As you no doubt know, there was much of the same in the world this past year as there was the previous year. Somehow we’re still in a pandemic and it’s super easy to feel or see doom and gloom almost anywhere you look – especially if where you look happens to be a social media site.
But unlike my recap last year, I don’t want to focus on just the bad and not-so-great stuff. If there’s anything I’ve learned the past year is that you can celebrate your wins and blessings while still being aware, compassionate, and empathic of those that are having a much more difficult time. (Not to mention that if we can, we should help in even the smallest of ways.)
Back in 2019 I wrote that one of the lessons I had learned was that “my business should serve how I want to live my life.” Although the lesson was learned and I applied it to a certain degree in 2020, it feels as though 2021 is where it really become fact for me, so to speak.
It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of a 9-5 even when you run a business. In fact, it can easy become far more than a 9-5 (not in a good way, that is). Over the past two years I’ve been able to increase revenue slightly without having to work as much as I have in the past. But more critically, I’ve been able to work from different locations. That is a huge change and one that, despite my love for my home studio, is one I am incredibly fortunate to be able to experience.
On another note, although I already knew that some people or businesses just aren’t going to be a good fit, I was reminded of this three times this year. In two of those instances it was obvious as there were early red flags. In one of them it wasn’t obvious until after the project was over (a first for me). It was very strange and I still don’t know what went wrong.1 But the lesson within the lesson was to not get hung up on this stuff. It’s not worth the time or the energy, especially when people are unwilling to meet you half way. Just be polite, professional, and move on. Other, better clients will be far more worth it – so much so you start your day excited to work on their project.
I don’t recall if I’ve written about how “goals” are tough for me. There’s something loaded about the word that adds an amount of pressure that just doesn’t work for or sit well with me. As fate would have it, at the beginning of 2021 I came across the idea of yearly themes2 instead of resolutions or goals. Sidebar, the word theme in this context also made me think of this:
Anyway... in early January of 2021 I came up with several themes to invoke throughout the year. Here are a few that I feel ok sharing:
- Less pressure on myself.
- Create and stick to systems and processes.
- Read and learn.
I did well with the first two, and just okay with the third. I wish I would’ve read more, but I certainly learned plenty outside of reading.
There is one new “thing” that I’ll be implementing in 2022 to help me with my other goals, including the ones not listed here: Seventh Week Sabbaticals. It’s a concept created by Sean McCabe in 2014 that’s intended to give you margin for rest and rejuvenation. I won’t go into all the details here (you can read all about it on his site), but the gist is this: work six weeks and take off every seventh week. That’s it. While there are some other nuances, I do want to mention a couple of key things:
- The seventh week sabbaticals should be planned in advance and not changed (regardless if they land before, during, or right after a holiday).
- Don’t schedule anything for your sabbatical.
Right now it feels like I’m going to be taking a lot of time off next year. It makes me feel uneasy, uncomfortable. But that’s the point. I love my work, but it’s not all there is to life.
I’m really not sure what I expect out of 2022. I definitely have plans and will have themes for the year, but the bigger picture is still fuzzy. Of course I hope for the best and trust that I will learn and grow as we all should. But if the last quarter or so of 2021 is any indication of what could come in 2022, I’d say things are going to be pretty good.
- Pro tip: it’s far more respectable to let someone know why you don’t want to work with them rather than leaving them in the dark when they ask. ↩
- I found this idea in David Hoang’s Proof of Concept newsletter, issue 21. ↩