2016 Year End Review : A Freelancer's Lessons in Change & Confidence

Here we are again watching the end of year race to get here and, if you’re like me, you’re caught wondering where the time went and are left in a reflective mindset.

What has this year meant to me? How have I grown? What do I want next year to be? This year I took on a new title: business owner. For the first time, I am filtering this reflection period not only through a personal lens, but a business-minded one as well. If I were to describe 2016, I would choose two words: Change and confidence.

Change. Choosing the word change is my attempt at putting a positive spin on the words struggle and challenge. I would be lying if I said that change in my professional, as well as personal, life weren’t primarily accompanied with feelings of discomfort and stress. But now that we are nearly on the other side of it, I can see the positivity that resulted from each change. I had a car break down on me for the first time, which meant I was able to buy a car for the first time. I left a job I loved, but started a business that, as it turns out, I love to run.

Starting Good Day Design Co. has led to a period of personal and professional growth that I would never have anticipated at the start of 2016. When my daily scenario became sink or swim, I certainly spent time treading water, but also feel I spent time swimming laps, Olympic swimmer status. Some days are harder than others, but so far, I have learned more than I would have imagined - about my profession, interacting with clients, people, motivation, landing on my feet, learning from others, asking for help, and humility. None of which would have happened if I hadn’t left a secure job that I loved with coworkers I adore.

My point here is, at the best of times, change is exciting and exhilarating - let us hope for more of those! At the worst of times, change is uncomfortable, painful, possibly excruciating. This is no original thought, but those are the times you are given an opportunity to learn and grow, as was proven to me, time and time again over the course of 2016. I was reminded, more than a few times, of one of my favorite quotes by Robert Frost, “I can sum up everything I have learned about life in three words: it goes on.” I think that how we choose to accept change is what makes the difference. I will say now, as much for my own affirmation as anything else, don’t be afraid to take the chance and do what you can to make the best of the worst.

Confidence. There is a word that has always left me with feelings of inadequacy or envy of those it described. Throughout the vast majority of my life, I have considered myself to be shy. During my childhood years, I would say I was painfully shy. I didn’t talk if I didn’t have to, I didn’t share an opinion if I wasn’t asked, and I definitely wasn’t the first to speak up in class. It hasn’t been until the last couple of years that I have noticed a shift in the way I present myself.

At my previous job, I was encouraged to go to a lot of networking events. Because of this, I unearthed the extrovert inside of me that was always trying to get out. My mother-in-law happens to be a master at working a room, so I felt myself put on her persona before each networking event until I discovered my own outgoing personality. What I found as a result is the confidence that is absolutely necessary to succeed as a business owner. I wrote a blog post a little while ago about “What I've learned in my first month freelancing.” One thing I included was that you must be at least a little unreasonably confident in order to stick with this everyday. I had a few week period where I felt like maybe I couldn’t hack it. I was haunted with thoughts of failure and tempted with thoughts of giving up. It made everything slip and business become more stressful than it would have been had I maintained my confident front.

I tend to be a summarizer…so again, what is my point? When I tell people I meet now that I was an especially shy child, they actually don’t believe me. This year my confidence has grown exponentially, and that is after prioritizing it for the last couple years. Whoever said, “Fake it till you make it” had the catchiest piece of real wisdom I’ve ever heard. If you own a business, if you plan on taking a chance…take this seriously! I would be lying if I didn’t say that confidence is a must, but you would be lying to yourself, if you said you can’t do it.

So 2016, has been the year of challenge (but we will call it change) and confidence. What now? My words for 2017: intention and encouragement. Self-reflection phases often lend themselves to improvements within your scope of control. I have identified and been working on improvements for my blog, website, brand, and the services I can offer, some of which you can see here already and some of which are still to be revealed! Stay tuned for more in 2017! Happy holidays!