I opened up last year’s blog post, feeling a little stressed about how I haven’t written this year’s…turns out I didn’t post my 2020 recap until mid-FEBRUARY so *technically* I’m improving. Ha! That’s how that works, right?
Coming off of a year like 2020 you wouldn’t think life could get much crazier, but 2021 definitely gave it a run for its money. I packed more work and massive milestones into these past 12 months than I think I even really realized, until I sat down to do my yearly reflection.
If you’re new around here, every year I review and reflect on my year with prompts similar to those in the Cultivate What Matters Powersheets (I didn’t buy myself a book this year because I finally accepted that I’m just never going to fill it out monthly like I think I will in January lol).
I love this exercise because it’s easy to generalize a year as “not the best”, “wild”, or “the greatest”, when the truth is a year is a LONG time and SO much can happen.
I’m also going to do something I’ve never done with one of these posts before… I’m going to write EXACTLY what I wrote in my notebook. Sharing it all.
So as a start, here are the highlights from my 2021:
Big group ski trip to Breckenridge, CO where I successfully made it down a blue run on my new snowboard!!!
Um…am I okay? That was a LOT. A puppy, a house, a new brand, on top of everything else?!
The answer is, yes, in a lot of ways I feel really good. I’ve grown so much as a person and in business and I’m thankful because that’s allowed the space for both my business and my personal life.
This is my favorite part of the review exercise – the recap of what worked last year and what didn’t…
Wins: What Worked in 2021
Prioritizing my personal time
Going to the gym consistently – thank you Peloton!
Doing what I wanted, even when I was scared (like getting a puppy)
Making time to be around friends in the industry and who understand solo-prenuer life
Having consistent girls’ nights and trips with my friends
Making big investments for my future
Listening to my burnout when I felt like things needs to change or be restructured
Standing up for myself within my business
Stopping shooting on the weekends, except for weddings
Figuring out how to balance being a big sister who is also a boss
Outsourcing things that I just didn’t have the time or skill level to get it done
Finding things outside of work that bring me joy, like taking breaks to play or train Dune
Taking less pressure off of the events I plan or attend and actually enjoying them
Being okay with not being productive and just RESTING
Sharing more of my authentic self online
Hanging out more at local places in Wilmington and feeling like I’m a regular
Leaning on different people for different things (not putting the pressure all on a select person or group of people)
Being more daring with my outfits
Feeling confident and sure of myself
Listening to my own gut
Like I said…lots of growth this year. It’s really satisfying to see the fruits of the labor I’ve put in for the last few years of being a recovering workaholic, perfectionist, people-pleaser, etc.
I still have an equally long list of things that didn’t work and I will need to fix moving forward…
Challenges: Things That Didn’t Work In 2021
No consistent blogging schedule and getting so overwhelmed that I just gave up
No consistent office hours, which lead to longer response times
Going to bed entirely way too late
Too much unproductive time on my phone
Needing to set even clearer expectations and answer questions before they’re asked to build trust
Not having a system to stay consistent with deliverables even when my schedule ramps up
Disregarding dates I put on the calendar (like launches, announcements, etc.)
Not following through on launch plans and not preparing ahead like I used to
Having a cluttered, non-inspired office space
Not structuring my week and blocking off time for future projects – just doing what needed to be done “now”
Needing to review my backend systems to make things more efficient and streamlined
Sharing too much about my personal life and feeling vulnerable
Scheduling too many shoots in one month
Not having multiple backup second shooters
Not documenting big moments on the blog for myself
Not doing anything with all of the content I’ve filmed
Getting distracted during tasks
Not enough time in the sun or the ocean
Working holiday weekends!!!
Needing to charge more and be more strategic about travel (with gas going up, having to make arrangements for Dune, and having to spend so much unproductive time on the road)
Not having a system for editing and printing personal photos
Yeah…that’s me being as honest as I’ve ever been in one of these recap posts. But I think it’s important to see that we all struggle with similar things, no matter what stage of business or life we’re in.
LESSONS LEARNED: WHAT DID THE GOOD AND BAD TEACH ME?
This is one of my favorite parts of the review – less of a list of events and more of a curated, really-thought-through compilation of what the good and the bad left me with.
Not everyone will be pleased and I can’t be responsible for the world’s problems.
The gym is more than just moving your body. Its meditation.
Becoming a “gym” person is honestly just about showing up enough that you feel at home being there.
I can do big things by myself and my gut is loud and can be trusted, more than I thought.
It’s possible to love your business and yourself.
It’s important to have a full circle of people to lean on for different things.
People are observing your life, not doing it with you and it’s okay not to share “everything” about yourself online.
There’s something special about paddling yourself to an island and sitting in the sun in silence.
Having a dog invites SO many more conversations with people in public.
Our phones have a death grip on us.
As we get older, it’s still really important to do things with “just the girls.”
Not everyone you hire will do things exactly how you would have but that’s okay because done is better than perfect and sometimes its even better.
I’m not sure if it was apparent that I took a step back from sharing so much this past year, but if it was, know that so much was still happening behind the scenes. I generally regard myself as a confident and outgoing person, but even people like me need to have moments of reset and evaluate what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
I really feel like 2021 was laying a solid foundation in myself to really KNOW that I can do the things I want to do in business and in life…because well, I’m doing them.
I’m SO looking forward to sharing my 2022 goals and a little insight into what I have planned for this year…plus I HAVE PICKED MY ONE WORD FOR 2022, EVERYONE!!!!! It’s a good one 🙂 Stay tuned!!
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I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.