It has certainly been a whirlwind year, and, for me, one filled with new experiences and learning. Now, as the 2018 calendar draws to a close, we are almost at the time when we can relax for a few days and spend time with loved ones, before coming back refreshed and ready for the challenges ahead.

2019 will be a landmark year for many reasons. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing which, unless you’re one of those conspiracy theorists, was a fantastic achievement by any standard, and the culmination of a mission that was re-energised by John F Kennedy, although he would not live to see the fulfilment of the dream he spoke of.

Although our organisation does not take part in extra-terrestrial travel (it’s not rocket science), at times our endeavours can seem like going to the moon for the first time – constantly moving towards the unknown with our best laid plans, competing with forces that we can’t control, continually adjusting our approach to ensure success and, once we get to our destination, finding out that we’ve got even more to learn than we’d thought but, ultimately, that we are in a stronger position than we were before.

I love JFK’s ‘moon speeches’, so I have adapted one of them to fit our organisation; mainly because I think it relates quite well to the challenges we will face in 2019, but also because it’s much better than anything I could come up with myself:

We meet today with people noted for their knowledge, in teams noted for their experience, in an organisation noted for its desire to succeed. And next year we will need all three. For we meet at a time of change, in a year of challenge, in an age of both knowledge and development. The more our knowledge increases, the greater our development needs become.

This year in particular, we’ve encountered change at a breath-taking pace, so it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are – to rest, to wait. But these teams and this organisation, Professional Assessment, were not created by those who waited and rested and looked behind them. This organisation was created by those who move forward and tackle things head on – and so it will be again next year.

William Bradford said that all great actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be overcome with courage. We choose to do what we do, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard; because our goals will force us to use the best of our efforts and skills, and because the challenge is one that we are willing to accept.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new challenges to overcome, and they must be overcome for success of our organisation and the sectors it serves.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why he wanted to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.”

Well, the challenges we face are there, and we’re going to climb them. And, therefore, we will set sail in January on another year in one of the fastest changing sectors there is, in order to improve the lives of the individuals we serve and the industries we love.