Some Lessons Learned in 2017
I love doing an end of year ~lessons learned~ post. It helps me look back over each year and see where I’ve grown or changed. This blog is full of thoughts and musings and it’s so funny looking back on my past self. So I thought I’d see what things I’ve learned or been reminded of this year. 2017.
It’s by far being my favourite year career-wise. I ticked off some personal goals of mine: doing a TedX talk, going on BBC Woman’s Hour, appearing in a TV advert, reaching 1 million downloads of my podcast, signing with a new literary agent and getting my second book deal. At the beginning of the 2017 I was preparing myself for a quieter year, and how wrong I was.
I didn’t think 2016 could be topped, because my first book came out and it’s all I ever wanted. I got to tour around the UK talking about it at events and festivals and meet such interesting people. I though it was the best year ever. But, turns out you never know what’s waiting around the corner. I actually prefer New Year’s Eve to Christmas, because I get quite excited about the ~unknown~. So, as we are in December, and the year is creeping to a close, I thought I’d do the same. What have I learned this year?
If you can, make your own team.
I used to say I wasn’t a team player. I loved working on my own, in quiet spaces, at home, or in my own corner of the office and I just wanted to get on with it. I love doing things by myself, because I felt I’d just do it better or faster myself. I was very protective over my work and clients and output. I used to be very bad at delegation and would rather just put my headphones on and race through my to-do list. My favourite days are when I’m a good level of busy and smashing through my tasks.
HOWEVER: you will always get to a point where you do need a team. I’ve learned that this year. I need help! You can’t do everything alone and you need to be able to be a team-player, even if you run your own business. When I told myself “I don’t like working in teams” the truth was, I hadn’t found the right team yet. Because newsflash: other people can make things even better. I love the people I work with now who help me achieve my goals. They are so so clever and smart and full of ideas and I’d really struggle without them. I love having a team of people to bounce ideas off of and grow and improve alongside.
No matter how much doubt you feel, own your achievements.
Imposter Syndrome can actually royally do one. It annoys the hell out of me because it’s so illogical. You can have straight up evidence and PROOF that what you have built is working and should be something you’re proud of, and then Imposter Syndrome sneaks up on you, rests on your shoulder and makes you doubt things for absolutely no reason. 2017 was the year I quieted the voice that thinks I don’t deserve what I have, and it’s made me feel so much better in myself. I have enjoyed and celebrated my achievements this year because who knows if I’ll do these things again? I don’t want to look back in a decade and think why didn’t I just have fun and enjoy the ride?
Yep, everyone is thinking about themselves and mostly probably refreshing their own feeds. So. don’t worry so much. This one is inspired by amazing writer and friend of mine Anne T Donahue who has a book (and accompanying podcast) coming out in 2018 called Nobody Cares. The ethos of the ‘nobody cares’ ethos is not depressing, it’s empowering. No one is looking that closely. The reality is that the thing you’re worried about (that you think everyone is looking at/laughing at/judging you about) – nope, no one cares! It’s freeing. So, go forth, do your thing, don’t overthink it… Because honestly, nobody’s that bothered.
Podcasting is powerful.
This is quite a niche one which is probably just personal to me, but having a podcast has changed things for me this year. I started it in April 2016 but I feel like 2017 was the year that put podcast on the mainstream map. It’s been an amazing platform for women especially, to have an idea, a voice, a platform to really own and champion other people on too. Really proud to be part of the podcast community, and I’ve learned to embrace new platforms and really dive in to new things.
Invest in yourself and your future.
I made a lot more money than I did last year and it’s something I’m starting to own and not feel weird about. I also spent a fair bit of money on my work this year. Re-branding this website for one, and in general not being afraid to spend money on new tech or new equipment. I don’t regret it at all, in fact it’s something I know I’ll have to get more comfortable with next year too. You can’t grow without investing in the things that will allow you to grow.
Jealousy is the most useful emotion ever.
Jealousy is gross, we know that. It’s horrible and you have to suppress because ew, getting jealous is not cool. But: it is such a common emotion and it’s hard to ignore it. We all get it. Some more than others. But I use jealousy as my own personal little career Sat Nav. If I get jealous of something, well, it means I want it! If I see engagement rings I don’t get jealous, turns out I’m not that bothered about that, but if I see someone doing something and I get that pang in my chest, I know I want it. So I congratulate the person and allow myself to feel genuine joy for them – and then I write it on my list too. I treat it as an opportunity – a realisation that I want said thing that I didn’t know I wanted.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Seems simple but this year has once again proved that nothing is magicked out of thin air. Yes, occasionally you’ll open your inbox and think WOW! This is the perfect opportunity for me! But you shouldn’t expect things to come to you all the time. Put yourself out there, pitch for the things you want, and visualise it into existence.
Validation is nice, but practice not needing it.
This year I got put through to the final round of a huge award that would be incredibly amazing if I got it. However, I had a sit down with myself and asked myself: “does an award or accolade actually make me think differently about my achievements?” “Do I need someone else’s public validation to make myself worthy?” Yes, of course it feels amazing to have external validation. We all thrive on it. But no, I don’t need it. So what if you don’t get the award? I am still worthy, and so are you. You are still doing a brilliant job.
Try and enjoy the down-time when you have it.
This year has made me realise how valuable it is when things slow down and how I should try not to freak out. This is probably “freelancer specific” but earlier this year I was having quiet spell. February was just quite slow, I had work but it seemed pretty chilled out and I didn’t have any big projects on. I tried not to worry about it, but instead of enjoying the slower pace I just got myself into a funk. It turned out to be the ONLY quiet time in my whole year, and I wish I’d just savoured in a bit more without worrying (we always learn in hindsight eh.) In April I got cast in a huge Microsoft advert and flew to LA and got wrapped in so many work-related whirl-winds I just wished I’d enjoyed the previous quieter month.
Some days are an incredibly average 3/10.
Some days are just really distinctively average. Especially this year as I’ve been working on so many projects behind the scenes, you don’t have shiny Instagram-worthy days. Most days you sit in a chair and work. It’s OK. Not every day can be 10/10. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about that.
It’s OK to get rid of people who make you feel icky.
This sounds pretty brutal, but it’s true. You can get rid of people who are holding you back, or make you feel like a smaller version of yourself. 2016 was the year I got rid of a few “friends” and my 2017 has been pretty incredible because of the freedom it brought me and the headspace I got back. I didn’t realise just how much certain people and their personality traits were holding me back, draining me or just downright toxic. I will do anything for my best friends, and when it comes to new friends I wear my heart on my sleeve, but if things start to go sour I’m good at cutting it off. You have to protect yourself and know what makes a good friend. Don’t feel bad for unfollowing. You’ll thank yourself in the future. It also makes you so appreciative of your tight network of amazing people, and you’ll have more time for those that matter.
You might be interested in my new book: The Multi-Hyphen Method: Work less, create more, and design a career that works for you. Link on Amazon here.
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