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Look Back to Go Forward

Banner depicting 2022 on a white background

It’s always a pleasure to reflect on the year in this annual retrospective. And I think it may go without saying that this year has been especially tough. Through my coaching practice and engaging with clients we serve here at CEEK, I have heard about exhaustion, unforeseen events, and general overwhelm.

So, for this December’s Organizational Wellness Challenge and as I’ve asked in years past, consider: How did we get here? But more importantly, where to now? Read on to see my CEEK retrospective as you think about your own experience in your organization this past year.

This is going to be great!

Righting the ship. At the beginning of the year—coming out of two years of chaos brought on by a global pandemic, shifting economy, and uncertain homelife—2022 promised something different. A return to normalcy? A clear path forward? The different wasn’t clearly defined, but it didn’t need to be. It felt like a change was coming and I was eager to get the wind back in my sails and move towards something new. Or simply towards previous destinations with a renewed sense of determination.

Consider: What were your goals for 2022? What were your team’s goals for 2022?

A course is set. Most years start the same way: A focus on goals, a path to get there, an understanding of steps and ways to overcome obstacles. The usual new year stuff. Underneath it all was a current of energy and a belief that the previous years’ limitations were in the past. Hard work, focus, and intention would help steer the ship, as long as the course was followed.

Consider: After you set goals, what was your planned course?

Following the course. So, with fervent stick-to-it-ness, we were on our way! I, like many, threw it all out there, making sure to grit my teeth through the difficulties and do whatever it took to keep pushing through.

Consider: What helped you and your team stick to your course?

Oh, look! There’s more….

Losing sight of shore. But there were some unexpected turns. The intention, the goals, the course so well thought out became a bit blurry. The pandemic slowed our normal hustle—there was simply no way to work at the pace, speed, and doggedness of yesteryear with all of the healthcare, childcare, and in-person workplace limitations. But with some of the limitations lifted…well, sky’s the limit, right?

Consider: What happened when you or your team lost sight of your goals and course? (Because this happens to all of us.)

Taking on water. But there was a limit. Near mid-year, the goals were replaced by urgent needs and simply treading water. Requests and demands from all angles of life came rushing in like a wave with little relief in sight. A year or two of backlogged tasks, coupled with a not-quite-there rebound in many areas of life, seemed to nearly topple the ship.

What changed? Well, nothing really.

Pre-pandemic demands, pace, and expectations returned. But did that mean our capacity to respond to them had also returned? No, not necessarily.

Consider: What threated to overwhelm you or your team?

It floats! Things changed. For better or worse, they did. And while this year reintroduced us to the hustle (and for some of us, a whole new level of hustle!), it didn’t mean that we were prepared to operate at this new level of efficiency while meeting the same or increased goals. If your experience has been anything like mine, the struggle has been real, putting out one fire to turn to meet another. But here I am! Goals somewhat met, progress somewhat made, and fires somewhat put out. Is that success then? It depends on your perspective.

Consider: What were your successes? What new abilities did you and your team tap into to? What load were you able to shoulder? Where and how did you change course?

So, what now?

Patching the holes in the ship. So, what did I discover as I weathered the storm? I found a brand-new gear that has little to do with capacity or output. It has much more to do with the ability to adapt, pivot, and proceed.

I did make headway this year. Maybe not in ways I anticipated, but certainly in a way and to a level I didn’t expect. My ship still floats. That’s a win.

Consider: Can you and your team appreciate and learn from the things that didn’t go as planned? What were your 2022 wins? What does success look like this side of 2022?

Setting a (re)New(ed) Course. So, was 2022 what I expected? Probably not. But that’s okay—more than okay. I learned to ride the wave, change course as needed, and be more realistic with limitations, while acknowledging the successes, whatever size.

Consider: What have you learned about yourself and your team? What 2022 lessons will you carry with you into 2023?

My wish for you

For anyone like me who saw none of this coming, but find yourself thankful for the journey, I wish you smooth sailing through the year to come. And if you don’t get those calm seas, I’m confident that 2022 has shown you there is far more to your resilience and resolve than you thought. And if you did have a seamless 2022? Well, thank you for reading to this point—though I’ve spent time rooting for the underdog here, I encourage you to lend your resilient spirit to those around you as we set course for a new year! CEEK a better way in 2023.

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