New beginnings entice us to look back as well as to turn our minds to the future.
As New Year messages from friends and connections have flowed out across social media in the past 24 hours, it’s easy to see that pattern.
People want to recap what they’ve accomplished and experienced in the year they’ve just had, as they share their hopes and goals for the year ahead.
Such milestones are a chance to take stock, reflect on what we’ve learned and find clarity about the way forward. What should we keep, what to let go, what to pursue?
My career break in 2013 gave me more motive and opportunity all year to reflect on work and life.
Perhaps that’s why I felt so compelled during these Christmas holidays to revisit places from my early career?
Christmas at home with my family is always filled with memories – mostly happy, some sad, some difficult – and this year felt particularly nostalgic.
Most of the family gathered out in the bush in Western Australia, on my sister’s farm.
The landscape there mirrors farms where my siblings and I ran free as kids for Christmases in the late 1970s and 80s.
Acres of crunchy stubble from the recent harvest, golden hay bales lining the horizon, bunches of gum nuts, parched paddocks and heat hazes. Grazing sheep, kangaroos and blue tongue lizards.
If that wasn’t enough to make me reflect on how far I’ve come from the little girl who grew up running barefoot through the bush, I also revisited a couple of places from my early working life.
The roadhouse where I waitressed to put myself through university and the regional newspaper where, my arts degree freshly minted, I started my cadetship in journalism.
It was my first time back in that newsroom in almost two decades. Much had changed, but so much remained just the same – including a couple of journalists with whom I had worked all of those years ago as a young reporter learning my craft.
It didn’t matter to them, nor me, that I was returning to them during a pause in my career.
We enjoyed a joke about that which went something along these lines: “This is where her career began, all those years ago, and look at her now … out of work!”
I drove away from my surprise visit feeling happy and grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, and the people I’ve met along the way.
Rural Australia, with its farms and small towns, is no longer where I live – but it’s so much a part of who I am. It still feels like home.
I step back into it like pulling on a favourite pair of well-worn old jeans. I’m proud of my country upbringing and the community values that come with that.
While there’s comfort in the familiar, the place to go for growth is outside your comfort zone.
That’s a place where I’ve ventured in so many different ways in the past year. From embracing uncertainty post-redundancy, to writing this blog, my experiences overseas as a traveller and volunteer, and pushing some familiar pursuits into unfamiliar territory – like singing and writing.
As I turn my mind to the year ahead, I’m ready to go back to work. That wasn’t always the case during 2013, but things shifted through December as I started to focus on my goals for the year ahead.
Looking back on my resolutions for 2013 – more creativity, fitness, travel, giving back to the community – I’m happy with what I did with my year and what it has let me contribute. Sometimes great opportunities come from unexpected, even unwanted forks in the road.
I’m perhaps most grateful for the opportunity to rediscover parts of myself and explore a more creative life. These are things that I will take with me as I look forward to the road ahead.
Wishing you happiness, health and success with whatever you’re dreaming about for 2014. Happy New Year!