Anyone else getting whiplash from how quickly 2011 has flown by? There were days that literally crawled by, but as a whole I'm struggling to wrap my mind around the fact that all of 2011 will soon be history.
Reflecting comes naturally to me, so I love the times of our lives that naturally cause us to stop and reflect. A great idea I received from a friend was to keep a business journal. Throughout the year, I keep a simple record of things that worked well, ideas for the future, and things to never ever do again. Two themes jumped out at me off the pages of my business journal:
In January I challenged myself to step out from behind my computer and go out and meet people in my industry. I can be quite outgoing but I guarantee you that stepping into a room full of strangers will set off butterflies in my stomach every single time. Funny though, when you attend enough networking events, those strangers become friends. I am so grateful for the relationships I'm building and have built this past year. I don't think life was meant to be lived alone, and that's especially relevant to a small business owner like myself.
I've said many times that I thought starting my own business would be a risk. What I didn't realize is that deciding to start a business is only the beginning of many many risks. Daily I have to make major and minor choices, and each decision involves a degree of risk. I'm excited that some risks paid off (narrowing my target market, staying true to my style, initiating relationships with new vendors). Others were learning experiences (partnerships that weren't as profitable as I'd hoped, hoping for the best in ambiguous circumstances instead of clearly communicating expectations, & marketing efforts that failed). With every risk taken, no matter if it ended in success or failure, my knowledge and experience grew and for that I am very grateful.
Now on the personal side, I feel good about the decisions I made to spend time with family and friends. No matter how hard I worked hard, I wanted to make sure I made time for lunches, coffees, phone calls, and quality time with those I care about. The problem is that I've never been so great at math :) I divided myself among work, friends, and family and I left little to no time for myself. Outside of my business, I made too few personal goals and aspirations. I know this will sound weird, but I didn't take enough time to play, have fun, and be creative. The very things that could feed my soul & bring rest & refreshment, I neglected to do. This friends, is not so bueno. The great thing is that I can change this! While I'm off this week, I'll be brainstorming ways to live a more balanced life in 2012! All around, I know that good things are to come, and I look forward to all that the new year holds.
A 2011 in review blog post would not be complete without a MAJOR thank you to my clients. The joy I see in your eyes and hear in your voice when you look at your images makes what I do so worth it. Thank you all!