What 2019 has taught me

Jo Hooper

Well. What a year that was. 


I started it as an established Head of Communications, the culmination of 10+ years working my way up through the comms industry, and I’ve ended it as a Company Director. As a Company of One.

It’s been quite the rollercoaster, but by gum does it feel like a pivotal year. So I thought it would be a good exercise to spend some time reflecting on what I’ve learned this year. About myself, about this new world I’ve catapulted myself into and about what I’ll carry with me into a new decade.

What has it taught me about me

God, it feels like I’ve learned a lot about myself this year.

I’ve learned how to work outside of the bounds of the traditional 9-5 – and that I have VERY strong feelings about this antiquated way of working! 

I’ve figured out that my most productive hours are between 12 – 5pm and that I need a slow morning to get my brain going. I’ve realised that having to get in town for an early meeting stresses me out and that intensive workshops are only possible once or twice a week.

I’ve learned that I can do things I never thought I could. And actually enjoy them! I’ve spoken at some pretty big events; developed training programmes; challenged business owners and launched a ruddy podcast – loving all of it along the way.

This year has taught me that I CAN DO THIS. I can work for myself, doing things that actually, genuinely make a difference and pay myself. And enjoy what I do

Despite the emotional, confidence and sleep rollercoaster that comes with starting your own business, I’m ending this year feeling pretty proud of myself. 

What has it taught me about mental health at work


It’s taught me that there are lots of good companies out there who want to support their people’s mental health, but just aren’t sure how. 

That there are leaders and managers trying their best, but just aren’t quite sure what their role is in all of this and how to fulfill it.

I’ve learned that with some pretty simple steps – that often come out of tough conversations! – companies, leaders can give their manager the support they need to run a mentally healthy workplace.

I’ve learned that we’re at the start of something – the start of facing up to our responsibilities as employers, managers, colleagues when it comes to mental health at work. At the start of figuring out how we can support people, what impact that can have on our businesses, what is sustainable and what we might need to tweak about the way we run our businesses.

I’ve learned that so many people have felt like I’ve felt. So many people have careered into Christmas, or a holiday, or a long weekend thinking ‘this’ll straighten me out.’ ‘I’ll feel better after this break.’ And often it doesn’t straighten us out, we don’t feel better.

I’ve realised that sometimes we fundamentally need to reset our boundaries with work. Change the way we relate to work and behave at work. And I’ve learned that a lot of this is in our control. 

I’ll be focusing on sharing this in January. Through my Compass group mentoring I’ll be helping people figure out which work boundaries are wonky, which are in their control to change and walking them through how to make an action plan to change things up.

What has it taught me about next year

I’ve learned that I want to have both deep and wide impact with my work. I feel like I can have a wide impact working with businesses – so for example, by helping a company develop a human-centred approach to supporting people’s mental health, putting some guidelines and structures in place can impact lots of people in that company.

But I can have a deep impact working 121 with people. Through my Inhale and Breathing Space mentoring, I can help people unpick how they can better manage their mental health at work and come up with an action plan. That can have a really big positive impact on them and makes me feel bloody fantastic that I can use my experience and learning to help them.

So, I’ll be continuing my work with businesses, but doing more work one on one with people.

I’ve learned that I want to learn more. So I’m  part way through a Level 3 certificate in Understanding Mental Health Care, which I’m aiming to complete in the next few months. I’ve also learned that it is HARD to find ways to learn about mental health that aren’t purely for statutory health professionals!

It’s been a big old year. I’ve left a profession I spent more than a decade in. I’ve established a business, taught myself skills, pushed myself in directions I never thought I’d be in. 

And for all the stresses, it’s been brilliant. 

I feel like I’m doing something I actually care about. That allows me to care about other people. That lets me flex muscles that weren’t always welcomed in corporate life (ahem assertiveness!).

And I’ve met so many wonderful, supportive, encouraging, open hearted and minded people along the way. The entrepreneur world is full of them. 

I started the year in a very different place to where I’ve ended it, but it’s been a great ride and I’m genuinely excited for what comes next.

Leave a Reply