2021 was not the year for career progression
2021 was a weird year. On reflection, a part of me feels like I achieved nothing at all. It was not the year of career progression for me.
I’ve always considered my work ethic as one of my best qualities. Even as a child I was always a high achiever, and the more I achieved, the more I was praised. The more I was praised, the more I set out to achieve. The cycle continued until I drove myself into misery.
I put way too much focus on “what I want to be when I grow up” (the idea that we put so much pressure on kids to figure this out is absurd, but that’s an entirely different article), and when none of that materialised — mostly because I had no idea what I wanted because I’d never actually lived — I felt miserable.
It took a pandemic to help me figure out that achieving things can only take you so far. Well, actually, I probably realised this was the case years before the pandemic. But I was too busy working to do anything about it.
Society teaches us that the primary way to develop ourselves and progress is to climb the career ladder. I have little to show for my progress this year — if anything, my career has taken a step back — but I feel like I’ve developed more in 2021 than any other year so far.
Here are some of the personal things I’ve achieved in 2021:
- I finally went to EMDR therapy and committed to it. My anxiety and depression subsided, and I stopped having panic attacks. Who would have thought it isn’t normal to exist in a constant state of utter panic?
- I learnt how to Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP). I’m not great at it, but I can at least stand up — which is the whole point, right?
- I restarted dancing and committed to a regular exercise routine. I actually have muscle tone now, and it feels great.
- I started learning how to speak and read Arabic. I’d always wanted to start learning a language, and I often felt guilty that I’d never tried. I decided to finally try, and it was a lot of fun. It gave me some new travel goals, and doing an online class allowed me to meet cool people from all around the world.
In 2022, I’ve decided to commit to getting back into the swing of things. Instead of setting concrete goals, I’ve decided to go for three mindset shifts that I have consciously decided to make moving forward:
- Be more consistent and publish frequently instead of striving for perfection. The more we write and publish, the better we get at it. Publishing frequently allows us to get feedback about what works and what doesn’t. Often, I refrain from publishing because I worry that the thing I’ve spent hours writing won’t be perfect. I know I’m not the only one with this problem. The 1% rule is proof of this: it states that only 1% of the users of a website add content, while the other 99% of the participants only lurk. To become part of the 1%, we need to get over our fear of taking up space and just do it.
- Only do things that serve a larger purpose instead of doing things for the sake of feeling productive. We all need to get by somehow. There are times I’ve accepted assignments just because I needed to make money. But there’s a difference between taking on extra work because you need the money and taking on extra work because you’ll spiral into a panic if you don’t have something to focus on. I’d like to focus on pitching more publications I admire, and be pickier about the quality of clients I accept.
- Have fun with work instead of getting stressed over it. In some ways, I suppose this contradicts the previous two goals. But having a career crisis and being forced to slow down and put less emphasis on work taught me the importance of having other things in my life that aren’t related to work. Instead of desperately searching for more work when things are slow, I’ve learnt to appreciate other things — like spending time with friends and family, exercising, learning new skills, travelling to new places, going on walks, and appreciating other peoples’ work and creativity through watching movies and reading books.
I’m expecting that my goals will shift over the next few months as I get back into the swing of things, but I’m committed to making these mindset shifts stick by practicing them every day.
Have you set any goals or mindset shifts going into 2022? Reply to this post and tell me about them. I’m dying to know, and I’d love some inspiration! ;)
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