Whew—What. A. Year. It’s been a crazy one, but mostly in good ways!
If you recall, my word for 2016 was RENEW. It came to me instantly, and was a breath of fresh air. I was really looking forward to this year because I couldn’t wait to see what these months would hold in the face of such mental exhaustion just one year ago. And it didn’t disappoint!
The first few months of 2016 were all about setting up to leave my job well. I had a date in mind when January began, but I had a lot of work to do in the meantime. Not only did I have several events to manage with my job, but I also wanted to put more systems in place to make it easier on my replacement. And I think I did a good job on both. I still have great relationships with my old co-workers, and love the mission of the company, so I wanted to make sure things were taken care of. It wasn’t just about not burning a bridge; it was about being someone of integrity.
I left at the end of May, and took most of June off. It was a very welcome respite! Of course, I would’ve loved to have a six-month vacation, but finances just didn’t allow. So, I enjoyed every moment of the down time mostly by sleeping, binge-watching TV shows and catching up with friends. It was glorious, and I look forward to my next extended vacation!
July was my official first month. I’d already been working on a freelance project, actually my first to sign on after I announced self-employment, but this is where I kicked in high gear. And several people had also already told me they’d like to work with me when I made the leap, so I reached out and was soon consumed with work! July was actually my most lucrative month.
From August through December, I’ve had steady work as well. Some months were, of course, better than others, but I knew that would be the case. It takes time to grow a client base. However, I’ve been extremely blessed to work so far solely with people I know first-hand and referrals. In the less busy months, I’ve worked on my own website and branding, and am excited to show that to you in a couple of weeks! There were also plenty of admin tasks to keep me busy. I also just hired a business coach, and have enjoyed that process. It’s quite challenging, but it will help set me up strong for 2017.
So, that’s the business side of things.
On the more touchy-feeling aspects of life, those have improved as well. I’ve seen additional improvement in my health now that I sleep more and work less, and am not wasting as much energy on brushing my hair and getting dressed most days! I do miss my long commute for the purpose of listening to audiobooks, but I’m learning to enjoy podcasts more now.
And the mental exhaustion is sooooo much better. I still have stress, obviously, because who doesn’t, but it’s different. It’s self-imposed now. I really dislike bookkeeping and HR duties, but the tradeoff still can’t be beat. I also love being my own boss, and the flexibility in my job.
I was also able to travel a good bit this year, and you know I loved that! As before, conferences made up a good bit of my travel schedule. But I wouldn’t really have it any other way. My biggest travel milestone also came this year when I took my first solo international trip to Barcelona! It was a place I’d wanted to visit since I was in high school, and it was fantastic! I hope to go back one day.
On my Barcelona trip, I turned 40! Another milestone. Wow—so hard to believe! I think I handled it well, but it’s still rough looking back to see the things I would’ve changed. I think that’s human, though. The hardest part, which has been mostly out of my control, is knowing I have had health challenges since I was 35. I spent the entire latter half of my 30s sick. That’s not fun at all, and it makes me really sad to see how much time has passed. I’ve still been able to do some incredible things over the past few years, but it definitely held me back in a lot of ways. All I can do is look forward, though, and make the days to come count. I’m holding on to RENEW for a little longer.
Like many of you, there are goals that I didn’t hit. There are things I wish I’d done better, or done at all. There are things I regret. There are short-comings and wishes and plenty of what if’s. But tomorrow, God willing, we all get another chance to try again. I just watched Finding Dory on my last plane ride, so when things get though, I’ll “just keep swimming.”
I’m mostly quite happy with RENEW. It has served me well, and taught me a lot. And really, that’s exactly what a word for the year should do!
I’ve already got my word for 2017, and I’ll share it soon! Until then, be thinking of yours!