Join Undercover Architect as we wrap up what 2014 has looked like, and how we’re planning for the next year ahead. What are your new year rituals?
One final blog, as things start to wind up and 2014 draws to a close. How’s your last year – 2014 – looked and felt?
When I look back over the last year, and think of where things were at this time, last year, I realise why it’s felt like such a big year!
A year in time
This time last year, we were just about to settle on our last renovation project – a massive undertaking that took 3.5 years, and turned a 100m2 house, into a 400m2 house, with every square inch renovated. We had been living in a rental property for a while, and I had (after returning from a trip to Uganda with Business Chicks and The Hunger Project) only recently advised my 5 business partners at DC8 Studio that I was planning on exiting the business, after almost 5 years together and many, many more years of working together at Mirvac. Undercover Architect existed as a very small spark of an idea but was in a long list of ideas I was thinking of pursuing post-DC8.
Roll forward a year, and we had moved house two more times, and finding our new home and life in the Byron Bay Hinterland. The kids moved schools, and my youngest started preschool. We got animals – livestock! Well, cows and chickens and ducks. And Undercover Architect was established. During this time I have figured out how to build a website, make videos and audio recordings, create a YouTube channel, use a Mailchimp account, write blogs (and write and write), launch my first online program, call on the services of virtual assistants on Fiverr, Odesk and Elance, created a private membership group, and navigated lots of different social media platforms … and a bunch of other technical, online, interweb stuff that my experience as an architect had not really equipped me for!
Trying to do it all on a shoestring budget, and keep working ‘on’ the business, whilst I work ‘in’ the business. I had a hilarious conversation with someone, who asked me ‘so who helps you with your website? and who is your technical support? and who does your graphic design? and who does your branding? and who does your marketing?’ Every answer was ‘ME!’.
Any small business owner will identify with this – you wear many, many hats when you start your business. I’ve been learning on the fly, and making mistakes every day. It has been fun, challenging, frustrating, exhausting and exhilarating.
Solo in business? Build a village …
Working on my own, in the room over our garage, has been a new and interesting experience. I’ve worked for many years from home, since my son was born 7.5 years ago – but I always had an office to go to, and a team to collaborate with.
Now my ‘team’ is actually more like a village – some of it completely virtual. A network of colleagues, friends and mentors that I draw on, and keep in touch with, to check and balance what I do and to keep me sane.
If you’re working from home, and finding it lonely, I really encourage you to reach out – even if it’s through connecting online through mastermind groups and networks of others in the same boat. You’ll be amazed at the relationships you can create, and the support they provide. Thanks to my village – you know who you are x.
Plan around getting the big rocks in first
I have started my planning for 2015 in earnest, having been building to this exercise for some time with my business coach, David Solomon of Quiddity Business.
One invaluable technique he’s taught me is to look at the year ahead, and block out all the time for my ‘big rocks’ first. All the things that are important and require priority and time – like school holidays, special family occasions, time with hubby, and time for me – for my health and wellbeing. Then plan out the year for my business around these.
I’m very keen to create a plan that helps me (and my family) live life a certain way – rather than planning a list of tasks and jobs to ‘get done’ and fit life around them.
Practise living the life you want
I’ve been realising of late how often ‘busy’ seems to be the answer I receive to ‘how are you?’.
I really think that ‘busy’ is overrated and we attach too big a measure of significance to being ‘busy’. I have been guilty of being busy, but not being productive or effective.
I have also realised over the past year that I don’t really value anything I haven’t worked incredibly hard for – which means that all I’ll keep doing is working incredibly hard. Whilst establishing a business IS hard work, and requires effort, attention, focus and determination, I know too that our choices (as a family) over the past year were about moving us to a different life. A family-centred, flexible life where we can be free and choose.
We’re not there yet, by any stretch of the imagination, but as someone very special once told me … “Don’t plant pumpkin seeds and then look for the apple tree”. What she meant was this – don’t live your life one way, in an effort to get to your goal of living your life differently. Because you won’t know when you’re there, or how to live once you’ve achieved your goal of your ideal life.
My aim for this coming year is plant the apple seeds, and practise living the kind of life we actually want to live.
“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow” – Doug Firebaugh
An annual theme – in a word
Many of my friends pick a theme for each year … just one word to shape their plans and vision. It acts as a great and constant reminder to get you back on track.
This will be the first year I formally make a plan of action in writing, which I’m really excited about, but also quietly terrified. However, a dream or goal without a plan is simply a wish. I’m still to work out my theme, but think it will be around the opposite of busy – and my go-to zone of manic [panic] work to make things happen. Need to snap myself out of that 😉
Over to you
So, what’s your 2015 look like? What apple seeds will you be planting this coming year, so come Christmas 2015, you can see your apple tree starting to grow?
Don’t think of the apple tree itself [your big vision] – that can be overwhelming. Just think of the seeds … the small, achievable actions and steps that will move you in the right direction. Each and every day.
Undercover Architect – Your guide to creating your perfect home
I want to empower YOU.
You are the key to unlocking what’s possible for your home, and the life it helps you lead.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to live to their highest potential, and I really believe your home is a great platform to do this.
So, Undercover Architect will be growing its library of helpful tools and guides to make this possible at your place.
My gratitude to you
I am so grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from the UA Community – from all of you. It’s been seriously amazing watching this idea grow into something that you enjoy and find helpful.
Wishing you and yours a brilliant Christmas, and great things for 2015. I look forward to sharing your journey with you, and helping you grow your apple tree! – Amelia, UA x