Every year I do a three-part review and planning process called Review, Reflect, Forward. Today’s post in this series is Reflect.
2016. . . what a year it has been. Professionally, personally, and politically this has been a strange year for me.
While there have been a lot of bright spots in my work this year (such as publishing a book), my life has been shadowed by some significant events this year. Those of you who read my weekly newsletter will know that I was in an accident in July and have been recovering from a concussion since then. I can hardly reflect on this year without talking about the significant impact this event has had on my life.
My concussion has been a great teacher. While I didn’t initially feel anything close to this, I have come to appreciate the fact that being concussed has forced me to make certain life changes for the better. The ones that immediately come to mind are learning how to take breaks and prioritizing what is really important. What I’m especially grateful for is that my concussion has allowed me to get to know other sides of myself. The best way I can describe it is that I’ve come to know the “being self” as opposed to my usual “doing self.” My husband has described me as the Energize Bunny on more than one occasion with regards to my ability to get stuff done and be productive. But in my flurry of activity, I found it really difficult to relax. My understanding of myself and self-worth hinged on doing all the time.
But with the onset of my concussion, my energy was drained. I would feel so fatigued and lethargic even after sleeping eight hours. Some days, I still do. I couldn’t be my usual self, which is when existential questions like, “Who am I if I’m not working and productive?” started surfacing.
I still don’t have a good answer to that question. I’m still grappling with it and many others. Especially the question of – How has this experience changed me?
So often we are unaware that we are going through big life changes. Instead, with time, we recognized that some slow change has taken place. What’s been different about this experience is that I feel unnervingly aware that change is happening and I’m anxious about the outcome.
What has all of this meant for my work?
In a way, this experience has made me more ruthlessly evaluate how I spend my time.
I have always had a desire to do meaningful work that helps others. Sometimes I get pulled away from this. These days, I find myself evaluating everything I’m doing. If it is not in alignment with how I want to spend my time, then I do my best to drop it from my to do list.
I’ve also been embracing the idea of “less is more.”
In the last few years, I have done a huge volume of work, no doubt about it. But with less energy and time to work, I’m keen to find ways to still doing less work that is equally impactful. I’m still working toward what this could really look like.
As I imagine next year, I think this could look like teaching The Storytelling Non-Profit Master Class twice and not doing as many other things. That’s because I believe this is the best class that I’ve designed yet and I really believe that it is what people should take if they really want to develop as a non-profit storyteller.
Teaching is something that I still find very rewarding. In 2015, I made a strategic decision to understand The Storytelling Non-Profit as a training and education company rather than a consulting agency. This shift helped me focus on teaching opportunities in 2016 and also brought about a new course called The Writer’s Workshop.
Overall, this has been a challenging year. I’m glad it is coming to an end and I am optimistic about 2017.