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Stop Measuring Success By What You Do. Who You Become is More Important.

I’m ditching conventional resolutions.

Instead, I’m dedicating myself to making choices that align with my values in every situation, because success isn’t about what we do, but who we become.

Read on for my 2023 reflection and a different kind of New Year’s journey.

Doodle notebook with "New Year's Resolutions" written across the top. The first item on the list below the title reads, "Quit making new year's resolutions."

I started last year ready to build, and I had SMART goals to guide me.

COVID was “over.” I knew when to detox from the daily news that drained me, and I learned to make better choices in how I mix my time as a parent and a consultant.

A brand. New collaborators. A blog. Let’s go!

But, big changes and new challenges loomed — the first of which landed in my inbox just before the 2022 Christmas holiday.


“We’ll be moving to Montreal and retaking possession of the home,” the note said.

It landed in my inbox just before 7pm two weeks before Christmas. The owners of the house we rented made plans to return to Montreal full-time and wanted to live in their home. We had 6 months to relocate.

At first, six months seemed like a long time. But the task of finding a new home in a challenging market and on a ticking clock chipped away at my confidence.

We persisted, searching Centris daily and enduring weekly open houses of nearly million dollar properties, many of which needed work. Some with large gaps where the floorboards should meet the walls. Others with renovations that hadn’t been approved by the city.

When we did find something we liked, my husband and I, leveraging every dollar we’d earned by trading our time and talent for 20 years, were in competition with 20-somethings who house hunted with parents, grandparents and wallets deep in generational wealth.

When we finally accepted the tough reality that we couldn’t manifest our ideal home on the island, we pivoted. Following the wise counsel of our broker, we broadened our search to the South Shore.

It was a daunting decision but one that led us to a beautiful brick home in Brossard. It was the last (and best) place we visited, and truthfully, our last option. It ended up being everything we needed to weather what was to come.

THE LESSON FOR 2024: Continue to seek good counsel from trusted advisors, stay curious, and pivot with courage. You may discover unanticipated opportunities.


As I shared in a recent Montreal Gazette article, during our exhaustive home search, another challenge emerged — notification that our family could no longer attend English schools.

Screenshot of an opinion article written by Arron Neal for the Montreal Gazette titled, " Opinion: Don't let Quebec's language laws sideline parents."

In Quebec, French is the official language. Children attend school in Frenchuntil they complete their secondary studies. There are some exemptions.

Children living in Quebec temporarily and those whose mother or father completed the majority of their elementary studies in English in Canada can apply for an eligibility certificate that gives them access to English-language schools.

This summer, the rules changed. Our daughter, a Canadian citizen born to American parents, was originally eligible. At the end of her grade one experience in a bilingual school, she would have to be enrolled in a French school.

When the school year ended, we settled into our new place on the South Shore and registered for summer tutoring.

The closer we got to the first day of school, the more we wondered: Would our kids feel alone and out of place? Would their confidence and their grades slip?

We endured an anxiety-filled, rainy start and the usual challenges of the first few weeks of school. When our routine was established, what was at first awkward became familiar.

Report cards and parent-teacher meetings say our kids are doing just fine.

THE LESSON FOR 2024: Keep calm and prepare for change. You can turn anxiety and unpredictability into confidence and new possibilities.

Photo of an opinion article in the print edition of the Montreal Gazette. The article is titled, "Don't let language laws sideline parents."


Just as we found our rhythm in a new home and school, the next bump in the road appeared — teacher strikes.

The kids were back at home and work demands persisted. It felt like COVID all over again but with a side of holiday stress.

We managed it better this time.

Work hours shifted. Calendar blocks included dedicated study time, and email auto responders shared new boundaries.

Kid bedtimes happened later — their mornings did too.

And this time around, we had more space, making it easier to endure a little chaos… to enjoy it, even.

THE LESSON FOR 2024: Reflect on past challenges. They hold incredible value for helping you make better decisions today.


These challenges claimed significant brain space, challenging my professional focus and putting my goals to the test. There were highlights amid the chaos.

I collaborated with colleagues, family and friends on several projects, including a national healthcare conference, a children’s picture book launch, and counsel to communications and marketing teams to help them work better together and connect with donors and the media.

Social media promotional post featuring a photo of communications strategist Arron Neal as facilitator of a storytelling workshop hosted by Employee Ownership Canada.

As I reflect on the lessons from each challenge, what brings me satisfaction is realizing that the resilience and knowledge gained while getting through them also fueled my professional successes.

I’m curious to know what curveballs are coming in 2024.

Whatever their form, I’m confident that my intentions for this year are achievable.

I won’t focus on the conventional “do this, not that” approach to a new year. Instead I’ll stay focused on making choices that align with my most important values guided by lessons from 2023:

1. Be open to change.

Sometimes change comes with a heads up, while other times, we must be prepared to respond in the moment.

2. Build up my team.

Collaboration with advisors, partners, family members, and teammates are indispensable to success.

3. Dedicate time to reflect.

Past experiences can guide our choices today. They support our ability to adapt and take thoughtful action.

4. Stay calm through what may, in the moment, feel like a fire.

It too shall pass.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this story, join my inner circle for future insights on work life, family, strategy and communications.

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