What Do I Want for 2022?

December 23, 2021 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: personal development.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want… and it’s not “zig-a-zig-ahhh!”

2021 has not been the best year. In fact, it all felt far less successful than 2020, the year of emerging COVID-19, lockdowns and isolation. Why? That’s for another story, this is not the time to divulge all.

There have been plenty of positives in 2021, it’s just that they’ve all been “small victories” and the bigger, more strategic manoeuvres have yet to be be realised. There were some huge positives on the radar, right at the end of 2020, however the old concept of “managing expectations” was not applied to the promises and so 2021 was totally unfulfilling.

Earn or Learn

Someone posted on LinkedIn that when we’re at work we should either earn or learn. That’s a very black and white way of looking at things however I agree with the sentiment. In fact, I’d go further than that – with all the expenses of twenty first century life and having a voracious appetite for knowledge, I believe we must both earn and learn.

Let’s start with earning.

I do earn a decent wage, it is above average, but then so am I. Of course, you could substitute me with another worker, “benefiting” from a 25% reduction in wages. However, you’d also get a 75% reduction in experience. I’m fully aware that my job description could be achieved by a digital marketer for little more than above the average wage, and expecting 5 years’ experience is quite adequate these days in many businesses. But it misses the point that I have 21 years’ immersion in digital, not just SEO and copywriting, but PPC, social, paid social, web design, web development, project management, domains and hosting, IT support and even a little graphic design to boot.

It doesn’t take a genius to work it out – 25% less pay but 75% less experience – that’s not a good deal.

Now onto the learning.

The value that I add to my role from my experience and insights is invaluable. I’d even go as far as saying it’s hard to put a price on a person like me, it’s unusual to have so many skills.

Of course, some will mock that. Call me a “know-it-all” if you will. That’s playground taunting from the thick kids, bless ’em. However, I’m all for celebrating knowledge, experience and wisdom, you really can’t beat it. I fully understand Henry Ford’s “division of labour” as it brought great efficiency to the mass manufacturing process. But, as the science fiction author Robert Heinlein wrote, and it’s one of the quotes I live by:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialisation is for insects.”

And there you have it – specialisation is for insects. Don’t give me that “Jack of all trades and master of none” spiel either, that’s so clichéd and unsophisticated. Besides, if you subscribe to Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule” then you can work out that five years in a discipline leads to a high level of expertise, so twenty years in digital means I’ve earned expertise in four fields (Or maybe just three and pretty good at a few others, expert at two and pretty good in even more supporting functions… you get the picture, just do the maths.)

Also, if you pay an average wage, you get an average worker to do an average job. If you pay a little more than that, you get a little more. Of course, you might strike it lucky and get a real talent willing to work for a lower wage just to get their foot on the ladder, but if you’re trying to build a business that has value, truly deserves to be “award winning” and is genuinely “a cut above the rest” then paying average to get average is falling short of the mark.

However, whilst I learn “on the job” as a lifelong autodidact, I’ve not made any quantum leaps in learning this year. I did achieve the “SEO badge” on LinkedIn for 10 minutes of my time but I’ve not made massive inroads into learning Python, nor had time to advance my Natural Language Processing, two skills I deem vital to my SEO work.

Sure, I’ve managed to read 28 books this year and smashed by reading goal (It was just 8 books in 2020) but those were all in my spare time, my personal life. This year’s learning included mindfulness, meditation, sleep, thinking, share trading and daily habits. There were also some business tomes in the selection this year, including the audiobook version of Spencer Gallagher’s Agencynomics, a couple of Seth Godin books and the excellent Manifesto from Dale Vince.

Whilst I’ve forced myself into continual personal development in my own time I’ve had zero personal development at work.

Attitude and Ambition

So in 2022 I need to both earn and learn.

I’m poorer than I was three years ago. I sat down one day and calculated all the bonuses and benefits versus all the deficits of my circumstances over the past few years. Again, I won’t go into those now, it is not the right time to reveal all.  But, as you know, the cost of living has risen over the past few years, and for what I earn my purchasing power has been steadily, even heavily eroded and I can now afford less.

It’s not just the rise in gas prices, electricity bills and water rates. Nor is it just the recent rate of  inflation or the change in interest rates. It’s been going on longer than that. I’ve worked it out and I am considerably poorer than I was three years ago.

I don’t have a big house, a nice car or extravagant holidays, far from it; a three-bed semi and a £400 car with no proper holiday in at least four years. The only times I have “gone away” I’ve stayed in a tent!

As for the learning, it’s all been in my own spare time. I’ve been looking after myself but the professional learning has been nothing more than the usual important daily knowledge that all of us digital professionals soak up anyway.

But I’m not complaining. I just expect more next year. That’s my attitude – Expect more. My ambition? More. More, more.

It’s not greedy, nor is it excessive. I know what I’m owed and I need to make up the shortfall that I’ve suffered, that’s only fair. On top of that I need a bonus, a cherry on top and all the trimmings too. It’s not too much to ask, it’s only right that I get what I’m worth and that goes for anybody and everybody.

People who work hard, work smart, have experience, wisdom, insights, knowledge, passion and ambition, should all be paid well. They should also have their appetites for learning fulfilled too.

2022 owes us, it owes us all.

So give, give, give, me more, more, more… (I’d like it all)

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.


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