Music to read to:
I am not a big fan of new year’s resolutions. I never seem to be able to stick to them and end up feeling like a total loser. I do enjoy retrospection, though. And 2020 is definitely a year worth re-examining.
It definitely has been a hurricane of a year, and it has asked for everything I can give and more. I am so utterly exhausted that the other night I lost a loaf of bread and found it neatly stashed in the microwave oven in the morning. I now regularly wear my clothes inside out and often find myself standing in the middle of a room, not knowing why I got in.
But despite quickly turning into a cartoon character of someone who has completely lost her marbles, I still feel that 2020 has been good to me.
A Year of Release
2020 has been, for me above all, a year of release. On the personal front, I got rid of a few bad habits, a lot of weight and a couple of hurtful relationships.
Professionally, I started the year with grand plans. I had just been assigned a whole new HR function, and in January, I gathered all my teams and presented them with an elaborate roadmap and an entire laundry list of activities that we needed to complete. Of course, only a couple of months later, it started to transpire that very few of my plans would come to fruition. And here was one more thing I had to set loose – my need to always stick to the plan. And you know what, it is not as bad as I thought. Even though the majority of the things I envisioned for this year did not happen, my teams still had incredible achievements and made me very proud.
But I think the biggest win for the year was that I managed to let go (at least partially) of my expectation always to shine. I have always been an overachiever, and over the past few years, my job has allowed me to work on impactful and visible projects. I got used to being in the spotlight and showing surprising and flashy results. But 2020 was not that kind of year for me. With the change in work processes it brought and my teams’ under-resourcing, my whole focus had to shift from making a difference to making sure we can simply manage our day to day tasks. It was hard for me for quite a while, and I had some moments when I felt like a complete failure, but over time I managed to shift my assumptions about myself and be ok with simply doing my job well.
A Year of Beginnings
There were some great beginnings too.
Twenty new people joined my team. Some of them came externally to a hectic and overworked team that runs at a break-neck speed. Others moved from other parts of the organization and had to change the way they work entirely. I am sure it was not easy for them as well as for their colleagues who had to welcome them, train them and support them while also trying to manage to stay on top of their mountainous workload. But I just spoke to them during my year-end skip-level meetings, and they are all happy. I heard things like, “I have never been part of a better team” and “I have never been happier at work.” And this really warmed my heart and reminded me why I do all the things I do.
Oh, I also started meditating and launched this blog. Not too shabby for just one year.
A Year of Withstanding
I have always hated working from home. I am not too great with boundaries, and I could never balance my work life and home life. The first few months were tough – I could not focus, I constantly felt that I am not doing something right, and I kept feeling my laptop staring at me when I was not working. But with a lot of teeth-gritting and the generous help of my husband and son, now I can say that I can confidently stare back and even stick my tongue out to it and continue to play and rest without feeling constantly guilty (for the sake of the story I am going to gloss over the fact that I worked until 1:30 am on Saturday night. It doesn’t happen often. I promise).
The year has been even harder for my team. They had to withstand a multitude of changes and excruciating workload. At times, I was not sure that they would persevere and not shatter to pieces. But they leaned on each other and pulled each other forward, and now, at the end of the year, they are still tired and overwhelmed, but when speaking to them, they also shared a strong feeling of achievement and greater confidence. One of them described it as a cathartic experience.
A Year of Rebuilding
We started the year with two teams in shambles. There was a lot of turnover, lack of trust, and low quality of work. The team members were unhappy and unsatisfied with their work. Our internal clients had lost their confidence in us. It was quite disheartening and challenging to overcome.
Their manager had to practically rebuild them from scratch – finding the right people, setting the right foundations, rebuilding the stakeholder relationship. And she did a brilliant job at it too. We now have two driven, high-achieving teams who lean on each other, always look for improvements, and are just killing it.
See, I told you 2020 was a great year! Here is to another great one! But hopefully, that one will not make us lose our marbles.