As we all know 2020 wasn't exactly the best year, it was filled with so many ups and downs it was hard to keep track of what was happening. It's often easy to focus on all the negatives rather than reflecting on the positives, or even just learning from the negatives. For me towards the end of the year began to get especially hard to keep my head above the water and not be weighed down by everything that was going on around me. Trying to stay focused in an ever changing world took its toll mentally and by the time my work year had come to an end I was absolutely drained, in a way I'm glad we weren't allowed to socialise over Christmas because I certainly needed those 2 weeks to fully rest.
With that in mind, I thought I would share with you 5 things I feel 2020 has taught me and that I will be taking into the New Year with me.
1. CHANGE ISN'T ALWAYS A BAD THING
We all faced a lot of changes in 2020. Whether it was the move to working from home for some, homeschooling for others, even just down to the way we greet our friends! For me probably the biggest change was Jack working from home CONSTANTLY and then being furloughed. Over the past few years of working on my own I had grown accustomed to my routine and my own space at home whilst working. Suddenly having someone there ALL the time whilst I was trying to work was pretty tricky, I found myself being constantly distracted and frustrated as my usual routine had been turned upside down.
However, as we now enter a new year and Jack is still working from home, I've found it quite nice. Having an actual human to talk to in my work day is really nice, someone to bounce ideas off or rant too when things haven't gone exactly to plan. We are lucky enough to have the space and have made the space for us both to have separate offices/workspace so we are no longer distracting each other. Not having to wait for Jack to get home from work in London at 8pm every night is also great, we actually see each other in the evenings now which before Covid-19 would only happen every now and then.
In May we will both be facing the biggest change in our lives yet when our first child is due to be born... OMG! Obviously that is a blessing in itself however when you're self employed it throws so so many unknowns and challenges at you. How on earth am I going to juggle a new born and running a business on my own?! Luckily unlike the changes Covid-19 bought to us pretty much overnight we have 9 months to plan for the changes a baby will bring.
2. ADAPTABILITY IS KEY
Many small businesses had to quickly adapt to the ever chaining restrictions in 2020, and still in 2021. It's a mine field. I was fortunate enough to have been selling almost solely online for the majority of the last 3 years so the shift to online shopping wasn't bad for me. I did however have to let a dream of running my own little shop go. The plan was to open in May on the river front where we live in a space that I thought was perfect. Unfortunately the timing just wasn't right in this case and I will be putting that plan off for at least another year or so now.
I did have to change the way I worked to a certain extent. I chose to only do 1 postal run a week, sometimes 2 if absolutely necessary to avoid too many trips out and about. This I've continued on into the new year as I found it to act
ually be a much more efficient way of working. Instead of having to stop making everyday at around 2 or 3 to make sure I had enough time to clean and pack all the orders, I saved it all up for one day which gave me so much more time in the week to work on maintaining stock and getting orders made within my lead times. Something I am always working to improve is my time management because all my life its been terrible, but thanks to Covid-19 I think I'm actually making some head way now!
The biggest problem I had to adapt too was definitely the postal delays we faced towards the end of the year. Making the decision to stop accepting Christmas orders on the 1st of December was really hard as typically thats when most people start thinking about Christmas shopping, I don't want to generalise but typically men leave it even later and with my products being mainly aimed at women I was potentially loosing a lot of business by doing this. I am however very glad I did, whilst I think it did hinder me financially (but who hasn't been hit financially this year?) I was able to manage the flow of orders so much better and experienced a lot less mistakes than last year when I kept orders open up to the week before Christmas.
3. I LOVE WHERE I LIVE
Something unrelated to work now. You hear it said a lot and sometimes just off the cuff, but I genuinely love where I live. 2020 definitely showed us what to be truly grateful for. Having our own garden in March, April and June was a god send! Jack and I bought learnt a lot about gardening from the help of our neighbours, who by the way have the most AMAZING vegetable patch.
Living in a small town where you grew up can be claustrophobic at times, but being out on the coast with miles and miles of amazing walks on your door step really makes you appreciate the space you have around you.
In the summer having the river right there was bliss. We didn't need to go on holiday with the weather that we had and a river to swim in some days it was like being in the south of France or Spain... albeit the water wasn't crystal clear instead and muddy green colour. BUT, it was warm and 5 minutes from our house. With many people also choosing to stay in England, Burnham was back to being as busy as I remember it when I was younger, it actually had an atmosphere and just going for a walk was a full on social occasion.
4. WEDDINGS DON'T HAVE TO BE BIG AND EXPENSIVE TO BE AMAZING
When we got engaged at the very end of 2019 I had big ideas in my head of what the perfect wedding would be... It would be in a huuuuuuge marquee in a field where we could have 200 guests and there would be flowers everywhere and a band for dancing into the early hours of the following morning. I quickly realised after starting to plan that that would cost upwards of £30k, which we don't have. We started to scale back and got the numbers to what we thought was a reasonable 120 guests in total and had seen a venue that we bought liked and were considering putting the deposit down when the news of the first lockdown came.
As the months went on and it seemed like it would be impossible to plan a big wedding we decided to put the money we had saved towards something that would be more useful to us, a car, as we had been borrowing my mums for the best part of 5 years.
Initially I was pretty upset, however when the news came that weddings could go ahead with up to 30 people we thought... why not? We had 5 weeks to plan the day and had 30 of our closet friends and family in attendance. We had a little rota too so as guests left in the evening a few more could come to celebrate with us. We made a makeshift bar in the garden and had an old friend run it for us making cocktails, a family friend to put on canapés with another family friend helping serve and then a friend of a friend drop off a load of BBQ food in the evening. Our favourite local Coffee shop made our wedding cake (peaberries coffee shop). We borrowed some speakers from my Dad and had friend make a playlist for the day. Another friend bought the flowers and arranged them for us. One of our oldest friends "married" us in a very informal ceremony. Our photographer was someone who I met through a styled wedding shoot who turned out to be a mutal friend and knew most of the guest too (Laura Jane Brown Photography, she really is amazing at what she does) Both Smoke and Ash were able to be there for the entire day and our friends dogs joined later for the BBQ (great hoovers) no-one needed to wear shoes and there was no set schedule that we had to stick too. Granted this isn't official yet and we have just had our legal marriage postponed to some time in February now. But it felt as real as any other wedding we have been too, we spent about £2k most of which went on alcohol and food and I don't think I would have enjoyed any other day more.
5. THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER
Lets hope so hey! But seriously, probably the single most important thing I've learned in 2020 is that things will get better. Maybe it will be better for a bit and then get bad again (hello another lockdown) but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing will stay bad forever. And even when it feels like there's no sign of change there's still the little things day to day that we can be grateful for. Whether its family, friends, having food on our table or just a roof over our heads, things aren't always as bad as they seem and they will get better in time