Rather than do a summary of my favourite posts or write a long (and probably quite boring) paragraph about the highs and lows of 2015 – of which, there were far more highs (*victory dance*), I thought I’d share something a little different; a few of the lessons I’ve learned this year. Since deciding to leave university in January, I’ve had some of the most surreal experiences of my life. And honestly, most of those have been a result of pursuing my blog full-time – something that I never thought would be possible for me. But I embarked on a journey at the beginning of 2015, I hurled myself into the unknown armed with nothing but doubt, virtually no self-belief and very little money. And do you know what? I survived. No, I did more than that – I thrived. And here’s what I learned:
Self-confidence makes you stronger and more capable
I’m still not as confident as I’d like to be and I will always be extremely self-critical but I’ve definitely made more of a conscious effort to encourage self-belief. Last year, I doubted myself too much – and as a result, I wasted valuable time. Have I made the right decision? Can I ever actually be successful? I asked myself these questions almost every day. Working in such a saturated industry, I found that I constantly compared myself to others and it made me so disappointed with my own content, entirely unhappy in what I was producing – even though I worked tirelessly to be the best I could possibly be. And after a little reflection (and a lot of time, these things don’t come easy), I realised that one of the most incredible things about blogging is that everyone is different. No two bloggers are the same. So whatever you’re producing or working on, even if it’s the same campaign as another handful of bloggers, your style and your input is totally unique. That’s something to be celebrated, not feared.
It’s not how much time you spend working, it’s how you use that time
I probably had a handful of ‘days off’ last year, if that – and nearly all of them were around Christmas. I worked non-stop. Every day of the week, at all hours of the day. And if I’m honest, I spent weeks being busy without actually being productive (trust me, it’s not as unusual as it sounds). At times, I was rushing between meetings, events and shoots and not getting much done. My inbox overflowed, deadlines loomed and I’d be tearfully stressed as time slipped quietly away. On occasions, I’ve been more productive over the course of a day than I’ve been over a whole week. 2015 taught me that quality over quantity applies to time too. So this year, I will absolutely be using my time more productively (which means being a lot more selective about which out-of-office appointments will be most valuable).
Negativity can be motivating
Whether it’s bullies at school, doubt expressed by family and friends or being patronised by your peers, you can channel that negativity into something positive. I’ve irritatingly always been a little on the sensitive side but I learned a lot last year about how to use negativity as motivation; it drove me forward and encouraged me to work harder because I felt like I had something to prove. At the end of the day, the only person you should seek to impress is yourself but naturally, you will always value appreciation from those close to you. And as for the others? They’re not worth your time or your tears. Turn that frown upside down and go out and get it.
Taking time out can actually boost your productivity
As I previously mentioned, I practically didn’t stop working last year. Consequently, I messed up my sleeping pattern, gained weight and often felted tired and grouchy. A couple of times, I burned out and spent whole days in bed attempting to recover from months of overworking. It just wasn’t healthy. Towards the end of the year, I established a much better balance between work and play, realising the importance of taking time out and switching off – if only occasionally. Not only did I sleep better and feel happier, I found that when I returned to work and really focused on the task at hand, I was able to complete it more efficiently – and in a much shorter space of time.
Making time for your friends is essential – even if you find the time for nothing else
Ever heard the saying ‘friends are the family you choose’? I believe in that wholeheartedly. I’m blessed with the most supportive, wonderful friends and I never take that for granted. I missed out on so much last year because I prioritised work over absolutely everything, including spending time with my favourite people. In the beginning, I did feel that it was absolutely necessary (building a brand/business requires 100% dedication and commitment) but as time goes on, you have to find a compromise. From declining dinner invitations to trips into the city, my friends have supported me every step of the way (even if they got a bit annoyed at my absence once or twice). I’m very much looking forward to making new memories with them in 2016.
I had so many wonderful experiences last year and from every one of them, I learned something new. I can’t wait to grow and develop further in the next 12 months. Did you learn any valuable lessons last year? Leave a comment below and share them with me!
Love, Beth xo.