The HR Juggler

Posts Tagged ‘Advent Calendar


So, the nights are drawing in, Hallowe’en has been and gone, Guy Fawkes Night is upon us and advent calendars are in the shops. That’s right…advent calendars!

I’m ridiculously excited to confirm that I will again be running a daily advent calendar of guest posts on my blog during December, as long as there are enough people who are willing to contribute. If you would like to have a flavour of how it works, you can have a quick peek at the 2011 series here.

There aren’t very many rules to this at all, but the basics are as follows –

  • It’s truly crowd-sourced and open to anyone who wants to be a part of it. You don’t need to be an experienced blogger at all – some of the best posts from last year were from people who had never written a blog post before and contributors ranged from friends to family members, to virtual strangers
  • Don’t wait for me to approach you to ask you to write a post, as I won’t be asking anyone directly – please just leave a comment below, contact me via Twitter (@AlisonChisnell) or drop me an email if you’d like to take part
  • The theme for this year is 2012: Reflections and Resolutions – interpret it as you wish!
  • I post the guest blogs daily during December pretty much in the order that they are received…the first few days are usually a bit nerve-wracking, relying on faith, trust and pixie dust that the posts will flow in…so the sooner you can get them to me, the better for my blood pressure 😉

So, that’s it! I’m delighted to have received quite a lot of expressions of interest already via Twitter from people who are keen to take part and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all of these and many more materialise, so that we can jointly create a fantastic series.

Are you up for it? I do hope so. Go on…make my day!

So, last month last year, I ran a series of guest posts on the theme of 2011 Highlights and Horrors, which formed an Advent Calendar of blogs. A New Year should undoubtedly be more about looking forward, rather than harking back to what has been…and yet there have been many powerful points of learning for me in the experience of facilitating this experiment, that will influence how I move forward in 2012.

These then are my learnings and my own inspirations from your fantastic contribution of blogs:

Experimentation can result in amazing and unforseen consequences. Approaching tasks differently is immensely powerful and is something I want to do a lot more of, not only in blogging, but also in professional and personal spheres. Making suggestions without fear of failure, trying new ideas without concern for what might go wrong and giving the benefit of the doubt to the best possible outcome can undoubtedly transform everyday thinking and decision processes. That the entire advent calendar series evolved from a single tweet in (very!) late November, asking if anyone would be willing to contribute a guest post, is testament to the power of Twitter and also the wonderful creative force that collaboration can bring.

Openess leads to opportunity. With only a handful of exceptions, I did not ask anyone directly to contribute a guest post; it was truly crowd-sourced and available to anyone who wished to participate. Whilst it felt daunting in the very early days of December to have only a day or two of posts in advance, it undoubtedly led to a richer and more diverse end result. Some of the people who contributed were new connections who I came to know as a result of the experiment; others, like my sister-in-law, I have known for many years.

Collaboration. Asking people for help and inviting them to contribute is a powerful action. Allowing and enabling them to be a part of and influence the end result, undoubtedly enhanced the overall achievement. Together, we become more than the sum of our parts and I’d definitely like to do more of this type of collaboration not only on the blog, but also at work and at home, where asking for help can seem more problematic and difficult…perhaps I am simply more set in my ways in those contexts…;)

Consistency of delivery. It was a great feeling as the month progressed that people started to share links to posts before I had tweeted them. It was very important to me that the posts were similar to an advent calendar, in that they were available to consume and enjoy from early morning onwards. And, now that I have found the scheduling button on my blog, I shall be using it more frequently…which can only be a good thing for ongoing quality control :).

The guest posts themselves were varied, diverse and I genuinely enjoyed reading and publishing every single one of them. I am particularly proud that over a quarter of the posts were written by individuals who had never blogged before and felt inspired to share their highs and lows of 2011. To me, that made the experiment extra special and worthwhile.

In terms of the measurables, my blog had its busiest month ever in December, with 3,962 views, more than double my previous monthly record. Below are the ten most read posts of the month, as of 30th December 2011 – impressive again how many new bloggers are in this list.

Title Views
Day 12: Reflections of an HRD More stats 290
Day 13: An Emotional Rollercoaster More stats 192
Day 15: Failure, Courage and Happy Endings More stats 168
Day 21: A Christmas Carol Concert More stats 165
Day 8: Merry Christmas…A Hindu Perspective More stats 140
Day 6: Sinead Carville’s Highlights and Horrors of 2011 More stats 123
Day 10: All Change Please More stats 122
Day 19: It’s Not About The Money, Money, Money… More stats 119
2011 Highlights and Horrors: Guest Post from Kate Griffiths-Lambeth More stats 118
Day 7: Hopes and Fears More stats 104
Day 14: Breakthrough More stats 104

Hosting so many wonderful guest posts has inspired me to keep writing…not necessarily more frequently (daily posting is hard work!) but to grow this blog in terms of high-quality, thought-provoking posts. At the end of 2010, I resolved to blog more and better…I suspect that 2012 may be the year of blogging slightly less and yet better still…continuous improvement is certainly my aim ;).

I have had a huge amount of positive feedback on the Advent blogs, which I have appreciated hugely. Thanks so much for your part in making it a success!

I am truly delighted and quite happily overwhelmed with the response to this Advent Calendar blogging experiment…when I initally suggested it, I had no idea that it would capture so many people’s imaginations and create so many fantastic posts from such a wide variety of people. Many of the guest bloggers are people who have become friends on Twitter and some others I have known far less well before their offer of writing a post. Today’s post though, is from someone very special who is part of my family – my sister-in-law, Liz. I am very proud and genuinely touched that she has taken the time to write a blog post for me…and an excellent one it is too :).


This time of year brings mixed feelings for me.  As an accountant, when December starts and the decorations start going up, I have an impending feeling of dread.  Both 31 December and 31 January are huge deadlines in the accounting calendar, and the start of Advent always brings on a bit of a panic attack when I realise just how much there is to be done.

And of course, there are the other things which we have to find time for at this time of year.   Writing cards, putting up decorations, attending school plays, and of course Christmas shopping, all come within the ‘Mummy’ remit.  So December for me usually means stress and anxiety, at least until Christmas Day itself, when I finally allow myself to relax.

This year is slightly different though.  A number of things which have happened in 2011 have made me reflect on my life and my career, so I am in a rather more thoughtful mood than you would normally find me in at this time of year.  The main trigger for all of this reflection and ‘navel gazing’ is the sudden realisation that I am getting, well if not old, at least middle aged.

The festive season also marks my birthday, and this year it is a significant one.  I have drifted through my 20s and 30s without thinking too much about my age, but now I am uncomfortably aware of getting older.  The other major change this year has been my son starting at secondary school, which marks a new phase in all our lives as he and my daughter both get older and the household dynamics change.

All of this has made me stop and think about the direction my life is taking.  This has resulted in a change in my working hours which is allowing me more time with the children in the evenings, but making better use of the time when they are at school.  It has also resulted in re-examining my duties at work so that I can delegate more and make better use of my time and my skills.  Delegation is something that I am traditionally quite terrible at, but I am forcing myself to do it.  Hopefully the new year will bring more progress on this, but I am very aware that it will only happen if I make it.

So all in all, I think that 2011 has been a good year for me.  As my 30s draw to a close, I am pleased with what I have achieved so far, proud of my children, and looking forward to helping to drive my business forward in the future.

But enough of this self-indulgence, do you know how many tax returns I still have to do?!

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