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As the New Year begins, many of us will carve out some time to reflect on the previous 12 months while looking forward to what we’d like to happen in the year ahead.

I was fortunate to have my first work meeting in 2024 with my long-term supervisor and mentor, Dr. Michelle Cree, Consultant Clinical Psychologist. I mentioned that I wanted to look back as well as forward, and – after quickly reading a Harvard Business Review article – I was inspired to think about some of the questions around what I had learned, what had helped me be my best, and what I felt most proud of…

 What Michelle picked up on was my desire to review the year because I am aware I have a tendency to minimise and discount or actually just forget what I have done.

In the midst of the busyness of life as a working mother of three young children, in which I have prioritised their needs over my career, it’s easy for me to land on the things I haven’t done, and wanted to do, and inadvertently diminish what I have managed to achieve.

I know I am not alone in this. Sometimes, I can simply forget what I have accomplished because life is so full and busy with what I need to do now – juggling the demands of the kids, emails and day-to-day work.

While talking to Michelle, and reminding myself of some of the work I did in 2023, the theme of connecting with people stood out prominently – those are the moments that bring me joy.

When I found myself out of my comfort zone with a particular task, I reached out to my colleague Diana Hogbin-Mills, and collaborating with her brought a sense of ease and allowed me to be a better version of myself.

Ashleigh and Diane

Similarly, when I was asked to provide bespoke compassion-focused training for speech and language therapists, I called on a colleague who had personal experience with it. This added depth and meaning to our work, and Jack was an excellent co-trainer.

Teaching the open-minded psychiatrists in Bradford, who embraced creativity and mindfulness with the playdough I brought along, was a delightful experience. It felt great to reconnect with NHS colleagues. After numerous online Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) introductions with the wonderful Tobyn Bell, we finally had an in-person session in Manchester in June, and even had the opportunity to enjoy a meal with the participants.

I’ve made a conscious effort to say yes to opportunities that might push me out of my comfort zone, but I’ve chosen those offers from individuals I genuinely enjoy working with. Listening to the part of me that craves connection makes it feel right to say yes. Conversely, I have also learned to say no to work that I know won’t ignite that spark of joy. Life is short, and none of us can predict what the future holds.  

 I have numerous ideas for where Indigo could go in 2024. One of the most exciting and, I believe, rewarding chapters will involve Diane, John and Emma, as we combine our skills and experience to bring a fresh, connected, and hopefully joyous approach to working with complex systems and today’s and tomorrow’s leaders.

We’re nurturing and strengthening our connection with each other so that we can focus on the sparks that drive positive change and make it enduring.