We’re sitting at the dawn of a new year, and I know I can’t be the only one who feels like I’ve been in a time loop vortex since about March 2020. Even saying that feels cliche at this point, but it’s still true.
For nearly three years, many of the annual milestones we used to mark time with have been absent or entirely different. Family holiday celebrations have been over Zoom more often than not. Conferences have been largely virtual. Three years ago, none of us thought that it would go on for so long or change our lives so drastically, but here we are.
I, for one, would love to make 2023 the year when we stop lamenting the woes of the past. But that’s easier said than done. I have to acknowledge that it has been rough in so many ways, for so many people. The pandemic, political upheaval, inflation, and financial uncertainty are things that happened (and are happening), and they’ve impacted everyone to some degree. We can’t ignore that.
Personally, my family has also been through a lot, including illness, caretaking, and death. My husband and I have lived mostly apart for three years to allow him to care for his mother up until her death. My own health has been a challenge that I finally feel I’ve wrangled under control in the past year.
With my focus on so many other people, I’ve spent less time than I’d like with my own mother, who is also aging. I can’t deny these things have impacted me and the work I do, although I’m still proud of everything we have been able to accomplish at Roundtable Labs, even in a difficult year.
So who’s ready for a reset?
I know I am!
But not so fast. Sometimes, we need to take stock of where we’ve been and reflect on those lessons before we’re ready to start fresh. If you struggle to do this, I’m right there with you. Unlike you, however, I’m putting this all out for public view, whereas you can keep your reflections and goals private. Hopefully seeing firsthand how I go through this process will help you consider these important steps for yourself.
Reflecting on mistakes
This is a play-along-at-home activity. Take a minute to think about, and then write down, a few of what you consider to be your biggest mistakes from the past year. Then, for each one, write down a lesson you came away with that you’d like to apply to the future.
For me, these include the following three reflections:
- Mistake: Spending too much time on the computer and phone outside of business hours.
- Lesson: More work isn’t better work. All those extra hours didn’t bring in extra revenue or create better outputs. They just made me more tired and burned out.
- Future goals: I will not be scheduling calls or meetings after 6 p.m. or on weekends. In fact, I’m not even going to open my computer from 6 p.m. Friday until 8 a.m. Monday. This will be a true challenge, but given what I learned from recent mistakes, I can see why it’s necessary.
- Mistake: Making rash decisions without looking at a situation from all angles and consulting people I trust for advice.
- Lesson: My gut instincts are usually right. But sometimes making a snap decision can come back to haunt you later.
- Future goal: Slow down and do more reflecting on the ripple effects, and look for alternative solutions, before making large decisions.
- Mistake: Allowing less important things to take my time and attention away from what really matters.
- Lesson: At the end of the day, my family, my husband, my closest friends, and my own health are the most important things I have. No client, conference, or website is worth sacrificing these relationships for.
- Future goal: On top of not talking on the phone or checking email after hours, this goal is about making space in my head to focus on the relationships I have when I’m with those people (including myself). I guess you could call it “being more present.”
This exercise is useful because you can tie your past mistakes directly to new actions you want to take. It’s not a random list of New Year’s Resolutions inspired by a fitness magazine. When you connect the mistakes of the past year to the changes you want to make to avoid those mistakes again, it can be really powerful.
Out with the old, in with the new
After taking some time to reflect on your mistakes and lessons learned from last year, it’s time to dive headfirst into 2023.
What does that mean for you? In this industry, you’re probably in the thick of it at least through April 15, but don’t let the tax season madness make you lose sight of your larger mission for the year. Of course, you first have to decide what that larger mission is.
For me, 2023 is going to be a year of reconnection, including reconnecting with myself and my own core values. One of those values is the idea of a collaborative community that helps each other out generously, without fear of competition. It’s this idea that sparked Roundtable Labs all the way back in 2015—and keeps it running strong today.
Last month, at QuickBooks Connect in Las Vegas, several of our members and hosts presented about the idea of collaboration without competition, and how to truly partner with your industry peers for mutual success. I think this theme is only going to become more necessary this year. After nearly three years of isolation, working mostly alone, and hearing more accidentally unmuted bathroom trips on Zoom than anyone should ever have to, we need the support of people who “get it” more than ever.
If you’re feeling these feels, too, then I invite you to check out our Roundtable Labs community. We’re about to launch a brand-new Roundtable hosted by Martha Yasso, focused on moving your services from something people need (but don’t really “want”) to something they can’t live without. And if that’s not quite what you’re looking for, we’ve got nearly a dozen other specialized groups—each with a different focus.
Whatever you do, I hope you make 2023 a groundbreaking year for yourself both personally and professionally. As for me, check back in December to see if I managed to keep my phone and computer off on the weekends.