Happy New Year to you! I know, I know, I'm about a month late. I can't believe January is already almost over and 2016 is off to a fast start!
If you've been around my blog for any length of time, you know that each year I choose a word for the year to focus on. This word helps center me, encourage me throughout the year and gives me an overarching goal to focus my business vision towards. 2015's word was "Expand" and 2014's word was "Courage".
My word for 2016 is "Connect" which means:
– To become connected; join or unite
– To cause to be associated, as in a personal or business relationship
– To relate to or be in harmony with another person, one's work, etc.
There are many reasons why I chose this word for 2016, which you will understand when you read through my recap of 2015 below. One thing I do know is that 2015 was a really tough year for me full of ups and downs.
Here's a "keeping it really, really real" recap for you:
– I created 1 new painting. I absolutely love painting and want to do it more and more. I just didn't make time for it in 2015 because the previous 18 paintings I did didn't bring in much income, and I felt like I needed to spend my time on things that could pay my bills. I unfortunately chose to live in fear, and all it did was keep me from doing things that light up my spirit. Lesson learned. I'm now putting some painting dates on my calendar for this year!
– I spent a lot of the year focused on creating work and designing for licensee's/clients and not much time reaching out on social media or other aspects of my business which really hurt me in not so visible ways. I only blogged 9 times in 2015! And I didn't even have one photo shoot and I usually do 1-3 a year. I spent much of the year choosing to live in fear of if my next paycheck would be enough, if I would be able to create enough new art, etc. that I pushed myself to work and work and not do the things that bring me or my business life. This year I am going to make a conscious choice to live in faith and to know that all I can do is the best I can and that when I show up every single day and work really hard, good things will happen. When I look back at 2015 – good things did happen and I was completely taken care of. My fears didn't come to fruition. That quote "Fear is the misuse of the creative imagination" is so true. I'm going to work on using my creative imagination for positive, life bringing things.
– I did focus on "Expanding" which was my word for 2015. I spent more time with hand-drawing, watercolor and collage and stepped away from so much vector work. Exploring was such a fun and terrifying experience, and it's one that I am continuing to do each and every day. My clients have been responding really well to my expanding and growing as an artist and offering them new and exciting works, which spurs me on.
– I experienced a lot of creative block. I would sit down and spend hours each day creating week after week...only to not like what I created when I was done and have to start over. I do know though that when we focus on "expanding" and pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones to grow that it does take a while to develop the skills we need to create excellent work that we are excited about. And that's the beauty and curse behind expanding! But all I could do is show up every day and try. And try I did. And grow I did. And grow I continue to do. But creating less art=getting less work=making less money=me choosing to be afraid...its a viscous cycle that unfortunately consumed much of my 2015. I'm determined to break out of this cycle in 2016 as I mentioned above.
– I took a really hard look at the numbers in my business and my husband and I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University which really rocked our world. Woah. Eye opening. For my business, I had to spend a lot of time and energy slicing and dicing numbers and make really hard decisions. One of them being that I decided to leave my agent and go back to representing myself. It's never fun to need to leave working with people you enjoy.
– I attended Surtex 2015 as my agent had a booth. To be honest, it was a really hard experience for me. I really enjoy setting up my own booth, meeting with new people, meeting artists, getting direct feedback about my work, and all the excitement that comes with a trade show. Since I work from home, don't get a chance to get out much, and mostly connect with people online, I really look forward to the shows and find them very valuable for my business. I spent a lot of the time walking around and waiting to get a call for when a licensee would want to meet with me. If you know me, you know I like to work, be useful and productive, so this was really really hard for me. I actually ended up leaving the show early which was a little heart crushing. I did have time though, for the first time in 5 years, to walk the entire Stationery show and ICFF which was fun, but working on my business and being excited about future potential opportunities would have been way more fun. I also had time to go to the Metropolitan Museum and see the amazing China Through the Looking Glass exhibit which was extraordinary!
– I signed a dream-come-true licensing deal with Capri Designs that I can't wait to tell you more about in the coming months! Through all the toughness of 2015, this was definitely a bright spot. I got to collaborate with an amazing company and design a line of bags and stationery to my vision, which was such a delightful experience! I also had new lines come out with Wellspring, new fabric lines with Blend, new stamp designs with Impress, new letterpress cards with Design Design and more!
– I took my first "vacation" in 4 years of business to take 2 weeks off to move (does that count?). My husband and I just bought a new house and I'm really excited about my new space! And especially excited that I finally get to paint walls. With us buying a house I took the liberty to take some time off and get settled in. It was worth it. I need to do this more...but actually go somewhere pleasant next time! I'm working on scheduling vacations into my year now.
– My website got hacked which caused me to need to restructure a lot of my internal business processes, find new business solutions and software, and create a new website myself. It was rough, but I found my way through it, came out on the other side much stronger, and found new systems that work much easier for my needs, and I love my new site. There's always a silver lining...
– I went through a branding re-design to align my business more to my true style and values and am so happy with the results.
– I started a monthly newsletter called "The Catalyst" as a way to connect more with you on a deeper level which has really been a delight. Which leads me to my word for 2016 – "Connect".
This year really made me realize that I need to connect with people outside of myself more and more. As an introvert, I don't really know what this looks like, or how much of it I have the capacity for, but I do know that I am desiring more purpose in my life and wanting to connect with more people in different ways. Not "hang-out-on-Facebook-groups" ways but more about finding ways to connect with others and make a difference in this world. Working for myself feels so hedonistic sometimes and purposeless. It IS a joy, for sure that I wouldn't change for the world, yet it can be very isolating...I'm ready for something more. That's what 2015 taught me and I'm writing it all down so I can remember the lessons I've learned and think of ways that I can move forward positively. I'm excited to connect more through social media, my newsletter and other ideas that I've got brewing. I know I can't go from 0 to 60 in a week, and that it'll be a gradual process, but I'm signing myself up to try. And try I will.
I'd love to hear – What do you do to connect with others? What brings you joy when you do it with someone else? How do you choose to not live in fear?
Lastly - What would you like to hear more about from me or see?