On 31 December, 2019 I chose my word for 2020.
FLOURISH — “to grow luxuriantly; thrive; achieve success; prosper; reach a height of development or influence.”
That day, I wrote the following …
“In 2020, I am going to FLOURISH. I believe that this is the year when everything I’ve been working on for the past few years will come together. The years of sowing, and growing, learning lessons and changing habits will pay off and I will get the results I’ve been working for. The hard work that I have put into my Transformation journey, my business and writing my novel will all bear fruit, and I will experience success in all areas of my life like I never have before.”
And then, in late January the curveball that none of us saw coming hit our shores. The COVID-19 pandemic was about to turn everything we thought we knew and everything we had planned for 2020 on its head.
But despite strict, extended lockdowns (I live in Melbourne), 6 months of home-schooling, social distancing and the general upheaval associated with a global pandemic, 2020 was the year that I flourished — and so did my business.
Here’s how I did it.
I focused on what I could control
2020 was a year filled with much fear, anxiety and uncertainty for many people, and I wasn’t immune either, especially during the early days. However, the truth is that none of us can control everything, especially during a pandemic. Trying to only leads to overwhelm, stress, anxiety and even paralysing fear. True power is found by focusing on what you CAN control, and letting go of the rest. Sure, this is easier said than done sometimes, but it was a strategy I kept coming back to. By focusing on what I could control, and letting go of the rest, I was better able to navigate the twists and turns and uncertainty that was 2020.
If I found myself starting to feel anxious or worried, particularly as case numbers in Melbourne rose to around 700+ per day, I asked myself what I could do. And the answer was always to control what I did, and how I reacted. I’d be lying if I said I was never stressed, sad, angry or frustrated during 2020. But learning to let go of control, and focusing on what I could do helped me feel calmer and more productive.
Not only did letting go of control help my mental health, but it helped my two teens become more flexible, resilient and develop better problem-solving skills. Despite 2 rounds of remote learning, totalling around 6 months, they continued to do well with their schooling and came out the other side with their mental health intact. My son finished Year 12 with a subject award, 4 academic awards, and on track to get a high ATAR score. My daughter also finished the year with a swag of awards and was named Female Captain for Yr 10 – a testament to the fact that if you focus on what you can control, you can do amazing things.Despite strict, extended lockdowns, 6 months of home-schooling, social distancing and the general upheaval associated with a global pandemic, my business and I still flourished. Find out how. Click To Tweet
I remained committed to my business
One of the things that I could control in 2020 was how committed I was to my business, and how much energy I put into it.
In December 2019 I applied to be part of the inaugural Hot Copy Mastermind (HCMM) — a 6-month intimate coaching program designed to help build our brand, and accelerate business growth — run by Kate Toon and Belinda Weaver.
When I signed up for the HCMM, I already had a successful business. But I was working long hours and was starting to feel burnt out. I knew that my current model of working wasn’t sustainable and that something had to change.
We kicked off HCMM in February with a few Aussie-based copywriters, one based in France and one based in the US, all of us excited by what we would learn, not even thinking that a global pandemic was on the cards.
Throughout this program, I became clearer about my branding, positioning and who my ideal clients are. I developed better processes around my work, built a team of people I can outsource things to or work in collaboration with, and bedded down my core offerings.
Since completing the training, my business continues to grow from strength to strength. I am attracting more of my ideal clients, earning more money and am no longer stressed, burnt out and working long hours. I have more time for myself and my family, and the energy to continue building my business and working on new offerings.
HCMM was a beacon of light during a dark time. Not only did it help my business flourish, but all of us found our little group to be of great support and comfort when the events of the global pandemic threatened to overwhelm us.
Other things I achieved in my business this year include:
- Working with clients such as Cancer Australia, Medibank, Jean Hailes, TerryWhite Chemmart and Macular Disease Foundation
- Writing a “leadership” piece on How health and medical brands should respond to the Coronavirus pandemic
- Appearing on 2 podcasts — The Hot Copy Podcast and The Morning Kick
- Recording 3 videos for my website (you can see one of them here)
- Developing new offerings around AHPRA — have you downloaded my FREE AHPRA Health Advertising Compliancy Checklist?
- Delivering 9 web projects including Medibank’s CareComplete, Retina Consult, and Carers Australia (NDIS)
- Writing countless blogs, patient resources, health articles and white papers
- Being named an Ambassador for The Clever Copywriting Community
- A 25% increase in revenue
…all while having a husband and two teens work and study from home for around 6 months of the year.
When many businesses faltered and failed under the weight of COVID-19, mine continued to grow. While I was fortunate that my industry wasn’t heavily impacted like other, my business primarily flourished because I continued to stay focused and worked hard.When many businesses faltered and failed under the weight of COVID-19, mine continued to grow. Read how I did it. Click To Tweet
I kept up with my training
Many of you know that I’m currently working on a Body & Lifestyle Transformation with Imani Tribe Transformations. When gyms and training studios began shutting their doors, we easily switched over to their online program. We were given our “at-home ISO” training programs, provided with the right amount of support and accountability, and while many others found solace on their couch with ice-cream or beer, I continued with my training. Each year, we train for a total of 40 weeks in the year, with structured rest periods factored in. I completed 25 of those 40 weeks at home and did not miss a session. At 5.15am every Monday and Thursday morning, I got my training done and stuck to my usual routine as much as possible. I am incredibly proud of this achievement.
On the days I didn’t train, I walked for an hour — the allotted time we were allowed out of the house for exercise. When every day seemed the same, and it felt like we were stuck in a time warp, the subtle changes in nature reminded me that time was indeed ticking along. The Autumn leaves kept track of time for me, reminding me of the season that we were in. As they changed their colours from bright greens to rich shades of gold, red and brown, they also reminded me that change is constant which helped me remain hopeful that lockdown would eventually end. I walked through piles of leaves, I walked through fog and mist, and as the weather began to warm up, I walked by trees that were finally beginning to bud.
Part of our Stage 4 restrictions meant that we had to stay within a 5km radius of our house. Fortunately for me, a large field was within this radius and I walked past it on every one of my walks. This field helped me feel free, even though I didn’t have the freedom I craved. It helped to inspire me, even when motivation was low. It helped energise me even though some days I felt bone-weary. While lockdown was incredibly hard, sticking to my regular training schedule was an absolute life-saver. It helped me stay sane, kept me from feeling despair, and an added bonus was that I didn’t come out of lockdown with the “COVID-kilos” that many others did.
While lockdown was incredibly hard, sticking to my regular training schedule was an absolute life-saver. It helped me stay sane, kept me from feeling despair, and I avoided the 'COVID-kilos'. Click To Tweet
I accepted that it was hard
There’s a fine line between thinking positively, and burying your head in the sand not accepting reality. And while being positive is important, it’s just as important to acknowledge when you find things are difficult.
When COVID hit our shores, all of Australia went into some form of lockdown. However, Melbourne had a much longer, harder lockdown experience than anyone else. And to be honest, unless you experienced it yourself firsthand, you’ll never really understand the sacrifices we all made during this time. Here’s a video depicting Melbourne during its Stage 4 lockdown.
None of it was easy. Well, okay not having to drive the kids to all their events was easy. But living with your family members 23/7 (remember we got an hour to exercise), is difficult, no matter how much you love them. The daily press conferences that many of us waited for and the political grandstanding took their toll. The snide comments from people and politicians in other states about our outbreak became tiresome. The extended lockdowns and not being able to see loved ones was incredibly hard. But for my family, it was the cancellation of all the things we had been looking forward to that hit the hardest.
An overseas trip. Our Easter holidays. A retreat to Byron Bay. A girls’ weekend (cancelled twice). Birthday celebrations. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations. September school holidays. Schoolies plans. 18th birthdays. On and on it went. At one point, it felt that having a holiday in Queensland was just as likely as me flying to the moon.
Acknowledging these feelings, and giving ourselves permission and the space to feel annoyed, frustrated, angry, sad or whatever emotion we felt, helped. It meant that we weren’t bottling up our emotions, and helped us as a family, understand how each of us was feeling, so we could stay connected and support one another.
But I also kept returning to my word for the year and continually asked myself “how can this situation help me flourish?” or “what can I learn from this?”
Doing this helped me grow and develop in ways that wouldn’t have been possible, had COVID-19 never come our way.As hard as it was, 2020 helped me grow and develop in ways that wouldn’t have been possible, had COVID-19 never come our way. Click To Tweet
What I learned
Here’s what I learned in 2020.
Letting go of control is key
I learned that there is very little that we can control, and that the only power we have is in the NOW!
While it’s important to make plans for the future, these plans can be wiped away in an instant. Letting go of trying to control all things, situations and other people is liberating. Focusing on what you can do right here and now also will greatly influence your future, while making life a lot simpler, and a lot less stressful.
Giving up makes everything harder in the long run
2020 wasn’t plain sailing for me, even though I do believe I flourished. One of the things that kept me going was understanding that if I threw in the towel, it would be even harder to pick it up again and start afresh. So I kept working at my business and I kept my early morning training times, even though there were days I wanted to curl up on the couch with Netflix and a blanket. For me, it was easier to keep going than it would have been to give up and then start again when things got better. Now that we have come out the other side, I am so grateful that I kept putting one foot in front of the other, even on the days when it was the last thing I wanted to do.
Investing in yourself will get you through the hardest of days
I’m a big believer in investing in yourself, particularly if you’re a business owner — because you are your business, after all. But this year really showed me that investing in yourself will also help you through the hardest days. Without the work I have done over the past few years, I would not have flourished this year. I would have crumbled and spent most of the year, crying in the corner.
Small changes add up to big results
This year was the one that never seemed to end. Yet, here we are, almost at the end of it. But it never crept upon us. Time continued to tick by, and nature stayed its course just as it always has, global pandemic or not. Witnessing the changes through Autumn, Winter and Spring showed me that even the tiny changes repeated over time lead to a big difference in the long-run. What small differences can you make next year, that will add up to big changes by the end of 2021?
The world keeps turning even if you don’t achieve all your goals
While my business, my family and I have well and truly flourished this year, there’s one area that hasn’t — my novel writing and my goal to be published. In late January, I submitted my novel to three publishers who were keen to read it, and unfortunately, I’ve heard nothing since. While COVID-19 did have a huge impact on the publishing industry and may have impacted my chances, there’s probably more truth to the fact that my novel wasn’t what they were looking for.
I did have plans to write my second novel this year, but honestly, I’ve not written a single word. In fact, I haven’t even had the energy to read a novel since March, let alone write another one. For a little while, I felt guilty about this but I knew that whatever I would write would probably be rubbish anyway. Besides no publisher was bashing down my door demanding another manuscript.
As for not having the energy to read, well it seems that I’m not the only one. A number of friends who are avid readers also experienced the same thing — just no energy to spare for reading. So while my lack of fiction writing and even fiction reading is disappointing, I have accepted that this year my energy had to go elsewhere, and maybe 2020 wasn’t the year for my novel to be published. And guess what? The sky didn’t fall in after all.Want to know what I'm planning for 2020? Read my blog to find out. Click To Tweet
Plans for 2021?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the best-laid plans can still go awry!
However, it’s important to make plans, and then learn to be flexible and a good problem-solver when things don’t go the way you expect.
So my plans for 2021 (dependent upon acts of God and global pandemics) are to:
- Make a start on that second novel
- Continue working with amazing clients doing the work that lights me up
- Expand my offerings and do more work around AHPRA
- Collaborate with another business to develop some health writer training
- Continue with my Body & Lifestyle Transformation
- Have more holidays and days off!
- Re-connect with my books and regular reading time
- Spend more time with family and friends — because boy, did we miss that this year
- Keep up my regular training and walking
- Surround myself with people who inspire, support and encourage me, because life’s too short to be hanging out with toxic, negative people who drag you down.
My word for 2021
It’s fair to say that 2020 wasn’t the year that any of us wished for, including me. Yet sometimes we get what we need rather than what we want. To that end, I remain incredibly grateful for what 2020 has brought me. Like any year, there were highs and lows, disappointments and sadness. But there were also incredibly valuable and important lessons that I would not have learned, had it not been for this global pandemic.
Part-way through this year, I had an epiphany. While FLOURISH was my word for the year, I realised that I had only been thinking about the end results I was after, rather than the things I needed for that to happen. When it comes to growing crops, they also require fertiliser, and the best kind is poo, shit, or crap — whatever you like to call it.
Many people have commented on what a poo, shit, or crap year 2020 has been, but what if this was the fertiliser that we needed all along? I’m choosing to believe that it is. And, with the large amount of fertiliser that has been thrown around this year, aren’t we due for a bumper crop next year?
I believe we are, and so my word for 2021 is HARVEST!
But for now, it’s time to rest, reflect, replenish and recharge. It’s been a massive year, and the brain and body are tired. This year, I am having an extended break so I can return on 11 January with all cylinders firing, a creative brain, and energy to give.
For those who have worked with me this year, I’d like to say a BIG thank you! I am so very grateful for your faith in me, and your support in what has been a challenging year.
If you haven’t worked with me yet, but plan to in 2021, contact me now to book in your spot. While I may not respond to your message straight away, you’ll be on the top of my ‘to-do’ list when I come back in January.
Finally, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday. May you spend it with the people you love, and appreciate, and take stock of all you have accomplished this year. Honestly, just making it through in one piece is worthy of celebrating.
See you in 2021. May it be more fabulous than we even imagine.