I don’t make new year’s resolutions. But I’m starting to like the idea of trying to be somewhat intentional about what I’m doing.
I recently came across one of those random “the first 4 words you see in this word scramble are your words for the coming year” or something like that. I saw Connection, Do, Purpose, Power.
Those are good. And they resonated with me. So I’m going to think about how they might work for me. Or, at least some aspirations for the coming year anyway…
My work is very much about my connections. I’ve been consulting for 7 years now. All my work comes through connections. I am grateful for my network. Without all you this experience would be much different.
At the same time, connection has another meaning. My work has always been about knowledge mobilization. I want to connect people to information, ideas, content, and to others. My goal has always been to be helpful.
Over the past couple of years this has become even more important for me. It’s not always something I get paid to do. But it’s the glue that makes my work both interesting and of value and impact. I created Knowledge Mobilization for Settlement (KM4S) to create connections. I use my podcast to connect with others and learn about their work. And I see my use of LinkedIn as a way to connect with people, as well as share interesting content.
I’m not always a doer. I have more ideas than actions. I’ve had ideas, even started things, that I’ve abandoned. I’ve come to regret some of those. That’s where KM4S and my podcast came from. If I finally put something out in public, I figured I’d actually keep doing it. So far that’s working.
Recently I’ve posted some things online after I’ve had an offline rant about them. If it was important enough to me to rant about it, it might be important enough to do, or say, or share. It’s worked a few times. At the very least, it’s contributed to the idea that I love, of working out loud. Sharing half baked ideas and then continuing to form them, sometimes because of the comments and feedback that comes.
I have other things I want to do. I have started to build a website to connect nonprofits with digital consultants. It comes out of conversations with nonprofit peers who have found it hard to connect with useful consultants who work with and understand nonprofits. It will also be useful to connect consultants to each other to make referrals and support each other. I spent a chunk of time thinking about doing this in the past year. And now it’s happening. It won’t be perfect. But it will be something more than an idea. I’m hoping that others can review and help design and build it.
I’m working with Jennifer Chan on a foresight project for the immigrant and refugee-serving sector. We’re exploring what it would look like if you could wave a magic wand and change the way we meet the needs of Newcomers and to shift the way our organizations, funders, sector are serving Newcomers now. We are imagining a new way for our sector to come together and imagine equitable futures.
I want to do more. That’s going to take some work. I’m lazy at heart. It means moving from a natural inclination to open Netflix instead of something different. But I’ll work on it.
I’m not talking about the tyranny of productivity. It’s more spending some time on things I actually want to do or learn or share. I read or heard some good advice recently. Do something for 15 minutes. Take 15 minutes to do that thing you kind of don’t want to do right now. At least you’ll have done a bit. And once you’re into it, you’ll continue. But if not, at least you move things forward a nudge. I’ve tried that a few times recently. And it’s worked well. I need to keep building better habits. I need to just do.
My work has always had purpose. Like I said, I want to be useful. Helpful. Provide something that will help. Over the past year I’ve started to realize that I also need to be purposeful in my focus. There are things I could do that I’m not as good at or don’t enjoy as much. But because folks can’t find someone else and I come to mind, they come to me. I think I’ve done OK in some cases, but feel that someone else might have done better (it’s not imposter syndrome, just a decent of self, competency, and interests).
Hence the consultant referral website. I started connecting more with other consultants this past year. Thanks david phu! That’s helped me to refer some work to others. It has also let me focus on things I want to do.
I realize I’m privileged to be able to make these choices. To start picking and choosing work that’s of interest to me and that I might be the right person for.
I can’t completely articulate what I want to do yet. It’s evolving. But it’s mostly related to what I wrote about in Connection. Some of it won’t be paid. Yet. I need to find ways to get paid for the passionate pieces of work I do. That would be amazing.
Nailing down my purpose this year is a goal. Hopefully that will help me to figure out ways to get paid for the work that I most enjoy.
I’m a white middle class cisgendered male in a world that values that for no other reason than it always has. I think I’m a decent ally. I think I’ve mostly unpacked my backpack of privilege and use that knowledge to guide me in my life and work. But I know I benefit daily from what bell hooks called the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
I can always do better. In particular, I work and consult in a sector that hasn’t typically had a lot of power. Within community and with funders. There is much that can be improved in the immigrant and refugee-serving sector. But I’m always in awe of the people I work with. Their ability to do much with little. Their advocacy in the face of layers of oppression. Their patience providing insight and solutions to “wicked problems” while being ignored.
I don’t have their patience. I’ve never really needed it. As a white guy I haven’t generally been asked to be patient. Or silent. Or to stand in the back with my head down. I started using my voice more publicly this past year. In particular, when it came to salary transparency, corrupt diversity, equity, and inclusion messaging, and the absurdities of economic and social inclusion of Newcomers to Canada.
I’ve realized there is no downside for me to call out power and oppression. I’m a lone consultant. What I’m calling out supports my personal world view. It also supports the work my consulting clients, even their funders, do. I’m not the family breadwinner. I could be exiled and lose my income tomorrow and my family would be OK.
I have power. And I want to figure out how to keep honing it and using it for good this year.
The first six months of this year are more or less full for me in my work. I’m busy with work that I’m looking forward to. I’m lucky and privileged that way. Throughout it all I’m going to keep focusing on connecting, doing, being purposeful, and using my power for good.