6 things that surprised me about myself in 2022
Some personal and business reflections on the year (and plans ahead).
I’m a sucker for yearly review posts: as much as I practice unplanning, there’s a planner inside of me who craves reflections, empty notebooks, new pens and making all the plans.
There’s a slower, gentler and more profitable way of running a business. Join the revolution and sign up for the newsletter
6 things that surprised me about myself in 2022
Getting a tattoo | In May, I got a tattoo on my lower left arm—it’s a stylised compass, with an N for north. 2022 was in many ways a year of learning to live more with my own humanness, as I dealt with (the aftermath of) a bout of mental illness. Part of that has been reconnecting with my own inner sense of knowing how I want to live, my own inner compass that I can trust.
While I don’t think that tattoos always need to mean something, I really started to like the idea of having a reminder of that trust with me. And I love the look of lower-arm tattoos. It was an incredibly empowering experience, and something I did completely for me—I had only told three people or so beforehand that I was getting it, which made it even more special.
Falling back in love with writing | This isn’t necessarily something that surprised me about myself, but definitely an area of my life where I stretched myself in 2022. As I’ve written before, I’ve always loved writing, and writing is one of the ways in which I express myself best.
But in the past I’ve also seen writing as very functional, particularly in my business in which writing was basically just a form of marketing. Writing was one of the things I loved most about my academic career, and I missed it. In 2022 I got back into creative writing (using this Skillshare-course), and decided to get serious about writing in my business by moving my newsletter to Substack and planning to turn writing into an income stream.
When it comes to writing inspiration, I’ve found's newsletter In Writing especially motivating (this post on taking yourself seriously is a favourite of mine), as well as 's Craft Talk).
Making and deepening (business) friendships | For the longest time, especially after university, I felt like I wasn’t good at making friends. I also found it hard to figure out what friendship exactly was, or what it was ‘supposed’ to look like (more about this in's post on friendship). Over the past couple of years, but especially in 2022, I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by the connections I’ve formed to other people, especially other business owners. I’ve also gotten so much joy about connecting to existing friends and in general in keeping in touch with people.
Outdoor swimming | I’ve raved about this before, but it’s definitely been comfort-zone stretching.
You see, I love the ocean. I grew up on the coast, and the expansiveness of the ocean, the saltiness, that particular smell, the sky and horizon—all of it is part of my being. And the sea also terrifies me. I try my very best not to think of jellyfish, but the idea of all of this space underneath the water surface, and not knowing what is there sometimes paralyses me. Perhaps because of growing up where I grew up, I am very aware of the dangers of the sea and that it’s by no means a benign element.
But I also get an incredible high from swimming in the sea—I love the perspective it gives me of being out in the water, looking back at the shore or at the birds above me. And while the cold is, well, cold, it’s also bracing in a way that makes me feel almost invincible (for all of five minutes). In August I decided to try and swim in the sea at least once a month for an entire year, so you’ll probably be hearing more of this.
Enjoying my body | Growing up I tried all the usual things: toddler-gymnastics, a season of playing tennis, swimming, jiu-jitsu… But with the exception of swimming, I never did any form of exercise longer than a year at most. I hated gym-class with a passion at school: I felt uncoordinated, clumsy, out of my depth and just generally unsuited to moving my body.
In my twenties and early thirties, physical movement was nearly always something I felt like I had to do, especially in order to look a certain way. I’ve always enjoyed walking, but walking also lets me do a lot of thinking, so it’s not the most relaxing activity for me.
In late 2020 I discovered Pilates and rediscovered yoga, and for the first time in my life I’m now moving my body because I enjoy it, because I crave it, because I love the connection it gives me to myself. In the depths of depression in late 2021 and early 2022, physical movement made me feel at home in my body when my mind was a thoroughly inhospitable place to be.
Doing a 200-hour yoga teacher training | Doing a yoga teacher training has been one of the great joys of 2022 for me, but it’s definitely also been stretching my comfort zone. At the beginning I felt insecure about being unable to do certain poses, and whether I was “good” enough. Jason, who teaches the training, has been great at making me and others feel more comfortable.
It’s teaching me to be okay with where I am, and where my body is—and reminding me that “doing the hard pose” is really not what yoga is about. I’m really enjoying getting deeper into my physical yoga practice, learning about anatomy (another surprise!) and practising with other people. When I started the training I was fairly sure that I didn’t want to teach yoga after I finish, but I’m so much enjoying peer teaching that I’m reconsidering. I by no means want to teach yoga full-time, but can imagine it being a small part of my week (and income).
The business side
The things that surprised or stretched me in 2022 are largely personal things, although many of them touch on my business too.
I didn’t set any business goals for 2022, mainly because in January I just didn’t have the mental headspace to do so. Sometime in early spring I decided that I wanted to focus on growth through community, and that’s been going really well in terms of appearing on podcasts, doing workshops in online communities and collaborating with other business owners.
In 2023 I absolutely want to continue this (so, if you think we could work together, let me know!). I also completely quit Instagram, and haven’t regretted it a single second. And I’ve been working with some lovely clients, which continues to feel like an amazing way to be spending my time and making an income.
I didn’t set any real financial goals (again, mainly because of a lack of headspace), but early in the year did make a pretty detailed financial plan for the coming years. My initial aim was to dial back my teaching job more sometime in 2023, but that will probably be later—right now I am just not making the income in my business to make up for less teaching. I have been building a financial buffer (my freedom fund, as I call it), and that’s been making me feel good.
What surprises and delights me is how good I feel about my business and how much it feels like a success even though financially it might not be where I’d want it to be yet. I get immense joy out of the various parts of my business and the experimentation it allows me.
Yes, I do get impatient. Sometimes I want a magic pill. But most of the time I can be very much okay with where I am (which, as a naturally anxious person and an overplanner feels amazing).
Where have you surprised yourself in 2022? Did you stretch your comfort zone anywhere? I’d love to know: you can join the conversation by leaving a comment.
There’s no need to set goals for 2023—now, or ever. Go with what feels right to you.
Business plans for 2023
I’ve got a couple of business plans that I’m excited about for 2023.
In February I’ll add paid subscriptions to this Substack. I’ve really enjoyed supporting other writers on Substack by becoming a paid subscriber. It’s not even so much about the extra posts that I might get, but about paying for something that is important to me. Similarly, once I turn on paid subscriptions in February, you can do the same for me (if you’re willing and able to). The twice a month newsletters will remain free.
In the spring, I’ll also be launching a short evergreen workshop on how to use Substack as a small business owner or freelancer. I’ve done a lot of research around this topic over the past six months, and I’ll be helping you figure out whether Substack is right for you and your business, how to set it up, what to offer and more (and I’ll be including my templates and checklists).
I’ve got another, longer, course for the fall planned around marketing. It’ll be all about slow, gentle and profitable marketing, based on how I’ve been working myself.
And otherwise I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing: working with lovely clients, collaborating with others, writing newsletters and enjoying myself.
Working with my energy levels, cycles and seasons is the most important thing of all—I’ve made some more changes to that in 2022 that I want to stick with in 2023.
Sometime over the next month or so I’ll be thinking through financial goals as well. In the past I’ve always struggled with this, as my business income fluctuates a lot, and is quite unpredictable. I’ve set goals in the past, but they’ve not always been motivating—I’ll let you know once I settled on something.
Are you making plans for 2023? If so, what are they? (continuing to do what you’re doing also counts) And how do you set financial goals for your business?
Let’s work together
I have a few spaces for 1:1 mentoring available. If you’re ready to shape your business to support your life, needs and desires, I’d love to be by your side.
‘Astrid has an uncanny ability to simplify muddled messes and tease out practical solutions.’ (Vanessa Simpson, photographer)
Whether you want help starting a new project or business, make sustainable changes to how you work, or want my input on marketing, boundaries, social media, newsletters and planning + prioritising, we can work together.
There is a slower, gentler and more profitable way of running a business, and I’m here to help you achieve it.
Have a lovely rest of your week. If this is your first week back to work after a break, remember that you can take it slowly and hold yourself gently.
If you’ve found this newsletter useful, do share it with your favourite business friend: