Monday, January 1, 2018

Don't Look Back - (But Totally Look Back)

Not my office. Mine is in a dungeon. With much more clutter.

As I turned the lights off in my office for the last time in 2017 on Friday, after everyone else was already gone and an eerie hush crept through the building, I felt great. Not because I sifted through and tossed most of the multiple piles of post-it notes and outdated materials while I'd been waiting on a report with more data than my computer was prepared to handle on the last working day of the year.

Not because my desk was a fresh blank slate (minus all the coffee rings I'd collected since the last scrub down).

Not because I'd made the deadline on things like expense reports and time cards.

This year I spent my December 29th compiling some unsolicited summary documents, outlining major accomplishments that accumulated during the year, projects that were borne out of weekly meetings and eating the elephant one bite at a time. I'd pushed a lot of stuff forward at what felt like a snail's pace, and the groups I belong to had done a lot too, but asking what exactly those things were required a 12 month archaeological dig to articulate.

There's still SO MUCH WORK that I'm stressed out about having left unresolved for the year. So why do this? Why not just keep pressing forward, leaving yesterday in the dust?


By sitting down and pulling together a highlight reel for the smaller team, for our peers, and for our leaders, we can see the tangible results and the larger effects on quality, efficiency, and growth as a group.

It was no different than sitting down to write the letter that accompanied my family Christmas card, really. The audience and contents were different, but both exercises gave me a chance to reflect on the year behind so that the year ahead had perspective and purpose.

But why me? Why not someone else? If this wasn't a mandatory assigned task, why put myself through that?

To remember why I started.

There's no better time than a fresh year to ask yourself why you got into this business in the first place, what brought you here, and what drives you to return every day. If you find yourself out of love with what you're doing, it might drive you to set your sights in a new direction. If you find yourself compelled to continue, it's a chance to recommit to your cause and look for new ways to do it even better.

I like what I do. I'm good at it. I get paid authentic paper money to do it (j/k I have direct deposit). It affords me a chance to make other people's lives better.

That's what it's all about, right?

So as you sit today with your fresh new planners, preparing your next week's worth of clean food bento boxes and filling gallon jugs with all the hydration you can handle and dusting off your jazzercise wardrobe, remember to take time to recognize what you did last year. Even if it feels like it was just a dumpster fire.

Write down what you did, but more importantly, what impact it had. Did you improve a process? Did your team reach a noteworthy goal? Demonstrate that. Doing so will have a ripple effect - you'll be prepared for performance evaluations to talk about how you didn't just show up on time every day, but that you also positively contributed to the bottom line. By reminding yourself of these important metrics, you may find it less daunting to put pants on tomorrow as we all head back to the grind.

Can't get started? Ask for help. Find someone you trust, your people who you'd go to for an assist if you were refreshing your resume. Some people find it hard to toot their own horn, so practicing this on a committee or team effort is sometimes much easier.

That was the case for me, anyway.

May 2018 bring satisfaction in your professional life, and may you find balance and perspective between it and your home life.


  1. I love, " If you find yourself out of love with what you're doing, it might drive you to set your sights in a new direction." Been feeling that so much lately!