Updated May 3 2023

How Marie Kondo and Warm Puppies Can Inspire Your New Year’s Review

It’s 2023. For those of you who follow my high-energy, never-seem-to-stop lifestyle, all while preaching work/life balance, you probably think I will leap into the New Year with barely a hiccup. And while that’s pretty close to the truth now, it wasn’t always.

My secret?

I have learned to slow down, so I can speed up.

For a number of years now, I take some focused time – 2-3 days in fact – over the course of December to reflect on what went well in the previous year, review my areas of focus and intention I set the previous year, and consciously declare my intentions and plans for the year to come.

I purposely celebrate what went well in the previous year and respectfully acknowledge what didn’t.

It’s not unlike Marie Kondo’s approach to tidying up.

I was introduced to Marie Kondo one day a few years ago when I walked into my daughter’s room one day before school started.

“Kate, what are you doing?” I asked with surprise as I saw that she had dumped the entire contents of her closet on her bed.

“I’ve been watching a show on Netflix about tidying up!” said Kate, my then 13-year-old (cue: Marie Kondo). “She says to take everything from your closet, dump it on your bed and then pick up each one at a time, hold it against you and ask yourself if it brings you joy. If it doesn’t, you bow to it, thank it for the service it gave you, and then throw it away!”

I was incredulous as I looked at the growing pile of “thrown away” clothes on the floor of my 13-year-old’s room who, until now, had shown no previous signs of wanting to clean out her closet.

“What does joy feel like?” The coach in me asked. “I figure joy feels like holding a warm puppy,” replied Kate.

And that was that.

I left her be for the afternoon, and now I have Marie Kondo’s Netflix hit to thank for my daughter’s newly organized closet.

And I couldn’t help but marvel that while Kate was choosing what to keep in her closet and what she was choosing to “thank for its service and throw away” was exactly what I had been doing for my business.

In fact, I adopt this practice for my personal as well as for my professional life.

Honestly, with each passing year, I see no reason to stop achieving, stop growing or stop learning. As I watch my girls grow up right before my eyes I witness the passage of time and marvel at how quickly they learn, achieve new things, and enter the next phase of their lives.

Why should it be any different for us adults, just because we’re older?

No matter what stage you’re at in your career or your life, it’s never too late to step into the next phase of your life with your heart and your mind wide open.

How looking back can help you leap forward.Click To Tweet

Take a look at how I transitioned my business from PR & Comminications consulting to Leadership Coaching and Business Mentorship.

At that time, I thought I’d take a moment to celebrate some of my achievements from 2018 and give you a peek into what’s to come for 2019.

So, if you’ll indulge me for a moment, let’s take a look back at my 2019, and see how it can apply to you:

1.  Business

After having transitioned my PR Communications Consulting Business to include Personal and Professional Leadership Coaching a few years ago, I consciously chose to introduce multiple streams of income into my business. In addition to traditional, done-for-you communications consulting and private leadership coaching, I introduced live workshops, an online course, a group business mastermind, and taught PR to small business owners through a business associate’s virtual training academy.

Might as well go for it, if you’re going for it, right?

Assessment: I loved the addition of group programs to my service offerings and it felt good to be able to offer my services to more people through group offerings that were more affordable to more people. I also continue to love the private leadership coaching I now only offer to a small selection of clients so I can truly focus on their needs without feeling stretched with back-to-back clients day in and day out. And teaching one-to-many through the PR Strategy services I teach small business owners is a wonderful way to not only scale my business but to be able to also serve those clients of mine who want to promote their businesses and achieve real lift-off to their business dreams and ambitions.

Your Takeaway: What’s worked in your business or life this past year, and what hasn’t? What do you want to say goodbye to, and what do you want to do more of or experiment with? Write it down. Give it a timeline. Develop some action items, and voilà, you have a plan.

2.  Community-Building

I am often struck by how community-minded many of my private coaching clients are. So many of them are deeply passionate about contributing to their community in both a volunteer and a paid capacity. Perhaps it’s because I am as well.

In 2018 I accepted an offer by Lean in Canada to be the Founding President of Lean in Calgary – a city-wide network that will support the professional growth of career-minded women who are ready for more in their professional lives. This is a volunteer role for me and the response has been enormous. In January I am interviewing for key volunteer leadership roles that will design and guide what Lean in will look like for Calgary. We launched in 2019!

Assessment: Volunteering with Lean In was the right choice for me. I serve this community in both paid and unpaid capacities – I know it is my work to do. The connections I’ve made and the people I’ve met have already made this volunteer investment of my time worthwhile. What’s more, as a solopreneur, surrounding myself with a team of dynamic and incredible women is an opportunity I don’t necessarily get every day. I am growing myself as a professional while delivering an important service to women and the business community in Calgary.

Your Takeaway: How have you been spending your non-working hours in 2018? Is it time to shift your volunteer responsibilities to something that brings you more joy? Maybe it’s time to say no to the pro-bono work you have been doing for eons and embrace a new environment or cause in which to give your time. Does your volunteer work serve you? Does it serve a purpose you believe in? Or are you just doing it because you’ve done it for so long you don’t know how to get out of it? To take a page from Marie Kondo, if it doesn’t bring you joy, perhaps it’s time to toss it and find something that does.

3.  Personal

As many of you know, my mantra is work/life balance and being as fulfilled as possible in every area of my life. I take this very seriously.  Meanwhile, I still think I worked too much in 2018. I sacrificed friend time for work and family time. In 2018, I also cut back on some of my own personal and professional development to truly be there more for my kids. It’s my eldest daughter’s last year of high school. Selecting post-grad education, navigating teenagehood and being there for late night chats are all important to me. Not only that, but packing in family experiences to enjoy with her before her calendar year is no longer in sync with the rest of us, has been important to us too. What’s more, many of these experiences cost money. This means focusing on work income to pay for all these experiences has been a priority for me.

Assessment:  Family will continue to be a focus in 2019 as my eldest graduates from high school and the shifting dynamic plays out in other ways in our house. And professional development – sign me up for some more! I’m excited to continue to deepen my skill as a leadership coach to expand and explore the transformational and often life-changing impact I’m able to have on my clients.

Your Takeaway: Don’t forget yourself in the midst of all the work and life responsibilities. What will bring you joy in 2019? Perhaps a little getaway, perhaps throw in a paint night or some creative endeavor you’ve been meaning to try, perhaps it’s time you and your partner took a trip away just the two of you… I encourage you to find something that really brings you joy and incorporate it into your year’s plan.

If this article has you interested and you’d like to hear more, follow along at https://susanelford.com/blog/ or apply for a complimentary strategy session at here

What will you stop or start doing to give your business, community or personal life a boost?

To your success, in business, and in life,

Susan Elford

PR Launchpad Guidebook ABOUT SUSAN ELFORD

Susan Elford is a Leadership Coach and PR Strategist who especially loves to work with women who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a full and satisfying life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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