It’s that time of year again – a season to pull out the books, calendars, and prompts to reflect on the year that’s passed and try to anticipate a new one.
I sit here writing to you with a box of tissues and a large cup of coffee. A few days after getting to my parent’s house for the holidays, my body resumed its annual crash, fueled by too much sugar and overstimulation after overworking to complete projects before the end of the year.
Before I reflect on 2019 and share a few things I’m excited to pursue in 2020, I will say that this year did not go as planned. In some ways it was far harder than I could have imagined, but it also held some beautiful surprises I would never have known to wish for.
The longer I run this design studio, the more I realize that my working life can often be the mirror I need into my personal life, and vice versa. Time is never wasted. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Without walking you through every goal I set for myself in 2019 (and spoiler alert, they were ALL business related), you can read that post here. Instead, I’m going to share 2 lessons I took away from what actually happened in the last 12 months.
1. I stopped playing the game.
I’m naturally ambitious. As a Virgo and Type Three, I over-plan when I’m bored. And I usually overwork myself to accomplish the plan I create out of that boredom. But one day last spring, I made the uncharacteristic decision to look deeper instead of further, and decide if I really cared about the lifestyle I was chasing.
Instead of pushing to get my business to a certain level, get married, grow an audience, or obtain the body I’ve always imagined, I decided to see if the areas in my life had depth. Were my relationships stable? Did they have deep roots? Was my business functioning the way I wanted it to, or were we just growing to grow? Did I feel healthy, did I have good thoughts, or was I only focused on the parts that everyone else could see?
So I spent the summer letting go – of a relationship I truly loved but was no longer serving either of us, of a magazine I’d helped build from day one, of habits that weren’t intentional, of plans that didn’t really fit my personality, and especially of the idea that I needed to be anything other than what I personally felt called to.
What in your life do you need to let go of to create space for the life and business you truly want to create?
2. Instead of putting myself out there, I let people in.
Here’s where things took another turn.
One of my big intentions for the last year was to stick to an editorial calendar. But then life threw me a curve ball and I just wasn’t ready to share anything while it still felt fresh and confusing. In fact, I struggled to stay connected with my studio at all, and if I was going to show up in a big and real way in my life, I wasn’t going to half-ass my work. So I went quiet, and instead of putting myself out there, I let people in.
I hired Madeleane, who has become the lifeline of the studio. Initially I planned to go full-force ahead and have her help me in the areas I just couldn’t show up, but instead we pulled back and focused on the foundation. Which was the absolute right thing to do.
I joined a mastermind. You know from my 2019 post that Hilary Rushford has been very influential in my business, and it’s been amazing to step just a little more into her world this year. I wasn’t quite ready for the community, but gained so much from her teaching and insight. I’ve joined for a second round with new intentions, and you’ll see more about it my 2020 plans below.
I invested big time in my Montana friendships. I met the most incredible women I have ever come across – strong, encouraging, hilarious, smart, ambitious, and tough as nails. They lifted me up and got me out on the trails and in the mountains when I needed it. There is no better gift than female friendship, and this year I really cashed in.
And finally, I joined a co-working space in Montana called Sky Oro that has been amazing. When the crowdfunding campaign launched last spring, I jumped on board even though it wasn’t part of my plan for the year, and have felt even more connected to my new home.
In what areas of your life or business could you let people in, whether it’s help on your team, consulting an expert in an area that’s causing you stress, or getting a support network behind you?
I could go through so many other lessons and insights I’ve gained during the most unexpected and transitional year yet, but maybe that’s a conversation for another day. Instead, let’s look ahead for what I’d LIKE to see in 2020 (knowing that everything can, and probably will, evolve.)
Ah, a new decade. It’s like the start of a year on steroids. And as I think about what’s around the corner, I feel as if this will be the best decade yet – thank goodness 2019 ended up being one giant reset button.
1. The Year of Travel
After planting roots in Montana, and knowing there’s a good chance I’ll be there for the rest of my life, I want to spend some time exploring, especially on my own.
I’ve been away from home for nearly ten years now, and slowly I’ve noticed a disconnection from my family in the South. The month of January, I’ll be spending back home in Birmingham before going on a trip with my parents to Puerto Rico and Barbados to eat too much fish and reconnect.
Shortly after, I’ll spend 7 weeks living and working from Nicaragua. I have always felt a huge connection to being by the water, and knowing I was going to need a break from winter this year, I committed to making it happen. I’ll admit, I always felt that working abroad or taking a sabbatical was outside of my reach, but it turns out it’s not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be (well, let’s see what I’m saying after it’s over..) I know many independent creatives dream of taking their families and businesses over to a different place, and I fully intend to write a long summary of my time spent working abroad, and lessons I learn along the way.
Later in the year, I plan to visit my brother who lives in Iceland, and go on a girl’s trip to Kenya in the late fall!
With every commitment comes a sacrifice, and travel is no different. In saying yes to a nomadic year, I’ve already had to say no to many fun things at home (like a ski pass, a weekend getaway, or extra meals out with friends during the week.) I’ve saved money where I can, tried to simplify my life to make it easier to travel, and most importantly am working to establish routines and habits that can follow me on the road.
It was my big intention in 2019, didn’t happen, and I’m giving it another go this year, but with a different mentality. Instead of seeing my editorial calendar as one giant looming deadline after another, I’m going to get curious about reasons why it gives me anxiety. Is it the topics, content, or the amount of time? I know that when I get into the flow, it gives me so much joy, but there are certainly weeks that it falls by the wayside, and then is nearly impossible to revive.
It’s possible that I just need the discipline to commit to a weekly routine. Between this blog and Enneagram for Entrepreneurs, I’m going to learn a lot along the way of how to stick to a publishing life, and do it while traveling. I plan to share what I’m learning, and what’s working, along the way.
3. Building My Business Community
One of the best things about my Dallas years was the strong creative and professional community I constantly had around me. It seemed everyone was pursuing a new idea, and there was an endless sources of insight and wisdom whenever I came across something difficult in my own journey.
One of the things I’ve loved about moving to Montana is the emphasis it has place on my personal life, but I have missed some of the ambitious energy of Dallas.
I’ve joined a second round of Hilary Rushford’s mastermind (the mastermind doors are closed, but you can still get the journal which is definitely the next best thing IMO), and this time there are going to be three opportunities to meet up in person, which adds to my commitment to getting out of Montana and on the road. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to intentionally invest in that community and make new friends who view business and creativity the same way I do. We’ll meet up in Mexico, California, and New York City throughout this year 🙂
I’m also planning to spend my time in Montana really investing in Sky Oro and getting to know my coworkers better. Through events, workshops, and just sharing a french press while cranking through a to-do list during the day, it’s a way for me to get connected to what’s going on at home.
This year is bound to have some twists and turns, just as any year does, but these are a few of the things that have me excited for the midnight hour to arrive.
What’s on your list of experiences and dreams for 2020?
In planning for anything new to start, especially a new year, there are a few resources that I’ve utilized myself that can help you map out the next 12 months:
1. Hilary Rushford’s Journal
This journal is filled with prompts and exercises for pulling out what’s most important to you so you can prioritize it in the new year. It goes a step further with an entire video series that walks through how to make those ideas happen on a quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis. I also love that it’s not just a business planning workbook, but intentionally evaluates every area of life.
2. Brand Scratch Pad
About four years ago, I created a workbook to help me realign with my brand messaging and plan for a new year. This workbook has evolved and grown every year, but still remains one of the best resources in my business for focusing and taking strategic action. You can download the 2020 version for free here.
I’d love to hear some of your own intentions and exciting plans for the new year and decade in the comments below!