Normally, my word for the year has crystallised in my mind by the middle of December. In the year that was 2022, Progress Not Perfection took hold. I learnt to ensure direction and not sweat the details more than was necessary. This meant I could enjoy & celebrate the release of my book, (on, ahem, 8 September 2022) despite everything else happening in the world on the very same day.
Stemettes made strides towards more mature working models with the formalisation of internal employee processes and internal reviews of workflows & data strategy. I finally made decisions on personal finance, giving, pensions and investing for the future. Paperwork was signed, Board papers were digested and torn apart. Flights were caught, Newsletters were sent. I recorded episodes of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and guest edited Radio 4’s Today programme led by my 11-year-old voice. I rested more and actually completed some DIY projects.
In 2022, I finally began learning patience. Patience with myself, patience with others, and also patience as a tool for getting timing right in all aspects of my life. When reflecting on the year, one of my biggest learnings was that timing is very important. Not everything needs to happen *now*.
Slowing down meant more rest which enriched the quality of my thoughts. A stint in Kenya, in a different timezone, gave me an extended period of time for deep work, strategising and reading. The change in pace was refreshing and a reminder of the value of travel – perspective. I hope to get back to Kenya to think much more often this year, especially as I prepare to write my next book.
February 2023 marks ten years since I started Stemettes. Many of my thoughts in 2022 were on the significance of a decade of work. What is the summation of the efforts, impact and change? How might one celebrate or mark the occasion? Which pre-lockdown memories could I draw on to inspire the next ten years of work?
In a decade society has, of course, evolved. In our use of technology. In our understanding of identities and gender. In the state of the workplace. In the basic expectations of standards of living. I’ve also grown and evolved as a person – in my roles, in my experiences and in my settings. The young people we worked with 10 years ago have transformed, from children to teenagers, teenagers to adults, young adults to full-on independent members of society.
I’ve always been very clear on the finite timeframe for Stemettes. What was meant to last only one year, like many New Year’s Resolutions and ‘projects’ has rolled on and on. It’s a very specific social norm we’re aiming to make progress on, I’m a firm believer in having an endpoint and not assuming that our work should go on forever.
A word for 2023
The context of the change I’d like to see has already changed dramatically – and will have done again in a decade. Conscious of this change, I wanted to find one word to summarise how someone should react to changing circumstances. So many candidates for my word of 2023 came and went: Flip, Inflexion, Switch, Perspective, Hearing, Comprehend, Learning, Listening, Reestablish, Renew.
2023 won’t be about doing anything overtly new. It will be a time to playback what I already have and be sustainable in my connections and workload. Time for internal maintenance, a celebration of what has been and returning to my network and communities. 2023 is the year of Reconnect.
The last few years have been defined by reactive actions. Adapting quickly to changing circumstances rather than creating, designing and drafting from my own centre. This year I’m going to reconnect with the why, the who, and the where. I’m doing a lot of listening, hearing and learning – across the UK with young people, local community groups, my network, my brain trust and old friends of Stemettes. By the end of the year, I’ll be pointing in the right direction to ensure that these final 10 years of Stemettes pack the punch future generations deserve. Connection & conversation-based action is how Stemettes started. I’m going back to those first principles for this year, reconnecting to refocus the change I’d like to see.
If you’re in or near Birmingham, Newcastle and fit into one of the above categories, or know someone who is, let me know – via DM or drop a note to email@example.com. I can’t wait to (re)connect, listen and reflect on the problems you’re facing & change you need to see. Here’s to a purposeful 2023 for us all – with the right changes in circumstances across the board.