What I’ve learned in 2016
Today is my birthday.
I can officially sing that Taylor Swift song 24/7 (hint at my age there).
As LH design is now shut for the year, and I’ll be spending the next two weeks planning and prepping for 2017, as well as spending time with loved ones and gin, I thought it would be nice to wrap up 2016 with what I’ve learned; in both business and life.
You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s ok.
This year marked the first time I was trolled via Twitter (MAMA I’VE MADE IT) and as hilarious it was, it really cemented how you can try and be everyone’s favourite but the things you write, create and put out there aren’t going to relate to everyone. You just can’t be for everyone. And why would you want to be? Forget about worrying what people think, and just focus on finding those tribe of people, customers, clients who totally get what you’re about. They are the ones who you can bring joy, and who can bring it to you as well.
It also brings to mind ‘you can’t be all things for all people’. I imagine that you, reading this, are a very nice person. You’ve probably tried to help people a lot this year, and that is, of course, a lovely thing to do. Just remember; you can try and help someone as much as possible from the kindness of your heart, but you’ve got to think about yourself as well. It’s not being selfish, it’s about being self-full. Be aware of your feelings and take some time for you. There’s only one.
Take time off when you need it. Seriously.
If you were following me back in April, you might remember a little time called ‘I worked myself so hard that I collapsed in my mum’s bathroom at 2am and fractured my skull on the bath’. I was working ridiculous hours, doing everything I could to make people happy, answering emails at an ungodly hour. One Saturday, I drove up to Leicester and back (a 6 hour round journey) for an OGB meet up with severe tonsillitis and didn’t think anything of it, until I had to leave the session early and attempt to drive home with a black-out migraine and feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. When I eventually got home, I went and stayed at my mum’s (because when you feel like that you just want your mama, right?) and slept on her sofa. 2AM came around and all I remember is waking up on the bathroom floor with my parents screaming and a whole lot of blood. I’d collapsed, hit my head on the bath and ricocheted off, landing on my nose (breaking it, obvs). My mum said afterward that she thought the upstairs neighbor’s bath had come through the ceiling, the bang was that loud. Fast forward past the paramedics coming, head-brace on and that inflatable raft thingy they put you in so you don’t move, rushing to A&E, throwing up so much that I couldn’t have an X-Ray until three hours later when they couldn’t see anything and nearly sent me home until they saw my blood pressure was ridiculous. I just remember this radiating pain coming from the back of my head, and after telling a nurse they got me into the doughnut CAT scan (no doughnuts in sight though :( ) and saw that I had a decompressed fracture at the back of the skull. Basically, a massive dent. They said they couldn’t operate because it was too close to a major artery, and my dad took that as SHE’S GOING TO DIE. Cue tears and some hilarity because that’s my Da in a nutshell, always thinks the worse.
But getting to the point, I didn’t die and I’ve since recovered pretty well, but I prolonged my recovery so much because I went back to work as soon as I was discharged from hospital. I didn’t listen to the doctors (the no.1 person who you should listen to in life) and I carried on trying to keep clients happy and working non-stop. There’s keeping people happy and then there’s being ridiculous because you’ve got a FRACTURED SKULL. Lie down, girl.
As a business owner, freelancer, anyone doing their own thing, you can feel that all-consuming guilt when you take time off. You feel you’re letting people down, or you think people might view you as lazy. But the key thing I learned from all of that is that you are human, and humans need rest in order to perform well. I let that guilt take over and I made myself worse. The one thing that got me to put my out-of-office on and just rest was the Head Nurse saying ‘if you had a broken leg and worked in a normal office job, you wouldn’t be at work, you’d be resting’. Take time for you, because you are your business and you can only perform well when you’re at your best.
The definition of success is different for everyone.
When I did a talk for the Brighton Etsy Team this November, it was called How To Run A Successful Small Business. Although, I wanted to make it clear to those attended that we all have different definitions of success. Some may define it as being in magazines and on the telly, some may feel it’s getting 10 orders a week, some may see it as opening up an Etsy shop. We are all unique, and so are our goals and plans.
Your brain chemistry doesn’t define you.
I’ve deleted and rewritten this section so many times. It’s something that is probably a bit too much information, but I feel it’s important to voice. This year, my anxiety came back, and although I take medication to keep it under control, I’ve had moments where I thought those dark days were reappearing. It’s mostly just been panic attacks on trains and a few fainting spells, but the new characteristic that has come around is a huge insecurity with friendships. Anxiety was telling me that some of my closest friends couldn’t stand me, that they were all done with me, when it was the furthest thing from the truth. Luckily, I have a very patient and understanding partner of 5 years who knows that it isn’t me who’s thinking those self-deprecating thoughts. I also have some incredible friends who can just say ‘look, I love you, shut up’. I’m not defined by my mental health. It’s not me that thinks those things. And realising that has saved me and my closest friendships. Pals, if you’re reading this, thanks for your understanding, you’re the best and I love you unconditionally.
Trust your gut
Like anyone, I've made some great decisions this year, and some not-so-great decisions. The results of those decisions happened because I didn't trust my gut, and ended up going ahead with something that I didn't feel right about. If you ever feel that weird, 'should-I-be-doing-this' feeling in the pit of your stomach when it comes to a collaboration or commission or taking part in an event, take as much time as you need to decide whether it really is right for you. If you still have that feeling afterwards, don't be afraid to turn your back and say 'no'. I've definitely learned how to say 'no' this year, and to become more self-full.
'It's good for exposure' means sweet F all.
As you and your business grow, you'll get more and more enquiries from brands and companies asking for your services. Sometimes they'll be happy to pay (hold on to those ones!) but a lot of the time, they'll ask for your services free of charge, but will try and keep you interested by saying 'it's great for exposure!'. Run. As. Fast. As. You. Can.
'Exposure' means nothing. 'Exposure' doesn't pay your rent and that sort of work is definitely not worth your time.
My mantras for 2017
These are the mantras I'm going to keep up by my desk in 2017, to remind me of my intentions and how I want the year to pan out.
To finish, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to those who have ordered anything from LH design, who have come to see me speak at an event, who have come to a One Girl Band meet up, or had a power session or became a member of OGB. Thank you for reading my ramblings, and for commenting + interacting with any of my posts. Thank you for your love and support. Next year is going to be a huge undertaking but I am so excited; there's lots in the pipeline. Enjoy the festivites and see you in 2017.