So. It’s that time of year again. The end. And omfg I’m so glad it’s almost over! Not because I think 2017 will be any better, but I’m just ready for the 2016 juju to get out. I’m ready to sage my home (and my brain) and move forward, even if it is into an uncertain abyss.
But there is one thing I am certain about: I will enter the new year much better than I entered the current one. Soooo much happened in the last 12 months. But instead of giving you a ‘year in review’ style list, I’m going to give you my lessons!
Here are my top three takeaways from 2016.
If you don’t appreciate my input, you don’t deserve my output.
This simple phrase became my career mantra in 2016. I started the year without 9-5 and the reason I didn’t have one was because my previous employer didn’t appreciate my input or my output. Don’t get me wrong, this place liked that they had someone on staff who was as (over)qualified and overall as great at my job as I was, but some folks felt threatened by my output and felt above critique. I did too much too soon, asked too many questions, and made them look bad. (Womp womp.)
In my search for a gig, I adopted this idea as a litmus test for potential employers. As I’ve said before, interviews are a way to figure out if you want to work for them and my questions for the interviewers were guided by my mantra. In the end, I found a place to both be my authentic self and where my input is appreciated. (Win win.)
Do what you love, but don’t do it for free.
In 2016, I definitely learned my worth. I mean, I already knew that I had worth in a human sense. But in 2016 the whole dollars and cents aspect of it became much clearer. Having to price products and services made me keenly aware of the value of both my labor and expertise.
Another thing that hit this lesson home? Requests for free labor.
Sharing your work means opening it up to the world with the hope of being noticed. It also means opening yourself up to folks who like your content enough to offer “opportunities” to work for them, but not wanting to compensate you for it. I’d need 3 more sets of hands to count the number of emails I received asking me to write for XYZ company, then expecting me to be paid in “exposure.” Nope nope nope. That’s not how this works. Sometimes, they’d even come back saying I should be “grateful” for the offer! Which left me like…
As a Black woman whose ancestors were brought to this country to be free labor and have been exploited ever since, I’m keenly aware of the historical precedents for such requests. We’ve always worked but rarely at something we liked and never at a fair wage. I’m very fortunate to like my 9-5 and love what I’m doing with this 5-9. But I’m still not doing it for free! My expertise is too valuable to give away and I know it. Knowing what I bring to the table and having the guts to stand up for my worth is what this lesson is all about.
Self-care should never be neglected.
When you’re working as much as I do while balancing life stuff, it’s easy to let things fall to the wayside. Unfortunately for me, what tends to fall away first are my self-care routines. While this happens to a lot of people, I have to be particularly careful because my autoimmune issues are exacerbated by stress. If I don’t stay balanced, I get mentally and physically sick. What’s worse is that it can take weeks to recover.
In 2016, this happened a lot. Between work stress, wedding stress, and solopreneur stress, I was a ball of nerves for a good 10 months out of the 12. DIY-ing for my wedding and having an incredibly relaxing honeymoon were helpful, but it wasn’t until my October birthday when I recognized that the pattern needed to change. Since then, I’ve been making an effort to schedule self-care into my routine, and the results have been amazing. So much so, I’m planning a blog feature about it for 2017!
And speaking of 2017, here are the top 3 things I want to do in the new year!
Work smarter, not harder.
I’m a very hard worker and (thanks to 20 years in academia) can crank out a 1,000+ word post in no time. But sometimes I rely on this skill as a crutch, and use it as an excuse to not plan out content in advance. In 2017, this won’t happen! (At least, not as often as it did in 2016.) My goal is to help myself by planning out content in advance, and help you by giving you things that are consistently at the highest quality.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for posts, courses, books, and a bunch of new mediums that I haven’t tried out yet. I’m getting super excited about the newness for next year… and for the fact that I won’t have to do an all-nighter to get it to you on schedule!
Create more of what I’d want to consume.
When I’m stuck writing, I sometimes ask myself: If I were a mid-career professional, what would I want to read? Usually, it’s not what I end up publishing.
Writing my toolbox post made me realize just how much ‘level one’ content I had written this year. While I know it’s useful for people who are just starting out or need a refresher in, say, how to format a resume, I also know that I want/need to move forward into meatier content. In other words, I’m so over the basics!
I can write it on autopilot but 1) that’s not good for me and 2) that’s not good for you.
In 2017, I plan to do more in the career development and success realm, and less in the ‘how to write your first cover letter’ realm. Kinda what I said I’d do here… only now, I’m actually ready to do it. No shade to the folks who need the intro level lessons! But I need to take it to the next level and meet the needs of people who are beyond entry level.
Connect with you!
My friends and family can attest to the fact that I’m really bad at keeping in touch. Getting better at it is one of my personal resolutions for 2017, but it extends to this space as well. I don’t do a good enough job connecting with the people who sign up for my site, access my resources and freesources, and read my content on the regular. This is going to change.
Writing regular newsletters is so not my jam. I tried it for a few months and it felt so disingenuous and spammy. But I do want to connect with you lovely folks! I get so many ideas and so much inspiration from your emails and comments. The issue is with how to do it without being annoying… Hmm. TBH I haven’t quite figured this one out yet, but I do have some ideas that I’ll be testing out over the next few months. Stay tuned!
Well that’s all from me for 2016. I hope this year was productive for you, and that the next one will be even better!