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2019 Blog round up - and aspirations for 2020!

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It’s hard to believe but the end of 2019 is nearly upon us. Not only the end of the year, but the end of a decade (according to some).

Regardless of your view on when the new decade actually begins, most of us can probably agree it’s sped by. Balancing the festivities with work commitments makes for a busy time, and it can be tricky to stop and reflect. Yet, grabbing a few precious moments to consider the year that will soon be behind us can be worthwhile - and set you up nicely for the new one ahead. 

What have been your career highlights - or lowlights - this year? Have you been promoted or side-stepped into something more interesting? Has a challenging year on the work front been the catalyst to make a change in 2020? Have you thought about your aspirations for next year already? What will you do differently?

Once again, I have been very fortunate to be a guest writer for Harris Hill in 2019 and contribute articles for the blog on a range of diverse and interesting subjects. This year, as well as interviewing two successful and inspirational charity professionals, I covered a broad range of topics from rejection to pre-holiday handovers, stress to keeping things fresh at work as well as highlighting the best charity podcasts.

I’m pleased to present a round of up of my articles, and offer some suggestions for your own aspirations and ambitions for the new decade (or the last year of this decade, whichever way you lean!).  


January 2019 - I Quit! How to Leave a Job Gracefully

I kickstarted the new year by tackling the often painful and emotionally complex issue of leaving your job. 

I explored why people feel a wide range of emotions when resigning from a role - whether they’ve held the position for 12 weeks or 12 years, set out some clear advice on what you should and shouldn’t do to ensure a graceful departure and provided some insight into how someone I know masterfully retracted a resignation without any awkwardness or embarrassment. 

I also shared some horror stories of my own, including when leaving speeches go bad and when leaving dos go even worse (clue: it involves the helpful services of a St John’s Ambulance first aider).  

2020 Career Aspiration: *I will make decisions based on what is best for my career, and execute them gracefully and professionally*



February 2019 - Charity Careers: Andy Harris

Harris Hill’s Charity Careers series features interviews with inspiring individuals and success stories from the charity sector. As the interviewer, I always feel privileged to gain an insight into the inner workings of the UK’s most successful charities and what makes the people that run them tick. 

This month, I chatted to Andy Harris, Director of Income Generation for Shelter UK and invited him to share his own individual career story to date, tell us about his 350-strong team and the invaluable work they to do to fundraise for Shelter’s work for the homeless or those who do not have a safe home

I learnt about Andy’s resistance to getting stuck in ‘cosy corner’, how he keeps his skills and knowledge fresh and why he may be eating fruit for breakfast, but really he’s dreaming of a fry up in a greasy spoon to fuel his busy day… 

2020 Career Aspiration: *I will not get too comfortable in cosy corner; I will be inquisitive, take risks and strive to do more*



March 2019 - How to Turn Rejection into a Success Story


For March’s article, I focused on one of the most awkward and painful experiences that spans our professional, social and personal worlds - rejection. *Shudder*. 

I shared the five stages of rejection and ways to navigate through them and told courageous and motivating stories from those who may have been rebuffed, but had gone on to achieve much, much better things - something that may not have been possible without fate stepping in. 

I explored why rejection may be the right time to consider reinvention, and why a brush-off can actually provide the chance to try something new and clear the way for the right opportunity; allowing you to think creatively about your career path. 

2020 Career Aspiration: *I will turn rejection on its head, and use it to fuel my career growth and purpose*


April 2019 - How to Manage Stress at Work

In April, to coincide with Stress Awareness Month, I faced head on some of the most pervasive but unwelcome players in the modern working game - stress, anxiety and burn out. 

Aiming to provide some guidance and support to those who were creaking under the weight of their to-do list, I highlighted the importance of paying attention to stress (described by a careers expert as ‘the business world’s silent killer) and considered stress in the current climate, finding that work-disrupting anxiety’ for Millennials was worryingly common.

Via research and my own personal strategies for managing stress, I offered some advice to individuals and managers on moving from distress to de-stress at work - including working smarter not longer, not seeing rest breaks as ‘time away from work’ (and definitely not holding in a wee to finish one.more.thing) and the life-changing notion of saying NO.


2020 Career Aspiration: *I will recognise the signs of stress, seek guidance to manage it and prioritise my wellbeing*


May 2019 - Charity Careers: James Harris

In the second Charity Careers interview of 2019, we met James Harris, Associate Director of Communications, Marketing and Membership for Rethink Mental Illness

James gave us a fascinating insight into his career to date including how he fell out of love with politics (and they’re still not talking) and moved on to the third sector, why it’s a privilege to have a job where you get to bring about change on the issues you care about and why he looks inwardly to his own team to keep his skills fresh.

James provided some great advice to graduates about being useful, creative and ready to deliver and made us envious that his dream breakfast is his actual breakfast. He also nearly converted me to a certain East London football team as part of his one-person evangelical mission. (Nearly. #cpfc)


2020 Career Aspiration: *I will try to be useful and creative and always deliver on something I’ve committed to*


June 2019 - How to Switch Off

Around mid-year, things were feeling rather busy and I realised I had a tendency to be ‘always on’. Fascinated, if not a little concerned, about our general inability to disengage from our jobs out of hours, or our phones pretty much all of the time, I explored why it was imperative for our health, productivity and wellbeing to not always be working.

I reached out to others who found it difficult to unplug (the results were quite shocking), investigated the dangers to our health of the ‘always on’ mentality and offered some tips on how to switch off and reframe how, and why, you work the way you do.


2020 Career Aspiration: *I will aim to find a balance and focus on my professional accomplishments without comprising my mental wellbeing *




July 2019 - How to Nail the Holiday Handover

This month, my thoughts turned to going on a summer holiday and… the intense fortnight of frenzied preparation that often comes before a well deserved break.

For those who also find it overwhelming to leave the office for a week or two, I was on hand to offer some advice on slick communication, creating the perfect handover note and why success is all in the planning. I warned against using a comedy OOO to get a LOL and also gave out some survival tips for anyone who was NOT going on holiday, but holding the fort instead. 

The result? Readers could swap desk-sandwiches for something delicious al fresco, lose themselves in a good book rather than a report and be safe in the knowledge that everything was in hand. 

2020 Career Aspiration: *I will execute a successful holiday handover and keep my credibility, peace of mind and work relationships intact (and have a terrific break)*


August 2019 - How to Negotiate a Pay Rise in the Charity Sector

Harris Hill released its 2019 Salary Report, the 14th annual survey and definitive guide to salaries in the UK Charity Sector, in collaboration with CharityJob. It got me thinking about people in the sector who might be feeling a little short-changed after reading the fascinating results, and why asking for a salary increase in the charity world can be uniquely awkward.

I set out to tackle this tricky dilemma by exploring the issues that comes with asking for more money (guilt, discomfort, modesty) and why feeling undervalued actually helps no-one in the long run. I helped you do your homework and prepare for the request; helping you determine your market value, drawing up a solid case for a pay review and how to ensure the meeting (gulp) runs smoothly - with a successful outcome.

2020 Career Aspiration: *I will not put-off a terrifying money talk and focus instead on my career progression and full earning potential long-term* 



September 2019 - How to Keep Things Fresh at Work

Are you one of the 26% of Brits who are almost never happy at work? In September, I reached out to the Harris Hill blog readers who may have been feeling their work had got a little stale and in need a shake up. 

I considered how starting a new job can be a bit like a new relationship (who isn’t tempted by the alluring ‘attraction phase’ of job hunting and networking) and why it’s easy to slide into the disappointment stage (the ‘what have I done, I want to go back to my ex-job!’ panic when you’re confirmed in post). 

With in-depth, research-backed advice on how to spice up your work, look inward to your lovely colleagues and speak up if you need extra motivation as well as quick-fire tips including podcasts, desk spring cleans and jazzing up your work wardrobe, I aimed to help people move from disgruntled to delighted. 

2020 Career Ambition: *If things feel stale at work, I will work stop, reflect and diagnose the issue rather than letting my discontentment intensify *



October 2019 - How to Set Goals (And Stick to Them in Style)

This month I turned my thoughts to goals (not just from a football perspective, although England were well on their way to qualifying for Euro 2020) and it was quite hard not to. In 2019, goals invaded social media (food, fitness, life, relationships etc) and seemed to be everywhere. There were even #beardgoals. 

Although most of us might be familiar with goal setting, I was keen to expand on this. So I considered not only why goals were important in our careers, but how to avoid getting too tangled up in the pursuit of them. I pushed the benefits of writing your goals down, backed up by university research, and also got a bit arty on you by reaching out to some ‘bullet journallers’ who had some creative inspiration to goal setting. I also asked an established career and business coach for some invaluable tips for smashing your #careergoals in no time at all. 


2020 Career Aspiration: *I will take a meaningful, creative and structured approach to goal setting - and write my goals down*


November 2019Podcast your way to workplace wellbeing

Lastly, in November, the weather got chillier and the weeks got more frantic in the lead up to Christmas. So, I popped on my headphones and considered the benefits of the charity podcast to satisfy our curious, but frazzled, minds during busy periods and to aid our mental wellbeing and learning and development.

With the help of experts at Harris Hill, I trawled through the varied and sometimes overcrowded podcast ecosystem and recommended a selection of useful charity podcasts - as well as some non-charity ones. Podcasts can help you discover new topics or trends, get away from your desk and are a multitasker’s dream -  you can cook, file or even run at the same time as listening. So what are you waiting for?


2020 Career Aspiration: *I will consider the benefits of digital learning and have fun selecting the right podcast for me*

It’s been an absolute pleasure writing for Harris Hill this year and I hope my articles have helped and inspired you in some way.  

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and successful 2020 and all the best for the festive season.

Nicola x  

Contact Nicola, check out her snazzy website, or follow her on Twitter

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