Whitley’s Year in Review


As I reflect on the first few weeks of 2019, I wonder how my experiences over the previous year have shaped the way I maneuver and continue my personal and professional journey. After all, sometimes looking backward brings the path forward into greater focus. I’ve found that one of the most profound changes I experienced during the past year was an unexpected ability to stretch outside of my self-imposed comfort zone. I mean, really stretch. Pushing the limitations and boundaries that I set up for myself. The new realizations, enhanced awareness, and stronger sense of self I’ve entered 2019 with seem so familiar now, but if you would have talked to me last year, you might have found me unsure, inauthentic, and even frightened by my own capabilities.

What a difference a year makes.

This reflective period has gotten me thinking, why such a drastic change? What could have possibly happened during the course of a year that such a transformation could take place?

At the beginning of 2017, I was fresh off of my first year with CEEK. I’ll be honest, the first year was a challenge. Moving away from the traditional work arrangement to CEEK’s employment model meant changing my “all day/everyday” work mentality in favor of a balance I hadn’t experienced before. It was somehow unnerving to know that the pace with which I moved through my day or week is my own decision. Of course, our clients come first; the commitments we make to them are always our priority. But, the time and space in between those commitments is my own. Should I wrap up my business by 3 pm on a certain day, I am free to do whatever I please with the remainder of my day. My son has an event at daycare? I can pop in and share time with him without anyone batting an eye. “Analog time” – that’s CEEK’s term for putting down the laptop, emails, and to-dos in favor of nonwork-related activities – is encouraged. What is this strange place?

So, at the beginning of 2018, with a year under my belt and having given myself permission to embrace the space between projects and tasks (and not feel guilty about it!), I started to ask myself penetrating questions I hadn’t before. What are my professional goals and interests? Where would I like to be in another year? Two? As I found myself surrounded by like-minded colleagues who embrace each day with passion and dedication, I began to question my own passion. What gets me excited? And how – if at all – can I integrate those things into my everyday life in a meaningful way?

Ask and ye shall receive!

Over the past year, as I questioned, challenged, and redefined my own interests and capabilities, a wonderful awakening occurred. It dawned on me that many of the skills and interests that I have held over many years can be directly applicable to the place and space I find myself in at the moment. You see, I always held this notion that the role you play within an organization is the one you were hired to fulfill. Certainly, you could give more to that role, but the scope and space afforded to you was fixed. Creativity and ingenuity were pretty words, but all that really mattered was completing a task well and sustaining the course. I realized that I was taking very few risks.

So, I decided to speak up. 2018 was the year of plunging into creative projects, jumping at the opportunity to try something new, and fighting against my self-imposed status quo state of mind. As I started to explore the professional possibilities in front of me, I found that not only were my ideas for organizational growth being received, they were being encouraged. The limitations I previously accepted as the norm were a figment of my own imagination! I have room to stretch out, to truly ask myself what I am capable of with the backing of an organization that not only fosters this type of growth, but supports each employee as they bring ideas and opportunities to the table.

I expect wonderful things in 2019. The possibilities are limitless. Or limited only by the constraints I accept and allow for myself. So, my wish for you is that you stretch out. Reach deep to uncover the cache of passion you may be sitting on. Find the space that you deserve to push boundaries. Create your own 2019 with bravery and conviction. You will be amazed by the difference when you simply place one foot in front of the other on your way to owning your own greatness.