Wow, I can certainly say that 2018 wasn’t quite what I expected.
As much as you can make plans and hope for the best, sometimes life has other ideas. And that’s exactly what happened this year.
In January 2018 I was made redundant, which to be honest blew up most of the plans I had laid out for the year, as funds became limited and life took a very different turn.
I decided that rather than jump back into the security of employment I would follow my passions and start a business. So, a month after I became redundant I registered Liberty Mind Ltd and began my adventure into retraining and focussing purely on creating a business that would give me a happier life, and a bigger purpose in my work.
To be quite honest, this journey is still continuing. In our society of instant gratification, we seem to think that everything is an overnight success, but that is naive.
I’ve been working hard, freelance writing whilst gaining all the pieces of paper I need to in order to create a company I’m proud of. And it’s all still very much working progress.
To be honest, I could write an entire blog post about starting a business, which I intend to do soon, but for now, let’s safely say that this leap was a catalyst for so many lessons in 2018.
My yearly reflection series may appear self-indulgent, but I’ve quickly come to realise that life is full of so many precious moments, and for me, these posts are an opportunity to look back and be grateful for the highs and the lows. For each have a lesson, and each has a reason.
So without further ado, here is my 2018. I hope that you find some solace knowing that not everything is picture perfect and that in truth, we’re all just doing the best with what we’ve got.
Everything happens for a reason
Redundancy is hard, and even more so when everything you’ve been working for just disappears overnight. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t upset, or even a little bitter to begin with. But after a week of thoughtful consideration, I came to my senses and realised that everything happens for a reason. Yes, even the downright shit stuff.
It wasn’t so much the work I missed, marketing had started to get boring if I’m honest, and I’d already been thinking about what avenue I could venture into next.
The hardest part was being separated from colleagues who had become friends.
I truly loved working with my team on a daily basis, and just like a family, I knew all their quirks, and most importantly how they took their tea.
There’s a huge amount of lessons I took away from that experience, but the one that sticks in my head is the positive impact a great bunch of people can have. I truly believe sometimes it’s not what you do, but who you do it with.
I’m grateful that I’ve still remained friends with many of my colleagues, but I definitely miss discussing what we’re going to have for lunch and dinner, and the way we all knew how to cheer each other up when something rubbish was going on.
If you’ve just become redundant, I did a full video about the experience here.
You only live once
After being made redundant I decided it was the perfect opportunity to venture out on my own.
This wasn’t a decision I took lightly.
I knew in my gut that I wanted to do it, but I consulted with friends and family. All of which said it was a great chance to do it.
I know many people don’t get this support, and I’m so grateful to have people around me who believe in me and support me in my plans. Even if they are completely reckless at times.
I love working with people and I love helping people become their best selves, which is why it just felt so natural for me to start a business where I could support people in the workplace and hopefully make the workplace into something more meaningful for everyone.
There is so much I have taken from the experience of setting up Liberty Mind this year. Far too much to fit into one paragraph. But one thing I will say is although it takes time and I’m still on the journey, I will never regret this decision.
I’ll do a proper write-up about Liberty Mind soon for those of you who want some honesty about the rollercoaster of starting a business, but for now, you can watch this video about what my mission is for Liberty Mind.
The best gifts are memories
I booked a surprise trip for my other half in 2017, so when this came around I had a mixture of feelings. Part of me wanted to go away, the other half didn’t know whether it was a good idea when I’d just invested all my life’s savings into a new business.
But we bit the bullet and flew off to Madrid for a long weekend.
Typically, it was pouring down with rain the entire time we were there, but we made some incredible memories. For example, we went on an Airbnb Experience of a Traditional Tapas Tour. It was incredible!
We ate real authentic Spanish tapas, got to know the best places to go and enjoyed the company of our tour guide and fellow participants so much we all ended up at a club afterward.
It was such a night to remember I think we’re going to treasure it for the rest of our lives.
It is More Precious Than Money
One thing I didn’t have a lot of when I was in full-time employment, was time.
I was working 9-5.30pm and everything else had to revolve around it. Although being the dedicated loser I was, it was usually 8-6pm.
But when I took the decision to work for myself, one of the benefits is that I could dictate my time and decide what time, when and where I wanted to work.
This has meant my time is now my own, and I can distribute it to those I feel have the highest priority in my life. For much of that, it has been my partner and my mum.
When I was working I would barely see my mum. Squeezing in a visit perhaps every other week and maybe a call once a week. It was pretty awful, to be honest, and even more so when I know how much she needs me.
So this year it has been incredible to spend more time with my mum and just be there when she needs me without an excuse.
I know that not everyone has the opportunity, but for me, my time has become my most valuable asset, and I now use it very wisely. I may not have very much money, but my time is more valuable.
Simple things like taking my nephews to the beach during the Summer holidays with my mum, or going for lunch have been precious and moments in time I will never forget.
Letting go isn’t easy but it’s necessary
This year I lost a few friendships. Not through anything horrific, just a natural parting of ways. I think it happens to us all.
Just like any relationship; you grow apart, you want different things, and then suddenly you’re just not making the effort you used to.
I’ve always struggled with friendships, and so when anyone decides they no longer see me as a friend it hurts a little. I go on a massive self-doubt ride and wonder what’s wrong with me.
But it’s just life, people come and go. What I’ve learned is that I mustn’t take it so sensitively, and do my best to simply continue to nurture the friendships I do have.
As the old saying goes, some people are here for a reason, and some people are here for a season.
Wonderful people exist
For those of you that know me, or regularly read this blog, you’ll know that I’m a passionate advocate of personal development.
In January last year I did a talk about my journey, and how I set goals for myself and the routine I use to achieve them. I enjoyed the talk so much, and had such great feedback I decided to set-up my own self-development meetup in Peterborough.
SELF (Support/Enlighten/Learn/Friendship), was born in May 2018 and has continued as a monthly meetup ever since.
These meetups are a complete passion project of mine, and I love meeting new people and sharing our personal discoveries every month and being supportive of each other’s goals.
As something that was created just so I could talk non-stop about something I love, I’ve been completely overwhelmed at the attendance and support this meet-up has.
I love organising SELF, and every time I’m so grateful for all the wonderful people that come along to support each other and continue to be so open-minded.
The meetup is only two hours long. The first half is usually a talk or a mini-workshop. For example, we’ve had a motivational speaker, a crystal healer, and a nutritionist all do a talk. And then the second half is where we all decide on a micro goal we’d like to achieve over the next four weeks.
I’m excited to be continuing SELF in 2019 and feel so grateful to everyone who comes along.
If you’re in the Peterborough or the Cambridgeshire area you can check it out here.
Asking for Help
It’s hard but it makes you stronger
One thing you have to do when you start your own business is ask for help. Because the truth is, nobody knows it all.
This year, I had to swallow my pride and ask for help on many different things that I knew nothing about. And whilst it was hard to do initially, I now feel stronger and more prepared.
As the old African Proverb says – “ If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Sucks but makes you realise your strength
For the very first time in my life this year I have suffered with anxiety.
It’s a strange sensation that sweeps over me before I go to bed. My mind starts pinging off in all directions, worrying about everything, and then my heart races and I feel a crushing weight on my chest as if I can’t breathe. It’s horrible and as soon as I realised what it was I knew that I had to find a way to manage it. Otherwise I knew it would consume me and stop me from pushing myself.
When I really thought about it, I knew that the reason I was getting the anxiety was simply due to financial pressure. When you start a business on your own it’s all on you to make it work. To get the money in and make sure you’ve got enough money to pay the bills. It can feel incredibly overwhelming and scary.
But I also know that it won’t last. Like everything, it’s temporary.
Instead of getting myself caught up in worry I decided to take action. I started to plan ahead, started running every day and adopted a new bedtime routine to ensure that the anxiety couldn’t catch me before going to sleep. I know all of this isn’t an instant fix, but it’s working for me.
Anxiety hasn’t been a great experience, or a highlight, but it’s taught me how resourceful I can be, and given me the persistence to continue.
Learning from passionate people makes all the difference
I wrote about my full experience of flower arranging here. But I had to include it in my highlights of 2018 because it genuinely taught me so much.
Not only is flower arranging such a mindful practice, but I’ve used it so much since the experience.
I just love doing it, picking out flowers and greenery and enjoying the garden. It’s my new happy place hobby. Plus I’ve not only been able to create arrangements in my home to brighten up spaces, but I’ve also been able to use it to brighten up other people’s faces.
I grew some flowers in the garden this year, and so when my friend was having a rough time, I created her an arrangement from bits and pieces from my garden.
The look on her face when I gave it to her was priceless, and knowing that I had selected everything with her in mind made it all the more special.
To be able to use my new skills to make someone else happy has been the best use of my new found hobby.
Watching someone else’s strength is will push you harder
This year my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I hate using the word cousin because it makes it seem as though there’s a distance between us when in reality she’s more like a sister to me – I tell her everything.
Watching her go through the trauma of cancer, and seeing her go through such pain really hit home to me and made me realise even more how precious life is.
Clare has taught me so much in my life, and I couldn’t imagine any time without her.
To be hit with this prospect was hard. She has always been my rock, the one person who could give me honest, reasonable advice and give me the biggest squeeze when I needed it the most.
You know, those great big bear hugs that instantly make your troubles just fall away.
Over this year, despite the crappiness of cancer we’ve still managed to make some amazing memories, including a rather boozy lunch at Wahaca. The waiter dared to comment on how much food we ordered!
I stayed with Clare after her op and I feel incredibly grateful that I was by her side when she was given the all-clear. Like a trooper, she fought it and will continue being the kick-ass woman I know.
Even writing this makes me feel emotional as she has always had such an impact on my life. A fiercely strong, independent woman – a complete inspiration.
Living with Less
Is fun and more fulfilling that I ever knew
Again I wrote about learning to live with less earlier in the year, (here), but I can hands down say it has been one of my biggest life lessons this year.
I’ve never been massively into buying stuff, so when a situation, like setting up a business, forces you to be a bit more frugal, you realise how much money you spent on pointless shit.
As I said to my partner, I think this is a hard lesson to truly learn without fully experiencing it.
I think you have to truly be limited to know your limits. Because let’s face it, if you’re trying to be frugal on a healthy salary it’s all too easy to quit the hard work and just spend. Being frugal is hard work, and you have to be resourceful.
We get so used to our healthy salary, that as soon as anything happens we think we’re poor. When in reality, we’re not poor, we just can’t afford to be ridiculous.
We need a lot less than we realise, and it wouldn’t hurt more of us to think that way.
As Matt Haig says in Reasons to Stay Alive – ‘Happiness is bad for the economy, because if we were happy we wouldn’t need anything’.
The world is built to make us spend money on stuff we don’t need, and I for one, am so grateful this year that I managed to see past the bullshit.
For my 30th instead of buying a dress I would only wear once, I borrowed one.
For Christmas, instead of crap that didn’t mean anything we purchased experiences or went to charity shops.
We spend so mindlessly, and yet wonder why we have no money?
Even if I win the lottery, I’ll still be living my minimalist life.
Being open-minded will lead to great friendships
This year a local coffee shop in Stamford started a supper club.
Five courses of delicious Thai food and bring your own booze. What’s not to love!
Dean and I went along and it has now become a rather regular little night out for us.
Not only is the food great, but because you sit down with different people each time you get to meet new people. Combining great food and great company, we have made some wonderful friends from this supper club, and it has given us some wonderful memories of living in Stamford.
Sea air and sunshine fixes most things
We managed to escape for another get-away in September to the South of France.
Luckily, this time the weather was in our favour, and I finally got to enjoy the sunshine, seafood, and sea air. All my favourite Ss. Admittedly because this was a little more last minute, we didn’t manage to organise as many adventures but it did us good to actually stop and rest.
As a couple, we have a tendency to be always on the go. We fill up our days, our evenings and our weekends and rarely do ‘nothing’.
So to venture off to somewhere new and do nothing – except gorge on all the delicious French food – was a welcome break for the both of us.
It’s true what they say, sometimes a change is better than a rest, and we both came away eager to get back to business.
We can all do something for someone
In October my beautiful nephew Oscar was born 6 weeks premature. For everyone in the family this was a heart-wrenching time, as premature babies, as anyone will know are extremely fragile. There are no certainties.
Oscar had to have seven blood transfusions and spend four weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.
He received incredible treatment, and is now a beautiful, healthy smiley, bouncing boy.
However, witnessing my tiny little nephew filled with tubes pushed me to give blood.
It had been on my 30before30 list, but I’d kept wussing out and pushing it further and further away. But after everything happened with Oscar, I gave blood for the first time.
It didn’t hurt, and it was completely fine. But the fact is, more people need to do it.
I never for a moment thought that the blood given could be going to a baby in intensive care, or an emergency unit.
We like to think it’s all just for back-ups. But you just never know.
From now on I will be giving blood as regularly as I can, and be thinking of my gorgeous nephew every time.
Good things happen in life when you surround yourself with positive people
This year I turned 30, and on the evening of my party, all I felt was an overwhelming amount of gratitude.
Every person in the room, friends, and family, had helped me through a tough year, and given me the strength and support to continue, even when I sometimes didn’t believe in myself.
I’m eternally grateful that for my 30th I was surrounded with these beautiful humans, and I will never forget that night or the continued love and support they give me.
Many people asked me if I was worried about turning 30, but I’m not worried about anything with these people by my side.
In fact, I’m rather excited, as I believe the best is yet to come.
Without a doubt, this has been one of the hardest years, but also the one where I feel I’ve learned the most and truly got a feel for how I want to lead my life.
I’ve made conscious decisions, and find myself enjoying life’s simple pleasures even more.
I know many of you will be looking to make plans for the new year, but if they don’t work out as you hoped, I can tell you with certainty there is a bigger plan waiting for you. And it might just turn into your best lesson.