5 Things I Learnt in 2018

As I’m sure most years are for most people, there have been some real highs and lows this year. For me though, it was a year of two halves, so stark in contrast that the first seems a lifetime ago.

You’ll find a bit of backstory in my blog post from a few months ago, talking about what went on in the first half of the year.

Essentially, I spent the first 6 months of 2018 really struggling with depression, honestly spending most of my time curled up in bed, and the rest of the year absolutely smashing it (not without my doubts of course) so I wanted to share what the most important things I learnt were or at least what was solidified after thinking that it might be the case!

1. Making a decision is powerful.

The better half of my year started on the 19th June.

I woke up and said goodbye to the husband and told him I was done. I don’t think he knew what I was talking about but he nodded along. I’d made a decision to start really living my life how I wanted to. A decision which turned the year around for me.

I was done.
I was done not living the life I wanted to.
I was done not helping myself.

I knew things would change that day. It really was as simple as making a decision.
That day I bought myself a mug. A £1 mug from Wilkos. It’s not a fancy mug, it’s not a handmade or expensive mug.

But I called it my mug of change.

It reminded me of the promise I made to myself.

Next came the action bit, because a decision without action is pointless. I bought myself Jen Sincero’s book ‘You Are a Badass at Making Money’ and ‘Playing Big’ by Tara Mohr. They both totally changed the way I was looking at myself and helped me to actually work through what was holding me back.

I’d started offering branding and design work, as well as some one-to-one work with clients from March, but my mindset and also the struggles through depression were making it feel like walking through thick mud. Make no mistake, if you’re in that place, it’s very hard to get out of. It took several trips to the doctors to get me back to a place where I could then put in the steps to start feeling better.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, work on that first.

Start with a decision to get help.

Wherever you are if you’re feeling like you need to make a change.

Start with a decision.

Once I’d made that choice to commit to living my life how I wanted to, I started taking on work and growing my business quickly. I have a design background, had run a business for 6 years and knew exactly how I could help others, so let’s bust that myth of overnight success, but for me, it was a massive difference very quickly, because I already had the skills and knowledge I needed, I just needed the  confidence to actually put them into action.

If that’s you, then start with a decision. A promise to yourself to make a change.

 

2. You have to look after yourself.

When I ran my first business, I absolutely ran myself into the ground.

Up till 2am packing Christmas orders.

Packing up 400 cards in one night over the sale when I was going through morning sickness with my first child.

Pressuring myself to write blog posts or launch things at a certain time.

I sold it last year (Aug 2017) and the weight lifted. I had loved providing gorgeous gifts and stationery for customers for a good few years, but I had fallen out of love with it, and I needed to either grow and outsource some of it, or let it go. I was ready to let someone else love it.

It’s not cool to do that to yourself.

You have to look after yourself. And that means different things for different people. For some people it means spa days and baths, and lots of relaxing. And while I love those things, for me there are a couple of other things that are also important.

For me it means.

  1. Having my finances organised and my tax return done early so that I don’t stress out about it.
  2. Pushing stuff back if it needs to be pushed back. Typically I won’t take on something that has a really short deadline. Also, what is really going to happen if you push back your launch date by a week? 
  3. Eating foods I love that make me feel good but that don’t make me feel sick and bloated.
  4. Making time to write in my journal. This has been a really important one for me. It’s helped me really keep on top of the mindset stuff.5. Knowing that sometimes you need to rest and relax first, before tackling something, because actually, you’ll do it better or faster once you’re relaxed.6. Having a book and a long bath, even if the kitchen isn’t clean.How do you take care of yourself?

3. From every hard thing, you can learn a lesson.

Although I have run a business in some form over the last 6 years, this year was my first year properly offering a service (apart from custom wedding stationery, which is a whole other ball game!) instead of a product. That’s taken some getting used to. I’ve learnt a few things, rather quickly.

There are some hard things in there, which felt like a mountain to climb at the time, which felt like massive failures. But from each one, there is something positive that has come from it.

I have a long list in my journal now, which says: ‘Hard things I did anyway, and what I learnt from them’

What is hard for one person won’t be hard to another, so there is no wrong thing here that can be your mountain. Once you get through it, instead of closing that door and being glad it’s gone, thank that moment, or that person or that thing, for teaching you an important lesson. 

I’ll give you some examples.

1. We moved in with my husband’s parents as we couldn’t find somewhere to live. It was meant to be a pitstop but we stayed for much longer than planned.

To be honest, I thought it would be horrible living there, but now I realise that I am so incredibly lucky to have had my lovely Mother-in-law around when I was going through such a rough time. And now that we’ve moved, I really miss her!

It also taught me, that sometimes the things you think will be terrible, may actually be rather wonderful.

2. I underpriced a job, and it was a pain to get through. But I did, AND now I know what I’m worth!

3. We had an up and down year as a family, what with me feeling so low and living with in-laws etc.

It taught me that we are strong, man. As my wonderful husband says to the kids.

“We. Appiagyei’s. Strong.”

And he was right.

4. If you’re working for yourself, it’s really best if you love what you do.

I’m not saying that it’s easy to carry on working for someone else if you’re unhappy. BUT if you don’t love what you’re doing in your business, at least most of the time, then you might as well go and get a job working for someone else.

Working for yourself can be really hard at times. I think no matter how far along you are in your self-employed career, no matter how much work you have on, no matter how many people have given you brilliant testimonials, there is still so much room for doubt, and it’s easy to feel like you don’t want to carry on.

You’re often the only one making decisions.
You’re the face of your company, everything falls back on you.
You probably have to learn to do more than you’d even considered.

One slightly negative comment can derail your confidence.

Resilience is absolutely paramount when you run your own business. Not letting those little things get to you and carrying on, working on your marketing strategy, getting clear on your vision and re-looking at things that are not quite working. If you don’t love who you are serving or what you do. If you can’t speak about it like you really care, then that’s going to be even harder.

BUT, when you give yourself permission to do only the things you love you invite more of the things you love into your life.

P.S That is, bar doing your taxes, packing, bookkeeping or anything else you don’t love but need to do for now until you can outsource. I get that. Keep going, one day, the dream is to do only the bits you love doing, right?

5. Mastering your mindset is the basis for success.

I’m not saying that it’s easy to carry on working for someone else if you’re unhappy. BUT if you don’t love what you’re doing in your business, at least most of the time, then you might as well go and get a job working for someone else.

Working for yourself can be really hard at times. I think no matter how far along you are in your self-employed career, no matter how much work you have on, no matter how many people have given you brilliant testimonials, there is still so much room for doubt, and it’s easy to feel like you don’t want to carry on.

You’re often the only one making decisions.
You’re the face of your company, everything falls back on you.
You probably have to learn to do more than you’d even considered.

One slightly negative comment can derail your confidence.

Resilience is absolutely paramount when you run your own business. Not letting those little things get to you and carrying on, working on your marketing strategy, getting clear on your vision and relooking at things that are not quite working. If you don’t love who you are serving or what you do. If you can’t speak about it like you really care, then that’s going to be even harder.

BUT, when you give yourself permission to do only the things you love you invite more of the things you love into your life.

P.S That is, bar doing your taxes, packing, bookkeeping or anything else you don’t love but need to do for now until you can outsource. I get that. Keep going, one day, the dream is to do only the bits you love doing, right?