Out with the old and in with the new

By Tutor and Life Coach Muriel McClymont

I was chatting to some friends the other day about how quickly 2012 was coming to a close.

As we chatted, I realised that two of my friends had completely different takes on what a year ending meant to them. For one, it’s a time to scoop everything up in a mental box marked ‘2012 DO NOT OPEN’, so they could clear the decks and start the New Year with a clean slate.

For the other, it’s all about time passing for them, and loss of precious moments. The coming year was something to be feared and avoided. They had a mental box in their head where they stuffed everything and marked it ‘2012 TO BE TREASURED’.

It got me thinking about what the New Year could be about, especially for freelances, many of who might have a bit of spare time just now. (Those musicians, performers and writers who are busy over the festive period, can use the Chinese New Year as their marker, which next year will be 10 February 2013.)

To start every year with a clean slate can mean that you forget about the valuable groundwork and preparation you have already done and runs a high risk that you throw the baby out with the bathwater.

To view the last year with rose tinted spectacles and approach the future with fear and trepidation can mean you miss fantastic openings and opportunities because you are measuring them up against an irrelevant and outdated yardstick.

Looking Back

It’s important to look back at both your good and bad experiences and honestly assess your efforts. Do some career de-cluttering. Look honestly at what worked and what didn’t. It’s the only way to avoid making the same mistakes again and to begin to create new options.

Go through your diary and work records for the year, remind yourself of all the things you have done and consider:

  • What were the high and low points?
  • What did you get right and wrong?
  • What was the highlight of this year for you?

Weigh up some of the aspects that are really important to you against each other. For example, what made the money and what gave you most satisfaction? Were those two completely separate things? If so, how can you make informed choices that will bring these together in the future?

If you set goals at the beginning of this year, did you achieve them? If not, look more closely at them. Did you set goals that were within your control or were they really wishes and aspirations?

All the information you identify in this process of analysis is going to help you make better career decisions for this coming year.

Identify a few key learning points from your year to date to see if you kept coming against the same issue. Perhaps some investment in yourself is required such as a training course or a period of time where you need to gain some specific experience to carry on in the direction you want.

This process of analysis doesn’t have to be left to the end of the year. Ideally it is something you could do quarterly, or even monthly, to help you keep on track and to make sure that you are focusing on the activities that are going to give you maximum advantage.

Looking Forward

Only by looking forward can you plan, decide how you want your future to develop and set goals. You need to decide:

  • What do I want more of?
  • What do I want less of?
  • What are my key objectives for this coming year?

If you don’t decide what you are aiming for, you can’t plan ahead with any purpose. Imagine jumping into a taxi and saying: “I don’t want to be here!” You would just get thrown out back onto the kerb! That’s no different to working hard on your career without considering where your efforts are going to lead you.

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, take time to assess your answers and start to make achievable new plans with goals you are going to enjoy tackling.

Then, instead of choosing between a mental box full of either hopes or horrors, you can have a lovely filing cabinet, with useful summaries of the good and bad from last year, and a set of plans for a great new year.

More information and advice

If you want help on setting your goals, becoming more confident or dealing with the challenges of working freelance, look out for FEU Training’s workshops, join our ‘goal forum’ where you can ask questions and get motivating advice on an on-going basis or download some quick tips in our Digital Learning Centre. All these learning facilities are free to FEU members (i.e., members of Equity, the MU, the NUJ and the WG) so, if you hav





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