Posted on 30 April 2023

April 2023

A where-did-this-month-go note. With something Iā€™mšŸŽ“ learning and something Iā€™m šŸŽ‰ celebrating.

April has left me with one question. Where did this month go?

I'm sure I wrote my 'Goodbye March' post one or two weeks ago at most. That would explain why I have almost no notes on the whole month! I remember a flurry of challenges and wins, none of them quite big enough to make me pause and think. Or small enough to not feel significant. April rushed past, and in a good way. The opposite way some of the lockdown months felt. A way I sometimes worried I will never feel again. I thought this on days I felt frustrated, cynical, and tired with the state of the world, and the state of work. Instead, last month has felt full of energy, full of movement, full of... well full of what actually? April certainly has not been defined by a lack of challenges. Or by the absence of feeling a tad overwhelmed or outside my comfort zone at times. So where is the difference? There are many answers to this question. Rest, support, experience, gardening, connection, grace. If I had to decide on one key element though, I would say learning. The difference is, I am learning and growing. Both at work and outside work. That's what feels exciting and energising. And what spirals me into despair when it's not present.

One thing I have learnt about myself over the years, is that I am either extremely decisive, or extremely indecisive. Most of the time, I am prone to quick actions and snap decisions, and rarely regret them. As long as they are my own, I will make the best of them. Other times, I deliberate back and forth between options. Often torn between several values I hold dear and which suggest conflicting ways forward. The same applies to deciding if to stay or leave a job. I usually decide in 10 minutes based on a gut feeling. Or I take months and years to try and figure it out. While the obsessive search for an answer makes me miserable. Much to the chagrin of most people around me - I know several people reading this will confirm.

Last time I felt like this, one key advice finally let me disentangle myself. Instead of trying to decide to stay or leave, ask yourself what you want to learn. To give a non-work example, yes, I would have learnt lots moving country another few times. New languages, new flavours, new sounds, and strangers turning into friends. I loved moving. It still had so much to offer, so much learning, so much growth. In the end I knew it's not the kind of thing I wanted to learn at this point. I wanted to learn how to build something, to grow community, to grow a garden, to grow a career. Looking at learning freed me from having to judge one direction as good or bad. They never are. It's experiences meandering and crossing and splitting, all beautiful in their own way. Moving towards what I want to learn is a much more helpful and liberating way to frame a decision point for me.

This got me out of my last job dilemma. And it stuck with me. It worked for staying or leaving relationships, countries, and career decisions. And it helped me to make another work decision recently. Watch this space for an update on this soon!

In the meantime, my biggest April win is not a work one. Uncharacteristically for me. I want to mention it anyway. To pay it back, and forward. I will never forget the impact of knowing there are fellow disabled people in my profession, in exciting and important roles. It's not always visible, especially not recently, but I am disabled. A few years ago, my body became more and more unpredictable and gave up on most of life. This sentence is not a fair representation at all, it was entirely predictable. And I have never felt my body reach for life and breath more than then. I'm just at a loss for how to explain where I was, or what happened since I got a life changing new treatment. Actually I've been looking for words for almost 3 years now. I'm also a designer, and some things are perhaps easier to express without words. Here is a photo of me after completing the Etape Loch Ness, a 100km bike tour around Loch Ness with a big hill in the middle. I did it!

Hello, my name is Ute.

I care deeply about creativity, imagination, collaboration, and inclusive design. I have worked as a designer and researcher for startups, consultancies, charities, healthcare and social care organisations, and governments. Here I think, reflect, learn, and share what I have learnt about understanding humans and designing services over the years.

You can find more of my work at www.uteschauberger.com