I wasn’t planning on writing any blogs over the festive period, but I recently worked my way through Suzannah Conway’s ‘unravel your year’ workbook and felt the need to process and consolidate all that journaling into some clearer thoughts, especially in regards to my ‘word’ of the year, or more precisely my ‘quote’ of the year. So I thought why not do it here?
To start with, let’s take a quick look back at 2020. Reading through my notes, it’s clear that I gained a lot of perspective – becoming more grateful for my health and the health of my loved ones than ever. I was grateful for my home and for the fact that both Dan and I could continue to work and earn money safely.
Lessons from 2020
More personally (and pandemic aside), I learnt the following lessons:
I set expectations for myself too high – this became abundantly clear when I got burnt out with Blue Jay work. I then learnt the lesson again in my day-job, when I realised I was pushing myself to squeeze a month’s worth of work into 12 days. Letting go of this pressure I put on myself is a lesson I hope to take with me into 2021 and beyond.
I need to feel creative to thrive – after my break from Blue Jay, I realised this was what was missing, a sense of creativity. When I started prioritising creativity, everything changed. I felt more fulfilled and revitalised and that seeped into all areas of my life.
I can trust myself – another realisation that came during my break was that the lists and schedules I was relying on weren’t helping me as much as I thought. It turns out I don’t need to write ‘take the bins out’ on a list to remember to do it, and I don’t need to have three months worth of work scheduled to the minute. I can trust myself to do what needs to be done and give myself the flexibility I crave.
I need more rest than I think – I used to pride myself on the fact that I gave myself a weekend (unless Blue Jay work spilled into Saturday) and two whole evenings a week off work (!). Now I know I need far more than that. I need a full weekend and I need my evenings, all of them. This only gives me one day a week (Fridays) to work on Blue Jay work, but that’s OK. I’ve reduced my workload and output to make this possible. I’ve been ‘side-hustling’ for a long time now and I’m finally figuring out how to make it work without exhausting myself.
Looking ahead to 2021
Looking ahead to 2021 feels… odd. Unlike 2020 where we went in hopeful and blind to what was about to happen, we’re going into 2021 with open eyes. We know coronavirus is still a threat, at the time of writing it is perhaps at its most threatening with the highest number of cases in the UK since the pandemic began. But we’re also going in with hope – we have a vaccine, there are tentative plans being made for later in the year where many of us hope life will be back to some sort of normalcy.
With this in mind, and the lessons I learnt in 2020, my guiding word of the year came to me pretty easily – flow. I know that whatever comes my way in 2021, I’ll need to be able to adapt and to ‘go with the flow’ more than I do now. In 2020 I was rigid for much of the year, feeling chained to my lists and plans, and finding any sort of change unbearable. This didn’t serve me well as I’m sure you can imagine.
I also want to be ‘in flow’ more. I want to dive deeper into the creative work that fulfils me and just feel more fluid with it all.
After deciding on my word I did something I tried for the first time in 2020 and found very helpful – I searched for a quote that featured my word so I could add it to my phone lock screen. This gives me a gentle nudge every time I pick up my phone and serves as an anchor.
This was when I found the quote that I know will get me through 2021:
When I found it, I realised this quote, more than the word alone, is what I need. When I read it now, I picture a piece of seaweed, grounded in the seabed at its root but flowing with the changing currents and tides. That’s what I want. I want to flow with the waves of change, without being swept away. I want to stay rooted to my core values and beliefs, connected to myself while I flow.
I don’t have any resolutions to make or goals to set – making any kind of plans like this doesn’t feel quite right. I’ve also realised that any expectations or goals I set myself will likely transform into monsters with whips which I’ll use to berate myself. No. Instead I have my quote (which, in case you’re interested, is from Woolf’s book ‘the waves’ which I have just started reading) and two simple intentions:
- Experiment more
- Be curious
I’m in an interesting place with Blue Jay of Happiness, I’ve put down the coaching element of the business for now and want to experiment with other things. I see 2021 as a year for me to try this and see what sticks. With my day-job too, I want to be more open to new things and experiment. After eight years in one place it can be easy to think you know everything and stick to what you know, but I realise to feel more fulfilled I need to lean in to the company’s experimental nature and give more new things a try.
And then curiosity. This is a quality I feel I’ve nurtured a lot in the second half of 2020. I subscribed to Skillshare during my break from Blue Jay and have been taking classes on writing, drawing and even poetry ever since. I want to follow my curiosity more in 2021, pull on the threads that interest me and see what happens. I read an article that talked about curiosity being the secret to a happy life, and while it certainly isn’t the holy grail of happiness (no one thing is, I believe) I definitely see how it makes a big impact.
And that’s where I’m at. I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve, mentally preparing myself for work and ‘real life’ to start again in a few days after three weeks off my day-job and two weeks off Blue Jay work and social media. It’s been a glorious pause. Different than expected and not the Christmas I was hoping for, but hey. Onwards and upwards.
So here’s to a new year and to being rooted and flowing in 2021.
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