It’s hard to focus on the positives at the end of a year like this. But despite the shitstorm that 2020 has brought, there are some good things from my seventh year in business that I want to hold on to.

Firstly, the business communities that have been a godsend throughout the pandemic. Strong, creative and generous folk who have come together to support each other online, in social media groups and in Zoom rooms. I’m especially grateful to Steve Folland at Being Freelance, Ed Goodman from Freelance Heroes and Jess Sizeland of The Mama Hive for their incredible work in building communities where we get to share ideas, collaborate and let off steam if we need to.

The support from fellow business owners has even arrived through the letterbox. Over the last few months, I’ve received a festival-at-home kit, a gorgeous wall hanging, stickers, postcards, flamingos, stationery and books. And knowing how this made me feel, I’m going to send more snail mail surprises to people next year.

I’ve learned a lot more about me and my business and the need to focus on keeping things simple. I’ve dropped the ‘shoulds’ – the should be doing this, the should be posting that, the should be creating this, that and the other. And I’ve stopped myself being lured down avenues that hold zero appeal just because a chorus of voices tell you to ‘up level’. Yuk. It’s liberating to free yourself from all that self-imposed pressure and travel in the wind of your own sails.

That realisation has come thanks to getting clearer on the stuff that really matters to me. Because who wants to waste time on things that drag you down, especially when we’re smacked in the face by a massive wake-up call like COVID? You could say it’s about values but I always think that sounds a bit serious and overinflated for my business of one. Whatever you call it, I’m definitely more focused on the work that lights me up, the people who make the world shine brighter and the things that bring the most joy.

I’ve been very fortunate throughout this pandemic to work with clients whose services are in huge demand. It means I’ve had my most successful year in business yet: by a long way. And I’m moving into 2021 with the dreamiest of clients and with projects that are making a positive imprint on this world. Grateful doesn’t even come close.

Although I try not to let it impact my work, I’ve had some pretty crappy health issues to contend with, thanks to a broken immune system that’s determined to wipe out healthy parts of my body. Five failed treatments later and a few brief, blissful weeks on steroids, I’m looking forward to a new treatment for 2021 full of hope that it will be ‘the one’. What chronic pain (and a heap of weird symptoms) does to you, is put things in perspective. Another shove in the direction of focusing on stuff that really matters.

Lastly, and most importantly, I’ve been reflecting on the impact of some beautiful people taken way too soon this year. Colleagues and friends I admired greatly and whose wisdom continues to guide me each day.

What they’ve taught me is priceless.

What I’ve gained is immeasurable.

How I thank them…I’ve yet to work that out.