier to tackle
The second thing I learned in 2012 is related to friendships. I learned it is not always easy to be a good friend. I mean, first you have to figure out what a good friend is, according to you. And then, reconsider this picture: is that just the kind of friend you want to be or also the kind of friend you want to have? Surely you know what I mean: that mantra that true friends ask those awkward questions that need asking but that none of us want to hear. It is not self-evident to speak your true mind always, and it is far from sure that you will still be friends with the person who does, after he or she has been open with you. There are times to speak up and there are times to keep quiet – and how do you recognise one from the other? This dilemma, too, is related to motivation: what is your motivation for being friends with someone? What is your motivation to say something or not to say it, after all? I have struggled with those questions in 2012 and have not found the magic recipe yet, although I feel I am getting closer.
The third main thing I learned in 2012 is that it is rather tiresome to learn about yourself. Much as I like the term personal development, it seems that the process of developing one’s skills and knowledge is far more pleasant than the process of developing insight into one’s own strengths and weaknesses, and subsequently acting upon those insights. Yes, I learned a lot about myself in 2012, and I am convinced those insights are going to be helpful – nevertheless I wish myself a quiet 2013 when it comes to personal development and hope this new year will be more focused on professional development.
In all, 2012 has had a lot to offer to me, and I think I have taken all I could handle from the opportunities it offered. The three things I took with me from 2011 – freelance freedom, social media tools and inspirational people – have all played an important role in my life in 2012 as well. I remain grateful for all of life’s opportunities and challenges, and especially for all the people that have helped embellish my year by being great friends, inspirational colleagues or enthusiastic mentors, whether in real life or online. I will put the things I have learned in 2012, most notably the above mentioned lessons, to good use in 2013 and hope these will help me be a great friend, inspirational colleague or enthusiastic coach to those that I hold dear.
I wish all of you time to reflect on what 2012 has brought and taught you and