You have to Slow Down Before You Can Speed Up Again.

You can picture it. You’re driving down the highway. The pavement is dry, the sun is out and it’s a great driving day! You’ve got some tunes on the radio and you’re singing along. You’re in cruise control. And for you prairie drivers, there aren’t many bends in that road. I can even picture the one I’m thinking of driving through the mountains after a long stretch and I have to put my foot on the brakes and slow down, significantly, to safely take the bend in the road before I can speed up again.

This is what’s coming up: The proverbial bend in the road of your business year. 

You have to slow down, take stock, and aim a little sharper to make sure you enter the next year with precision, with purpose, and for success… so you can speed up again!

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.

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 now young women who are my daughters 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, your business, or your life, it’s never too late to step into the next phase of your life and business with your heart and your mind wide open. 

This year, I thought I’d take a moment to celebrate some of my achievements from 2021 and give you a peek into what’s to come for 2022. 

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

What's worked in your business or career this past year and what hasn't?Click To Tweet

1. The Align Retreat 

I will admit to having coasted – as many of us did – for much of 2020 – however, when 2021 started with no sign of Covid disappearing any time soon, I needed a boost of energy. So I decided to transition my planned in-person Align Retreat to a virtual one.  Broken wrist and all (yes I broke my non-dominant wrist skating last Christmas) I designed, promoted and offered the first Align Retreat virtually.

I wasn’t going to let anything else slow me down!

Assessment: The retreat went great! Offered over three days, this group of professional women and business owners gathered to review the year they had just had and really land on what they wanted to align on next, with clarity, with purpose, and with a renewed spirit. Complete with yoga and our artist-in-residence, we accessed our mind, body, and spirit to chart our paths forward. As a result, each one of these amazing women achieved tremendous success in their professional, and hence, personal lives as they made adjustments to align their vision with more purpose and conviction. It was such a joy for me to witness the growth of these women who still keep in touch with each other today.

What’s to come for 2021? I’m planning to offer this retreat in person, in May 2022. Tentatively looking at the weekend before Victoria Day weekend, May 12-15th. Mark your calendars now and message me to learn more. 

Your Takeaway: What’s worked in your business or career 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. Business Group Programs

After offering the Accelerate! Mastermind for three years, along with a virtual 8-part Webinar Series that gets your new business marketing ready, I decided it was time for a change. This past fall I launched the Aligned Business Collective to a new group of ambitious small business owners getting started with their coaching or consulting practice or is in growth mode. This new program is a combination of teaching and coaching as each member takes the teachings and incorporates the learning into each of their businesses in the way that is most meaningful to them.

Assessment: I love this combined approach of teaching and coaching. It’s also tremendous value to the new and growing business owner who is looking for direction and learning as well as the group coaching experience to arrive at their truest answers. What’s more, it’s allowed for the rebirth of the Mastermind concept in my business that is now for the more mature business owner through the Aligned Leadership Mastermind. Message me if you’re interested in learning more about either!

Your Takeaway: What can you reinvent in your business, career or life and make new again? Sometimes all it takes is a bit of a refresh to update it – think of it as those 80’s clothes coming back in style. Not exactly what they used to look like, but there’s lots of good to integrate into an updated version that speaks to people today. Write down one idea that you have percolating and flesh it out. Perhaps it will be your “new” offer or idea that will take flight in 2022.

3. Community-Building

By 2021 our Lean in Calgary events had shifted fully online. And while we have all longed for gathering in person, this shift to an online focus is here to stay – in a hybrid version – I expect.

In 2021 our volunteer team turned out 5 virtual events that reached people from all over the world! They were easier for our team to organize, we were able to offer them for free, and it was an incredibly time-efficient method for the busiest demographic on the planet – the working, professional Mom. Plus it brought an international component to our events that we would not have experienced otherwise. 

Assessment: Volunteering with Lean In has been one of the most rewarding career moves of my professional life. I love leading a team of exceptional women to a common goal, blue-skying, and offering incredible thought-provoking and inspiring events to a global network.

Interested in learning more, or joining Lean In? (it’s free!) Sign up HERE or message me to learn more.   

Your Takeaway: How have you been spending your volunteer or community-service hours in 2021? 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. If it doesn’t bring you joy, perhaps it’s time to toss it and find something that does.

 4. 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.  In 2021, my husband and I decided to take six full weeks away from Calgary over the summer to focus on extended family and recharging our internal batteries after many isolated-Covid months. It was incredibly rejuvenating! 

Assessment: Knowing time is shorter than ever, we just may try to take another six weeks over the summer in 2022. Working remotely has become de rigueur and not even questioned anymore. We will keep our growing girls close as long as they want to be and put our own adventures on the backburner for a little while longer.

Your Takeaway: Don’t forget yourself in the midst of all the work and life responsibilities. What will bring you joy in 2022? What is something you can reintroduce after the last couple of years of restrictions? I encourage you to find something that really brings you joy and fills your tank and incorporate it into your plan for 2022.

How has this article impacted you? What will you stop, continue or start doing to give your business, community, or personal life a boost in 2022?

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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