Back in 2018, my speaking agent dropped me a note asking whether I’d do an exciting gig in Cape Town. I was ready to say yes, but the event date really troubled me. 7th March meant that I’d have to do the ridiculous thing of not being in London during the busiest period for a woman running a girl-focused organisation in a male-dominated industry.

A push from my regular travelling companion meant that I decided to tie the trip with a holiday(!) and delegate International Women’s Day responsibilities to my team & wider network.

Carnage ensued but from the inconvenience and awkwardness came progress. Team members stepped up to attend the Downing Street reception, various book launches & a Lulemon retreat. An event introduction video that we’ve been meaning to do for ages was recorded (and has been used countless times since). Someone else in the team led the weekly team meeting and set the mood/direction for that week.

I was less worried about internal affairs than the external – what if I missed a key new bit of research? What if something bad happened around one of our partners? What if someone assumed I was going to be somewhere and then got offended by my absence?

These are all symptoms of FOMO – the Fear Of Missing Out.

The Joy of being able to say No.

I get very close to having too much in my calendar all the time. I’m not yet a Warren Buffet who can have an entirely clear diary, but I’ve suffered a fair amount of times because of my inability to say no. This has got better since the tweet. For March 2019, it felt very freeing to say “I’m away so won’t be able to make it”. Being efficient with time requires saying no and this was a huge opportunity to practice.

The episode had silver linings and in some ways brought some new types of joy.

The Joy of controlling information hours & requests for attention. Events are all about meeting people and connecting. You never know who you’re going to meet at an event. I’m the host of Women Tech Charge podcast with the Evening Standard only because of a random dinner I attended which their Digital Editor was also at. Alas, it’s not healthy or practical to be everywhere all the time. It’s barely healthy to follow the #IWD2019 Twitter feed. I was very glad to be able to simply put my phone down when it felt overwhelming. A beach with penguins is also very calming!

The Joy of watching others thrive. International Women’s Day was like a pleasurable out of body experience. I enjoyed seeing others shine on stage and at events. They excelled in situations and experienced personal growth. That’s all I want for my team and those around me.

The Joy of creation. On International Women’s Day, I put out a blog post and launched a new podcast. I wasn’t there physically but I kind of felt like I was there in spirit. Kind of cheating but technically I wasn’t missing out on the action. People were reading & listening. It was nice to check in to see comments, shares and ratings. Engaging with so many in such a quality way has been rewarding and highly efficient.

So here we are, 2020.

It’s the beginning of a new decade, and as always, change is afoot. My word for 2019 was beyond. I experimented, explored and extended, to see what is beyond my current scope, and what’s next for me. Now, I need to allow myself to work beyond, go beyond and be beyond. This year, I’ll be getting myself into the right position for that. Taking some time to focus and build the right structures for whatever comes next. This year I’ll be prioritising time for my team, a new organisational structure, a few new funders and joy in my personal life. I’m going to fully embrace the Joy Of Missing Out. I’ll be out and about less, ‘on the scene’ less, whilst empowering young people and my team to go beyond. I’ll be intentionally seeking Joy elsewhere.

For 2020, the word is JOMO. See you all in 2021!