2018 was a year of massive transformation for me. Huge highs and difficult lows. And I am grateful for everything I've learnt. Here is my year in review.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years waiting for things to be “right”, waiting for “inspiration”, waiting until I knew what the “best” thing to do was. This year I stopped waiting and started doing, trying, exploring, daring, experimenting. And I’ve achieved more, learnt more, created more and felt more fulfilled than all that time I spent thinking about it.
But that, of course, isn't the whole truth. I started the year broken, and I put myself back together piece by piece. I gave birth in 2017, but 2018 was the year I really became a mother. And that transformation has been the catalyst for everything I've achieved in my business too.
Here's how it all played out…
I will forever see the beginning of 2018 as the dark winter. The days were short, my sleep was severely limited, and I found it hard to imagine my way out of the bleakness. It was all about surviving the newborn days.
I wasn't working, although I tied so much of my pre-pregnancy identity to my business that I found it hard to switch off. Things got a little easier once I chose my word for the year, “surrender”, and I realised that I had to concentrate on my baby. Luckily I had planned my maternity leave in advance and did have the finances in place to do this.
I had a small holiday to the Lake District in February, when Rowan was 11 weeks old. I was so nervous, but it turns out that surrender was the best thing for me, and getting away was what I needed. When we got back, though, the 4 month sleep regression hit early and I found it hard to cling on to any joy I was feeling through the thick fog of sleep deprivation.
Things got very bad in March, but my mental health started improving through the month. April saw my very gradual return to work and I had all kinds of feelings about it. Rowan was 4 months old and I was in the midst of trying to understand my new identity as a breadwinner-business-owner-feminist-breastfeeding-mother, although I didn't realise that at the time, and felt less than enough in all of those areas.
At first I worked part-time while my husband Chris took care of Rowan. And we decided we would sign him up for 2 four-hour sessions a week in nursery from June. I found that decision very, very hard. I felt like I was in an impossible position as the mother but also the breadwinner. I had no choice but all of the guilt. I am much more at peace with it now. I am especially grateful that I was still able to breastfeed Rowan when Chris was caring for him at home, and I feel like that has given us lots of quality time together (and I'm planning to write a more detailed post about this in the future, as I believe this kind of flexible working is so important to children and parents)
Summer was when things shifted for me in a big way. I don't think I'll ever forget this time of my life. In June I decided I was done. Done with hiding myself, hating myself, not doing the work that lights me up. I started my new Instagram account, I started blogging here in a more honest and vulnerable way than ever before (technically I'd started this blog the year before, but never took it anywhere), and I got visible in a huge way.
It helped that I took Sara Tasker's Insta Retreat and Ray Dodd's visibility course at the same time. When I made that financial investment in those courses, I made a commitment and promise to myself that I would go all-in. And I did. In fact, I invested more in coaching and courses than ever before, and I am very happy with that decision.
I've always felt that running your own business requires a lot of inner work, which I have been doing for the best part of a decade. But although I'd made huge progress in many ways, I could still never overcome that barrier to getting visible. It turns out that the way to overcome it is to reach that point where you're so unhappy with the way things are that you just do it. I took that step, I showed my face, I didn't die, and it got a bit easier each time I did it.
If summer was about changing my mindset, autumn was about taking what I had learnt and putting it into action. Earlier in the year I'd had an idea for a podcast but told myself a story that it was something I would never do. It turns out I was wrong, and I launched my podcast Creatively Human in October. It is one of the best things I've ever done in my life. It has tested me in so many ways, taught me so much about myself, it has been more creatively fulfilling than I ever imagined, and has already made me less socially awkward!
The podcast was my biggest personal achievement, but I also took steps to turn what I'm doing here into a brand new real business. I ran a email marketing challenge, launched a course and took on my first mentoring clients, which again is something I never thought I'd do, but I think the podcast gave me the confidence I needed. I thoroughly enjoyed them, so I will be offering full mentoring packages for 2019 – watch this space!
On the other side of those wins, though, was another sleep regression with Rowan that we still haven't recovered from as I write this in December. It's the worst period of sleep since I've been back to work, and it has taken its toll on my productivity, my health, my marriage and my general wellbeing. When I finished working for Christmas, I immediately came down with a cold, followed by oral thrush, followed by another cold, followed by sinusitis, followed by conjunctivitis. It's clear to see I'm very run down. I've been struggling to find the time and mental energy to do my creative work, bring in the money, spend quality time with my family and take care of myself. So figuring this out will be a big focus moving forward.
I'm so excited for 2019, though I haven't made any specific goals yet. I decided to fully enjoy the festive season and I've planned a date in January to have a “business meeting with myself” (which is basically where I get clear on key areas of my business and how I want it to feel – more about that coming soon!) Though you'll find more about my goal-setting process on the Creatively Human podcast episode coming January 2nd.
Something clicked for me this year that I don't think I can ever “unlearn”. The fact that I'm always improving, but am already enough and have something of value to add to the world. And showing my face has given me the unexpected experience of having it reflected back to me in a way I could never see before. It is one of the best decisions I've ever made, and one that I think will have a knock-on effect on my business, my parenting and my life this year.