My reflections on 2022

It's been a couple of years since I last did a retrospective of the year. That's partly down to the pandemic and the subsequent changes to the way I live my life. My daily commute used to give me a tonne of reflection time to think about what I'd learnt and where things were at. Now that I'm predominantly working from home (which I prefer overall because of the tonnes of other positives), I no longer have that luxury.

Online changes

My blogging and reflection is a quarter of what it was in 2019. That year I wrote 24 posts, 11 in 2020, 6 in 2021, and this year I've managed to take things up a notch to 7, and that's only due to an end of year spike. Having said that, 2022 has felt like a new beginning for me in terms of how I work and reflect openly. For the first time in a while, I'm look forward to sharing what I'm doing and learning. I'd like to to get back to around a post a month if I can.

My relationship with Twitter hasn't been great for quite some time. At a previous workplace there was one eye on how staff used social media to ensure that we didn't post anything inappropriate. I'm treated like an adult at Research in Practice, but that unease has stayed with me.

In the pandemic, Twitter felt like something I needed to take a bit of a break from, and I've never quite reconnected with it. Elon Musk's takeover just seems to have exacerbated feelings that I already associated with the platform.

Since joining Mastodon, I've challenged myself to change my relationship with social media. As part of my nascent relationship with it, I've challenged myself to share a post a day if possible. These haven't been serious work posts, but posts about records I'm enjoying or a cheeky photo of the cat for #Caturday. It's been a long time since I did anything like that on Twitter. It no longer feels like a place where it's ok to post my random thoughts, partly because the algorithm ensures that low interaction posts disappear quickly, and partly because it's become such an adversarial space.

Gwenllian the cat sitting on a turntable

I've changed my blogging platform to Write.As as well (thanks to an excellent recommendation from David Clubb of Afallen) . It isn't a like for like replacement for Medium, but it's a much more streamlined experience with less friction around blogging. Posting there is a pleasure, but it does mean that I'm losing some functionality that I'm having to recreate elsewhere. The bookmark feature was really useful, so I've now started using Pocket instead. The tagging feature allows me to find articles easily and to save posts outside Medium's walled garden.

Feedly also feels like an upgrade on the follow function. Again, this was restricted to Medium, so I tended to use Twitter as a means of finding posts from people on other platforms. This was quite unreliable, so having a cross-platform rss feed has been really helpful.

What's this year felt like work wise?

I've moved from an operations role where I oversaw our National Programme events to a Head of Learning role, where I'm working to develop the learning opportunities that we offer our network.

This year it has felt like my role has moved from a theoretical idea into a facilitative role that has opened up opportunities for us to work differently. I've been supporting colleagues to use Liberating Structures in their work after an excellent learning session with Happy. I've also created guidance for using PowerPoint to help us to move away from a chalk and talk approach. The next step is to develop our guidance and processes for the co-creation of knowledge over information dissemination.

Family life

The big man is now a year old. All in all, it's been a whirlwind of a year. There certainly hasn't been enough sleep, that's for sure. My wife has been amazing, but it's not been easy for either of us. She has been very supportive, and I hope she feels likewise as she's gone back to work following the end of her maternity leave.

We're both now working four days a week, which has been a bit of a shift for me in particular. It's required some changes to how I work (more of that here), but Research in Practice have been very supportive. Working from home in particular has meant that I've been able to get much more of the emotional labour in the household done.

One thing that I've got much better at this year is finishing on time. Pre-pandemic, I would get the train to the office, so finishing on time was written in to my day. This came to an end when I stopped commuting. But it's been obvious that work and family life have been a bit out out of kilter, so I've put that right.

What do I want to do differently in 2023?

I'd like to be braver in 2023. This means backing myself and my ideas in spaces where I have previously opted too quickly for compromise. I feel like I've started to do this in 2022, but too often I tend to try to go slow to mitigate risk instead of cracking on to get things done.

There is of course a bit of a balance here. I've really pushed back in some of our conversations around quality measures to ensure that we avoid the pitfalls of targets and New Public Management. In some reflection with my line manager, we spoke about whether I was able to offer a helpful alternative to help us move beyond that approach. There's lots of useful info in Human Learning Systems about this (particularly from Lankelly Chase) and in pushing back so much I haven't been quick enough to reference it. My line management is changing this year, and I hope to have more of these challenging conversations as part of that relationship.

All in all, it's been a great year. As I keep reflecting on in various posts, life is complex, so I don't expect the coming year to be straightforward. I am excited about it though, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how things develop. Here's to 2023!

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