Inspired by Bibi Watts (bibi_watts) on Instagram, I thought it would be good to start this new year with some guiding words, instead of resolutions.
Now don’t get me wrong, I write a list of financial, spiritual, personal and fitness related goals every December for the upcoming year with my husband, and totally believe it helps shape our year and keeps us focussed.
Only this year I wanted to change things up a bit, as my list is currently looking a bit blank and I’ve felt hesitant and unsure about what to write down as my goals. FYI he’s had his list sorted for a number of days already, and that’s bugging me too 🤣
So, my 3 guiding words for 2021 are:
Education: I’m a learner, I thrive on absorbing knowledge, and when I am a student I invest more time on me and refining who I am, and I feel more focussed and accomplished as a result. However, I also don’t have thousands of pounds to be spending on more traditional forms of education (ie postgraduate study).
Last year I completed a few online courses, some related to setting up a business account on Instagram and how to be successful in blogging, a few on creative writing, and then I also supplemented this with watching live sessions about education, writing, DIY and home decorating as a renter. The ease of learning from my phone or a tablet, the lower cost of these courses, and the variation of the content being consumed, all meant I was fully engaged and was learning to implement.
So this year I’ve decided to choose one online short course a month to invest in, and again haven’t restricted myself in what the contents of that course will be.
Acceptance: I’ve had a number of conversations with friends, family, and my therapist, on what makes me who I am, especially as more recently I’ve made many online connections with people who I feel are like me or share similar traits to mine.
These conversations have made me realise that my strengths rise from my traits and my flaws, and rather than feel negatively towards myself because of them, I should embrace them as part of who I am and celebrate the fact that my achievements have often relied on those traits and flaws existing.
One such example is procrastination. I procrastinate because I know once I embrace a new challenge I go in with speed and commit to investing in 100% of me until I’m done. And that can be quite exhausting. The saying “little and often” doesn’t work with me as it hinders my creativity and passion for whatever I’m doing, and often results in producing something which is subpar.
As part of my Masters study and qualification I had to submit a 20,000 word dissertation. I worked at it little and often (because it would be foolish not to), but 3 weeks before the submission deadline I got “itchy fingers”. I have no other way to describe it, but that, so if you know you know. Having spent 6 months writing up this dissertation I was bored of my own writing, and so despite having written almost 15,000 words, with a deadline fast approaching, I abandoned that piece and restarted my write-up focussing on a different angle from the research I had carried out. It was an intense 3 weeks in the university library from the early hours of the day to late evenings, but my creative juices flowed and my interest in my work was reignited, and the rush of adrenaline because of the short time frame meant I kept going until it was done, with a day to spare!
And that’s what I mean, I thrive when I embrace my flaws, so this year I’m accepting them with open arms and zero judgment!
Loyalty: Last year taught me a lot about loyalty. Loyalty to my work, loyalty to my writing, loyalty to my health and well-being and loyalty to my family.
I’ve always said my family is first and then it’s everything else, and for the most part of my working life this has been true. However, over the last few years the balance shifted and it resulted in my loyalty to work and my students superseding that towards my family and health.
As a result, I became much more short tempered, snappy, irritated and angry at everything around me. I was working throughout the day and night, and when I was in work mode nobody was allowed to disrupt my flow.
At the start of 2020 I made a commitment to cut down my work hours, so that I could spend more time with my daughter and husband, and also more time doing the things I love like writing, blogging, being creative etc. However, a day into the new academic year and this plan was abandoned due to a colleague falling sick.
I broke my loyalty to my family and myself, for the sake of a job, and so that the postgraduate students who had invested so much money to attend university weren’t disappointed or left without. I couldn’t accept the fact that I didn’t have to step up, I was choosing to, and kept justifying it by saying there was no other way around this.
But there was. Employing staff is not my responsibility. Filling staffing gaps is not my responsibility. Unhappy students are not my responsibility. It’s an establishment one. It’s a HR one. It’s a programme lead or line manger one.
It was only after that offer to help resulted in me covering the job of two full time members of staff, and the increased workload that had spilled on to the evenings and weekends, and the subsequent negative impact this was having on my health and well-being, that I was forced to stop.
The last 3 months of 2020 have been focussed on resetting my balance, and reflecting on where my loyalties lie. And I’ve realised that family and health will always come first, and that means letting go of the work guilt that the world seems to impose upon us. So as of now I’m back to 2.5 days a week of work, and have no interest in worrying about the rest, or feeling guilty about not “stepping up” to support staffing gaps…as that’s not my responsibility…and my loyalty is to me and us.
What are your words for 2021? Share your thoughts below or follow me on Instagram (aniqas_attic) and let’s chat 💖