My Big Fat 2018 Review (& My Word for 2019)

2018 has been a real rollercoaster of a year. So many ups and downs. It was a tough year but what that meant was that I learned soooo much. I’m calling it the ‘beautiful mess’ year. So much of that mess was necessary to grow personally and grow my business. I’ve spent the year really nurturing my business and my audience and I now feel like I’m ready for the next big step.

But before we get onto that, here’s what I tackled in 2018:

My big fat 2018 side-hustle review and my word for 2019

January - March was all about pivoting my business, really digging into what I really wanted to do and building a business around my special sauce, my zone of genius if you will. Which I’d recently discovered to be in planning and productivity.

April - June was a mixed few months. I went to Blogtacular and met loads of other small business owners. I made in-person connections and got super inspired by all of the speakers and their stories.I also started to create lots of content and started to have the loveliest feedback on my blog posts. I also started work on making my podcast a reality. But in these three months we also had our dog put down, he’d been deteriorating over the previous few months so we knew it was coming but that didn’t make it any easier.

July - September was a really tough time. I was struggling with the height of my anxiety and depression. Constant visits to the Drs and eventually after 5 appointments I was signed off work and put on medication. All the while I was keeping my business going my prioritising the really important tasks and ditching the rest of my to-do’s - which turned out to be a valuable lesson.

October - December was then things started to stabilise again. I got back into podcasting and creating content. I also created my course Make a Plan > Make it Happen and put my 1:1 mentoring packages for 2019 on sale. At the end of the year I regained my strength and started to be brave again after a summer that had really knocked me sideways. Oh and in October my boyfriend and I went away to Scotland which was such a needed break and we got engaged so that trip has to be one of my highlights of 2018.

Picture of a window taken in January when I was just starting to pivot my business

Picture of a window taken in January when I was just starting to pivot my business

My one big takeaway from 2018 is that it’s the year I got really serious about my side-hustle and as a result it’s the year that some really big stuff happened.

How does you year look when you break it down into quarters? What were your big moments and what were the big challenges you overcame and learned from?

And if 2019 is the year you REALLY want to get serious about your side-hustle, my course Make a Plan > Make it Happen might be just what you need to help you make your side-hustle dreams a reality in 2019.

My desk in March when my new business was starting to bloom

My desk in March when my new business was starting to bloom

Here are my big successes, challenges and learnings from 2018, with a few prompts to dig up your own:

Sucesses

Let’s kick things off with successes, and I really recommend you do this for your side-hustle as well. Write a list of EVERYTHING you achieved and what you’re proud of. Get scribbling and it’ll start to flow. I had a huge list which even included making a bloody brilliant birthday cake - achievements don’t all have to be huge life changing moments, just anything you did that you’re proud of or worked hard to make happen.

My main successes were all bundled up into:

Getting really serious about my side-hustle - In December 2017 I had a home decor business, which seems absolutely mad now. I had an epiphany on new year’s eve and decided to pivot my business to focus on what I’m really passionate about - planning and productivity. So this whole year has been dedicated to nurturing my new business and creating content that helps side-hustlers create more time to do the work they really love by helping them with planning and productivity.

As a result of pivoting my business, everything has slotted into place this year. I’m doing something that really fits with my special sauce, my zone of genius. Helping side-hustlers is something i’m SUPER passionate about and so the work itself comes so easily and freely. I’m really loving all of the time I spend working on my business and that’s pretty important.

But what it took was really getting serious about what I wanted and making it happen, I got support from a coach to help me through the transition period and created loads of actionable content that would help side-hustlers with their productivity and planning. I reduced my hours to part time at work and towards the end of 2018 launched my productivity course for side-hustlers Make a Plan > Make it Happen as well as my 1:1 mentoring package.

As I said earlier it really has been a beautiful mess but this year of growing and nurturing my new business is already starting to pay off and I’m really proud of the content I’ve created and my side-hustle letters that goes out once a fortnight.

The bloody brillinat birthday cake that made it onto my list of achievements for 2018

The bloody brillinat birthday cake that made it onto my list of achievements for 2018

Challenges - of which, there were many!

Often the challenges are what we learn from most. They help us grow and teach us valuable lessons - even though it’s difficult to see that when you’re in the thick of it. Have a think about the challenges you faced this year and how you overcame them - I’m sure once you get digging there are some lessons that can help you shape your steps into 2019.

My three biggest challenges from 2018

Anxiety & depression - I started suffering from anxiety and depressing over the summer. It came completely out of the blue in June and has been a problem ever since. Just looking back through my photos from this time make me feel emotional. It was hard - everything was hard. Even driving into work, catching a train, going to friend’s weddings became an ordeal. I had to learn how to deal with having less energy but still get the important things done.

Self-doubt - That bloody voice in my head saying ‘you’re not ready’ ‘ people will think you’re a complete idiot’ ‘you’re going to FAIL’ ‘who do you think you are to start a podcast/put your services on sale’ ‘you’ve got nothing valuable to say’. The voice of self doubt was REAL in 2018 but I started to recognise it for what it was - that primal survival instinct to keep me safe, to stop me from putting myself out there and potentially putting myself in what my brain perceives as danger. But now that I can see these fears for what they are I’m starting to push through them. If this is something you struggle with I highly recommend Tara Mohr’s book Playing Big which really helped me start to work through this in 2018.

Pushing past the fear and outside of my comfort zone. - This is linked to the above. I had to push myself outside of my comfort zone a lot this year but this is something that’s really helped my grow. I was given a kick start by reading You are a Badass at Making Money (one of the best reads for side-hustlers and small business owners in general). In the book the author says making money is a case of feeling a little bit uncomfortable over and over again. Well, so is growing a business, it’s a case of feeling the discomfort of pushing outside of your comfort zone over and over again. And you know what, I haven’t experienced anything negative as a result of pushing outside my comfort zone this year, just the feeling of elation when big things happen as a result of pushing past my fears.

It’s interesting that all of my big challenges were mental struggles. Is it the same for you? Perhaps that’s because I’m quite a practical person and with the practical stuff I’m quite used to having ideas that go into my plan and I make them happen. But with anxiety, self doubt and fear - there’s a less easy answer that requires really working on yourself to start breaking them down.

A field in Bloom in May when I was up to my eyeballs in side-hustling and forgetting to make any time for self-care at all - which would later kick me in the butt!

Learnings from 2018

Going back to the challenges you faced this year, what did you learn from those experiences? How did they shape you and help you grow?

My biggest learnings from 2018

Simplicity is key - and this comes in so many different forms. Firstly de-cluttering my home and wardrobe in a BIG way this year has really helped to declutter and free up my mind. But also my battle with anxiety taught me that even with less energy than usual I can still keep my business ticking over; by focussing on just the most impactful tasks and ditching the rest. Productivity isn’t a case of being busy or getting lots done - it’s actually often a case of doing less, and just doing the stuff that really matters.

I thrive when I’m connecting and collaborating with others. - This was actually a bit of a surprise because I’m a huge introvert BUT when I connect with people who inspire me and people who are also in the online world and get what it’s like to side-hustle and grow your own business I come alive. I have the best, most inspiring and uplifting conversations with these people and I’ve loved every conversation I’ve recorded for my podcast. I’ve learned that it’s all about finding your people and this is something I’m going to do more of in 2019.

A moody picture of the roses in my garden after a heavy rainstorm. This picture really reflects my mood at the time when I was really struggling with anxiety and depression

A moody picture of the roses in my garden after a heavy rainstorm. This picture really reflects my mood at the time when I was really struggling with anxiety and depression

Self-care is sooooo important - this is something that my struggle with anxiety and depression has taught me. It’s actually an important part of being a side-hustler especially. When you’re effectively juggling two jobs self-care can often be the first thing to get put on the back seat. BUT I’ve realised that by making time for self care I’m more productive and far happier. For me, it can be as simple as making sure I take the dogs for a good walk in the morning or making time for a long hot bath (cliche I know but I really love a bath and it’s one of the few things that actually help me switch off).

Stay in my own lane and explore what it is to be me - this is something I’m really keen to explore more as I move into 2019 and something you might want to think about too because I think this is the key to building a business that really fits with the lifestyle you want to live. Chatting to Fiona Barrows recently she said that it’s the people who have really found their way of doing things that seem to have been successful in growing their business. Perhaps because they’re enjoying it more because or perhaps it’s because they’re doing things in a way that feels easy for them (probably a bit of both). So this is something I’m going to explore much more in 2019 and ask myself - if there were no examples out there, how would I do things and what would my business look like?

Lighting a candle in October and experimenting with my photography - October was when I really started to feel inspired again and get my energy back

Lighting a candle in October and experimenting with my photography - October was when I really started to feel inspired again and get my energy back

My word for 2019:

Flourish


Why flourish?

Well, because after the beautiful mess of 2018 I feel like I’m ready to burst out of the chrysalis that I built in and flourish, stretch my wings, put out new shoots and grow.

And I’m going to FLOURISH by:

Simplifying everything - My lifestyle, my business, my wardrobe, the tasks on my to do lists. I made a start in 2018 and it’s something I’m going to get even more serious about in 2019 (if you want to hear more on the benefits of simplifying things this have a listen to my chat with Jessica Rose Williams on episode 18 of my podcast On The Make).

Staying in my own lane - I’m going to really dig into how I want to do things and follow my gut instinct while being conscious of the things that come easily to me in my business and focussing on doing those things even more. For example this is going to be less blogging and more video.

Being courageous - I’ll be continuing to push outside of my comfort zone in bigger and more courageous ways. I know big things happen on the other side of my comfort zone so I want to get into a routine of stepping outside of it, regularly.

Collaborating, lots - I’ll be making more connections than ever and collaborating with more and more people who inspire me and make me come alive. And I can’t wait for this especially.

Me using autumn leaves as some sort of Headwear... By autumn I was regaining my energy and feeling inspired again after a tough summer

Me using autumn leaves as some sort of Headwear... By autumn I was regaining my energy and feeling inspired again after a tough summer

So what’s on my plan for 2019?

I only ever plan ahead in 12 weeks chunks - a whole year is just too overwhelming and it’s difficult to judge how long things are going to take when looking at a whole 12 months. If you’ve got the planning bug after reading this post head over to my post on my 3-step planning method and create your own side-hustle action plan.

I always say a maximum of three focus areas for each 12 week chunk is enough (and sometimes less). So, my three focus areas for January - March of 2019 are>

  1. Simplify everything (business, life, home, routine, to do lists)

  2. Make more connections with people who inspire me

  3. Run my course like a total boss

And at the end of 2018 - the beautiful mess year I'm feeling ready to burst out of my chrysalis and flourish in 2019. The first thing I'm really looking forward to is running my course.

And at the end of 2018 - the beautiful mess year I'm feeling ready to burst out of my chrysalis and flourish in 2019. The first thing I'm really looking forward to is running my course.

My one big takeaway from 2018 is that it’s the year I got really serious about my side-hustle and as a result it’s the year that some really big stuff happened. What’s on your plan for 2019?

Whatever your dreams for 2019, I’m right here cheering you on all the way!