A New Year

crater lake with snow

Crater Lake National Park is beautiful, quiet, and nearly deserted in winter.

I’m nearing the end of my annual two-week-long holiday vacation (my one laptop-free break for the year), and I’ve finally had some truly free time to reflect on 2017. I’ve thought a lot about what I want to continue doing in 2018, and what I want to leave behind. Over the past year I’ve learned a lot about working smarter, and easy that is to confuse with working harder.

Rapid Growth

For me, 2017 was a year of growth. It was the busiest year ever for my business, and it took me in new directions that I hadn’t even contemplated this time last year. As with any growth, there were pros and cons, but it really helped me prioritize what’s important.

I’m looking forward to continued work with my great clients, and hopefully a second term as Director for the Society for Technical Communication. [Reminder: You must be a member in good standing to vote for this year’s slate of candidates. You can renew your membership online.]

Just Enough Travel

It was also a year of learning to set boundaries. I went from a crazy travel schedule in 2016 to a more manageable routine in 2017, with no more than one travel commitment per month. This was a big deal for me. Without a doubt, speaking engagements and on-site client visits are important to my business, but the prep time and travel can really take their toll. For me, the ideal “working smarter” situation is when I find that I’ve been home just long enough to miss the travel. It makes all the difference in the world when each trip is invigorating rather than exhausting.

Learning

I had a lot of opportunities to learn new things in 2017. New clients and new avenues helped to expand my horizons. One of the many great things about my business is that I’m not tied down to one type of work, or even one type of company. I have so many opportunities to learn, grow, and connect ideas from one industry to another. This year was full of those opportunities, and I hope that 2018 brings new challenges and areas to explore.

“Explore”

Ah yes, that brings me to my word of the year. A few weeks ago, my friend Rene Siegel, CEO at Connext, asked for a one-word goal for 2018. I thought about it for a while, and finally decided on “explore” as my word of choice. I want to explore new professional avenues, new hobbies, and new experiences. So far I’ve bought myself knitting needles — a departure from my usual hobby of crochet — and registered for an archery class with my son. I’ve signed up for a conference in a new industry, and I’m in talks with a few prospective new clients. And new experiences can already include my ventures to two new-to-me national parks: Crater Lake National Park and Redwood National Park, both of which were quiet, serene, and gorgeous.

What did you learn in 2017, and what lessons will you carry with you into 2018?

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