It's one of my favorite times of year for many reasons. The workload is slowing down, I'm catching up on blogging and forming ideas for the year ahead. But most importantly, I'm doing some serious reflecting on the past year - where I was a year ago, big moments, little moments, successes, failures.
I'm a firm believer in reflecting on the past in order to move forward.
I am part of a large community of creatives and entrepreneurs called The Rising Tide Society, which I mention every now and then, and this week we're taking part in an Instagram challenge that is all about resting, reflecting, and recharging. It comes at the perfect time when I am dreaming up goals for the new year, but also allowing myself to step back and look at all I've done this year and give myself a little pat on the back and a big mug of cocoa.
One of the first parts of the challenge is finding an inspiring quote that will keep my business anchored in the coming year. I love quotes. I have Pinterest boards and journals full of them. My camera roll has random screenshots of when II see a quote II like that I want to come back to. I went to my little "Find Joy in the Journey" journal that I started back in January and found the perfect quote to move into 2017. It comes from Harry Potter:
"Working hard is important, but there is something that matters even more - believing in yourself."
This past year was hard and exciting and filled me with worry and energy and all the feelings. Being a self-employed creative person is a rollercoaster. Every single day I experience highs and lows and a rush of excitement and the climbing fear of what's to come. When your livelihood rests on your own shoulders and depends on holding yourself accountable for doing the work, putting yourself out there and being your own CEO, marketer, accountant, and boss lady, in addition to being an artist and doing that work at the core of your business - let's just say the stress can be crushing.
And if you let doubt and fear consume you, that crushing stress will, well, crush you and leave you questioning every decision and action.
When I went full time for myself last January, there was a lot of fear and doubt and anxiety. I did not know what this year would do to me or my family. I didn't know if I'd be searching for another office job or if I'd be wildly successful. All I could do was roll up my sleeves, do the work, and put myself out there. Again and again and again. I had to find my voice. I had to figure out who I am as a person, as a photographer, as a working mom and wife and boss lady. And it has not been easy figuring that out.
Honestly, I'm still figuring it out.
One of the things that I learned quickly was that if I made any room for fear or doubt in my life, in my family and business, it would elbow it's way in and smother all the good things I have going. I had to find my confidence and my voice, and in order to do that, I had to stop comparing myself to others. I had to stop looking at how far or how quickly someone was growing their business. I had to find creative entrepreneur friends who I could hang out with and chat about business and ideas and life and things we're passionate about. When you don't work with other adults regularly, it can get lonely, and finding a local tribe to converse with is incredibly refreshing.
This year has been a slow climb from years of holding myself back for my other jobs and things I had going on. This year was all about diving in headfirst, letting go of fear of what's ahead and just rolling with what came my way. This year was about believing that I could actually take this thing I love and make it work and support my family with it.
Because that's where it all began. It all began nearly 7 years ago, working a job I didn't love, wanting to fulfill my creative heart in a way that I could enjoy my someday (now reality) children, have flexibility with my time to spend with family. To do something that has a lasting impact for good on others. And to look myself in the eye and know that I'm doing something that I value, that I love, that is meaningful and creative. My work is serving others in a way that I best know how.
So working hard, yes it's important, of course it is. But if you don't believe in yourself, the journey will be incredibly difficult.
Find your voice. Share your heart. Make friends with your creative community. Lean on your family and friends. Know that you have what it takes, and while it won't always be easy, it will always be worth it.