3 things I quit in 2021
While typically I share an end-of-year review, I thought I’d shake things up a bit.
This year has been a year of boundaries. So with that, I’m going to share 3 things I stopped doing in 2021.
I’m not sharing this for the sake of sharing about me. Instead, I hope it gives an honest look at letting go of things. Even if they are profitable or successful. Setting boundaries so I can slow down.
This meant a year of less income than the previous year. I knew this walking into 2021, and a year later I’m happy I set these boundaries. I’ve realized over the years that I do not need to “out-earn” my previous year in business. That may seem obvious and is definitely something I’ve known all along, but this is the first year I truly put it into action. Intentionally letting go of profitable areas in my business.
I hope this provides an honest look into my studio and also encourages you to set boundaries if you feel like they need to be set. You have my permission ;). That said, do not feel like any of these things I’ve stopped means I think you should do the same! I recognize we all have different businesses and boundaries.
So let’s dig in!
Here are three (of many!) things that I stopped in 2021.
#1 — My Coaching Community
In 2020 I opened up a small coaching membership community to about 40 or so Spruce Your Studio alumni. It was such a fantastic, supportive community that I was proud to create, be a part of, and host.
Each month we worked through a Micro-Marketing Challenge, had group Q&A calls and breakout sessions. The community component was where the real magic happened. You couldn’t ask for a better group of designers to come alongside you, work through client situations, give feedback on designs or encouragement. Many friendships, partnerships, and referrals were made in the community! I LOVED connecting with fellow designers.
Which made my decision to pause the Coaching Community after a little less than a year so hard.
When I was reflecting on my year at the end of 2020, I gained clarity that I needed to press pause on the Coaching Community… when previously that had not entered my mind! Here’s why:
I wasn’t fully “off” on my “off days”
I have a unique schedule where I work only on Thursdays and Fridays. My husband works Monday–Wednesday and we flip-flop staying at home with our kids when not working.
Hosting a community made it a challenge to feel completely “off” on my “off days.” This was all of my own doing. If I hosted a community, I wanted to check in at least once a day. It quickly became sort of my own social media where there was a feed + notifications to catch up on. No one asked me to log in during those days, but I struggled to really compartmentalize work and home days.
I’m very protective of my days at home with the kids, and this was something that I allowed in my at-home days. I struggle to rest and feel present when I feel any pressure (even of my own doing) to check-in for work. Even though the community took up little actual time on my “off” days, it still took some time. Which is not my goal.
Unpredictable School Schedule with Covid
When I did check-in during my off-days, I did so while the kids were at pre-school. With Covid, their school schedule became very unpredictable depending on exposure within the classes. When school was canceled, I felt a bit stressed trying to balance work and kids at home. I realize that the little work I did have during those days does not even compare to many families who balanced work and childcare during the pandemic! I’m thankful for that.
However, the 30-min to 1-hour trying to balance the two was not ideal. As mentioned earlier, I really like to be fully present when at home, so the unpredictable school schedule did not allow that. I’ve now learned to not rely on pre-school as reliable childcare :)! Just this past week there were several Christmas programs, parties, etc. I enjoy those things much more when I don’t feel cheated out of a workday.
Overall, I stepped away from the Coaching Community due to my personal boundaries. Yes, I could have figured out a different way to host the community without my involvement on those days, but that just wasn’t my vision.
Though we had a fantastic group of designers, great retention each month, and it was very profitable monthly recurring revenue, I had peace stepping away. One year later, I don’t regret it! The community itself was absolutely not a factor. In fact, they made the decision very difficult to leave! I do miss the connections, but also feel more peace at home while not at work.
#2 — Posting on Instagram
Over the past several years I’ve slowly stepped away from social media. There are many reasons why I’ve made this decision, but put simply, social media isn’t where I enjoy spending my time. And if I don’t enjoy something, why do I need to do it?!
As a design studio owner, it almost feels like skipping Instagram is not allowed, as silly as it sounds!
There are so many positives that come from Instagram, especially as a designer since the platform is so visual. Loads of design inspiration, connection with peers, behind the scenes, and attracting clients.
All in all, I realized it just wasn’t the best use of my limited work hours. SO… I stopped posting. My last post was in October of 2020. At that time, I didn’t intentionally step away, but I realized I didn’t miss it. So in 2021 I intentionally stopped posting.
Notice I phrased it as I stopped posting on Instagram, and not that I quit Instagram altogether. While this does intrigue me, and something that I’ve mulled over, I’ve decided to not step away completely. Many of my clients are active on Instagram, where we create their social media promos, so I like to keep up a bit with trends, stats, etc. I also enjoy the inspiration and connection within the platform.
I can do these things from my desktop computer during workdays. I feel good about this boundary because it feels more like a tool that I use for work, and less mindless scrolling with no purpose.
#3 — Phone scrolling
This brings me to the next thing I put a boundary on in 2021 — mindless phone scrolling! I can’t say I’ve completely “stopped” this, but I have been a lot more intentional about my time.
Since having kiddos, phone scrolling has naturally minimized over the years. If I have my phone out, my toddlers will request to see photos of themselves constantly ;).
That said, I have realized that as an escape or cure for boredom, I will pick up my phone and scroll (Instagram, Pinterest, check emails, etc.).
Recent studies show that the average smartphone screen time in the US is between 5–6 hours. My typical average is usually 1 hour-ish. So I don’t have a huge phone issue, but I also don’t like that I scroll mindlessly.
To help set boundaries, I uninstalled the Instagram app a few years ago but found that I would view it in the browser every now and then. I also deactivated Facebook since I only used it for a local FB group and marketplace. I also uninstalled the Gmail app but had the same issue of hopping on the browser.
SO — I installed an app called “appblock” (I know, ironic) that will allow you to block apps and URLs on your phone. I have it set to block anything I find myself scrolling.
I realize these boundaries make me sound like a stick in the mud or a bit intense, but I’m okay with that, ha! They’ve helped me become more mindful of how I spend my time. It’s been a healthy shift this year!
Again, I share this not to guilt-trip anyone into setting these boundaries, but instead to share a transparent look at how introducing discipline has helped me this year.
So, what did I do in 2021?!?
Fair question! While not on Instagram, or sharing as consistently in my newsletter or blog, you might be wondering what I actually did do this year.
For starters, my husband and I welcomed our 3rd baby boy, Rudy, in October! Even more reason to slow down and savor this season. It’s been a smooth transition so far, and so thankful he’s here! We didn’t find out the gender again, and now I’m 3 for 3 in guessing the gender wrong with all of my boys! How’s that for a mother’s intuition?!
For Spruce Rd., we continued our signature brand identity design service for a handful of brands. I’m so thankful for our incredible clients, and my design collaborations with Ash who is such a joy to work with! It’s been 5 years of our collaboration, and I couldn’t be more grateful for a trusted friend, and standout designer, on our team. We’ve only met in person once… how is that possible?!
We also continued our weekly design day support for one of our clients, monthly support and one-off design days for other clients. Repeat design work is where I’m loving spending our client services these days. As a previous in-house designer, I love seeing a design come to life in all aspects from branding, packaging, emails, PDFs, etc. So fun, and so rewarding!
I also welcomed a new group into Spruce Your Studio in the spring! I planned to open up the doors again in the fall, but that didn’t happen. WHOOPS. In all honesty, I over-analyzed it and was over-tired with a newborn. I’m looking forward to opening it back up again in the new year!
In the fall, I also created a new course, Type-Driven Brand, and opened it up for the first time. This course has been on my mind for years, and it feels good to create something I’m so proud of, and one that many designers were excited for. The resources alone were a favorite of mine to create! I’ll be opening it back up again in the new year, with some added tutorials :).
All in all, it’s been a year of growth. Personal growth, and not income growth ;). I’ve slowed down quite a bit, simplified things, and enjoyed the balance of home + work life. I’m continuously grateful for the dream job that I have, the collaborations I’m honored to be a part of, and the Spruce Rd. community. Thanks for being a part of it, and if you hung in here this long, I so appreciate your support and encouragement over the years!