Last week I missed a bit of a milestone, my 4 year 'bloggiversary'. Last year I went all out with a cake and flowers and all kinds of fun to celebrate 3 years but this year, I decided to let the day slip by pretty low key. So much has changed with this blog over the past four years. Four years ago I was working a job that I enjoyed, the people were great, the job was a dream but truthfully, it just wasn't the right fit for what I wanted out of my career. I was craving the creativity and flexibility that I'd had when I worked for myself offering interior design services. I knew I wanted to make a change, that I wanted to be creative, I wanted to work with businesses that I adored, I wanted this 'dream job' to of course have ties to design and I wanted to work for myself again. So, I set out to make that happen and as James and I scrolled back through the blog this weekend, laughing remembering funny stories behind certain posts I felt incredibly proud of what I've managed to accomplish in just four years.
I won't sugarcoat it, the journey to get here hasn't been easy. I've had to make a lot of sacrifices, especially for the first few years juggling my full time day job and treating this blog like (and working the hours of) a second full time job. At times it's been very overwhelming and let me tell you many a tears have been shed over 204 Park. I've felt frustrated with the direction I see the industry headed, I've been exhausted from working 14 hour days and there have been times I've questioned myself, questioned this path I'm on and questioned if it's been 'worth it'. But where I am now I can honestly say that not a day goes by where I don't have at least one moment of 'holy shit I can't believe this is my job'! I feel so incredibly fortunate that my hard work has led me to a place where I'm fulfilled with my job and my life.
In four years 204 Park has changed from a trio of friends creating a fun online space to this solo blog of mine becoming what I'd always dreamed it would be. Right from day one I knew that I wanted 204 Park to become my job and to allow me to work in creative ways be that through interior design, working with my favourite brands or contracting other creative services for businesses I love. I've learned a lot in my four years of blogging (and several years blogging for my design business before that) and while I'm still learning every day there have been a few key lessons that have been especially important for me this year.
You Can't Do It All
Oh you guys, haha this year was the year that this finally hit home for me. Last year was a tough one for me and truthfully, between a few major life events both personally and professionally I hit a bit of a low and realized I could no longer keep doing it all to please everyone. I had to take a step back to reevaluate what I was doing, what I truly loved, and what I had to let go of, either by dropping it completely or by asking for help. This year I enlisted the help of a friend of mine to assist me behind the scenes and the weight I felt lift off of me instantly was incredible. Even letting go of a few small tasks made for such peace of mind, it was amazing. More recently I've partnered with Tracey Jazmin - you might have noticed me giving her credit on my more recent Instagram and blog photos. Bringing Tracey on board to help with photos has singlehandedly been the best thing I've ever done for this blog. Not only is Tracey mad talented but she's an amazing woman. She's kind, she's funny and I only wish I'd met her sooner. If you own your own business or work for yourself and you're doing it all, do yourself a favour and get some help. It might be hard at first to let go of some control, or to wrap your mind around having to pay someone to do what you already do yourself but I promise you your health and happiness will thank you for it! My new motto - work smarter, not harder!
You Need To Say No
I've touched on this a few times on the blog and this is a lesson that I still have to remind myself of on a nearly daily basis. Time is our most valuable asset and how we spend it greatly affects our well being. There will always be more invites, more commitments, more events and work functions than you will have time for. It's difficult to say no, especially if you're like me and you're a people pleaser and you genuinely want to do it all but the truth is, we can't. Learning to say no delicately can be difficult and I constantly worry about being perceived in a negative way when I have to say no to introductory coffees or get togethers but I promise you it's worth it in the long run. Maybe if you've mastered the way to say no politely you can send me your tips, I'm all ears! Bottom line is, you need to value yourself and your time. Something I did for so long was schedule myself to the max, booking meetings, work appointments and get togethers back to back to back, never allowing space and time to 'just be'. This became a goal of mine for 2017 and while I haven't been perfect I've been much better at setting aside time for myself, and respecting that time for me to unwind and disconnect so I can be my best self.
It's Okay To Not Be Perfect
Oh the online world of perfectionism. It was only a few weeks ago I talked about instagram vs real life and the misconception of what looks 'perfect' online. Quite often we are our own toughest critics and I know I used to hold myself to an incredibly unrealistic standard. I remember having a conversation with my aunt and I was telling her how there was never enough time for me to get my to-do list done in a day. She then asked me about my list, how long it was and when I told her, her response hit me smack dab in the feels, she said "you're setting yourself up to fail". Which was true. I think we often set such high standards for ourselves that are unattainable and when we inevitably don't meet them, we feel like failures. I'm slowly learning over time to reduce the pressures I place on myself but also, to forgive myself when I don't achieve what I hope. For me one of the biggest areas that I feel constantly imperfect with is my inbox. Is it just me or is there seriously not enough time in the day to respond to all of the emails we get?! If I were to stay on top of my inbox I'd have to be answering my emails for nearly half of my workday and I don't know about you but I sure don't have time for that! I'm slowly realizing that it's okay if I take a few days to respond to someone (unless it's urgent/time sensitive obvi). Even making the small mental shift in allowing myself a grace period to respond has made me feel so much better as I work my way through the day. So, find what your stressor is then allow yourself some grace, you won't regret it.
Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy
I know this is SO cliche but it is SO true. There have been times when I've had a great contract come through or received a great piece of news only to open my IG and see someone else get a contract I would have loved and all of a sudden my achievement doesn't seem to be enough. Instantly my piece of good news doesn't matter and I get trapped in my feelings of FOMO and inadequacy. Sound familiar? It's the worst. So, it's been something I've really actively been trying to work on. Truthfully I've never been much of the jealous type so these feelings don't hit often but when they do, it's not fun. So to battle those feelings I sought out those that made me feel that way and (sorry!), I unfollowed them. (This is why when that reader said she had to unfollow me because I made her feel bad about herself, I wrote her back saying I understand.) I truly believe that if someone doesn't inspire you, motivate you, or make you feel happy - you shouldn't be following them or subjecting yourself to them. It's not healthy. When those pesky feelings pop up I try to recognize the signs early and instead, remind myself of what I'm proud of or thankful for. At first it might be hard but over time, it gets easier and easier to pay less attention to those you might compare yourself too and rather, focus more on you and what you're trying to achieve.
I can't tell you how lucky I feel to be able to spend every day doing what I love. There are difficult days and times when I get stressed or overwhelmed but I truly love what I do. I wouldn't be able to do what I love if it weren't for every one of you who reads the blog and follows along on social media. It sounds cliche but I promise, every single comment left on a blog or IG post, every single DM or tweet or facebook message or email means the world to me. I do what I do because of you and your feedback and encouragement is what keeps me going. So thank you! Thank you for 4 incredible years - I cannot wait to see what else the future has in store!
PS on a completely unrelated note I want to take a minute to talk about these shoes. A few months ago, Canadian footwear company SKYE reached out to me asking if they could send me a pair of shoes to try - no commitments, nothing sponsored, just to check them out. Truthfully, they arrived at one of the most chaotic times I've been through this past year and they sat unopened for longer than I'd care to admit. When they resurfaced and I finally put them on I couldn't believe they'd been sitting there in their box for so long. I can promise you that these are without a doubt the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn, ever. For real. They're so comfy, stylish and until the snow fell I lived in these for my busy days running around to meetings, appointments, sourcing materials for design clients and coffee dates. I highly suggest checking out this Canadian brand and showing them some love.