2011: Year of the Unstuck | Year In Review

Now that 2010 is coming to a close, you’re probably coming across a lot of material over the Internet and elsewhere touting New Year’s resolutions and goal-setting (or better yet, goal-achieving.)

That’s great and all. But quite honestly — as I reflect over the past year and all the things I managed to accomplish in the last three hundred and sixty-something days — I personally think I’d find relief in reading a piece that encourages me to do more along the lines of “slow down,” “take the easy road,” “stop dreaming so much.”

The reality is that living out your dreams takes a lot of work. (Who knew!?) Those who put in the muscle are the ones who reach, if not exceed, their goals. And that’s the type of work ethic that I have chosen to embrace. (What was I thinking?)

Seriously. This, indeed, has been an eventful year. And although I tend to think of my personal and professional life as one in the same, I will say for the purposes of this blog that this has probably been one of the most fulfilling years when it comes to my career pursuits.

By no means have I reached success nirvana, per say. But I’ve certainly tackled a lot on the proverbial bucket list and on track to achieve some other important goals in the new year.

I’m even more happy to say that I sidelined some potentially self-defeating thoughts along the way, simply by storming through crippling doubts (which, of course, are really lies disguised as truth).

In the end, I’ve found that hard work really does pay off.


I had a chance to meet and interview some great people, including Dee Dee Myers, the first female White House Press Secretary and a handful of career experts, including one offering tips on how to use social media successfully in a career change.

I also followed through on my promise last year to offer more guest posts, including one from a friend who found success and a new job through Linked In. Other guest writers offered insight on what to do when you find yourself out of a job for longer than expected ;  and breaking the glass ceiling in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

In addition, I served on the board of the Alliance for Women in Media National Capital Area Chapter as Career Development Chair starting in the fall, and will continue to do so in the new year. I had a chance to help kick off our new term by landing some great guests — the authors of the book Little Black Book of Success: Leadership Laws for Black Women.

What’s more, earlier in the fall I spoke to a small group of Washington, DC area professionals about personal branding. That was pretty cool, and something I hope to do more of in the future. And I was awarded the 2010 Apex Society Power 30 Under 30 Award.

If that’s not enough, 

I also rebranded my consulting practice, Write House LLC, which I launched in 2008 to offer writing coaching, branding services and marketing help to busy professionals and businesses. And I took my first graduate course at Johns Hopkins University.

What about you?

Enough about me.

As you close out the year and look ahead to 2011, what would you like to achieve?

Do you need to reassess your goals? Restore your faith? Or forge full speed ahead?

Whatever you do, I would like for you to keep the following in mind. And it’s the same advice I offered in last year’s New Year’s post, which you can read in its entirety here.

Get hope. Be hopeful. No matter how you say it, the message is the same.

Don’t let a crummy job market, or insensitive boss, or the responsibilities of a kid and a house, or those pestering haters stop you from going after what you’re most passionate about.

And I’m not alone in this mindset.

I interviewed a Washington, DC based wardrobe stylist, Victor Price of V’Mage Concept, who recently shared about the odds he went up against to launch his business in the Nation’s Capitol. Were there haters? Absolutely. Some folks just couldn’t get behind his vision and provide him the support he needed, he said. Luckily for him, he eventually gleaned the support of a band of like-minded visionaries not just in DC, but in Miami, in the Northeast and abroad. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about him in the future.

Like Price, and others like him such as music artist Dionne who left a secure nonprofit job to launch a singing career, you’ve got to push past negativity to claim what’s already yours, to claim the life that represents an authentic you even if it doesn’t make sense to others.

A great quote by Anatole France, a French poet and journalist, says “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”

Action, he says, must accompany belief. I would add that you must have faith in yourself — and that’s a message that I’m not ashamed to preach all day long here on The Career Pioneer.

If you know me well enough, you know that I absolutely deplore when people say they are going to pursue something — a career, a project, whatever — and they don’t follow through. (I also hate it when I don’t follow through, but it happens when I put too much on my plate.) It maddens me when someone wastes their talent and time.

By their inaction, I see a lack of faith. They may not see it, but it’s clear as day to me. Their inaction says they don’t feel worthy enough to claim their dreams. Or they feel they are incapable of realizing their goals. Or they fear the unknown. Possibly, they’re grappling with all of the above.

That said, I’d like to encourage you (as I look in the mirror) to avoid hesitation. Act on your ideas. Harness your creativity when it is fresh as you’ll certainly lose motivation as time wanes.

If you can’t act on it right away, jot it down on a sheet of paper or on your hand, for goodness sake. And make sure you revisit that thought. Don’t rely on your memory to remind you of what you thought about earlier in the year or even earlier that day. Trust me, your memory will fail you as your mind is deluged with thoughts on your ever-growing to-do list.

Why am I making such a big fuss about your thoughts?

Those little thoughts? They are actually bursts of inspiration and ingenious moments that you should not take for granted. I’m sure you’ve lied awake in the bed at night thinking about something.

Instead of turning that thought over and over in your head or trying to push it out, you should instead hop out of the bed and write your idea(s) on paper. When you wake up it’ll be waiting for you. Those are the types of thoughts that you should eventually act on, especially if they are reoccurring.

What does all of the above rambling have to do with getting unstuck in the new year?

First, by reassessing what you have accomplished in the last year (similar to what I did earlier in the post) you’ll have a better handle of what you need to do to achieve your goals in the new year. Plus, it’s inspiring to look back and see what you were able to accomplish in 365 days on earth. If anything, you lived. You survived. Hey, that’s an accomplishment.

I heard on the news today that a guy got shot trying to rob a donut shop. Wanna know why? Cause he pursued the wrong career path. (May his family find peace.) That’s an extreme example, but you can see how failing to pursue the right career for you (and I would argue that robbery is not the right career for anyone) is a matter of life and death, people.

Secondly, being hopeful while pushing through the negativity, much like Price had, is a much more powerful lens in which to work. Avoid the ride of self-pity. Feeling sorry for yourself is actually a slippery slope to depression and is simply unproductive.

And lastly, acting on your gut instincts — rather than resting on reasoning and processes — will propel you into action. What’s most important in the birthing stages of great ideas is to take some form of action. You can work out the kinks later. Better yet, you may even be able to hire someone to work out those kinks on your behalf.

Graveyard of ideas

Have you heard the saying about where to find some of the most innovative ideas? Turns out, that that place is a graveyard. For too many people failed to take action and died without ever harnessing one of their most greatest assets — the mind, creativity. 

They failed to take action until the light at the end of the tunnel grew dim, then lights out. (Sorry. That was a little depressing, wasn’t it?)

All of these laws, if you will, will put you in a better frame of mind and heart to get you unstuck in the new year.

I know for me, I get stuck when I think too much. And sometimes I get stuck when I read too much (I like to read a lot of business and how-to materials before entering into a new project, which isn’t such a bad idea until you, like me, reach a state of analysis paralysis).

I’ve found what gets me unstuck is to take that knowledge, and just climb out on a limb and see what happens. 

Once I take that first step, it’s as if my mind opens up along with a world of new opportunities.

In summary, as I look back over the past year, I’m pretty humbled by what went down. And I thank God for seeing me through another year. Sure, I could’ve done more. There’s always more to do. But for now, I’m reveling in having accomplished an entire year of getting unstuck. And 2011 promises to bring more of the same.

What steps will you take in the new year?



  • Pingback: My Declaration of Indepedence | Year in Review

  • http://www.bellaartes.org/heartcanvas Monique McDowell

    Emily, thank you so much for being so insightful in your own life and having the ability to communicate in a way to help others do the same in theirs. I love the ‘year of unstuck’. Maybe God has been helping a lot of us pull free from negative thoughts, inaction and self doubt at the same time. I know God has been revealing Jeremiah 29:11 to me in my life everyday. Every time this year where I doubted whether or not God had plans to prosper me or to harm me, God revealed himself to be faithful and true in my life. Reading your review of 2010 and advice for 2011 has given me more desire to make sure I close out this year by revealing all of the wonderful things God has done for me this year despite all of my insecurities, where I closed my mind to negative thoughts and just got up an moved into action. I’ll make sure to keep that tablet & pen next to my bed at night. Thank you!

    With love & at peace,

    Monique M. McDowell
    Heart Canvas Blogger

    • http://www.thecareerpioneer.com Emily Brown

      @ Monique ~ All I can say is ‘wow’! Thanks so much for sharing. It’s good to know we’re not in this journey alone. I’m always in your corner, and have seen you do great things already.
      Know that I am wishing you continued success and to more great things happening for you — both professional and personal — in the new year!
      “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29: 11 NIV

  • http://www.TrackAhead.com Pamme Boutselis

    Excellent post, Emily! I wish you much joy and success in 2011! Thank you for your continued support and contributions as well to TrackAhead.com!

    • http://www.thecareerpioneer.com Emily Brown

      @ Pamme ~ Thank YOU! TrackAhead.com is such a great resource for job seekers and college students. Quite honestly, I’m proud and feel very privileged to be part of the community! Hope you achieve even more success in the new year!