I know. You’re bracing yourself for another annual retrospective by someone who probably did more than you this year. That’s not where I’m going with this. (Spoiler: I made exactly THREE garments this year.)

I think we (myself included) often give up on the old year too easily. In our haste to get done with the imperfect past, we tell this year not to let the door smack it in the behind on the way out, and launch into the hope of a fresh start… maybe too quickly. I wonder whether we’d be more effective if we took time to rest and reflect more consciously, celebrating what went well AND learning from what didn’t go so well this year?

I tried this on for size in the nearest journal today (with credit to my current favourite podcast by James Wedmore):

  • What went well this year? What did it take to make those things happen?
  • What didn’t go so well this year? What did you learn?

Here are a selection of my highlight and lowlights… and you’ll notice that there’s a theme. This year, I learned to TRUST a little more.

  • January – made a beautiful chemise that I’ve been putting off for years. It took trust to go ahead and spend precious time to realise such a frivolous project, but it was a unique and beautiful thing because of it, and I wouldn’t change it.
  • February – spent a week at the School of Historical Dress in London. At the time my head worried about the expense, but my heart loved every moment. I trusted that it would all work out, and that trust paid off. Without that trip I wouldn’t have been able to spend the rest of the year building relationships I cherish with new friends I’ve met through the School. I learnt that I can trust the good feels. Resting in the things I love – even when they cost money – is not indulgence; it’s the sound of my heart saying “Yes”.
  • April – at my business event PLF Live, people began asking in earnest what was up with my ragged voice. When I came home I put myself in the capable hands of voice coach Mark Graham, and the journey has been so much deeper and richer than I expected. “You’re more capable than you think you are,” he keeps saying. My voice has become a symbol of my whole personal growth journey, expressed in miniature. I’ve had to learn to be open and vulnerable and trust that Mark will catch me. This is a place where I don’t get to hide… and it’s ok.
  • July –  I closed registration for Foundations Revealed and began marketing in an entirely different way, with intermittent promotions instead of a permanently open door. It was scary, overwhelming, exhausting, and a lot of fun. I have had mentors telling me to do this for years, and I’m delighted that I actually did it. What did it take? Trusting my mentors. Trusting that it would be great, even if I screwed up parts of it. Trusting in something I couldn’t see yet.
  • July – Dior dress for Costume College – making a dress to a tight deadline was a rollercoaster I didn’t totally enjoy, but I was glad to demonstrate to myself that I could still get it done. Lesson: an immoveable deadline is very motivating. I’m more capable than I think I am.
  • August – After the FR promotion, with Costume College on its heels, I was exhausted. My mood was low. I took a few days to get away, and even let myself continue to pull back when I got home. Most of August was a write off, and at the time I felt guilty and lazy about my behaviour. But hindsight is 20/20, and it was exactly what I needed. Lesson: Trust the negative feels too. You’re not lazy. You need a gorram break sometimes, girl.
  • September – I went to the Structuring Fashion conference in Munich with a Clearly Defined Outcome that didn’t go to plan – but a much better opportunity found me instead. Lesson learned: don’t try to control the outcome too much. There may be a bigger plan at work.
  • October – the red skirt – Unexpectedly, my favourite project of the year was a plain red Edwardian walking skirt that I wear about twice a week now. What did it take? It took trust in following the long held, subtle dreams that whisper much more quietly than the big, flashy projects with a deadline. Lesson learned: trust those subtle, long term feels. Following them brings a much deeper joy.
  • November – I rested in the arms of friends at a business event in Florida. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s a good idea to travel so much to see these people, but this event surprised me. I saw those relationships growing, and the group as a whole deepening its strength and connection. For the first time I really understood how progress doesn’t always have to involve conscious, directed effort. I can trust some growth to happen organically. That was a sweet, comforting feeling.

It’s tough to set a clear direction that makes sense for next year without celebrating and appreciating where you’ve been. It’s not about the quantity of projects you’ve completed, or the distance travelled (literally or figuratively), it’s about the gifts you choose to draw from the year and take with you. So this New Year’s Eve, I encourage you to raise a glass to this year, as well as the year to come, and give yourself an opportunity to appreciate how much this year has given you.

Well played, my friend. Good game. Let’s do more of all the good things, starting tomorrow. Happy New Year!