A Brief Year in Review & What's Next for 2016

The beginning of a new year always hold so much potential, doesn’t it? I sort of bowed out of 2015 Irish-Goodbye-style with this blog, taking a break without really announcing it. But I had lots of time to think about the blog, and I’m back! And ready to tackle a new year with lots of big ideas.

While January 1st is, essentially, no different than December 31st, it’s too easy to put all this damned pressure on ourselves to perform better and do more and make the next year the most awesome ever (!!!!) as soon as the clock ticks past midnight.

This is my year!

Have you ever said that?

That’s exactly what I said last year (and I’d be lying if I pretended that I hadn’t thought it again this year). It’s exciting, right?

Truth be told, my 2015 was a bit like letting air out of a balloon, sound effects and all.

I started out really strong, then I became completely burned out, kinda gave up for a few months, then panicked and snapped out of it, then got fired from my part time job (a serious blessing in disguise, although I still feel crappy about it sometimes), and felt like I was playing catch up for the remainder of the year. Financially, my business performed almost exactly the same as 2014. Emotionally, I was up and down. 

Here’s why I’m telling you this: I’m okay.

Yep, I had a tough (but not terrible) year, trying to figure out a lot of my shit, and I’m still here, still enthusiastic about what the next year holds.

I started thinking long and hard about what I really wanted my life and business to look like. I also realized that it was time to do something I had never really done in the past: make a plan for an entire year. I'm talking finances, marketing goals, in person events, everything.

I've always been so reactive with my business, only planning out about two weeks to a month at a time. For this year, I’ve been breaking it all down, bit by bit. Part of what gets so overwhelming about making big plans is trying to process them all at once in a really short period of time.

I got real about what it takes to achieve big things: time and consistency.

I created worksheets for myself to help break it all down into more digestible pieces.  Sometimes it helps to write this stuff down and journal through it. Click here to download them for yourself (and join the newsletter, if you haven’t already, to get the password)! 

Lessons learned so far... 

It’s important to dream big, but create a realistic timeline for goals. And put real numbers and dates on them (I know how scary that sounds, but it’s crucial)!

Most importantly...

We have to give ourselves some grace. 

For a long time, I would beat myself up for not finding “success” really immediately in my business (I’m talking, like, 6 months in…totally unrealistic, people). I thought that just because I wanted it so bad and was willing to work my ass off, that success should’ve found me sooner. But after lots of research and introspection and meditation and journaling (and occasional woo-woo tactics, just shy of asking a Magic 8 Ball), all signs point to:

This is a marathon, not a race.

And thank goodness! I am so glad that some of my earlier endeavors did not take off and become overnight successes! Because they weren't that great! It takes time, for a reason. We need space to refine what we do.

So, what’s next for LeapRepeat and Casey D. Sibley Art + Design?

To kick off the new year, I'm starting a 100 Day Project (inspired by MJ of Pars Caeli) where I’ll be creating something consistently for 100 days (excluding weekends). I’ve done similar daily challenges in the past, but never this long. They’ve always helped inspire new work, sometimes great work! This time around, I’m focusing on 100 days of textile design. I’ll be experimenting with hand painting, stamping, or dying fabrics each day. I chose this particular challenge because I love the pattern design part of what I do the most and want to sharpen my skills as a textile designer. I also think this will tie in nicely with my overarching goal to create a plan and stick to it this year. 

You can follow along with my #100daysproject on Instagram @caseydsibley. Today is my first day to do it (and as of writing this post I haven’t actually done it yet, but it will be up by this evening). 

I also plan to integrate the LeapRepeat blog a little more seamlessly into my creative business.

When I started the blog, I thought I wanted to separate it from Casey D. Sibley Art + Design. But the more I write, the more I feel like I can offer value to you by having a more well-rounded conversation about all the aspects of creating a business AND life around something I love. And I'll dive a little deeper into the specifics of running a hand made product based business and the inspiration behind ALL of it. 

I could change my mind again in two months, but I’m allowed to do that! I’m lettin’ it flow. 😃

And truth be told, I simply want to share the journey with you.

I was feeling a TON of pressure (partly self-imposed, mostly social-media-imposed) to transform my business into a consulting model and create "passive income" (the official business buzz word of 2015!). While I’m not opposed to offering some sort of consulting, I don’t want it to be the basis of my business. And, uh, I also realize that the term "passive" is pretty misleading.

Moving forward, I want my focus to be on creating an outstanding body of creative work and sharing the process with others. I want my work AND my process to inspire both customers and others who might have an interest in doing what I do. Not everything has to be a money-maker. 

And that's the gist of it all!  Happy New Year and best of luck (and perserverance, time, patience, etc., etc.) to you in 2016! 

What about your goals for the year? Did you have any big takeaways from 2015 that are helping you shape a plan for 2016? Tell us about it!

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