In my day job with Aspira, we are all about milestones – key deadlines in a project which we aim to hit and we measure our progress by tracking against these milestones.
But as I sat, proudly observing my son’s class graduate, I started thinking about a different set of milestones. His first day at school, where we were trying to convince him he was lucky to be sitting at the green table (as that was the very best table in the class!). His first day at secondary school, carrying a school bag on his back that seemed to weigh twice as much as he did at the time. His transition year, where he got to spend some time gaining work experience with IBM, the Musgrave Group and FDC Accountants – and that after only one day of work experience, he lectured me that Agile was the future of Project Management.
Then came the anguish of choosing which college courses he wanted to apply for, sitting the Leaving Cert exam, waiting for his results. I was in the USA working with one of our key clients when he got his exam results – thankfully he got his first choice College course which was to study Mathematical Science in University College Cork. His first public speaking came when he was asked to address the following year of his school’s graduation – another proud moment.
The past two years since the pandemic hit have been a blur – his lectures immediately switched to 100% online, studying from home, completing final exams from home. All these milestones led to this major milestone in life – that of college graduation. This milestone feels like it marks a significant chapter in the life of our family and the gateway to another – moving from education into the professional workplace where he has started his job as a graduate actuary.
And as I sat there, applauding all the graduates, it struck me how important it was that we were all there in person to mark and celebrate this milestone. This was something that could not be replicated on Zoom. All around me were proud family members, all basking in the reflected glory of the graduates’ achievements. And it really felt special – we took photos, we caught up with some of our son’s classmates, some of his old school friends showed up to say hi, and we got to properly celebrate the fact that this day marked a major achievement and milestone.
And now, I’m back at work, and I’m comparing graduation with how we celebrate milestones at work. In the workplace, as soon as we hit a deadline or reach a milestone, we have already begun to think about the next milestone, to worry about the next challenge, to figure out how we can overcome the next obstacle.
So I have made a resolution for the coming year – the next time we hit a major project milestone, I will encourage people to metaphorically throw their caps into the air, recognize their achievements, and take a moment to enjoy the victory. There will always be another milestone – let’s take the time to celebrate them.
Gillian Whelan is Head of Training and Account Management at Aspira. With a background in project and program delivery, and learning and development, across a wide variety of industries, she
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