Friday, 8 January 2016

2015 REVIEW




BearHugs

By far and away the biggest change for me in 2015 was starting my business, BearHugs. It now seems crazy to think that a year ago it was just the glimmer of an idea that had been floating around in my head. The fact that I'm typing this at a computer I was able to buy as a result of my work blows my mind.

With the help of the Prince's Trust Enterprise programme and in particular my mentor, Greg, I wrote a business plan complete with market research analysis, sales projections, cashflow forecasts and marketing strategies (terms which meant absolutely nothing to me a year ago). I've produced products that I'm proud of and sold them to hundreds of people throughout the UK.
In June, I could have popped with excitement when I sold my very first BearHug in a box. Just before closing shop over Christmas and New Year, the total number of gift boxes sold had reached 670. Having originally estimated that I would sell just under 500 in the first twelve months, it feels incredible to have gone over and above this in the first six.

I don't think I've ever been prouder of anything and could not be more grateful to those who have supported me, purchased my gift boxes and spread the word.
I count myself especially lucky to have supportive friends like Donna, who interviewed me on her blog, February Stars and Meg who left me a (very happy) sobbing mess when she spoke about BearHugs in this video.

Being intentional

In 2014, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be positive. While for the most part I was able to maintain an optimistic outlook, there were times when my mood inevitably dipped and my mindset shifted. When this happened I would quite often beat myself up and feel like I had failed. Telling myself to 'be positive' in these moments often didn't cut it or help to get me back on track.

In 2015, after listening to a lot of Jess Lively's podcast, I decided to shift my little mantra from 'be positive' to 'be intentional'. In lower moments it's not easy to jump straight to feeling positive but making one small intentional action to improve the situation feels a lot more do-able.

On a daily basis, being intentional for me means being mindful about what I watch/ read/ listen to, the foods I choose to fuel my body with and the ways in which I exert my energy. I don't always make the best choices in each of these areas but reminding myself to 'be intentional' when I notice I've slipped up means I'm far more likely to turn my day around. 

My friends and family

This year I was lucky enough to be able to spend more time with important people in my life. I've never felt so well and truly loved and supported. I count myself very fortunate. I won't list the special times here but there were an awful lot. There are a few people I would have loved to see more (my parents, grandparents and Sophia, to name just a few) but 2016 will be the perfect time to rectify that. 

Books

Last January I set myself the challenge of reading 40 books in 2015. I used Goodreads to track my progress and keep me accountable. I didn't quite make it to 40 but am very happy to have got close.

Some of my favourites included:



Probably the best book-related thing in 2015 though was my very talented boyfriend Jared signing to have his debut novel, Waves, published in 2016. I am beyond proud and cannot wait to hold a copy in my hands.


Podcasts

Podcasts serve a variety of functions for me. Throughout the week, I am mostly at home on my own during the day and they are great for filling the quiet. I love to pop one on while I'm working on simple tasks that don't require my brain power. I also go to podcasts when in a lot of pain or unable to tolerate light/reading/screens. My favourites in 2015 were:




My New Year's Resolution

My New Year's Resolution for 2015 was to do one kind thing every day. I think it's the first resolution I've ever kept for a whole year and definitely the one that has made me happiest.
As well as trying to do lots of little things throughout the year that were kind without costing a penny, I also attempted to increase my charitable giving and time for voluntary work.

I've loved making jewellery, selling it and donating the profits to the ME Association. It brings me a huge amount of satisfaction seeing the number grow and I get such a buzz whenever an order comes through. Since ME Awareness week in May, I have been able to donate over £450 from my jewellery sales which is above and beyond what I ever would have hoped for.

I've also loved being able to use my business, BearHugs, for giving. For every 50 boxes I've sold I've sent a gift box to a seriously ill child or their sibling through the charity PostPals. PostPals is a wonderful charity dedicated to brightening the days of little ones with cards, letters, gifts, support and friendship. Putting together custom packages for kids based on their likes and needs has become a real passion project for me. I love sending them on their way and knowing that they may make a tough day even the tiniest bit brighter.

Something that jumped out at me from Ariana Huffington's book, Thrive, was what she had to say about this topic. When we are so often coming from a place of perceived scarcity (not enough time, not enough money. not enough resources), giving can seem like an extra burden. But in reality, giving tends to actually make life feel more abundant. By giving we have to look at what we actually have and realise that even when we give away, we are still left with enough. Since I've been ill and unable to work, I have frequently worried about money/time/energy and not having enough of it. I've found the concept Ariana describes to be comforting and to ring true the more I've tried to give throughout the year.

I've just started reading Doing Good Better by William MacAskill and am keen to learn about effective altruism. It will be interesting to see whether this changes my perspective on charitable giving in 2016.



To anyone reading this- I hope that there were wonderful moments in your 2015 and that 2016 is a brilliant year which brings you huge amounts of happiness.
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