We’re getting a bit personal today, because I want to take a moment to look back at this past year. In a lot of ways, this was an incredible year, both work-wise and on the personal side. But as much good happened this year, a lot of (for lack of a better word) shit happened too. And from the good and the bad, came a lot of lessons. Here are 23 of the biggest lessons I learned from 23:
But if you are deeply dissatisfied what you’re doing, find a way to change it. Life is too short to be unhappy every day. I went through periods this year where I was just pushing through before I took a moment to think – why?
It is true that running your own business is hard work – the dream of “passive income” we’ve been sold on isn’t 100% reality. However, we start our own ventures to in some way love what we do. If you’re dreading client calls or can’t muster up any creative energy, something’s got to change.
I started out this year saying yes to way too many things. I was so happy about all the opportunities coming my way that I glossed over big signs from the universe that they weren’t the right fit. But because I was bending over backwards to make everything work, I was suffering. You don’t have to be the right fit for every client. In fact, you definitely aren’t. Be ok with saying no.
This goes for friendships, romantic partnerships, client relationships – all of the above and any I didn’t mention. 2023 was the year of losing relationships with people I thought would be in my life for a long time. I had friends turn out to be not so nice, a relationship I thought was strong turn sour, and even clients not work out for one reason or another. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever, but the special few that are? Hold them close.
Yes, there are times to hustle and put your blinders on. But we’re on this earth for way too short of a time to turn down memories with those we love for the sake of another project or hitting another milestone. Some may differ in their opinion on this, and that is completely ok! I realized midway through the year I was turning down moments with my family for the sake of work. As someone who has older parents – my work will be here when they are not, but I won’t ever get back that time with them.
I’m a big boundaries girl. Always have been, always will be. But there are definitely times when it’s worth it to flex on them. And of course, there are times when you need to stand firm. Know which is which (and know that the line can change).
For example: my clients generally follow a weekly process for client review & approvals. But they all know that they aren’t going to be punished if they miss the deadline for review. If a kid gets sick, or work gets crazy, you know what we do? We adjust the schedule (even though the schedule is technically a boundary in the contract. However, one boundary I don’t budge on? No client has my phone number.
Sometimes I’ll find myself feeling guilty for prioritizing my riding schedule over making space for another client, or for not opening up more call times because I’ve planned an afternoon with my family. There’s a constant desire to want to help everyone that reaches out. I had to learn this year, I can’t say yes to everything. Each opportunity I say yes to is something else that I’m saying no to. When it means I have to say no to something deeply important to me? It’s not worth it – and I don’t have to apologize for it.
This year, a number of my clients hit the year mark with ABC Social Media Management. And while the work is of course still challenging (in a good way!), it’s a different challenge than finding and cultivating a new client relationship. With these established partnerships, it’s about pushing ourselves to be better and innovate and deepen the partnership. And in many ways this has ended up feeling easier – and more rewarding – than constantly chasing new clients.
Ah yes, another lesson that comes not just from running ABC Social Media Management, but also from the personal stuff that went down this year. While longterm relationships can be amazing, sometimes they’ve turned sour and it’s best to end things for all involved. As tough (and sad) as it can feel, you’ll be better off in the long run if you part ways than trying to hold on for all you’re worth.
Sometimes I’ll think I can just get one more thing checked off my to-do list. But if I’m cutting my sleep short, it never works out well. If you’re not like me and can survive on less than eight hours of sleep a night, more power to you. Me? I don’t do my best work when I’m tired, and sometimes that means moving things to the next day.
On the rollercoaster that was 2023, things got a lot better when I started asking for help. Whether that’s from my team, from the various communities I’m in, from my family – turning to people and leaning on them, even if it was just to lend an ear or work through a problem, made all the difference. I can turn into a bit of a turtle and retreat into my shell when I’m facing a challenge. But, doing that doesn’t help me work through whatever issue I’m dealing with.
One of my coaches reminded me of this many times this year – being well-resourced is not something to be ashamed of. It’s an immense gift. And however those resources look for you – whether it’s people in your business world, people in your personal life, or some other sphere you operate in – be grateful that you have them and lean into them (and then turn around and extend a hand to someone else).
This is not an easy one for me to remember as the people pleaser. But unless it says it in your contract (and I doubt it does!), you do not have to be available and responsive 24/7. We all deserve weekends (yes, even if we work in social media) and it is highly unlikely there is ever a true emergency. The stress of feeling like I had to always be “on” wore on me this year, until I started setting clearer boundaries around how and when I respond – while still serving my clients well.
Another tough one for the people pleasers! If you spend all your time making other people happy, there is one person who will suffer: you. While I’m not saying go through life aiming to make others upset, if there is something you need or want to do, but you’re afraid to because it might lead to anger or frustration: Deal with their emotions, not the anxiety or stress of not doing what’s right for you.
Yep – step away from the computer. And the phone. Fully. We all would benefit immensely from touching grass more frequently. So take some time to read, meditate, go for a walk – everytime I do this, not only do I get new ideas, but I feel calmer and more centered.
This is a spicy one. Yes, the service providers you hire need to deliver on the packages they’re contracted for. Yes, there is such a thing as overcharging. But at the end of the day, you are the CEO and you need to make sure you see an ROI from anything you invest in – or, reevaluate the investment. I’m not saying you have to stay in a bad situation! If you feel like something isn’t worth it, you can absolutely end the service (no judgment!). But, it’s not just on the service provider to create an ROI; it’s on you as the business owner to know that you need this service at this stage in your business, and if done well (which, this part is the responsibility of the service provider), how it impacts your bottom line.
I’ve done this a million times, but every time I regret it. You’ll think “I’ve been with this person/client/friend/partner for so long, I can’t leave.” That’s never true. If you’re not happy, or something isn’t working, it doesn’t matter how long the relationship has lasted. Find an amicable (if possible) end, and allow yourself the opportunity to find something even better. Because when you do finally leave, you’ll look back and realize just how much time yu wasted.
I can’t take full credit for this lesson; one of my business mentors has always said it, and I keep this in mind with all I do. If you’re a service provider, be of service. Sometimes that means jumping in to help your client with something that isn’t technically within scope but you value the relationship, or giving a quick answer to a question instead of making everyone who DMs you pay for a call. Yes, get paid for your time and you don’t have to give everything away for free BUT when you help people, it comes back in dividends.
Except for social media managers who are my peers or mentors, I don’t follow very many social media marketing professionals. Why? Because what they’re doing, quite frankly, isn’t my business. Everyone will have different opinions, different strategies, different priorities. If you get too bogged down in what other people in your industry are doing, you won’t be able to figure out what you want to do and share.
From my Instagram this year, would you have known that I 1) had a close friend turn on me; 2) ended a significant relationship that had lasted for over a decade; and 3) struggled with some other really intense things that I won’t get into the details of? Probably not. And I’m not sharing this for pity (I’m on the other side now), but to remind you that especially on the highlight reel that is Instagram, everything is not always as it seems. People don’t share all the details, for a number of reasons. Before you get stuck in the comparison loop of they’ve made more money or it seems like everything is so easy for them, take a step back and remember that they’re probably not telling you the whole story (and, they don’t have to. Some things you do keep to yourself).
2023 was the year of thinking I want a really massive agency and pushing myself to that point – only for it to end in burnout, stress, and a complete redirection of my path. There is nothing wrong with running a large agency (it’s amazing!) – but for my current stage in life, what I want to do with this business, and my priorities, it honestly didn’t make sense for me.
What I love most about my work is the relationships I build with clients, and if I scaled too much I could lose that one on one time. So ABC Social Media Management isn’t an “agency” in the traditional sense – we have a team (because I truly could not do it all alone), but I’m still the main point of contact for clients and handle a majority of the client work. Even if we do grow further in the future, I know my goal isn’t to get completely out of the client work but to always maintain that connection with my clients, because I know that’s what they come to us for.
I’m in some spaces with some really incredible entrepreneurs. People who are doing incredible things. My goals do not match theirs, and that doesn’t make either one of us less important or worthy. Everyone is on a different path, and someone’s goal might be to just make an extra bit of money each month; someone else might want the $100k months and seven-figure years. Both are valid, both are worthwhile goals, and you’re allowed to choose which one is right for you (and change your mind!)
This goes back to the highlight reel of Instagram – you never know the full picture. Even the most transparent people are keeping some personal matters private (as they should). We’ll never get the full picture on social media and that’s ok. I’m not saying this because I think we should, I want to point it out so you don’t feel like you’re not doing as well because of what someone shares on Instagram.
The final lesson: As much as you can, give people grace, because you really don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. They might be fighting a battle you have no idea about, but extending some kindness or being patient could make all the difference. This goes for business, yes, but also in your personal life.
Even with all the crazy things that went down this year, I’m most of all just so grateful for this past year. For ABC Social Media Management, for the girls who work on my team, for our clients who trust us month after month to run their socials, for the communities I can turn to for support, for my family and friends, for my four-legged family members – while there were some rough moments, there were so many more bright spots that I want to celebrate. I hope you can also look back at this year and celebrate, even if you consider it a “small” win. And cheers to an even better 2024!
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