I arrived back from the conference late last night - such a good conference, thought inspiring sessions, hope inspiring talks, lots of new ideas to work on, and best of all - lots of great conversations with new people, and catching up with others I don't see as often as I'd like.
I sat on the plane home last night just trying to capture all of the things I'd like to do now after the conference - too many to share before my son wakes up! So instead, I'm thinking about how to tackle that long long list. I've already started to mark some ideas as ones which can wait until a suitable moment, and ones that I should work on soon. Realistically I know I probably won't get to many of the former (many are interesting, but not currently very relevant), but I should reread the list in a few months and see if any have now become more relevant.
The items that are just about following up on references to interesting books and tools to explore are fairly easy to implement. What's going to be harder is deciding: what do I want to change? What do I want to implement? And here, I confess to not taking my own advice - in my session I asked participants to make a commitment to some action to take on their return, because it's too easy to go home and think "I will do that tomorrow", and tomorrow never comes. I didn't do the same myself - to be fair, I was kinda busy focusing on the session. I wrote some down on the way home, but I now have to think about how I can achieve them.
Of course, there is one big advantage - if I find that in a few weeks time I am still trying to figure it out, then I can take it back to the people who attended my session to ask for some help, advice, or moral support. Because the lovely people at Eurostar will be creating a new site, with a discussion forum area that we're going to be able to use to share stories and discuss. This is a new thing for me after a conference, being able to , and I'm really looking forward to it.
Once I'm a little clearer about what the main priorities for me are, I'm probably going to revive an old approach I tried a few years ago, and create a personal review plan - sounds very formal, but it's actually very simple. I pick 4 main personal goals I want to work on that year - I write out a sentence explaining each one at the top. And then I create a short table for the next month, and one for after that. As I think of specific activities that will contribute to those goals, or as I realise what I've done this week fits in with that - I add them to the list. (As an example, if my goal is to become a better facilitator of meetings, I might practice, by offering to facilitate a meeting, or I might read Sam Kaner's fantastic Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision making.)
I go back to the document every now and then and look at what I've been doing. Often I realise that actually, I achieved a lot this month even if I feel like I didn't do much because I'm disappointed about not getting a couple of things I'd hoped for done. Sometimes I realise I haven't done much at all - if it's because life is just busy right now, that's fine - or maybe it prompts me to push myself to pick one small thing off the list and get it done now.
I also tend to colour code the list according to the goals (that's a good incentive to only pick a small number!) - if I see my list is all green, and no yellows for months, maybe I better go back to that. Or maybe, it isn't as important to me as I thought.
This structured approach isn't something I do often. At the time I started doing it, I felt quite down about my career, and it helped me to see I was actually making quite a lot more progress than I thought I was. At this time, life is pretty busy with a small child and work, so I think it may help me to use the limited personal time I have wisely - it's pretty tempting to just read blogs and Twitter, and while those are a great source of ideas, inspiration, and conversation, if I don't actually go off and do anything as a result, it's not a good use of time.
It may sound like - hey, well I do that at work anyway. Why should I do it just for me? Well, I'll leave you with this quote: