I’ve been feeling hesitant and fearful when writing recently. So I wrote myself an email telling myself all the stuff I’d say to someone else if they were feeling that way.
Congratulations. You’ve Survived 2020. Now What?
Hey, Ben. It’s me. Y’know, you. How goes it?
Sorry, that’s a silly question. I obviously know exactly how it’s going. I’m you after all.
Now, you know me, I’m a mega-positive person. But even I’m not going to pretend that the last year hasn’t sucked.
You had such big plans for 2020. Defined goals for the business. Fantastic clients to nurture. Exciting plans for creating valuable and interesting content with a view to growing as a writer and marketer.
Even when the pandemic hit, you were pretty positive. You hoped you’d be able to see it and whatever came along with it as an opportunity.
Opportunity for what though? To learn a new skill? Start up a new, regular newsletter for an online audience (I mean, that’s what everyone else seems to have done, right)? Chuck it all in and launch a cleaning service offering anti-viral fogging?
But as the world changed, it became less about opportunities and more about survival. And that’s fine. It was the same for a lot of people.
You got stuck abroad. Stranded. Literally on the other side of the world. With a pregnant wife. With a 3-year-old. To whom you had to try and explain that, “Actually, we can’t go home,” and “No, I’m not sure what will happen to the cat.”
Work dropped off a cliff. Lockdown. Here’s a loan, sure, but you don’t really qualify for any grants. Lockdown 2. Lockdown 3. It’s still beyond tough.
You’re not as fit as you were and your shoulder hurts. You’re getting older. A whole year is lost and with it countless potential experiences, coincidences and memories. All those expectations, diversions, all that fun. Never even existed.
But what about now? You’ve made it through. Well, nearly. I know it’s not completely over yet, but it will be. Honest. And you’re still here. Still muddling through. Still dashing about from client to client. Still fighting the odd metaphorical fire. Still making plans. Still brimming with ideas.
Still hoping to change the world. Well, your world anyway. Because despite everything that’s still something you’re in control of.
And, yes, you might’ve lost a bit of muscle, but you’ve gained some resilience. You have. Look back over the year and pick out some of the good things. There’s been more than you might think.
You made it home. Your family is safe. Everyone is well. You’ve pretty much single-handedly renovated a house. Your daughter was born in October.
Repeat that. Your daughter. She’s beautiful, Ben. Beautiful. At the end of the worst of times, the best of times. If that’s not something to focus on, I don’t know what is.
Work-wise, your year on year turnover was actually up at the end of April. By a lot. (It’ll be down this year, sure, but the bills are just about getting paid – no thanks to Boris and co. (Hey, Rishi. Freelancers pay tax too, you know).
Up to that point you’d exceeded your financial goals for the tax year. Things were ok. Better than that even. Things were good. And that was because of you.
2021 will come with opportunities. Of that I’m sure. It will be up to you to make them and to take them.
So, make them and take them.
Make goals. Ones that will feel great when you hit them. Be more organised. Take more time off. Put your prices up. Scroll less, read more. Commit to attracting the businesses you want to work with by publishing content that they will love to read (and that you will love to create).
Be more honest with your clients. They hire you because they like you and what you can do for them, so be more confident about it.
Be yourself a bit more. Tell your story, it’s different to anyone else’s. Develop more relationships. Work comes from being nice and putting yourself out there, so do more of that.
Life will be different this year, for everybody. But you will have a say in just how different it is for you.