It is that time of year.

People everywhere are reflecting on the year. In fact, not just the year but the decade, as we are flying at warp speed into a whole new one with the arrival of 2020. Being a bit slow on the uptake and never knowing what day/date it is, it was something I hadn’t twigged until about a fortnight ago.

As the 19th Dec also marks the one year birthday of my business becoming a limited company I started to think I should review my year, and plan for the next — as so far, I admit, I have winged it.

But it’s worked.

I have been busy to the point of turning work down, and I have learnt so much.

When it comes to this insight and reflection malarky I am much better with a structure to follow to guide my wandering mind.

Luckily I stumbled across the lovely (and sickeningly glam) Sarah Akwisombe and her No Bull Business School. She has created a great resource for this exact purpose- the Kick-ass year-end review.

​So off I went, having an insightful ponder and here are my key takeaways from this exercise.

My biggest lessons from this year

  1. That I CAN do it for myself!
  2. I have a unique combination of very marketable skills
  3. I enjoy working from home and do not go insane (my chap thought this was guaranteed and so did I as I can get cabin fever just spending a weekend indoors)
  4. I can be me! I don’t have to pretend to be someone I am not. This realisation has moved a huge boulder off my shoulders and made me much calmer

Score out of 10 for the year

Professionally, I gave it an 8. This was due to the one significant wobble I had and a couple of instances of not feeling great/confident/unsure of the work I was doing when imposter syndrome kicked my butt. Those negatives aside there are 4 reasons I rated the year so highly:

  1. Feedback from my clients has been consistently great
  2. Consistent work has come in and new customers have become repeated customers
  3. I have really enjoyed the social aspects online – Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, #Write52, #ContentClubUK – which have given me a sense of still belonging to ‘something’, company, support and a shared love of biscuits and gin
  4. I have had such a lovely mixture of projects – some writing-based, some design, many for the whole process. And they have covered a wide range of topics keeping it interesting and fresh

What am I most grateful for?

Fellow freelancers who have recommended me for work and passed on my details – this has led to some really enjoyable work that was perfect for me.

Also, just having a cracking first year in business. I am so proud of how it has worked out and that it has also given me the space to explore and be myself.

What has felt successful about this year? 

Finally finding my niche and using it to my potential. Plus moving on from past experiences to get my confidence back, and feel like myself again. This whole experience has led to such a huge change in me and my outlook.

Is there anything I miss? 

I do miss some of my old colleagues and a bit of banter. However, as mentioned above the communities I am involved in online do give me a sense of this back, and I have the flexibility to meet up with friends and ex-colleagues now and again for a natter. I look forward to building on these networks and new connections next year.

What am I most proud of from this year?

The repeat business, the fact that I have put myself way out of my comfort zone to try new things (writing journal articles, networking, blogs etc) and that my first year in business has been more successful, than I ever dared imagine.

This week I have also found out that all the projects have all been extended into year 2.

What was my biggest fail? 

There was one situation (the wobble) which I let get to me and I could have handled it better. But imposter syndrome and anxiety kicked in big time, and when someone made something personal and lied, I let it break me.

What did I learn from this fail?

To be more open and communicate when I am getting to breaking point and in the downward spiral of confidence slipping away. And to take more time out — something I have not done much of this year.

My biggest career win?

That I am happy! Finally! How wonderful is that?

I enjoy work now, the flexibility is amazing for me and I am proud of myself. I don’t think I have ever uttered those words before. It is quite a revelation. Now I just need to be brave enough to say it out loud or just shout from the rooftops.

3 things I will focus on improving (personal)

  1. Calm and focus
  2. Consistency in hobbies
  3. Health and pain management

3 things I will focus on improving (business)

  1. Business marketing – actually have a plan!
  2. Writing skills
  3. Industry knowledge and developments, plus sharing more of my knowledge in my blog posts/articles

What do I need to do to achieve my vision of success for 2020? 

  • The priority: Get my new website done!
  • Better project and time management (it is pretty good already but there are areas to improve)
  • Attend more webinars, courses and read more of my stack of books
  • Get my name out there with more consistency
  • Be more proactive about approaching people for work and contacting previous clients occasionally
  • More experimentation in my own time, practising new skills (particularly for e-learning)
  • Make a content plan and stick to it!
  • Schedule in my CPD
  • Get involved in more communities online, e.g. eLN, E-learning Heroes

Other random musings that came into my head whilst doing this review:

  • Consider writing a course myself — possibly about instructional design and the process
  • Am I brave enough to try a vlog post? I said I would never do this, I’m still not sure
  • Get sharing my resources to help others
  • Create some sample games to show my skills and knowledge
  • Publish on Medium more — have a focus/plan for this
  • Try guest blogging? I need to find out how to go about this.

All in all, it has been a marvellous year. One which I will look back fondly on for some time. And year 2 looks to be starting in much the same way. 

I have some clear actions above that I can now take forward and ponder over the Christmas break, to come back raring to go and with a plan of action. 

I am definitely looking forward to next year, and I hope you are too!

Have a Merry Christmas one and all and best wishes for a magical 2020. 

Write 52: Week 25 (Yes, I have gone backwards, upon posting no.26 I realised I had missed no. 25)
Theme: A few of my favourite things