Last year, when COVID-19 was starting to dominate our lives, there was a lot of talk about unprecedented change, and how terrible 2020 was becoming. It caused me to reflect on earlier times, which had a similar theme for me. Ten years earlier, (well 11 now, it's been a year!) in 2010 I went through several changes, so that period in time became my reference point.
At the beginning of February 2010 I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. This itself was quite a big change. It was good in that it explained and resolved a lot of the health issues I'd been experiencing, but having to drastically change your diet for the rest of your life is quite a big step! Over time I got used to it, and now it is perfectly normal to me.
Little did I know, that was just the beginning! Two weeks later I was made redundant. This was a little more unexpected. The company I had worked for had faced issues, but I thought we'd moved on from that. It turns out I was quite wrong, and all of a sudden I'd lost my income. Right at the tail-end of a global recession. So that was also a little stressful! After having some time to take it all in, and realising there was a lot of competition for the jobs I was qualified for, I decided it might be a good time to take a leap of faith into the world of self-employment.
Around six months after I made this decision, we had a major earthquake, which shook up the city and us. Obviously this wasn't great for local business confidence, and not the best time to have a fledgling new business. By the end of that year, I thought I'd had the 'three bad things'. The next year had got to be better, right?
Wrong! The following year saw a much more devastating earthquake, in which 185 people lost their lives. By now, change was starting to be become the norm, and the term 'new normal' was starting to enter the lexicon.
As the pandemic progressed last year, I considered myself fortunate. The part-time job I had looked pretty safe. My husband's job in the construction industry did too, and the people of New Zealand were doing a great job of supporting local, so my business was looking good. I kept thinking to myself, 'this is bad, but not as bad as 2010, I haven't lost my job'. So I'm sure you can guess what happened next...
In October, I was told the organisation I was working for was restructuring, and by December, my position had been made redundant. On the upside, things were a little different this time. It was a part-time income, not a full-time one, and the newer aspect of business, which I had purchased in the years we spent in the 'new normal' is a lot more established. I had the benefit of my new studio, so I have a dedicated space to work in. Again, I will make the most of the extra time I have for my business, by continuing to grow it.
I have learned a few things from running a business for this length of time. One of those is where my limitations are. Like a lot of creatives, planning and time management are not my forte, but are important skills to have in order to grow a business. So this year I am working with a coach to hone my skills in this area. As I go through this process, I've realised that I was even worse than I thought, so I have some work to do. Wish me luck (or is it my coach who needs the luck?)
I have also learned that normal doesn't really exist. The last year gave me a new understanding of what resilience means. It is the art of realising that 'this too shall pass'. That if things seem bad right now, they will improve, and you will come out the other side. You just have to put one foot after the other and keep going. It's not always easy, and sometimes you need to take a break. If you just focus on the next step, you will get there in the end.
With the extra time I now have, I am planning to produce more new designs this year, starting with expanding my range of watercolour birds. Maybe I'll even launch a new product I've been teasing you about for way too long. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. It's one step at a time into our new 'new normal', and you never know what is around the corner.