If you’ve ever woken up first thing in the morning and gone outside, you’ll know the feeling. Everything is quiet, except it’s not. There’s a buzz of expectancy all around. The air is fresh, like after the rain. The crickets are already chirping (if it’s going to be a hot day) and the birds are starting to wake up. And the sky is slowly, slowly changing colours as the sun creeps above the horizon for another day.
*That* feeling is how New Year feels for me and why it’s one of my favourite times of year.
Even more so this year, after a 2020 that was undeniably hard for so many people. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to had immense challenges and experienced some kind of unexpected change of plans, of life circumstance, or something else. It was no different for me.
Like others, I struggled with the way the world was changing and spinning out of control, from fires and a pandemic to rules and conflict. I found it hard to manage my workload while caring for small children at home.
I think I was sick with something for half the year, while trying to get on top of an iron deficiency which made my body hurt and my brain foggy. And then there were family things. Moving house right before lockdown. A diagnosis (which was expected but still upset the balance) and countless appointments which followed it, taking up my time and draining whatever energy I had left. And then burnout.
For the first time in my career, I found myself getting behind on deadlines. I slowed down client intake to focus on clearing my backlog and getting my health and family into a better place. My clients were kind, wonderful, and understanding. I’m incredibly grateful. But being late added pressure (all in my head) to make sure it was worth the wait, and so I put extra time and effort into each piece, which likely put me further behind.
I didn’t get it all wrong in 2020. My business was set up to handle some challenges, thanks to learning a thing or two over the previous 8 years’ freelancing. Despite barely showing up on social media, I still got plenty of enquiries via Google. My niched approach brought in clients and projects that were an ideal fit for me. My profit-first approach to handling revenue/tax/expenses gave me a nice comfy cushion in months where my revenue dipped. We settled into a new neighbourhood and home that’s perfect for our needs for the next few years, I went for countless walks, and I spent more time with my family than ever before.
Despite the good that happened last year, I still have a bit of a hangover from 2020. Bone-aching exhaustion, work that I just couldn’t manage to clear, goals I didn’t quite check off… but I feel wiser. I met with my limitations quite squarely and I know now, more than ever, what changes I need to make.
Fewer clients overall. More of my favourite kind of clients. More help so I don’t get behind. More ways to deliver value without tying up as much of my time. More focus on the most important stuff.
While there’s still so much I can’t control, I’m focusing on what I can.
It’s good to have that freshness back in the air, isn’t it?
Rightio (as my Papa would say), I’m off to make the most of it!