Inspired by these posts from Justin Hoenke, Bobbi Newman and Daniel Cornwall, I’ve decided to write my own list of lessons learned in 2010. I really like this idea, and hope more people pick it up – I wrote a list of new years resolutions on my blog last year, none of which I’ve really kept (no, I’m not linking to it – if you really want to laugh at my fail I’m pretty sure you could find that post pretty easily yourself!) but I think this is a nicer way to do the year-end reflection thing. So here goes:
1. Trying to do everything yourself doesn’t work.
I’ve always been guilty of trying to take too much on myself, and not wanting to ask for help if I’m not coping. I think this probably boils down to my own fear of being “found out”, of not being good enough at something. This year it’s finally started to hit me that asking for help doesn’t mean admitting defeat, and that no one is actually waiting in the wings to yell “aha! I knew you couldn’t do it really!” if I dare to confess that I’m struggling. In the process, I’ve also discovered that most people are much more generous, helpful and understanding than I’d perhaps given them credit for previously; and that nearly everyone has times when they don’t feel like they can cope.
2. Be selective in what new projects to take on
That first point leads me rather neatly onto #2! At the start of this year, I finished off my masters dissertation and started wondering – what do I do now? It felt odd having nothing to work on, and I am genuinely not happy unless I have a couple of projects on the go, so I started volunteering for committees and presentations and so forth. Pretty soon, I had more on my plate than I actually had time for. Two lessons learned from this: the rule of “just say yes and worry about the details later” is a good start, but only if you have limitless time to fill! Second, people are more understanding and flexible with their deadlines if you let them know up front that you’re juggling several things. My goal in 2011 is to be more strict with myself about what I say yes to, regardless of how interesting it sounds! That being said, one of the good things about being involved with things like the SLA and BIALL committees I’m on is that we’re all volunteers, we all have lives and real jobs, so everyone understands that sometimes committee work has to take a back seat. After all…
3. You can’t plan for everything life will throw at you
This is the most important one for me. I learned in a pretty big way this summer that no matter how well you think things are going, the rug could be pulled out from under your feet at any moment*. Everything that’s happened this year has taught me that there are times when you just have to forget whatever it was you had planned and deal with whatever fate has just dumped into your lap. That isn’t a pleasant thought for me – I do tend towards control freakery, I like to know what I’m doing when and what will happen next – but this year has forced me to accept that a) that isn’t always possible and b) that is ok. There’s been some changes this year that I hadn’t and could never have anticipated, but they haven’t all been bad. In fact, the most recent one – my new job and imminent move to the Frozen North – is a very positive change, and one I’m increasingly excited about!
I probably learned more than three things this year, but that seems like a good place to leave it! This will probably be my last blog post of 2010 (although I may be on Twitter from time to time…). Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone, catch you in 2011!
* And while we’re in reflective mode, I’d like to say a massive thank you for everyone who was so patient with me while I picked up the pieces. July and August were really difficult months for me, and I wouldn’t have got through it without the support of my friends. Thank you.