This time of year I always enjoy opening up my Christmas cards, hearing about the news and goings on from my network, family and friends across the globe. The sentiments this year, however, are a bit different. The first card I read summed up this tough and challenging year: “2020 – zero stars if I could – do not recommend”.
At first I laughed – humour always helps in these situations. Through the year’s struggle we have learned more about ourselves, our colleagues and clients. We should be proud of the fact that we survived the global pandemic and learning how to be more flexible, collaborative and creative. Many of us I suspect are better cooks as well.
Right now it feels like we are at a critical time of convergence. Change is accelerating, be it the mass adoption of digital, a greater drive for sustainability or a fundamental change to how and where we work. Over the Christmas holidays, I hope to be able to take some time out and get away from our screens. It is a good time to reflect, recognise achievements (big and small) that will help define the positive changes we want to make to our career and personal lives. Reflecting helps us question in a positive way what we do and why we do it, and then asks is there a better or a more efficient way of doing it in the future?
Thinking about our skills can help identify changes we and our teams might need to take to be ready for the future ahead / to tackle the change agenda. It may help to write out thoughts to the following questions, on an individual or team basis:
- What have I achieved/ or what has my team achieved during the last 12 months? List 5 key things.
- What have I / we learned about myself /ourselves in the last 12 months?
- What are my / our top 3 goals right now?
- What does the next 6 months look like?
- What is my next step in achieving these?
Once you have reflected on 2020, think about your goals. Visualise yourself in 2021. Where do you – or your team want to be? Consider taking some inspiration from Ben Zander, conductor for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and professor at the New England Conservatory of Music. Every year Professor Zander asks his students to write a letter to themselves in 12 months’ time.
Zander asks his students to “place themselves in the future, looking back, and report on all the insights they acquired and the milestones they attained during the year, as if those accomplishments were already in the past. Everything must be written in the past tense. Phrases such as ‘I hope,’ ‘I intend,’ or ‘I will’ must not appear.” Ask your team to also do this and share your goals and aspirations for 2021. What can you achieve together as a team?
As we look to 2021 with a small bit of renewed optimism, it helps to keep our long-term goals in mind to give us that energy and motivation. Think about the Christmas card that you would write to yourself in 12 months’ time? How many stars will you give? It will no doubt be better than zero, so that in itself will be something worth celebrating.
Yvonne Maher is deputy managing director in London