In truth, I was sort of dreading January…
The run up to Christmas was really busy, between juggling freelance work, running my online shop and taking part in various maker’s markets and shows at the weekends. Having left my day job earlier in 2017, this was the first time in just over 8 years that I had a completely different routine at this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, the change has done me THE WORLD of good, but I must admit that I didn’t quite know what day of the week it was most of the time in November and December!
I also think that I didn’t feel quite as festive as usual, probably due to how busy I was. I had a lovely time back home with my family over Christmas, and celebrated a very fun New Year back here in Manchester with friends, but before I knew it the dreaded January had arrived.
The start of the year has been harder over the past few years for my family since we lost my lovely Dad back in 2013. It will be 5 years in February, but it still feels utterly surreal that he isn’t around anymore. So whilst I do have lots of happy sad feelings at this time, a few weeks of looking after each other is definitely in order.
All these feelings aside – I think I’m doing okay! I’m trying my best to embrace the start of the new year, and all the promise and new experiences that come with it. I’m enjoying cosying in with candles and snuggly blankets in the evenings, and getting wrapped up to venture outside on those rare crisp days where the sky is blue.
But January won’t be around for long and I don’t want to waste it this year! So as catkins are already appearing on the trees and spring bulbs are starting to sprout, I’ve decided to list the goals and personal achievements I hope to accomplish this year. I’ve read that if you make your goals public you are a lot more likely to stick to them…so here goes!
I am a MASSIVE worrier and I’ve realised (finally, at the age of 31) that my constant day to day anxieties make things so much more blimmin’ difficult and have been holding me back in a lot of ways. So I’m going to make a conscious effort to think positively and stop believing that every decision I make is going to be the wrong one! From now on I will try to be a ‘glass half full’ sort of person.
I suppose this is a pretty common goal that a lot of people have after an indulgent festive period, but I am definitely feeling (and looking!) rounder than usual of late. I’m never going to be stick thin, and I’m not particularly troubled by that fact – the truth is I just love food too much not to enjoy it! – but I do think I’d benefit from being a little healthier. I was getting pretty bored of cooking the same meals before Christmas, so as of January I’ve set up a Pinterest board where I can add all of the healthy recipes I find. I’m keeping any that are tasty and delete those I’m not as keen on. It’s going well so far, although I am having to ignore the Christmas chocolate and biscuits still left in the kitchen…
Take more photos
I’ve always been into photography – I’m not in the slightest bit techy, but I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and often use them as inspiration to develop my patterns from. But of late I’ve not really been picking up my camera as much as I should. It’s felt like I’ve hit a bit of a stumbling block with it; when I think about it, I think the reason might be that I follow so many amazing feeds on Instagram that I’ve become scared, thinking I’ll never be good enough so what’s the point! But when I flip that around, if I don’t practice and learn I’ll never improve.
I broke the ice and ventured outside with my camera on Saturday for the first time in months! My boyfriend and I visited the lovely Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire and it just so happened that it was a dry day and the sun was hanging low through the trees. The pictures you see in this post are what I captured, and I’m pretty pleased with them for my first attempt for the year! You can follow my photography progress this year over on instagram.
Be more sociable
Although excited to start working for myself last year, one thing I was slightly nervous about was working on my own. I’d always worked in an office full of people, where even if you wanted five minutes of quiet to get on with something it never quite happened. What would it be like to work somewhere quiet all the time? Would I turn into a hermit? Become a recluse? Slowly develop a hunchback and no longer answer the door?
The truth is that the AMAZING online creative community, along with loads of lovely creatives I have met at the fairs and events I’ve had a stall at throughout the year, have helped my confidence grow significantly. Being accepted by this amazing community of makers has been just lovely, so thank you so much to everybody! My aim for this year is to keep building this network of gems so we can all support each other, and hopefully with the amount I have learnt this year I can aim to help support some fellow newbies in the world of self-employment.
Look after myself
Towards the end of last year, I realised that I don’t really look after myself as well as I should. I enjoy looking after other people and think that’s second nature to me, but when it comes to myself I’m quite the opposite. I always look at the bad points in things I’ve done instead of the positive. I’m incredibly self-critical, which while sometimes helpful usually isn’t. And I frequently forget to have ‘me’ time to reflect on, well, anything at all!
“Write a list of all the things you've achieved in the last year, no matter how small. We don't give ourselves enough credit for the little things we succeed at”
I think this would be a really positive exercise for me. In the same way I’m planning my goals for this year, it would be great to get a feel for how I did in the last year and hopefully feel a little better about myself – maybe even give myself a little pat on the back! Or a cake? No, no, not a cake – healthy eating and all that…
Another hugely helpful nugget of advice came from Rebekah Markewich:
“Treat yourself how you would treat your best friend.”
I’ve never considered this before and it has really resonated with me. So I’ve decided that I am going to remember that phrase and give myself a good talking to (and looking after!) whenever I’m being overly hard on myself.
Support small businesses
And finally, I want to continue to support other small businesses in as many ways as I can. Since taking the plunge to working for myself in April last year, I now completely value the difference every single bit of support makes – be it an online sale, a friendly chat at a makers fair, some positive feedback, or just a little supportive tweet when you’re feeling a little flaked. It all helps so much.
I’ve found writing down my goals a really positive exercise and my mind is feeling so much more focused than a couple of weeks back – so if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and not sure where to start with 2018 I’d urge you to give it a go.
So here goes 2018! I’m ready for you 😊