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The surprising lessons of 2022

In the midst of economic gloom, how should one approach 2023? What wisdom will help us all thrive next year?

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

What a year 2022 has been. With a war in Europe, a global economic crisis, and the endless depressing news cycle, it's no wonder many of us feel exhausted this Christmas. But despite the gloom, there is always a lot to be thankful for. Like any typical December, I've been pondering my progress over the last 12 months and am looking optimistically to the year ahead.

Personally, 2022 has been no picnic. There have been a lot of sad moments. We've said goodbye to people we love and dealt with some huge personal challenges. It's been tough. This, coupled with the fallout of the pandemic, I have found myself increasingly hiding away from the world. It meant I was sat at my desk for longer periods – made only worse by the worry of impending financial doom.

It's clear I'm not alone. Confiding with many of my creative friends, it seems many of us have been running hard and fast on the treadmill to "make hay while the sun shines". Because who knows what's around the corner? Any of us in business long enough to remember will understand the challenges of 2008. That being said, we also know that hard times bring opportunity. For instance, I was able to launch and build a marketing agency out of the ashes of the global economic crisis. I also began a little blog called Creative Boom to support others, a side project that has since become my full-time venture.

So what lessons have I learned this year that will help shape what happens next? Where do I go from here? And how will I continue to develop my platform? Now things are starting to unwind, I thought I'd share my thoughts.

There's great satisfaction in the process

I'm super proud of myself right now. I began 2022 with no clear vision other than to keep improving my business in every way possible. I had a very long list, from finding more brilliant writers to getting Creative Boom accredited by the Independent Press Standards Organisation, from making lots of tiny improvements on the backend of the site (that you just wouldn't notice) to figuring out where the creative industry is heading next.

It's been a whirlwind and often a drudge. But I've achieved everything I set out to do. And every day has brought us a little closer to the destination. It's one step at a time, and that's hugely satisfying: not just because you see progress but because you know you're headed in the right direction. You can't fix everything immediately and that's actually rather wonderful.

Concentrating on one pursuit delivers results

When we have our fingers in many pies, we might spread the risk. Ironically, we might be holding some ventures back by doing so. I've been working exclusively on Creative Boom since early 2021, meaning January will mark two years of focus.

The positive impact on my platform has been phenomenal. I began this new chapter with some clear goals in mind – whether related to turnover or winning certain clients. I'm proud to say I've smashed those targets. I face 2023 with Microsoft, Google and Canon as brand partners on Creative Boom: a challenge we set ourselves in the midst of the pandemic.

The home office alone isn't a healthy option

One of my biggest priorities in 2023 is to find a desk or office somewhere in Manchester. It's time to be with other people again. We unwittingly let go of our last office in February 2020, just before the pandemic. Our team is now fully remote and based worldwide, so we just didn't need a central base.

Fast-forward to today and I'm climbing the walls. I love being able to run an inclusive business that welcomes writers, designers, and marketers from anywhere, but I personally need to separate home from work again. Maybe not full-time. A couple of days a week will suffice. Who's with me?

Rest is as important as work

Often the best ideas occur when we relax. A peaceful moment or two away from our desks brings clarity to the chaos. I've been guilty of working too hard this year and subsequently suffering from burnout. I think many business owners have. Particularly these last 12 months when you don't know what's around the corner.

But during those times when I allowed total rest, I found energy restored and renewed hunger for further improvements to my business. As such, we're in the midst of a brand refresh and website design for Creative Boom, almost six years since we went through a similar process. It might seem like an obvious lesson, but you'll forgive my forgetfulness on this occasion; given I've not stopped running for the last three years.

Finding yourself is a worthwhile pursuit

2022 has been a year of self-discovery. I've permitted myself to invest time in "me". I've gotten to know who I am. It's a work in progress, granted. But I end the year with more confidence, self-respect, love and kindness for who I am.

So many of us blindly wander through life, not allowing ourselves to go through this process. We get busy; we have families, and we look after others – we can neglect ourselves and end up feeling lost. I didn't really know who I was 12 months ago, but a lot can change when you put your mind to it.

Doing things that make us uncomfortable builds confidence

It's been two years since I launched Creative Boom's podcast, returning to a profession I studied at university and spent the first five years of my career pursuing. Broadcast journalism has come a long way since 2005, so I had to roll my sleeves up and start again. Only this time, in front of an audience of seven million creative folk.

Interestingly, I was quite a natural at interviewing people and getting them to open up. But since that very first episode (with Malcolm Garrett, no less), I've definitely improved. One surprising outcome of podcasting is how much it builds confidence as you meet and connect with people from all over the world. You don't always get it right. But it's great fun trying.

Worrying about others is a pointless exercise

So much of what we do in the creative industry is available for anyone to see. It means we're open to criticism, which isn't easy; no matter how old we get. But the most surprising lesson of 2022 is how much I really don't care what others think anymore. I can only blame this newfound trait on finally giving myself, and others, a break.

Because if people don't know what's going on in my life, how can I possibly understand what's happening in theirs? With this one simple truth, I can finally release the weight of the world from my shoulders and ensure time and energy is better spent on more positive people and pursuits.

The goals I'll therefore have in mind

It's one foot in front of the other in 2023. Chiefly, an establishment of three key goals for Creative Boom: a brand refresh and new website design, first and foremost; the introduction of video on The Creative Boom Podcast; and a fresh target list of new clients to win.

So much was ticked off the list in 2022 that next year is about refining where possible and continuing to mature my platform. How wonderful to be winding down for Christmas, ready for a two-week break, knowing next year is full of possibilities. It's this optimism and hope that I'm grabbing onto with both hands. What else can any of us do?


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