Over the last weeks, I have been in a reflective mood. As I reflect on this year, there were things that I did differently that helped me have a very successful year. The greatest lesson I learned is that we have to do things differently to accomplish our big goals. There is a well-known saying, "what got you here will not get you there." I needed to get comfortable changing how I approached working towards my goals.
In this blog post, I will share the five things I did differently this year. Check out my other "Her Plan" for tips and resources to help you achieve your goals.
Focused my energy on one area of my life
I typically do an excellent job balancing multiple things and working on many goals simultaneously. However, this year, I knew that I needed to be ultra-focused on work to accomplish my goals. Being a working parent requires you to make lots of choices. This year I had a great opportunity at work, and I knew that it was the right thing for our family for me to prioritize work.
Asked for and accepted help
Very early this year, I realized that I was overwhelmed with everything I was doing and needed help. For the whole of 2021, I cared for our son and worked. This arrangement had to be changed in 2022, given my increased responsibilities at work. Asking for and getting help is not something that comes easily to me. I opened up and asked for additional help from my husband, hired a nanny, and then found a daycare for our son. Having a support community freed up my time and my mind. I could accomplish as much as I did because I knew our son was in great hands.
Spent Money on Fun Experiences
In some of my previous posts, I have shared that I have struggled with spending money on myself and fun things. This year, I permitted myself to enjoy the finer things in life a little. I really enjoyed the vacations we went on as well as the freedom I felt by ordering meals, so I wasn't cooking all the time. When I think about my year, I am delighted that we made wonderful memories this year with our family.
Accepted that I have to pause working on some of my Goals
In 2020 when I had a baby, I took a break from making videos for my YouTube channel. I thought I would get back to creating videos in 2021. After returning, I decided to focus on work and caring for my baby. As I planned for 2022, I wanted to relaunch my channel. However, I was stretched thin with all my responsibilities at work and as a mother. Instead of being hard on myself, I gave myself permission not to work on this goal. It was the first time that I did not progress on a plan I set, and I am totally fine with it. This was the right thing for me to do to thrive this year.
Learned from Setbacks
Especially when we have a lot of growth, there will be some setbacks. I approached things that went differently than I had planned with an open mind. I was looking for the lessons I could learn from them. My typical reaction would have been to be hard on myself and keep thinking about what I should have done differently to avoid them. I have learned a lot of valuable lessons from this mindset change.
2022 has been a very long year for a lot of us. As we close out this year, it is crucial to reflect on our growth. The lessons learned from our reflection will improve our lives next year.
Time for Reflection
What did you do differently this year?
What difficult decisions did you need to make this year?
What pleasantly surprised you this year?
This week is Thanksgiving in the US. It is a great reminder to take time and reflect on what we are grateful for. Especially when life gets busy, and things are going differently than we planned, Gratitude is a gift. 2022 has been a very eventful year for my family and me. This year, I want to celebrate the milestones and the people who have made this year special. We have a lot to be grateful for.
In this blog post, I will share the ten things I am grateful for this year. Check out my post on what I was grateful for halfway through 2022.
#1: Having my awesome family
There is something special about going through life with people that love and believe in you. I have been blessed with a son, husband, twin sister, mother, and my husband's family, whom I have known all my life. Although we live very far away from our family, we get to celebrate key moments together and be there for one another.
#2: Having a job
As someone who lives in the Bay Area, where the news of companies laying off people has been a daily occurrence over the last few weeks, I am grateful that I still have a job. I have been thinking about the fact that it is out of my control, and worrying will not help. Being employed is something I never took for granted, and now, even more than ever.
#3: Getting Promoted
This year has been one of the most remarkable years in my career. Over the past four years, I have been working very hard toward setting myself up for success at the company where I work at. Seeing the results of my work has been awesome. With the promotion, I felt my contribution was recognized and valued. I am grateful for being able to prioritize work this year.
#4: Having people who support my career growth
As I have experienced great success in my career this year, I have been reflecting on the amazing people who have supported me on my career journey so far. I still remember the first person to give me an internship at a bank that kicked off my career in program management, the person that gave me my first job when I graduated from university, and the Manager that I now have who has been an advocate for me over the past 18 months. I am grateful for everyone who has supported my career in any way.
#5: Working with a great Team
The people we work with really make a difference in our experience at work. I have had the opportunity to work with amazing people, especially in my current role. Every day I learn a lot from the people around me and share my knowledge with them. I am grateful for my amazing team.
#6: Having certain privileges in life
Especially this year, I have been reminded that I get to live the life I live today due to the fact that I have certain privileges. I'm grateful for my education, the countries I have lived in, my socioeconomic status, and the opportunities I have had in my life. I often reflect on my life and how much things have changed over the past 21 years. I know that I would not be where I am today if not for
#7: Having a child-care for our son
When our son turned two years old, we were excited for him to start daycare. Especially since our family is very far away, we needed to find a child-care solution where he could be around other kids and develop strong social skills. We were very fortunate to have found a bilingual German and English Daycare around us. It is very important to us that he learns multiple languages as he grows older.
#8: Being Healthy
This year more than ever, we saw a lot of people around us get sick. Our family has stayed mostly healthy throughout the year. Seeing what others are going through has renewed my Gratitude for our health. Especially with a small kid, watching other kids get seriously ill has made me not complain about minor illnesses.
#9: Being able to visit beautiful Places
As a family, we are committed to traveling and enjoying the world's beauty. This year we got to travel to the UK and San Diego. Both of those vacations helped us see new places and appreciate how incredible the world is. We are also very fortunate to live in California, where we are surrounded by many beautiful places that we are yet to explore.
#10: Being alive and seeing another day
I have never taken my health for granted, and with everything happening in the world, I am very grateful for life. I do not want the hope for progress in my life to make me forget that I have a good life now. Every day that I get to live is a tremendous gift.
Final Thoughts: MC's Journey
Over the past four years, I have been more intentional about documenting what I am grateful for. Gratitude helps reduce my worrying and fills me with hope for the future. Going through the exercise reassures me that things will work out perfectly as they have in the past, even if my plans change.
Time for Reflection
What are five things that you are grateful for in 2022?
Who are three people that you are grateful for in 2022?
How will you make Gratitude a part of your life?
One of the most sought topics in career development is professional branding. The reason is that many of us are either already working on our professional brands or wonder if we need one. As I have studied personal and professional branding, I realized that they go hand in hand. With that in mind, we will focus on the impact of our brand at work.
In this blog post, we will explore the top five myths around your professional brand. In my previous post titled "My approach to building my personal brand," I shared some tools and resources that helped me to get started.
Setting the foundation: What is professional branding?
Myth #1: You don't have a professional brand
The truth is that we all have a professional brand or reputation. Even if we are not doing anything additional to doing our jobs, people have a perception of who we are professionally. Especially in today's world, where we change jobs often and are out in constantly changing professional roles, our brand is crucial. Viewing your professional brand as something you are responsible for is important.
Strategies to consider
Myth #2: You only need to have a professional brand if you want to get promoted
There are different career phases where our goals might be something other than upward mobility or promotion. Your professional brand can bring you additional benefits, such as being recognized as an expert in your field, expanding your network, and being able to give back to others professionally.
Strategies to consider
Myth #3: You can only build your professional brand at work
Our professional brand can serve us outside of our core jobs as well as inside our companies. I had yet to learn the power of what I do outside work and how it can impact my professional brand in a great way. I did three main things outside work that elevated my professional brand. The first was starting my blog, where I share my thoughts, experiences, and expertise. The second was building a professional network by joining program management industry communities when I moved to the US. And the third one was furthering my education by doing some certification courses and learning about the new professional environment I was in now.
Strategies to consider
Myth #4: Your professional brand can only be built after you have worked for a long time
When I started my career in program management, I struggled with not seeing anyone like me, who I admired because of their professional brand. The more visible people had very different paths and had been in their careers for multiple decades. Only over the past years have I seen a beautiful niche of folks in different career stages talking about their careers and showcasing their brand. I now know that there are many flavors of professional brands.
Strategies to consider
Myth #5: Maintaining your professional brand is hard work
The truth is that some amount of intentionality and work goes into maintaining our professional brand. Your professional brand should grow and evolve as your career changes. As with everything in life, your brand is not something you pay attention to once and then forget. I constantly seek inspiration and try different things regarding my professional brand in addition to doing great work.
Strategies to consider
MC's Journey: Discovering and maintaining my professional brand
At the start of my career in Germany, I did not know that my professional brand was something I should have cared about. I thought my professional success would come from my focus on doing great work, which was exactly what I did. When I moved to the US almost eight years ago, I realized I needed to build my professional brand. I started developing my brand as I worked with a coach and then took steps to maintain it over time. My professional brand has evolved as I have transitioned to new jobs, changed roles, and gotten promoted. I'm currently thinking about where I will take my brand next.
Sharing the books I read that changed how I think about my brand
Time for Reflection
What does personal or professional branding mean to you?
Are you actively building your brand? If not, what is standing in the way?
What three things would you like to do in 2023 to grow and maintain your brand?
One of the traits that I admire in people is their ability to dream and work toward the things they desire. As life gets serious, it is easy to get caught up with "doing things" and forget to dream about the future. I like to think that the things I dream of today will be my reality someday. It is crucial always to continue dreaming.
In this blog post, we will explore ways to allow ourselves to dream of our desired future.
Dream about things no one around you has ever done
When I speak to immigrants or first-generation folks, they often share that it is difficult to dream of things you did not see people around you do. The ones who have allowed themselves to be inspired and dream beyond their current environment. have gone ahead and done great things. Many people outside of our circles have done great things and can be an inspiration. I go out of my way to look for inspiring stories and broaden my perspective.
Questions to reflect on
Dream about things that you do not yet know how to attain
People like me who are planners might need to do more self-work to get comfortable dreaming about things without planning. It is interesting how we sometimes limit ourselves to only dream about things we know how to get or accomplish. Allowing ourselves to dream about something and then later figuring out how to get it would give us more freedom to dream big. One of my coaches encouraged me to write down about 30 things I want and not limit myself to what I think is possible. It sounds very simple, but I still tried to be rational while dreaming.
Questions to reflect on
Dream about things that people have told you that you can't accomplish
A lot of us grew up in communities where people told us what they thought we could or could not accomplish. Those things translate into limiting beliefs about what we can achieve in life. As I have grown older, I have been working on freeing myself from the words that were said to me as a child. I know now that those words have no hold on my life unless I believe them.
Questions to reflect on
Dream about doing things that you are afraid of
Fear is a big reason why we do not let ourselves dream and chase those big dreams. At a conference for young women that I attended a while ago, a high school student talked about how being afraid of who she might become held her back. I asked to chat with her after the conference because I wanted to learn more, and she shared that being very successful scared her. Her words resonated with me because I have been afraid of things working out too well. Another fear I know has been holding me back from dreaming is the fear of failure.
Questions to reflect on
Encourage your children to dream
When I hear kids talk about their dreams for the future, it gives me hope. They are born with the ability to dream, and it is our responsibility to continue to let the flame burn. Refrain from allowing your adult mind that has been trained to only think of what is possible in your current circumstance to limit your ability to dream. Let them talk about their big dreams and hope with them that they come true.
Questions to reflect on
Final Thoughts: MC's Reflection
Lately, I have been feeling like I have accomplished many things that I dreamed about, for which I am beyond grateful. I now yearn for new dreams and something I can work towards. I have been too busy working towards my goals and have yet to allow myself to take time to dream. I want to confidently respond when someone asks me what my top dreams are. As we wrap up the year, I have made some time over the next weeks to dream, and I hope you do the same too.
Over the past 21 years, I have had the opportunity to celebrate hundreds of holidays in Germany and the US. As I have lived in multiple countries, I have adopted new holidays and also created my traditions. Especially as we prepare for the busiest holiday season, I have been reflecting on the exciting and different holidays that I have experienced.
In this blog post, I will share what I learned about holidays living in Germany and the US. Check out my other Her Relocation blog posts about my experiences living in Nigeria, Germany, and the US.
Christmas in Germany
The first Christmas I spent in Germany was very different. To start with, it was the first winter I experienced, and it snowed a lot. Secondly, I was about to learn that Germans celebrate Christmas very differently. When I was growing up in Nigeria, the major festivities were on December 25th, and on the 26th, we got to continue celebrating with our extended family. Now that I was in Germany, I learned that people celebrated on Christmas eve. I lived in Germany for 14 years and never got used to it. However, one aspect of Christmas that I really loved were the Christmas Markets. I made it a point to visit the ones around me every single year. It became a part of my Christmas traditions in Germany.
New Year's traditions in Germany
In my early years in Germany, I was very surprised at how people celebrated the start of the year. I learned about many families' traditions, such as coming together and eating special meals on New Year's Eve. This was very different for me growing up in Nigeria, where we typically spent New Year's eve in Church. After 21 years of living abroad, I have adopted enjoying family time and special meals to mark the start of the new year.
Discovering "Karneval" in Cologne
Around the world, many countries celebrate Carnival. Nigeria is not one of those countries. I had only seen a place transform into a big party city for a few days every year when I moved to Cologne in 2010. Everyone comes out to celebrate Carnival and the traditions around it. At work, they asked us to come in costumes. I had never worn one before and did not even know how to choose what I wanted to dress as. So I went as myself without a costume. I admire people who plan their outfits for months and are passionate about it.
Easter traditions in Germany and the US
Growing up in Nigeria, the Easter celebration focused on the religious aspects and was a time for families to come together. The first time I heard about the Easter bunny in Germany, I did not really understand the connection. When I moved to the US, I learned about the Easter egg hunt, kids dressing up, and other Easter traditions. Interestingly, I now forget Easter celebrations since I moved to the US because it is not a holiday, unlike in Germany and Nigeria.
Celebrating the 4th of July in the US
When the stores start filling up with items with the American flag, I am reminded that Independence Day is approaching. The traditions where people spend time with family and friends outside are awesome to see. In some cities, there are parades and more connections to the historical events around the celebrations. Interestingly, I really like the time off that happens around this time and spending time with people I like, but I rarely think about the day's symbolism.
Halloween in the US
Celebrating Halloween is becoming something that many countries have learned from the US. However, the way everything changes once fall sets in to remind people that Halloween is around the corner is very American. I am not too fond of scary things, so this is a holiday that I skip. As I navigate holidays as a mother, this is one where I ask myself how I can find a way for our son to participate in the kid's activities around Halloween. This year, our son's daycare is hosting a Halloween parade. I need help thinking about the costumes that he can wear. One part of Halloween that my Nigerian upbringing is stopping me from getting used to is Trick & Treat, where kids go door to door and gather candy. There is just something about accepting candy from strangers that raises alarms in my mind. I am smiling as I think about it.
Thanksgiving in the US
Thanksgiving was a very new holiday to me when I moved to the US in 2015. It is not a holiday that is celebrated in Germany and Nigeria. Over the past years, I have been learning about the holiday and its transitions. The size of the turkey was one of the first scary things I experienced on my first thanksgiving here. There is something special about celebrating with family and friends. In our home, we celebrate thanksgiving with Chicken and a Nigerian rice dish. That is our way of combining our Nigerian heritage on this very American holiday.
Gifts are a huge deal for Christmas in the US
The other day, I told my husband how surprised I was that advertisements for Christmas gifts had already started in October. In the US, people really take gift-giving very seriously. I still remember my first Christmas here when we visited some extended family, and they spent considerable time exchanging gifts. My husband and I quickly decided we wanted to celebrate the season and not be caught up in the gift-buying craze in November and December.
Learning about other people's holidays
One of the great benefits of being an immigrant is that we get to meet a lot of people who have cultures and religions that are different from ours. Over the years, I have learned about many cultural and religious holidays. Among the differences, there are some commonalities in how we celebrate holidays. I have found that food always plays an important role.
As immigrants, we have created a great combination of the holidays we celebrate in the countries we grew up in and the new ones in the countries where we now live. The merging of cultures and traditions makes our experiences very unique. I am excited to learn more about holiday traditions from the places where I live and the people around me.