2017, the year of silver linings
I've just re-read my post from last year in which I wrote my first ever "year in review" piece. It was both cathartic writing it at the time and reading it back again just now. I can see how much has changed since then and how I did actually take forward the lessons I learnt, putting them into action. Maybe the act of writing down what I learnt, acknowledging what I'd achieved and what I would like to explore in the new year helped solidify in my mind a way of being for the year ahead. Whatever happened, I certainly learnt to say both yes and no a bit more to create a year of highlights, healthy decisions, resilience and learning. That's not to say the year was easy. In fact, far from it. 2017 has been a very tough year, with way too much heavy stuff than is healthy for one person to cope with, but in all those dark moments, truly great things appeared on the other side, making it a year of nothing but silver linings.
A new and healthy way of working
At the end of 2016 I was exhausted from overworking because I simply wasn't used to being a full time business owner and did not know when to stop. It made me unhappy. So, I changed things up, gave myself a routine, including a start time, break for lunch, a clocking off time and a 1 hour daily walk. The evenings were free to do as I pleased and worked banned at the weekends. I turned social media notifications off, set myself weekly and monthly goals and broke those down into bite size chunks.
The silver lining: By not overworking and being distracted by notifications on my phone, I actually got more done because I had the energy and space to concentrate and work efficiently.
What I would like to change for 2018: Give myself annual leave. I only took 4 days off this year, which meant I arrived into the festive season exhausted (despite my routine) and having no choice but to stop for a week and a half. This year, I'm going to give myself a normal allowance of annual leave, like in any job and ensure I take it.
Learning and expanding my skill range
I really got the urge to learn and push myself this year. It was both a form of distraction from background A grade negative shizzle and the determination to expand my product range and see my ideas come to life. So, I finally subscribed to Photoshop and slowly but surely (thank you YouTube) I started to teach myself how to create simple graphics.
My first project, and one that really kick started my learning curve, was a graphic for my first ever Instagram challenge, #ColourMyEveryDay. It took me hours and hours, a lot of swearing, possibly a few tears but after a few weeks and several YouTube tutorials later, I put a graphic, advertising the challenge, out into the world (and promptly hid behind the sofa). Much to my surprise, people got excited and started to join in! This gave me such a boost that I was determined to push myself further and so, I created my first ever enamel pin. After 9 months of continued learning I have now created more pins (new one on the way!), designed product cards, run a follow up Instagram challenge that got featured in Mollie Makes and created a whole range of new products from coasters to key rings, cufflinks, necklaces and I'm now in the process of creating a stationery range, which is very exciting!
The silver lining: Despite those days when I thought Photoshop was against me and that I would never learn how to use it, the struggle was worth it; I know so much more than the start of the year and seeing all I have created as a result of it truly blows my mind. I know I have so much more to learn but I'm less scared of giving it a go now.
What I would like to change for 2018: Go on more courses because I find it so much easier being shown by an expert and to simply keep learning and never stop because you never know where it might lead!
If you've ever moved to a place knowing hardly a soul, you'll understand when I say it's hard making new friends. It can be utterly nerve-racking walking into a room full of strangers or driving off to meet someone you only ever talked to online but it's great feeling when you do manage it, especially when a friendship blossoms.
This year I met more new people on my own, without anyone by my side than I have since I went to university nearly 20 years ago. That's a huge step for me and some of those people have gone on to become the most wonderful, true friends.
The silver lining: As scary as it was meeting new people, I have not only made friends as a result of being brave but it has given me the confidence to do other things I wouldn't dared of doing previously.
What I would like to change for 2018: Go to more events, join more groups and stop worrying and losing sleep over those people who don't want to be friends. Hold on to those that do because there are those that do and remember that true, true friends don't ever leave your side and that friendship (and any form of relationship) is a two-way thing.
Saying yes and saying no
By saying yes and no a bit more, bad situations turned themselves around. This year I lost some regularly paid freelance writing and photography work because the budget was cut. Completely gutted and utterly panicked at the loss of income, I was suddenly in a position and free to say yes to opportunities. This lead to working on a freelance copywriting project that I enjoyed so much and working for someone who is an absolute dream to work for that it didn't feel like work!
My inbox became rather overwhelmed this year with requests for writing work that "would look good on my cv" i.e. no pay or sponsored posts in exchange for products and not money. I decided to turn each and everyone of these down, despite the above, because, like all of us (even those sending the emails), I have bills to pay. I cannot live off a free pair of socks, unfortunately ;) Slightly scared that I was shooting myself in the sockless foot, companies that had ethical values did come along and they did want to pay me for my time. They in turn got my full, undivided attention and were so happy with my work that they'd like to work me again, yay!
The silver lining: saying yes and no can be very hard but being brave and doing so can lead to much better opportunities.
What I would like to change for 2018: being braver and putting my work and skills out there, contacting companies and making sure my website shows exactly what I can do.
A new way of being
By having a healthier working day routine, starting to expand my skill range, being brave and meeting new people, and saying yes and no a bit more, without realising it I have given myself a much needed confidence boost this year.
The silver lining: I think it's also safe to say that the negative background personal shizzle I've also been working through actually resulted in me distracting myself with so much creativity that it has now become a positive way of life (blog post on that topic coming soon!), which is a huge and wonderful silver lining!
What I would like to change for 2018: to not forget my other passions of reading, swimming and travelling; I feel these have been left by the wayside this year and I'd like for them to appear a bit more.
I could say so much more about this year, the places I went, the things I created, the features, the people I met but I think I'll leave it there, some memories are good to keep to yourself or to reminisce with those who were there. Safe to say, I feel like I'm truly bouncing into 2018 with open arms having both discarded for good the negative shackles and celebrated the positive moments. Come on 2018, let's be having you!