It’s that time of year again where we brush off the old to make way for the new. This past trip around the sun was a huge learning curve for me, both personally and professionally. And since I’m a business owner, the lines between the two tended to blur.
I love setting goals - I just don’t like setting resolutions. Somewhere along the way, in my rigid attempts to define the future, I set boundaries on how and when I’m going to change - forgetting that every year, the days unfold so differently than I plan.
So I’m deeming this the Year of Slow Growth and holding it loosely in case it becomes the year of something else. And here’s how I’ll be practicing slow growth in the studio over the coming months:
Starting the Day with Self-Care
Mornings are my favorite. I tend to feel the most inspired, energized, and optimistic in the early hours. Which is why, in the past, I’ve jumped into my chair, steaming coffee in hand, and worked straight through lunch. As an attempt to ward off impending burnout, I started making slow changes over the last year, but was never able to let go of the guilt that came from keeping my best hours to myself.
This year, I want to continue the practice of filling up my mind and soul before I start my day. I’ve seen how depleted I become when I forget to do this. According to Psychology Today, a self-care practice is the most effective medicine for stress and anxiety - hence, the antidote for burnout.
However, self-care does not look the same for every person. The purpose, of this now mainstream term, is to do something for yourself based on what you need, which varies from person to person. Here are some ideas of how you can take care of yourself first thing in the morning, but feel free to customize them:
Enjoy a moment of solitude while you drink your coffee (or tea!) Pick up a book or a journal and let your mind wander as you mentally wake up.
Find a morning yoga class and get your blood pumping as your body slowly gets back in motion. Relieve any stress that is left from the day before and take a deep breath before letting a new one begin.
Make breakfast! As in make something delicious and healthy for your first meal, giving your body fuel to focus on creative work later on. A cup of black coffee doesn't count.
Tidy up your workspace. Start with a clean slate and your task list won't seem so daunting.
Making Time to Read
I absolutely love reading! But with the pace of my workday, I’ve found it more difficult to slow down and absorb information slowly. I’ll read a paragraph - check my phone - read another paragraph - hop on Instagram. You know the drill.
I want to get back to a place where I can read straight through a book in one sitting and immerse myself in the story. But when I find some spare time, I don’t always know what to read next. Here are two book subscription resources that make it easy to pick up your next page-turner:
Book of the Month - select one of five fictional books to show up on your doorstep each month
Leader Box - receive two curated business books each month along with a reading guide from Michael Hyatt
I plan to try both of these services for a few months and see if it encourages me to put down my phone and open a book instead. Does anyone want to start a book club?
I was talking with a good friend the other day about how difficult it is to develop hobbies as a creative business owner. I feel a compulsion to turn any artistic outlet into a monetizing opportunity, and that doesn’t sit well with me. As I’m realizing just how much I dismiss “pointless” activities because they aren’t productive, it makes me feel like I’m losing some of the magic of being a creative person.
So this year, I want to find a few creative hobbies - ones that may never see Instagram or the Internet in general. I may be horrible, and that’s ok. Because I want to be creative just for the sake of it, without anyone asking if I’m open for business. Here are some ideas for developing hobbies of your own:
Find a local class to learn something new. Nothing is more daunting than a blank canvas if you’re just starting out, and sometimes a little direction is all you need to get your creative juices flowing. Look to see if there’s a local workshop or class that piques your interest.
Try it with a friend. If you feel like you’re stuck by yourself behind a computer all day, think about developing a hobby with a friend. That way, you get the chance to be creative and catch up with friends you might not see on a consistent basis otherwise.
Take a challenge. The best way to make something a practice is to turn it into a habit. Creativity and play isn’t something you do once and then cross off the list, it’s a habit that needs to develop. If you find that you need structure to keep your interest, search for a daily or weekly challenge.
Testing Before Implementing
I'm a naturally curious (and ambitious) person. I like trying new things and I’m not afraid of change. Which means I can easily adapt to a new situation, but also constantly try to reinvent the wheel - often making tasks more complicated than they need to be. I’ve been guilty of this within my business, but wasn’t fully aware of the extent until I brought on other people in my studio.
This year, I want to test out new ideas, systems, and opportunities before fully committing to them. It’s another part of slow growth and letting things manifest at the right time. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for me, right now. Here are some ways to take ideas on a test drive:
When you have a lightbulb moment...
Take out a piece of paper and write down exactly how you think it may play out. What steps need to happen first? How much time would it require? Is it dependent on outside help? By breaking down large ideas into individual tasks, you can see if it’s the right idea (or right time) to take action.
When you find a new system...
Test it out on one branch of your business before changing all of your processes to match. One person’s process isn’t the right fit for everyone, and at the end of the day, systems need to work for YOU, not the other way around.
When you see a new opportunity...
By all means, sleep on it first! Make sure that you’re putting your energy into opportunities that make sense. Otherwise, you’re acting from a scarcity mentality thinking that the opportunity may never come back around.
Share the Journey
And finally, a huge part of slow growth is sharing the journey along the way. It’s been a huge temptation for me in the past to try to figure things out and share later. I hated the feeling of announcing something new and exciting, only to admit that it was a failure down the road.
But it’s become so apparent to me that we’re all on the same journey, even if we find ourselves at different milestones. I don’t have to know the answer before I share the process - there are so many lessons to be learned every step of the way! And that’s where this blog comes into play. I've seen that blogging has three major goal-setting benefits:
It keeps you accountable to your goals. Consistently showing up is the first step to taking meaningful action. If you can commit to showing up and being present, I believe the rest will fall into place.
It keeps you in a student-teacher mindset. If you know that you want to share relevant content with your readers, you're going to take the time to develop solid thoughts and opinions before sharing - becoming both an active student and empathetic teacher.
Your audience will hold you accountable! If you aren't practicing what you preach, your readers will definitely notice - creating a built-in accountability system.
In the past, I’ve seen the blog as a sort of resource guide for me to share my “expert knowledge” on being a business owner. But that’s not how I really feel. Most days I feel like a total beginner. This platform is an opportunity for me to share what I’m learning and doing, and hear the same from others.
I’m excited for this year and what's waiting around the corner. I can’t wait to look back this time next year and see just how much Drop Cap has developed, knowing that I'll also become better in the process. What are some of your own goals for the new year?