Well. Here we are, almost at the end of 2012, and I think we can all agree that it’s been… uhhhh… kind of A Year. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you the worst part. Between the deaths and the illnesses, the various miscellaneous crises and the broken bones, I think it’s safe to say that 2012 is pretty much my least favorite year of… well, ever. (Beating out the year my first marriage imploded, even. It was a bad year, folks.)
Part of me wants to curl up and mourn the massive hit my business took this year, and part of me wants to pat myself on the back for still having a business, given everything that’s happened this year. But then I think I hardly deserve that pat, either, because the nature of many of this year’s crises meant that letting the business go under wasn’t ever an option (financially, anyway).
Now that we’re at the end of the year, I’m ready to look forward and try to figure out what comes next. Only this year, it feels so very different from years past.
Two years ago, I set aside my reservation about “woo-woo sorts of things” and actually spent an afternoon making a vision board. It felt silly, at the time, like I was trying to be the sort of person I’m really not. At least, it felt like that when I first sat down. But by the time I finished it, I’d had an epiphany about myself. I thought about what I had, and how I acted, and what I wanted, and I gave it legs and ended up with something I could hang over my desk to remind me. (It’s still there, by the way. I still love it.)
2011 was an excellent year. Oh, it wasn’t without the normal bumps along the road, of course. But all in all, it was a good year for our family, and—perhaps more importantly, in this space—it was a banner year, business-wise. In addition to the “woo-woo” exercise of making my vision board, I set a number of professional goals for myself and met all of them. I pulled in my highest business revenue ever. By all measures, 2011 was a tremendously successful year for me in terms of professional growth.
So the things I did at the end of 2010 clearly work, right?
I didn’t do those things at the end of 2011, because my personal life was already ramping up with challenges. Early in 2012 I’d hoped I could just coast, somehow, and maintain the growth from the previous year; as the year progressed, I just hoped not to be out of business entirely.
In 2012 I didn’t go to any conferences. I did no networking. I took on no new clients, and in fact parted ways with several, and am “on hiatus” from a couple of others. My business revenue this year is about 60% of last year’s, though if you wanted a boring explanation of why/how I make a significant portion of that money in Q4 that I don’t receive until Q1 the following year, I could explain why that number is artificially inflated by 2011’s work. Once that particular skew is righted, this year I earned less than half what I made the previous year.
So as I start thinking about 2013, the practical side of my brain takes me back… not even to the end of 2010, when I made so many deliberate decisions about what to pursue the following year, but back to more like 2008 or so, when I was still ramping up my career. If I want my business to recover from this, I’m going to have to push hard.
The problem, of course, is that the traumas of 2012 didn’t come and go and leave what was here before. Things are different, now. I have, among other things, a child with a chronic illness now. The assumption that I can work full-time is a tenuous one; during calm/healthy periods, that’s true. But that’s not always where we’ll be. Other things have changed, too. I’ve changed. I’m not the person I was when I made the vision board that’s hanging over my desk.
The bottom line is that I feel like this is the time to plan out how to recover and grow my business in 2013, and I find myself wondering if that’s even the right goal. I’m not sure it is. That feels… weird. But it’s also sort of freeing, at the same time. If I could get through this past year, I can probably endure more change than I ever thought possible. And that means that maybe now is not the time to get back to what I had before, but to figure out what I want to have come next.
I think it may be time to make another vision board.
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