Turning a corner in ’22

 This was the day before I ran into chilly winter waters

… for a 10th consecutive year! I thought I’d spare you any photos of my actual 10th annual Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day 2022 – and, in fact, it’s more of a mad dash, a dip, and then an even quicker scramble out of the water and back on to the beach! So, instead, here’s a look at the beautiful day we experienced the day before. It was cold, clear, and chilly.



Until 2020, we’d see thousands of crazy Canucks and visitors from other countries gather at scenic English Bay in Vancouver’s West End each New Year’s Day.

Many wear creative costumes or outlandish garb to add to the fun and, unbeknownst to us until a colleague told me, my husband and I were photographed and featured in newspapers in other parts of Canada following our first such dip!

In this pic from New Year’s Day 2017,  the people, penguins and I were complete strangers to one another. Can you imagine huddling like this with strangers in ’22? This is also a great spectator event, and we usually see equally large crowds of more appropriately bundled up people gather above the beach to watch all the chilly zaniness.

Adapting how we approach traditions and life itself

Vancouver’s Polar Bear Swim is a local tradition that’s now 102 years old, and I’m really pleased we were able to mark the 100th anniversary as usual on January 1st, 2020, before our world shifted. For the last two years, the big crowds have been off, yet the City continues to issue certificates and badges for those of us who take the dip in chilly bathtubs (it wouldn’t be the same) or in an uncrowded stretch of water off any city beach.

While the weather on New Year’s Eve was beautiful, albeit chilly, January 1st, 2022 dawned grey and cold. In fact, Vancouver had an uncommonly cold and snowy stretch of weather from December 24th until last week, and it actually seemed as though the water might have been warmer than the air!

Why carry on with the tradition on a cold and frankly miserable day? I did so because I could, and for the sense of fun and adventure.

You may think me bonkers for doing the Polar Bear Swim any year, and particularly on a cold winter’s day when the weather was miserable and it would have been preferable to stay indoors where it was warm and comfortable. The beach itself was covered in snow, and the skies were grim and stark.

These are the very conditions in which we benefit by taking action

I suggest that these are the very conditions in which we particularly benefit by shaking things up, taking chances, and even doing something new or a little daring. There was the added challenge of having to maneuver around not just pebbles, but also some sharp stones on entering the waters, which is why I learned after my first year to go in prepared with unattractive yet comfortable Crocs on my feet!

Let’s turn that corner

I believe the same is true of life, and how we decide to approach 2022. Whether it’s a Polar Bear Swim or pushing forward with optimism and hope as we embark on a third year of COVID-19 and its variants, our attitudes and preparation influence more than we may imagine. 

I’m not advocating naive optimism, just as I wouldn’t dash into icy waters unprepared. For the Polar Bear Swim, I of course needed to be prepared with dry towels, warm clothing, and the ability to quickly slip out of an icy cold bathing suit without exposing passersby to any memorable sights!

Let’s move forward with informed optimism and hope

As we make our way through this new year, I encourage you to do so with informed optimism. Yes, there’s a lot of bad news out there, yet there’s also encouraging news – who else is looking forward to referring to COVID as an endemic, rather than a pandemic?!  – and there are fascinating opportunities to learn. Has anyone else been following word of NASA’s successful launch and deployment this month of the James Webb Space Telescope, and what we might learn from it? No matter how trying circumstances may be at any give point in time, there’s always hope and room for optimism. Here’s to a terrific ’22 for you and yours!

Learning resources: podcasts, webinars, websites, conferences and more

When it comes to making this a terrific year on the career front, there are clearly some factors beyond our control. We can, however, control how we plan to approach professional development. You’ll see below my first Weekend Poll of the year. I published it last week, and am bringing it forward again this weekend to encourage people to think about both how and what you plan to learn this year. Will you take credit courses, read, listen to podcasts, attend webinars, and/or conferences? 

If you plan to attend conferences, are you hoping to make them in person, virtually, or both? As well, you’ll see I’m asking below about the focus – or areas of focus – you’re targeting for professional growth this year. 

Please add your voice, and share this poll

I designed this poll so you can add your voice in just a couple of minutes; there are only two open-ended questions. Thanks as always for participating, and I appreciate it when readers share my polls with colleagues and friends. Let’s get to it, shall we? I’m asking … 

Please take a couple of minutes to complete the poll below. As always, I look forward to hearing what you have to say and will publish the results here.   

I'm doing wellThe pandemic has brought challenges, but overall I'm doing fineI'm having a difficult time
Yes; I've already identified priorities as part of my performance reviewYes; I've begun identifying my areas of focusI have ideas and am sorting out funding or approvalsI'm waiting to see what catches my interestNo; I'm just keeping up as best as I canIt isn't even on my radar right now
soft skillsbecoming more proactivehard/technical skillsminutesstrategic/business acumenROI; ideas, practices I can apply in my rolefuture focus/trendsformal educationother
soft skillsenhancing professional presencebecoming more proactivehard/technical skillsminiutesstrategic/business acumenformal educationother
I maintained my usual commitment to PDI learned a lot, primarily because of changes to how we workI attended a mix of webinars and in person eventsPD has been a lower priority since the pandemic beganI dedicated more time/energy to PD than pre-pandemic
Yes, and I hope to do so in personYes, and I'd like to do so virtuallyI'm not sure; it depends on fundingI'm not sure; it depends on what happens with COVIDNo; I don't usually attend conferences
I doMy employer doesIt’s jointly funded; my employer covers a portion of the expenses and I fund the balance:
YesNoIt's not necessary, as these are typically outside office hours
In personVirtualA mix of both in person and virtual conferences; both have advantages
none1-56-1011-1516-20more than 20
YesNo
I doMy employer doesIt’s jointly funded; my employer covers a portion of the expenses and I fund the balance:
Yes; I read assistant-related websites, books and publicationsYes; I read materials that are relevant to my principal's role/executive level materialYes; I read sector-related materialsYes; I read business publicationsOnly occasionallyNo
YesNo
high school diplomapost-secondary courses; no credentialassociate degreepost-secondary diplomaundergraduate/bachelor's degreegraduate/master's degreedoctoral/PhD
Yes; routinelyYes; occasionallyNo

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