We only need to look back for one reason.
To ask ourselves ‘What did I learn?’
All of our experiences, bad or good, have the seeds of wisdom within them. And even if you think they’re not there, they are. They’re just hidden, like seeds in a fruit.
Income and wellbeing are inextricably linked, because they both pertain to energy. With increased energy, not only are you healthier and happier, but you can also earn more.
Ready to charge your batteries for 2019? Here’s things I’ve learned.
1. Trust your gut instinct
I wrote about what mattered to me on Medium, and got featured by the editors. Not only did it generate 6.7k claps and a bit of income, it generated further paid work and people that resonated with what I shared.
2. Immerse yourself in nature as often as possible
There are ideas that can only come to you when you’re in nature. Being in nature is energising. The more beautiful your surroundings, the better. Biophilia is a trend that will grow in 2019. Don’t take my word for it. Check out the ethos of coworking space Second Home.
3. Be aware of what drains your energy
‘Where attention goes, energy flows” is not just a nice quote. It’s truth. If you are giving your attention to things that aren’t uplifting you, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Are you letting social media suck your attention, and thus your energy? The Shallows explores how the internet is literally rewiring our brains.
4. Practice the art of letting go
I broke ties with one of my oldest friends this year, and even though I love her immensely, I had to accept that we were just going in different directions. If you hold on to something that is moving away from you, you’ll lose a hell of a lot of energy. It will impact your health, happiness, and business. Let it drift if it needs to.
5. Set monthly finance goals, and track weekly for peace of mind
Relieve financial anxiety as a freelancer by setting monthly targets. Track them weekly, and if you’ve hit your target by week 3, you know you can relax or hustle a little harder to surpass it. Trust you will get there.
6. Forget the competition
If you’re too busy paying attention to what others are doing, that mental energy is being lost. Run your own race. I remember one boss who literally stood at his computer watching a video of his competitor and calling him names. Why? It’s wasted energy. Spend that time improving yourself instead.
7. Tell everyone what you are doing
For the most part, it helps to be open as possible. I spent quite a few Fridays this year working at Think NG’s Freelance Friday, where I met a lovely lady. I shared what I was doing, and she later recommended me to do a paid workshop in 2019.
8. Don’t make decisions in fear
When the work goes quiet, it’s very tempting to do that project you don’t really like but know will earn you money. Or, if you’ve not posted for a while, you could just reuse that piece of work you’re not altogether happy with, but don’t do it. Instead use the time to upskill and grow.
9. Find work that feels playful
Keep a track of your emotion logs, like my friend Sam Chillcott. Notice when you feel elevated, and when you internally shout ‘yeah!’ That’s an indication of where you need to go. Excitement is energy. You want to do things that fill you with genuine excitement, and even if you’re not making a living from them yet, try to move yourself in that direction.
10. Use music to boost your productivity
Music is a well known energiser. It also has physical health benefits, and The Sync Project are exploring it’s effects with a large research study. Skeptical? You don’t have to listen to music whilst you’re working if it distracts you. Just by blasting out a tune before you work can help (I love this).
11. Start your day with positivity
As Benjamin Hardy suggests, getting yourself into a ‘peak state’ is advised. It helps set the tone for the day. Whatever uplifts you, whatever you need to get you into a place of calmness, focus, and energy. I’m not religious, but I start my day with Joel — he gives me a pep talk every morning.
12. Skill swap with other entrepreneurs
Utilise your network — is there a way you can help each other to further your impact in the world? This year, I did some marketing in return for some life coaching. Build your tribe. Help your friends.
13. Change your environment for increased creativity
This year, I spent three months in sunny Las Palmas, where I got to meet a lot of inspiring people. The difference it made to my mood and productivity was enormous. I was about 100 x more productive when I got home.
14. Be intentional about solitude for new ideas and learnings
I’m in praise of solitude. Like being immersed with new people and new environments, solitude has its own merits for creativity, learning, and reflection. Ideally, think of connection like a tide, or breathing — sometimes you’re around others, the next, you’re alone. That way you stay in balance.
15. Be helpful, even if you’re not getting paid
When I was working at the Freelance Friday, helping my friend and fearless kayaker Sally Montgomery, I didn’t begrudge giving her pro bono advice even though I was supposed to be working. Doing that led me to start consulting sessions, and within an hour of posting it on Twitter I had my first client.
16. Work with nature’s rhythms
You can’t force a water tap to fill a cup quickly if there’s only a dribble coming out. Likewise, you can’t expect yourself to be on fire in your business if you’re feeling tired. Don’t push if there’s no energy there. I’ve learned that our bodies, especially women’s bodies, go through a subtle energetic process relating to our cycles — we naturally have more energy around ovulation. Schedule your thinking time for then, and your days off for the ‘winter’ of menstruation.
17. Try as many income streams as possible
The internet is your oyster! There’s nothing you can’t do, with enough knowledge and research. Test the waters, and so what if it doesn’t work out? You can freelance, get a remote job, write a book, create a product, become a youtuber, create a course, do matched betting, be a user tester, do dropshipping — the possibilities for location independence are endless. One will be a perfect fit for you.
18. Don’t underestimate REST
I don’t just mean sleep. I mean full, conscious REST. Apart from going to sleep, do you have moments when you consciously relax your body to the deepest state possible, not focusing on anything else? R.E.S.T therapy is an actual thing, coined by the researchers of sensory deprivation tanks. I’m a fan of those. But when I can’t get there, I utilise the wonderful Meditations by Rasa. When it comes to meditation, go deep. You’ll be energised.