“When you look back on 2017, what do you think of?
Which of your achievements are you most proud of?”
These questions dropped into my mailbox earlier this week. They’re good questions to reflect on.
But, to be honest, at this time of year I always start to feel a bit jaded.
It's a combination of things: the dark nights; the cold temperatures; the rain (or the snow, as happened this week); Christmas muzak blaring everywhere; and the fake forced jollity.
Not feeling the Christmas spirit.
Just overwhelmed. Exhausted. Jaded.
I've still got things on my work 2017 to-do list that haven't been crossed off. These tasks keep niggling like the start of a bad toothache that gets worse instead of fading.
It doesn’t help that since my Dad died suddenly on Jan 31st 2016, I haven't really felt much like celebrating Christmas.
He loved it. The tinsel, the razzmataz, the telly, turkey, mince pies, the lot. It still hurts to be reminded of all the things he loved when he's not here to share in any of it. In bygone years, I got into it at the last minute, especially when I saw how my Dad got into it. He was ready to enjoy having his family around him. So, I’d shut the office door on work, at least from Christmas Eve until after Boxing Day, to make the most of this time of year.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I'm wondering if you feel the same at this time of year (exhausted, overwhelmed, or jaded)? Or, is it just me?
So, what’s the answer?
All too often in the hustle and bustle of life, we forget to take time out to smell the roses. Christmas offers an ideal opportunity to do this, in order to recharge our batteries.
That’s why it’s a good idea to take stock of your achievements. An end of year review helps you take a step back to appreciate them, and to give yourself a well deserved pat on the back. In most industries this is done as a matter of routine. Then, once we feel a bit more rested hopefully, and restored, it’s time to take the tiger by the tail – to take action. Catch up on those outstanding projects or tasks. Swallow the bitter pill.
One way to break out of feeling overwhelmed is to take back control.
There’s no escaping the fact that -
It doesn’t need to be complicated; but, you do need to stick to your plan.
Without a plan, even with the best will in the world, other things tend to take precedence. No matter how hard you try, YOUR GOALS – the things that really matter to you – just keep slipping off your to-do list into the abyss of should-have, would-have, and could-have recriminations.
So, my key tip to gear up for ABPI exam success is that you make a plan, and then work that plan.
I know it sounds simple. Have you found that the simplest things in life are the hardest to master?
Turns out, it ain’t that bad once you get started.
Once you begin a project, or a task, it feels good. You start boosting your feel-good neurotransmitters, including dopamine. If you know about the effects of dopamine, you quickly become habituated to that feel good factor, which means you want more.
These days, when it comes to online productivity tools - we're spoilt for choice. Often your choice depends on your personal preference and what works for you. Over the years, I've used all of these:-
You might have seen my previous recommendations for Trello, the tool I currently use to keep track of my projects, and all their associated tasks. If you decide this one's for you, then please use my recommendation link, since it earns me extra functionality. Thanks in advance for your help.
Trello keeps me on track with everything I do for the Toolkit, and my students. It’s straightforward and easy to use. And FREE.
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour by checking it out. You can use its inbuilt calendar to set and track deadlines for your learning goals.
To use Trello:-
I promise you that once you get into the habit of using one of these productivity tools that you'll stop feeling harrassed about all the things you've forgotten to keep track of ('cos you forgot to make a note of it in the first place). Your sense of satisfaction grows with each task that gets done. Then, at the end of the year you can look back on all that you've accomplished.
If you're in a fug, reviewing your achievements helps you break out of it.
So, in answer to those questions that popped into my mailbox:-
1. My proudest achievement this year?
Creating the ABPI Exam Toolkit™ – my first attempt at creating a brand with a dedicated B2C focus.
How do you think I’m doing so far?
2. Looking back this year, what do I think of?
I think of what I could have done better, to reach out and to help more of you.
Perhaps I could’ve been more active on social media – to help get the word out (without a big marketing budget, it’s not that easy). Besides, I was busy tutoring and producing more MCQ Workbooks and Mind Maps.
So, hey I had to prioritise. Building an audience takes time. Finding that audience in this industry ain’t easy. We’re a closed shop, and all that, especially when it comes to social media. As always, I depend on word of mouth referrals.
For any end of year review to be worthwhile, we also have to look foward, not just back.
So - my plans for next year?
Depends on you… to be honest, I feel a bit disconnected from my “tribe” at the moment. From various discussions I’ve had this year, I know this is something some of you feel too. So, one of my goals is to set up a private discussion group if that's of interest. Oh oh. Cat's out of the bag.....
Please give me your feedback on this idea. Take part in the poll below or make a comment here, or on the Toolkit Facebook page, or Twitter (@Abpiexamtoolkit).
And, please, tell me your plans for 2018.
Meanwhile, have a restful Christmas.
P.S. About that pressie - it's here if you're not already a subscriber (subcribers get a different pressie). Be good to yourself.
Marie helps ABPI exam candidates get ready for this pharmaceutical industry rite of passage with effective, actionable tips and proven tools, like flash cards.
Improve your memory TODAY with access to almost 600 flash cards that her most successful students use. Work smarter not harder. Get them here: https://payhip.com/b/eY4P.
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Hi. I'm Dr Marie McKenzie-Mills, and I help ABPI exam candidates navigate the ins and outs needed to sail through this pharmaceutical industry rite of passage.
Useful external links
ABPI Exam ToolKit ™