At the time of writing this, we are a week out from wrapping up for the year. We had our iconic TDP Christmas party just a week ago, and I say iconic because no matter if we’re in a park having a picnic, a cafe having a meal or being whisked away to a getaway in Daylesford, we [speaking for the team here] leave feeling refreshed and grateful for being a part of such a stellar team. 

Having said that, the last 6 weeks have been the most challenging of my professional life [and I’ve done 7 Christmases in retail] 

If I can be honest with you, dear reader, I am ready for a break. We all are. [So so ready]. I’ve been spending this time reflecting on the year that’s been, wrapping my first year as a Digital Marketing Coordinator at one of the most enviable agencies in Melbourne, and I’ve learned a few things about myself. I thought maybe they’d be of benefit to you too. 

 

Accountability is everything

 

Yep – we’re starting strong with the most uncomfortable thing I’ve learned this year, yet it’s accountability that has helped me to grow beyond what I thought was possible. 

I know so many of us have been in the position where something’s gone wrong, and your ego automatically jumps to your defence with some variation of “I didn’t do it” or “ I did but it’s because of xyz”. But it’s that ego protection that I’ve found pushing past is key to humbling yourself and finding more efficient ways to work and communicate.

Here at TDP, Accountability is one of our core values and I didn’t quite understand why until I was a few months in. Being able to take a moment, quiet my ego and say “ That happened under my watch. I acknowledge the impact it’s had on others, and I’m deeply regretful. Here are some ways I can think of to make sure it doesn’t happen again. What do you think?” will do so much more for your growth than you think it will. 

And also? Surround yourself with accountable folk. You want to be around people that can call you out, and when you share what you’re struggling with, they gently support you with practical ways you can get better and not just have a go at the situation itself. Sure, having a rant about a situation can make you feel better in the moment, but it’s humans that have your best interest at heart that look to the future and challenge you to do better. 

If you have people in your life that will tell you the hard truths, and not just what your ego wants to hear, hold on to those people. They’re worth their weight in gold. 

 

Work life balance is a necessity, not a buzzword.

 

As someone who’s had multiple jobs since the moment I was of working age, work life balance always felt like a myth. 

I’m so lucky that it’s constantly reinforced at TDP that when we’re offline, we’re offline. Of course, hairy situations occasionally come up and you need to be ready to action any emergency situations, however this is not the norm. 

There are practices in place at TDP to ensure our team has the time off that we need, but it’s important to understand your own needs. For me, that looks like starting early because the mornings are where I’m most awake and alert. For this reason, I try to organise certain tasks that require my full focus in the mornings, with after lunch being a good time for me to do more routine, admin-type tasks. 

Looking after the best ways for me to work, and more importantly communicating this with my leadership team not just helps to stave off burnout, it helps me stay present and connected with the team instead of living in what we call “the red cave” [ We have a traffic light system on slack so when your avatar is on “red”? We know to leave ya alone, ha!]

 

If your career is intertwined with your self worth, you’re going to have some problems my friend.

 

If you ask anyone who knew me between the ages of 17-25, “doesn’t know how to relax”, “ too obsessed with her job” “always forgets to refill the ice tray” would be the key descriptors they would use for me. 

While age is certainly a factor, [as well as oh you know a 2 year pandemic occurring during what was meant to be the prime of my professional career], as I’ve explored my passions in different working roles, I’ve gradually started to detach my value from the things that I *do*. 

I’m a human being, not a human doing after all, and I’m gradually discovering that people generally value me more for my existence and not usually for the spicy eDM copy I wrote that drove X amount of sales. [They’d love me more if I’d fill up the GD ice tray but nobody is perfect]

The truth is, work is hugely important to me. I choose workplaces and brands based on whether they align with my passions and beliefs. I hit the jackpot when I found TDP, but it’s because my work is so important to me that I owe myself the proper rest I need to continue to give it my best. It’s something everyone’s heard and deep down we all know, but we love the validation of being “busy”.

Of course, being a part of the cohort of humans that didn’t lose their job in the pandemic leaves you with an etch of guilt, that you should be grateful to have a job at all, and should work extra hard to keep it. But all that does is gives you a false sense that your value is equal to your output, and this is simply and categorically untrue.

If there’s one thing I’m taking into 2022, it’d understanding my own boundaries, communicating them and enforcing them when *that* little voice convinces you that you are what you do. I’m so lucky at TDP that it’s the norm for a team member to say on Slack; “Wrapping up team, heading off to tennis/furniture shopping/my kid’s graduation/have a bounce on the trampoline” which pulls us all back to the present even in the busiest of times.

 

Get a coach.

 

Coaches aren’t just for entrepreneurs with ambitions to take over an entire industry, or C-suite types that wear suits to work. They’re for anyone who would benefit from understanding their patterns and triggers, and to align themselves with processes that will help them to achieve their goals. [ie. EVERYONE]

I’ve been lucky enough to work with Megan Luscombe a few times this year to understand my blocks that have made a huge difference in the way I approach my work. I’ve been blown away by unknown patterns I’ve had that have contributed to lapses in communication. I can hand on heart say that it’s changed my life and the way I interact in all my relationships – personal and professional.

It’s well worth the expense if you want to understand yourself, work more efficiently and watch out for your ego before it has a chance to sabotage you. 

 

So there you have it! What they say about agency life is true. It’s fast paced, challenging and but *gawd* do you learn. More than that, being around a team that  constantly blows me away by how dedicated they are and passionate about their clients’ results inspires me every day. 

Switching jobs during a pandemic and learning a new role mostly online has definitely been a challenge for me, as someone who heavily relies on body language, tone of voice and facial expressions to communicate [any hand talkers among us? #itme].

But I’ve learned that it’s not the situation that occurs that shapes you, but your reaction. I’ve learned how to ask for help this year, and to step out of my comfort zone and have faith in my ideas. I don’t know what 2022 has in store, but if it helps me to grow as much as I have this year, then bring it on. 

I’d love to know what 2021 taught you, if you’d like to tell us in the comments below!