So long 2021!

Finding perspective and sharing advice as the year draws to a close.

Diana Lillicrap and Wendy Ruyle 12.21.2021

It’s become a bit of a tradition for us to write a year-end post reflecting on the past 12 months and looking ahead to the next. Here are the big themes, epiphanies, and ideas 2021 has impressed upon us.

The new normal isn’t normal yet

As hard as it is to believe we’ve been living in a pandemic for nearly two years, the reality is that adjusting and creating a new normal is going to take a bit longer. We have to be patient with each other, with the world around us, and with ourselves. Everyone has new expectations, new priorities, and new ways of wanting to engage in work and in life. Collectively, we need to pay attention to individuals, not just trends, and adjust our activities and expectations accordingly. This new normal means meetings take longer, decisions take longer, and getting work done takes longer because our minds and lives are full. Combined with supply chain delays and labor shortages, slowing down and learning to be patient is a new normal that is likely to extend well into the coming year. It’s not all bad. Slowing down is ultimately good for us all. So, stay calm and carry on.

Assume good intentions

Working remotely, relying on technology, and having less face-to-face interaction can be challenging in many ways. Zoom doesn’t easily allow for interpreting body language. Emails can be wrongly assumed to have a negative tone (generally more of a reflection of our own mood than of the person who sent it). And conflicts can arise from relatively small differences of opinions. This year has taught us it is especially important to assume good intentions from all those around us. When you come from a place of positivity rather than animosity it is easier to empathize and find consensus with others. Most humans are really doing their best and what they think is right. They are not malicious or anti-you. As we enter the coming year, we hope to continue to allow grace, time, and the assumption of positive intentions from everyone around us.  

Mind your mind

It’s a relief to see the world is moving in the right direction around mental health. Taking care of your mind is just as important (or more) than physical health. Without mental balance you can’t do good work, you won’t be dependable to others, and everything else seems unimportant. After a year of much stress and uncertainty, we recognize that self-care needs to include mental maintenance and attention. Whether you are a boss, a parent, or a co-worker, we all have a responsibility to make sure we are watching out for others, giving support, and encouraging healthy behaviors. That includes modeling your own behaviors to show grace, mindfulness, and mental care for your own health and to set realistic expectations for everyone else.

Slow and steady wins the race

If there is one thing for sure we can agree upon from this past year, it’s that no one thought we’d be here now. We expected things to be different by the end of the year, maybe easier or more like they used to be. But time doesn’t go backwards, only forward, and we need to move ahead and change with it. The good news is that no one else expects you to change too quickly. Your customers don’t expect you or your brand to change overnight. Plus, doing so probably wouldn’t be a good idea anyway. We know firsthand that slow growth is more sustainable and slow change is more lasting. It allows others to change along with you so you can evolve into something better without having to leave everything else behind.

Share the love

This past year has had many moments of feeling overwhelmed. In those times, we have learned to not only share our feelings with others, but also our responsibilities. Working as a team, we have accomplished so much more than we could have alone. As experienced leaders, it’s not always easy to delegate and trust others, but we have realized it’s critical if you ever want to grow—as a person or as a business. And grow we have. In fact, starting next year we’ll be adding another person to our team. As we move into 2022, we look forward to sharing our knowledge, sharing our workload, and sharing our success with our growing team.

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