Reflecting on 2022 – looking back to look forward

It’s too easy to just keep cracking on with work, moving forward and forgetting to take a step back to appreciate the progress that has been made and learn from the previous year.

Inspired by my friend Joanna Lott (who publishes a review of her business every December), I’ve decided to start sharing my annual reflections publicly. I started Bright Sky Career Coaching 6.5 years ago. Looking back, it’s hard to remember what happened at specific points, so I’m writing this partly to help ‘future me’ recollect the business journey she has been on. But I’m also writing this in the hope it helps encourage you to reflect on 2022 for yourself and that it’s a useful exercise for you.

I created a set of 10 reflection questions at the end of 2021 to share on the HR Coffee Time podcast and with everyone who had downloaded the free pdf version of the HR Planner at that time. They’re also part of the hardback version of the HR Planner that I recently released for 2023.

In the spirit of ‘walking the walk’ as well as ‘talking the talk’, here are my answers to them. I’ve also started to take my own advice from episode 63 of HR Coffee Time, ‘How to progress your HR career by measuring your impact at work’ by incorporating some metrics/measures into my reflections.

1. What did you achieve? – Small wins are just as noteworthy as big ones

Bright Sky Career Coaching achievements

  • Made the (scary but exciting) decision to evolve the business in September, so that our focus is now on supporting HR professionals with their careers (prior to this we had supported people from all professions and a large portion of our work was outplacement support for organisations).
  • Created and ran Bright Sky’s first group coaching programme for HR professionals – Inspiring HR (the beta version ran from June – July and the established version ran for the first time from Oct – Dec). 15 people have now been through the programme. I’ve really enjoyed designing and delivering it; it’s been very rewarding seeing everyone build their confidence and skills.
  • I’ve got better at ‘letting go’ of the amount of 1:1 coaching I was doing because I’m lucky to have such talented, committed, and wonderful associates on the Bright Sky team. This has allowed me to focus on Inspiring HR, the HR Planner and the HR Coffee Time podcast for the second part of the year, while knowing that our 1:1 coaching clients are being well looked after by other Bright Sky team members. Aside from the 1:1 coaching that is part of Inspiring HR, I personally coached or mentored 41 people this year (who had between 1 and 7 sessions each) but the majority of this 1:1 coaching took place in the first 6-8 months of the year.
  • Before making the decision to evolve the business, we had 4 larger (more than one employee being supported) outplacement contracts this year and had positive feedback from them all. It was rewarding knowing we’d been able to help so many people cope with their redundancy news and move on to their new roles.
  • The hardback HR Planner has been popular this year and has been getting lovely feedback. We’ve sold nearly 250 copies (which I hadn’t expected after selling 90 last year – I had to order an extra 50 copies from the printers when lots of people were disappointed that they’d missed out).
An image of HR Coffee Time's podcast artwork

HR Coffee Time (podcast) achievements (as of 31st December 2022):

  • HR Coffee Time was listed in two ‘top HR podcast’ lists:
    1. Employee Experience Magazine: 20 Best HR Podcasts You Should Add to Your List
    2. Mirro: Best 20 HR Podcasts of 2023
  • Released 45 episodes (24 of the episodes were guest episodes)
  • 31,600 downloads in total and 13.8k unique listeners (since the podcast started in August 2021)
  • Released one episode per week consistently from 15th April – 16th December (ended up taking a two-week break from the podcast over the Christmas period).
  • Total number of ratings & reviews on (1) Apple Podcasts: 41 and (2) Spotify: 21 (these numbers include 2021 because I wasn’t tracking the metrics then)
  • Apple Podcasts & Spotify average rating: 5 stars
  • Approached by two different software businesses to enquire about sponsoring the podcast (something I hadn’t anticipated at all). The first business wasn’t the right fit. I’m still having exploratory talks with the second business.

2. What did you do to help others?

Outside of my usual work, I did the following work free of charge: coached an HR Masters student at Kingston University, volunteered as a coach for the HR Ninjas ‘Back to Brilliant’ initiative, ran a free training workshop for the Ukrainian charity HumanitAid’s volunteers (to build their confidence and skills when supporting Ukrainian refugees in finding jobs in the UK), and mentored two HR professionals for Let’s Talk Talent’s HR mentoring scheme.

I also raised money for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust by running 3 HR Planner Workshops for free and asking for donations from attendees if they had enjoyed the workshop and found it useful.

3. What are you proudest of from 2022?

Creating Inspiring HR and HR Coffee Time (podcast) doing well (the messages I’ve received from listeners saying that the podcast has helped them in some way, has made all the work that goes into it worthwhile).

4. What did you do for your wellbeing during the past year?

Played tennis fairly regularly (apart from a 3-month break after I hurt my ankle and then when the weather was horrible in December), took Cookie for lots of walks and started going to a local Pilates class once a week-ish.

4. What did you learn during 2022?

Lots! I’m lucky to have worked with two mentors this year Nick Harris as a coach mentor, who has been helping me prepare to apply for PCC accreditation and Nazanin Nakali, who has been my business mentor.

Joanna Lott, Sarah Archer and Janine Coombes shared their insights and advice about creating an impactful group programme and Irene Broomfield shared some brilliant coaching tools with me to use in the final week of the programme (Inspiring HR). I’m very grateful to all of them for their support.

Scheduling virtual co-working/body-doubling time to work on specific projects each week helps keep me on track with the work I find it harder to be self-motivated about getting done consistently because they’re the less exciting part of my business (e.g. keeping on top of my business finances, or setting up processes). It’s been great to have a weekly Monday session with my friend Tracy Short to do this and I’m looking forward to having a second weekly session with Julie White (who talked about the benefits of body-doubling in episode 59 of HR Coffee Time) to be more consistent with Bright Sky’s social media in 2023.

I’ve learnt how to get better at delegating (through experience, trial and error, advice from others, and demonstrations of ‘best practice’ from people I’ve worked alongside) – arranging a trial before committing to work with a support person; handing over clear processes/expectations; scheduling time for regular check-ins and feedback; allowing time to be ‘hands-on’ for the first few weeks but then stepping back after this.

I learnt masses from my wonderful podcast guests, attended three coaching masterclasses run by the Association for Coaching (Team Coaching, Imposter Syndrome, Neuroscience), became accredited to use two BeTalent tools (Psychological Safety and Resilience) and ploughed my way through quite a few books.

Non-fiction books read in 2022 (in alphabetical order)

For anyone reading this who would like to know more about any of the books, I’ve included links to them and a very brief summary for the books I particularly enjoyed/would recommend. The links are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to purchase one of the books using one of them, I’ll receive a small commission from Amazon. 

Picture of Fay holding a pile of books
  1. Closing the Influence Gap: A practical guide for women leaders who want to be heard, by Carla Miller: A brilliant book – I was lucky to have Carla Miller on episode 65 of HR Coffee Time, ‘Practical strategies that empower women to succeed in leadership roles’, where she talked through the key ideas from the book.
  1. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts, by Brené Brown: One of my favourite books of the year. It is one of the three books I talked about in episode 46 of HR Coffee Time, ‘My 3 favourite books to help your career that I’ve read this year’.
  1. Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead, by Terry R Bacon. Great ideas about influence – described in episode 34 of HR Coffee Time, ‘Influencing – how to get buy-in for your ideas at work’.
  1. Switch: How to change things when change is hard, by Chip & Dan Heath: I really enjoyed this book. There are some great stories/case studies used to demonstrate the different ways of encouraging others to adopt changes.
  1. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen: A comprehensive read about feedback. The authors do a great job of explaining where feedback can go wrong and how to avoid this happening.
  1. The Culture Map: Decoding how people think, lead and get things done across cultures, by Erin Meyer: Fascinating! Erin Meyer has developed a system for helping understand cultural differences, improve communication and success at work for intercultural teams. It is one of the three books discussed in episode 46 of HR Coffee Time, ‘My 3 favourite books to help your career that I’ve read this year’
  1. The Definitive Book of Body Language: How to read others’ attitudes by their gestures, by Allan and Barbara Pease
  1. The Leadership PIN Code: Unlocking the key to willing and winning relationships, by Nashater Deu Solheim
  1. The Strategy Book: How to think and act strategically to deliver outstanding results, by Max Mckeown: The best book about strategy I have read (and it won’t send you to sleep while reading it, unlike many other strategy books!) I’d recommend it to anyone who’d like to be more strategic in their role.
  1. Think Big: Take Small Steps and Build the Future You Want, by Dr Grace Lordan: One of my favourite books of the year – mentioned in episode 46 of HR Coffee Time, ‘My 3 favourite books to help your career that I’ve read this year’. The author teaches you how to use behavioural science to shape your future.
  1. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman: Recommended to me by my business mentor – a great read for anyone who has their own business that is growing, to help keep things on track and moving forwards smoothly (so you don’t end up becoming a bottleneck or overworking). I’ve just ordered a second copy of it after lending my first copy to a client who was joining a small business as a partner.
  1. Tranquillity by Tuesday: 9 Ways to Calm the Chaos and Make Time for What Matters, by Laura Vanderkam: This is time management expert Laura Vanderkam’s latest book. I’ve followed and loved her work for years (her TED talk is brilliant too – mentioned in this article I wrote back in 2018: The 7 best TED talks for career success).
  1. Your First 100 Days: Make maximum impact in your new role, by Niamh O’Keeffee: An excellent book that will help you set yourself up for success when starting a new leadership role. Niamh talks about it on episode 37 of HR Coffee Time, “The ‘first 100 days’ plan to succeed in your new HR leadership role”.
  1. Understanding Body Language: How to Decode Nonverbal Communication in Life, Love, and Work, by Scott Rouse
  1. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, by Marshall Goldsmith: I raced through this book – it’s an enjoyable read with lots of good stories to explain and demonstrate the advice given throughout it. Perfect for anyone in a senior role, or with aspirations to move up the career ladder at work.
  1. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? By Dr Julie Smith: I bought this book when looking for more ideas about how to support people going through redundancy and having a tough time. It’s brilliant and inspired episode 52 of HR Coffee Time, ‘Two ideas to help you bounce back from a tough day at work’
  1. What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition, by Emma Dabiri: A short but powerful book about race, racism, privilege and allyship. A recommended read for everyone. 

6. Which relationships did you develop and build?

I’ve developed and built new and pre-existing relationships with clients, other coaches, podcast guests and my colleagues within the Bright Sky team.

7. What are you grateful for?

I’m grateful for: my family, friends and our health (especially since all the worries throughout the pandemic); for all of Bright Sky’s clients who have put their faith in us to help them with their careers; for the HR Coffee Time listeners who get in touch to say they’re enjoying the show or to recommend future topics; for all of the Bright Sky team who do brilliant work; for being an HR Ninjas partner (it’s a fantastic community that I love being part of); for having some time off over Christmas to recharge after a busy year.

8. What did you find challenging this year?

Word of the year - consolidate

I had set myself a ‘word of the year’ for the first time for 2022, which was ‘consolidate’. I didn’t intend to create any new coaching programmes or services. Instead, I wanted to make sure I had time to catch up with how the business had grown, make sure I had strong operational systems and processes in place and that my website reflected what Bright Sky offered accurately (in 2020 and 2021 it had moved from just being me who delivered the coaching. I had started working alongside a small team of wonderful associate coaches and CV writers).

Although I started off strongly with ‘consolidate’ in mind, I broke away from it halfway through the year when I (1) created Inspiring HR and (2) realised I wasn’t following my own principle that I say on HR Coffee Time each week, which is to, ‘have a successful and fulfilling career without working yourself into the ground’. After working every morning of the first week of my family summer holiday to make sure I was on top of everything to do with two outplacement projects Bright Sky was working on, I realised I was in danger of working myself into the ground and that aspects of my work weren’t as fulfilling anymore because I was working so hard.

Making the decision to step away from outplacement work and coaching all professionals, to focus on my work with HR professionals was a difficult one – I was worried it might be a mistake and that people would wonder what on earth I was doing (it felt like a big change, when actually it was really just a slight adjustment). But I knew supporting the HR community had become the most rewarding part of my work, my values were usually in alignment with my HR clients and I was enjoying creating resources and services to support them. Talking it through with friends and colleagues before making the final decision, was a big help.

Although I managed to release the podcast fairly consistently throughout the year, I’ve fallen behind with posting on social media to promote the episodes (I used to post once a week but it’s now become sporadic). Thursday nights tend to be quite stressful, as I’m normally finalising things for the podcast’s release the next morning.

9. What insights do you have from reading through your answers to questions 1-8?

  1. Data is helpful: I’ve achieved more than I realised (and can stop giving myself a hard time about thinking I should have achieved more). Looking at the data/metrics has helped with this. I had no idea I’d coached or mentored so many people during the first part of the year, or that I’d read so many books until I started adding them up.
  1. The phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ applies to businesses too: I feel thankful to have met and worked alongside so many brilliant people, who have helped Bright Sky grow (I want to make sure I thank them all/have thanked them all).
  1. There are several things I started in 2022 that I’d like to prioritise finishing sooner rather than later in 2023: I have a new CRM customer relationship management system for Bright Sky that I’d like to get fully up and running because I know it will lead to an improved customer experience for our clients. I’d like to get the new website up and running asap (and update my profile & Bright Sky’s profile on LinkedIn to reflect the changes to the business and services)
  1. It’s a good idea to delegate more: I’m part-way through reading Cal Newport’s book, “Deep Work” at the moment. A lot of my time is being spent on tasks I could be delegating to other people (e.g. editing the podcast; sending out the HR Planners; responding to all emails personally) but I know to delegate I need to either charge slightly more for my services (I’ve always tried to make them as affordable as possible), find a different way of structuring them or get a podcast sponsor who feels like the right fit (this could cover the costs for podcast editing) to give Bright Sky the funds to pay for more support.
  1. Having ‘proper’ documented processes in place makes life much easier: Reading about the benefits of proper processes in 2021 (when I read ‘The E-Myth’) and again in 2022 when I read ‘Traction’ and being encouraged by my business mentor to start setting up more rigorous processes has moved me forward with this. Having a ‘proper process’ for releasing the podcast each week has been brilliant; as I’ve been able to delegate it to Katie (who has done a great job with this since January 2022).
  1. As I’m not playing tennis when the weather is freezing, I’d like to find another exercise to try/join for the winter: By scheduling in & signing up for group exercise classes, I’ve been better at exercising regularly but it’s dropped off in the colder weather.
  1. I’m getting clearer on Bright Sky’s mission & vision: I’ve always found the concept of ‘mission and vision’ hard for my own business. Working with Nick (coach mentor) has helped me realise that what I’m currently doing – organically growing the business in response to my customer’s needs; creating bespoke resources to help them overcome their career challenges and have a successful & fulfilling HR career (without working themselves into the ground) is a mission and vision. I’d like to refine it and find a better way of articulating it for 2023.

10. How can these insights influence your goals for 2023?

I have some exciting goals and plans for Bright Sky for 2023 that aren’t directly influenced by these reflections (including setting up ‘The HR Planner Club’ and creating a ‘write your HR Strategy/People Plan in a day’ workshop). Instead, the reflections have prompted me to make sure I dedicate enough time and space to working on the aspects of my business I find more ‘boring’ but that I know will make life easier and provide a better overall experience for my clients and customers.

  1. Create a better (more automated) process for booking guests onto the podcast & receiving their info/headshot etc.
  2. Explore getting a sponsor for the podcast more proactively/seriously and/or make sure my pricing enables Bright Sky to afford more support with producing the podcast each week.
  3. Get Bright Sky’s new CRM system up and running properly (supported with documented processes).
  4. Delegate the packing and posting of HR Planners for 2024 to someone else (ideally someone local – I need to work out how to find them/who would be interested in this)
  5. Launch the new website (being created by my talented web designer sister Holly Christie from This Demanding Life – I just need to get the last few things for it across to her so she can crack on with it).
  6. Update my personal LinkedIn profile and Bright Sky’s LinkedIn company page to reflect the changes the business has gone through – this shouldn’t take long; I just need to carve out some time to do it.
  7. Apply for PCC accreditation with the ICF.