Reflections on 2014 – and Hopes for 2015
As I write this, many of us are gearing up for the end of another working year. 2014 is almost finished - and, for many, I think it's been a pivotal one. This year has been a strange one for me - with many highs and a few lows thrown into the mix.
Although I've done a lot of reflecting on the past year privately to myself in the past few weeks, I thought it would be nice to share this with everyone else - and also give you a little insight to the goals that I have set myself for next year.
For the sake of ease, I've split my year into three parts: Work, Life & Learning, as these three parts have each had a significant role to play this year.
At the start of 2014, work was going well. I had a project I was booked up over Christmas until a couple of months into the year. In 2014 though, I worked on three main projects, with a few small projects dotted in between. I still had plenty of quiet times though - and that’s something I want to change for this next year. One larger project is still ongoing, and the other two were finished earlier in the year.
The large projects were great - one was Intelliact’s new website design + build + content management system via Statamic. Another was the branding and design for Nkwashi, a property development in Zambia.
The third - the one that’s still ongoing - is my biggest project to date (in terms of scale and money) that I’ve taken on since working for myself. It’s a massive project, but one that I’m loving so far. It involves everything on a website for a large organisation - from updating their branding, to a brand new design that I will be coding from scratch and then integrating with WordPress. It’s definitely my sweet spot for work and I’m absolutely loving it.
Overall - 2014 has been great for work. If anything, I’d like more work and to have more of it. I’ve done more than well enough to get by with the projects I’ve worked on, but I realised late on this year that I want to niche down a little more. Which leads me nicely on to…
Work in 2015
I’m sure this is a sentiment that many people will understand: when you’re really, really excited about the work that you’re doing, you do much better work.
It sounds so obvious, but I only truly realised this just a few weeks ago. I’ve found that since surrounding myself in the entrepreneurial world earlier in the year, I got so excited and inspired by all of the wonderful people - namely women, due to the audience of the groups I was in - that were projecting their incredible ideas out into the world.
I made the decision that next year, I want to work solely with entrepreneurs. I find this field SO darned exciting and want to feed off the inspiration and excitement I feel when I’m so invested in my clients and their work. I truly believe that niching down in this way will also help me improve my work and my skills.
What’s great about this “niche” is that there will also be a ton of variety. I’m hoping to work with all sorts of entrepreneurs - from coaches to writers to people setting up product-based businesses. I’m totally open to the type of people that I work with - as long as they run their own businesses and it’s more of an entrepreneurial venture.
I’m in the process of setting up work and packages for this type of work - though I’m a strong believer in each project being totally unique, I want to set a base for the type of work I’ll be doing and what’s likely to be involved.
This is such an exciting period for me with work - I’ve grown so much over the past two years that I’ve been in business, but I’m now really excited to specialise in this way.
2014 was a difficult year for me, particularly in the beginning. Many of you - though no doubt not all of you - will know that I have a condition called Hypermobility Syndrome (HMS for short).
In 2013, which was my first full year of freelancing, I went a bit crazy with feeling like I had to be involved with everything and go to as many events as I could. I was away, on average, every 4-6 weeks either visiting a conference or speaking at one. I think I gave around 5 or 6 talks in the one year in the end, plus visited many more.
This would have been okay, except I didn’t want my work to suffer and it meant that once things finally slowed down a little at the beginning of 2014, my body kinda stopped working as well as it should.
My HMS is something that I have to live with, and the condition works in different ways for everyone that has it. For me, triggers for making it worse are when I overwork myself and stress, as well as travelling for long distances. All of the travel I did in 2013 meant that I felt like I just needed to take a step back from it in 2014.
This year I’ve only done two talks at conferences: MKGN All-Dayer and the first Dot York. Both were organised by truly wonderful people and the audiences were brilliant. I had so much fun doing those two talks. :) On top of this, I only went to one or two more conferences during the year - so I cut down a LOT on my travel time.
Surprisingly, this was great - it meant that not only did I have chance to give my body the rest it needed, but I could focus much more on work. And as work got much busier from April and September onwards, it’s been great to really get stuck into my projects. Plus, for the most part, my health has got much better as I learn my limits and work within them.
Putting my health, conferences and speaking aside - my “life” has become steadily better since mid-way through 2014. I’ve become much more grounded, much less self-critical and I’m more confident in my own ideas and work than I ever have been before.
I credit this thanks to the women I’ve been able to surround myself with, particularly in the last three months of 2014. I’ve formed amazing friendships with some incredible women that are full of support and belief, and push me to be the best version of myself that I can - but are there to pick me up when I’m down and need it. I have so much thanks to these ladies - but I’ll be talking more about them a little later. :)
Life in 2015
In the new year, I plan on continuing the good practices I’ve built up in 2014. I’m a big fan of meditation (I find it very calming for my soul) and want to make it a more regular habit in 2015. I also want to - body and health permitting - start doing yoga each morning again, to help me strengthen my joints and improve my health - plus get that bit fitter!
I want to make sure that in 2015 I make time for myself and my personal life. I’ve managed to create a healthier work/life balance over the past 6 months in particular - and long may it continue. And ensuring that I leave enough time to enjoy my life - as well as enjoy life with the people around me - always ends up leaving me more inspired and happy to go back to work afterwards as well. So it’s a win-win. :)
Early in 2014, I wrote about how I wanted to make 2014 my year of learning - and by heck, have I done that! :)
Although I haven’t studied all of the online courses that I listed in my post, I have committed to lots of other courses online over the past year. I’ve seriously invested in myself - both in terms of time and money - and I’m most definitely seeing the difference for doing so.
A few people have asked me throughout the year which courses I’ve committed to, so I thought I would talk briefly about the ones that have made a big difference to my life this year.
Marie Forleo’s B-School
I first became aware of the brilliant Marie Forleo in late 2013 and fast became a fan. Straight-talking, sassy, super-clever - Marie quickly became one of my online idols.
I found Marie when I was going through a rough patch with work and my confidence had dipped drastically - through watching Marie’s videos I started to feel like I could find my feet again.
When enrolment opened for Marie’s B-School - I knew I had to be a part of it. The way that Marie teaches her material in B-School makes it totally unique and fun. This wasn’t a cheap investment, but I learned so much during the couple of months of the live run.
But more than that…joining the B-School community has opened my eyes to a whole new world - that of the online entrepreneur. Mainly made up of women, this community became my go-to place to ask questions and learn from the questions others were asking. I’ve made many friends through B-School and with a community of 13k+ people, it’s easy to get help when you need it.
And if it wasn’t for B-School, I wouldn’t have discovered the following women, groups and courses that have also made such a difference to me this year.
Female Entrepreneurs Association by Carrie Green
After B-School, I was looking for more inspiration and in passing found out about FEA directly through the B-School community. The community at FEA is brilliant - lots of inspiring women in one place. One other thing that attracted me to FEA was that it was quite local - many UK-based entrepreneurs and Carrie Green, the founder, was from Manchester!
That alone was enough to sway me, but the actual value I get out of FEA is quite incredible. Each month there is a bundle available that we get access to - with a theme. This year alone there’s been The Launch Bundle, The Publicity Bundle, and so many more. These are packed full of really insightful tips and guides related to the theme and they’re worth so much more than the $25 a month fee for joining FEA.
On top of this, Carrie also organised a Christmas get-together for members of FEA. I was at the Manchester Christmas Party earlier this week and I can’t stress how inspiring it was to be surrounded by all of these brilliant women - all of us at completely different stages of business, with different levels of experience, different types of business, different ages and so on - but all with the one main aim of furthering our businesses.
The Alchemy Study by Cerries Mooney
I also discovered Cerries Mooney and The Alchemy Study through B-School as well. Cerries has created and designed a wonderful quiz to find out what your primary archetype, which is helpful when working for yourself and learning how to “brand yourself”. I pop those last words in quotes because Cerries has been working hard recently to see how all of our archetypes help us and feed into our work - and how it isn’t necessarily about branding yourself, but instead about working while true to yourself, wholly and completely.
I was one of the first people to join Cerries’ Alchemy Study. What I found from my initial Archetype test was so transformational for me (I’m an Alchemist too - so it fit perfectly) and I learned so much about injecting my own personality into my work through that one test that I jumped at the chance to learn more from Cerries and develop my brand more soulfully and authentically.
The Study itself has been great - I found my secondary archetype was Creator (no surprises there!) and I’ve done many of the other courses that Cerries created. Cerries is so well thought-out and completely from her heart. I learned so much about branding from the heart and being truly authentic to myself in business. On top of that, the community is just wonderful - full of people that want to help each other and offer support and ideas.
The Lifestyle Designers Club (Mastermind + Accountability) by Ruth Ridgeway
I’ve left my favourite until last. :) Ruth is a super multi-talented lady. Originally a photographer I met through B-School (yet again - see how the community there is SO good?) who did my wonderful photos you see dotted throughout this site…Ruth realised she had a bigger calling in this world and wanted to help others design their life. Thus, The Lifestyle Designers Club was born.
I watched Ruth build a new audience from afar - until I saw that she was offering a mastermind group for 6 months. I umm-ed and ahh-ed for a few days while I wondered whether to sign up. In the end, I did - and I’m SO glad that I did. There are several of us in the mastermind and we’ve all become really close - I really believe that having a good support network of good people around you is important, and to have this group of entrepreneurial women around me that just get it has been invaluable.
We’ve still got a few months to go on the Mastermind itself, but it’s become my safe haven - somewhere I can go to ask questions on anything and everything and not worry about being judged or made fun of.
I’ve since signed up for an accountability group with Ruth and my other LDers too, to help keep me accountable each week for the goals I set myself.
In 2015, there’s a lot I want to do. I have SO many ideas (some of which I’ll list below - nothing like public accountability, eh!) but I don’t want to set anything in stone as I know that these will evolve and grow as I do throughout the year.
The Conquer Summit (and Club)
The one main, super important thing that I have signed up for is The Conquer Club. I became a big fan of Natalie MacNeil when I discovered The Conquer Summit, a free event online that ran over 10-weeks. I got so much value out of something that was 100% free and knew that, if I could afford it, I wanted to work with Natalie next year in The Conquer Club.
Well, The Conquer Club enrolment closed just a couple of nights ago and I’m so glad that I was able to sign up. Not only will I get to work with Natalie herself - but the mentors that are signed up that we’ll get to work with throughout the year are nothing short of incredible.
People that I’ve wanted to work with for ages - such as through their own work or courses - are mentors for each month, each with a different theme and aim. On top of that, I signed up for The Conquer Club through Kylie Patchett, a wonderful mindset, money and mojo mentor - and I get access to her MMM Academy too. Kylie is a brilliant lady and I can’t wait to personally work with her too, throughout The Conquer Club.
I am so seriously excited for 2015 because of these two things alone - I know in my heart this is exactly what I need to help me bring my dreams to life and make 2015 my biggest year yet.
My Goals for 2015
I promised that I would share my goals for 2015, and so here are some of them. Some of them seem simple, some are more scary for me. I’m a big believer in pushing yourself to do better - and I’m sure with the support I have around me that I can do all that I need to achieve everything that I’m currently dreaming of.
- Double my income from last year
- Design, build + launch my Online Client Hubs
- Plan and write a series of books based on my speaking topics and fear for creative people
- Plan and create a course on design
- Travel more (not difficult, I suppose!)
- Speak at one conference abroad (outside of the UK)
- …and more that I won’t yet reveal! Can’t give away all my best plans :)
And with that, I’m done. These goals might change, evolve or get removed completely by the end of 2015 - and that’s fine. I’m here to see exactly where the Universe takes me and I’m excited to see what’s in store for me.
Thank you for staying with me this long - I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here’s to an incredible 2015 for each and every one of us. :) xox