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Answering the annual update – personal + professional

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There was a time when Christmas cards stuffed with hand-written letters and photos would be dutifully mailed off annually to near and dear. These were replaced by an email with a carefully crafted newsletter attachment. You know what I’m talking about – a couple of pages chock full of photos, a bit of bragging about accomplishments, glossing over tragedies, making recipients just a wee bit green with jealousy?

However when you live the other side of the globe from where you grew up, these updates fill more than a few gaps. For example, my spunky and precocious niece turns nine tomorrow – for her entire life she knows only that she has a ‘crazy aunt Carissa’ living in India who pops ‘home’ for a visit every year or so. Not once have we lived in the same place. Let’s just say – I miss a lot! Which makes my sister’s ‘Holiday Missive’ all the more precious.

While working a regular job, I used to send out the official company colourful season’s greetings – either Diwali or New Years. Then painstakingly go through bounce-backs to see who has moved on to other opportunities. Those I wanted to keep in touch with – would see if they are on LinkedIn. Those where the connect was more tenuous, would archive the contact.

Yeah… I used to be super organised.

So when I shifted to independent work, decided an annual mass communication was a good practice to keep.

Except instead of separate professional and personal communications, I blend the two with a chatty re-cap of developments on both fronts, closing with a single pic of my partner and I.

And was amazed at the response!


Folks I knew professionally responded with remarkable stories about their personal passions I never dreamt of… from a polished exterior emerged hidden talents and fascinating activities. In many cases I was humbled by what they were doing in their ‘spare time’ and gained privileged insight into what drives them as human beings.


Friends I knew only on a personal basis shared details of their professional lives about which I was completely clueless! Social chats suddenly had a completely new dimension where we could talk some serious business too. More than one casual conversation turned to a much more meaningful connect.

Powerful package – personal + professional combined 

It is a good reminder that we are a complete package – what defines us are the choices we make on both the personal and professional fronts.

As the responses flood in… I am delighted to read all the updates from so many folks I’ve had the privilege to meet over the years.

Does anyone else do this kind of annual update? If so, what do you find?

Partner + I at one of the many marriages in Mumbai, Dec 2014

This years photo of my partner + I at one of the many Mumbai marriages, Dec 2014

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  1. BerLinda says:

    Really nice idea! I guess I just expect most people to keep up with my news through the blog so I wouldn’t think to do something like that!

  2. Brilliant idea – it just proves that they want to learn about you as a person as much as you wanted to learn about them. Will you do it again for Diwali?

  3. When I first arrived in Taiwan, I sent out piles of Christmas cards, each containing a hand-written letter and some pictures of my adventures. I would receive a few emails back from a select few saying some general things but most of my relatives didn’t respond at all. So, the habit dwindled and now I communicate most of what is going on through social media.

    I am glad to hear the positive response you got from your newsletter. It is amazing what you can learn about people by opening up to them.

    Hope your new year is off to a fantastic start!

    • The art of hand-written Xmas cards is long gone… however there are limits to social media too.

      It really is amazing what you can learn about people by being a bit more open yourself – I love the responses I get!

      Hope your year is off to a fab beginning too!

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