Year end

This year has been rather different for me professionally. It's notable that 2019 has become the first time in 8 years that my team and I haven't won any external awards. I've been the least prolific ever with writing blog posts. I haven't presented at an industry event for the first time in 6 years. I haven't had any kind of big promotion or pay rise and haven't overseen any big flagship projects. I was a guest on my first ever podcast though...

All of this could mean that 2019 could be seen as a bit of a professional failure. So, why do I feel happier and more content than I have for years? Well, I think this comes down to changing my outlook. For instance, this year I've spent more time with my wife and children. I've been enjoying the benefits of a much more comfortable house after completing a large extension project at the end of 2019 and I've moved jobs from a potentially precarious role to one at a thriving educational institution that has so many positive stories to tell.

The latter is possibly also the reason I've been blogging less. As I've been bought in to head up the digital team it means that instead of jumping straight into the flashy, innovative work I've been quietly, deliberately, consistently trying to move the business forward. This sort of thing isn't the exciting work of blog posts and talks but involves integrating legacy systems, developing websites, embedding strategy and planning. But, it's rewarding and ultimately I see it as the best use of my time. It's a quiet sort of revolution but powerful nonetheless.

I've also noticed a decline in the content posted by external 'thought leaders' (argh!) who I regularly follow. This may be partly down to a large decline in the readership of long form posts like this one. At work I see our current social media posts getting much better engagement now we're a lot more concise with our tone of voice. The same can be said for video posts - or those with any type of movement/animation. My current favourite tool I've been trialing to bring photos to life is Pixaloop. This adds a bit of subtle movement to photos but generally sees engagement triple. I must be careful to use it sparingly though!

The reason I think we're seeing less posts on the latest flashy innovation is that digital marketing skills have evolved to be highly valued, and in many cases expected. This means that even those at the forefront are spending more time on refining existing established tools rather than bragging about discovering new ones. Those employees who fail to engage, or proclaim themselves 'not technical', are no longer given the opportunities afforded to those driving change and proving value to the business.

Initially this was a struggle for me in my new job (i.e. not being seen as the oracle) but now I welcome it. It allows me much more time to focus on 'deep work' that adds value to the business and leaves me feeling more fulfilled. I can focus on going back to basics and be clear about who we are marketing to, what they need and how we can actually help them. Turning down the volume and increasing the quality of content like this then proves very helpful in improving our audience's ever-increasing time spent online.

So, as I say goodbye to this decade I'm going to try to continue to replace expectation with gratitude. Ten years ago I had only just entered digital marketing as an industry and I wasn't even on LinkedIn or Twitter! So I am thankful that I've made the progress, and had the experiences, which I have.

Not every year can be a landmark one but as long as you're feeling fulfilled and experience one bit of joy a day it can be time well spent.
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