So, looking ahead to the New Year, and I have huge ambitions and goals for what I’d like to make happen for myself this year. Before I go on, I must say that I’m a strong advocate of reflecting and setting yourself goals periodically, not just as the New Year approaches. But like many, I feel the New Year is a great time to look ahead and set some goals that take into account the bigger picture. With the launch of my own business, I’m most excited (and nervous!) about the possibilities and what may lie ahead than ever before. Up until this point I’ve always been part of an institution (school, college, university, etc) and the structure that comes with this often makes it seem somewhat more certain as to how the year will pan out. There is a framework, an end goal, and all that’s unknown is the little day-to-day shenanigans that happen in between. And although it’s felt quite daunting and unsettling during the first few months of being untied from an institutional structure, it now feels rather empowering. This year I’m able to truly invest my time in the things that matter most to me and throw myself into them one hundred per cent.
This starts with my design business. Yes, without a shadow of a doubt, my primary focus for 2019 is my new business venture, Mantra Sport. The past few months have been all about planning, learning, and ruminating the possibilities of it all. From attending business mentoring workshops (which I cannot recommend enough to anyone wanting to start their own business), to speaking with other freelance designers, to building the brand’s identity and social networks, I’ve planted the seeds for my new business. Now it’s time to make it grow. By taking these initial steps I’ve learnt a great deal about what it takes to get a business off the ground. The number one thing being time and patience! Now it’s about doing. I’m going into the New Year with such strong, definitive clarity as to what I want Mantra to be, and what needs to happen in order to make it a viable success. The biggest epiphany as of recently is that I’ve decided to make it a product based business rather than service based. Perhaps, this deserves a whole separate blog post but in short, I’ve realised that the uncertainty of offering freelancing services is not what’s going to make me happy. It feels like a never-ending job application and it’s impossible to forecast your financial situation and make an accurate business model when you’re just hoping to secure some freelance gigs.
So with that being said, I’m looking to launch my own online shop! With the majority of my work being print based and having a few previous inquiries from people regarding purchasing my artwork, it’s actually hard to believe that I’ve only just had this epiphany! But better late than never I guess. So yes, my aim is to create an online shop. I want to make several series of purchasable limited edition prints around topical sporting events. From sports shops and cafes, large organisations, to general sports fans looking for wall art, I believe there is a real market for this and an opportunity to make it a viable success. Above all, it means that I can focus my time on creating projects, producing artwork, and sharing it with others. Of course, it’ll be a great bonus if any commissions come off the back of this line of work, but it’s no longer what I’ll focus my energy on. That’s a great feeling. I’ve already started art-working for some projects to come in the New Year. I guess that’s all there is to say about this for now as it’s probably best to stop explaining and just start showing! But I cannot tell you how excited I am about taking the business in this direction.
"Although it’s felt quite daunting and unsettling during the first few months of being untied from an institutional structure, it now feels rather empowering."
Of course, I also have a number of personal goals that I wish to achieve, outside the realm of work and business. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I’m heavily into fitness. In particular, swimming. At the end of March I will be swimming 5km (or at least trying to) as part of the Swimathon 2019 for Cancer Research UK. So as of January I’ll be establishing a new training plan in order to work up to this grand distance. To give some perspective to this challenge, I currently train four times a week, and usually complete between 2500m and 3000m a session. So it’s going to be a quite a step up for me. I’ll also be an ambassador for the Swimathon this year which involves writing a range of blog posts, articles, and various other things in order to promote the event. Finally, on the topic of swimming, earlier this year I completed my Level 1 Swim Teaching Qualification and in February I’m looking to complete my Level 2 in order to start working as a certified Swimming Teacher part-time. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time so I’m glad I’m finally carving out the time to do so. So there’s a great deal I want to achieve next year with regards to swimming, and am hoping I can see all these things through!
I’m also very keen to travel more this year. Not necessarily any major expeditions, but a few small trips here and there to feed my love for exploration and nature, and ensure a healthy headspace! Last summer, after graduating, I took my first solo holiday to France/Switzerland. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed a little break away by myself. Six days of blissful solitude, exploring magnificent places, was the perfect way to celebrate and reflect on my time at university. On my return, I made a promise to myself that I would go on a little adventure by myself every year. So this year I’m thinking Budapest! I’ve heard such wonderful things about this city from the arty scene to the historic culture to the bloody delicious food! I’m also very keen to visit my best friend in Oslo, Norway and travel some of Scandinavia. And finally, there’s talk of my mum, sister and I visiting a Spanish city early next year on another girl’s trip! So with a few trips already on the cards, hopefully there’ll be lots more sun, culture, and exploration on the horizon.
"Six days of blissful solitude, exploring these magnificent places, was the perfect way to celebrate and reflect on my time at university. On my return, I made a promise to myself that I would go on a little adventure by myself every year."
Finally, if we're wanting to get really personal, another thing I'd really like to improve on this year is my social skills. I spent many of my former years assuming that having a big rally of friends and people who adore you just sort of happens. But it definitely doesn't. In many ways, relationships are like a self-owned business. They're something you have to work at, and invest your time into if they're to be maintained. It also takes some work to find your 'type' of people (which, I still sometimes feel I'm yet to find if I'm honest). Because likeminded people aren't necessarily at your school, your university, or your hometown. So with that being said, I'm keen to make more time for socialising in the hope of meeting 'my people'. I'm not sure how just yet, but I think this starts with simply saying yes more. Plotting things in my diary and not backing out last minute. And, of course, I'd like to do a better job of showing those who I already have in my life that they're important to me. Again, I'm not sure of the 'how' with this one just yet, but I'm hoping I'll figure it out. The self-employed lifestyle can often feel lonely and isolating, and it's easy to just get caught up in grinding away at work in order to feel a sense of personal achievement. But I'm definitely starting to see that none of it happens, or even matters, if you don't have loved ones rallied around you to laugh with and who'll give you that motivational push when you need it. Taking a break to just chill with friends gives that hit of oxytocin and is so important for your mental health. Perhaps, more so than a yoga class I'm learning!
So as you can see there’s a wealth of things I’d like to achieve in 2019! But a year is a very long time and goals like these are what keep me motivated and pushing forward. Of course, these goals may change or take a different turn slightly but all in all, it's a good place to start. And although I wouldn’t usually broadcast my personal goals anywhere other than my journal, the start of any business is exciting and I want to bring others along on the journey with me. Yep, there’s another of those clichés I’d warned you about! Anyway, I hope that you’re as motivated and excited about the year ahead as I am. I’d love to hear some of your personal goals and what you’re looking forward to in the New Year. So feel free to share these with me below and in return, I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my progress in another blog post soon!
Let's do it!
Launch Mantra’s online shop
Sell some prints to some lovely people!
Complete 5km charity swim
Complete Level 2 Swim Teaching Qualification
Take another solo mini-break abroad!
Travel with family and friends
Improve my social skills