Made By Mrs M

False starts, plans and intentions

Business, ExhibitionKate Marsden

I'm writing this from bed, as I'm not well (yet again). 2017 was not a great year for me in so many respects and I'm keen to just put it behind me if I'm honest, but one of the most irritating things about it was the fact that I felt like I was ill (with one thing or another) pretty much ALL the time. I'm sure my anxiety about my business and a few personal things didn't help this at all, but on this occassion I'm on antibiotics so I've decided it's time to let myself have a proper rest (it's a rest and not really a false start!).

Back in Novemeber when I made my big decision to change my business, my plan was to take the best part of January off. Clear my head and sort out what I wanted to focus on. But before the school holidays were over my diary was already almost full with "stuff". Being unwell has forced me to cancel some things, and take a harder look at whether I need to be doing all of the others, and I suppose that's positive.


One thing I have started looking at is my Dream Plan Do planner. I had one last year too and I have to admit that I struggled (the fact that I filled it in in pencil is quite telling). I don't think I really realised in January 2017 that I was going to have such a terrible year sales wise, and that I'd be forced to make a change - 2016 had been great and I just needed to keep building on that... but when I look back on my 3 juicy goals and my plans written a year ago (which I spent nearly two months writing) they don't exactly scream optimism, in fact I don't really sound all that keen.

In the end I spent 2017 mostly firefighting. Not creating very much new work, desperately trying to shift £3 notebooks and making less money than I did the year before. My husband told me in November that I had to face reality and I think that was it - I'd convinced myself that it just had to work, failure wasn't an option, and I'd keep on going until it killed me...

Fast forward to today (having partially achieved 2 of last year's 3 goals and failed totally at the 3rd) and I actually feel that I'm in a better position to plan. I raced through the first 47 pages of this year's planner (yes 47!) in pen - I have a plan I think I can stick to (if I manage to avoid being sick CONSTANTLY) and it's all sounding a lot more positive. February's chapter is about finances though so I may well come unstuck there again!

I like that Patricia (van den Akker of The Design Trust who wrote the planner) has placed a stronger emphasis on self care and things other than your business this time, as I've come to realise that this is essential for me. 2017 found me spending a lot more time with (read worrying myself sick over) friends and family - this year I'm aiming to spend more time with them without so much of the worrying! And of course there's my health...

I did that thing everyone does, and joined a gym and cut down on alcohol at the beginning of December (to be fair it was pretty quiet down there!). I'm absolutely loving going (and gutted that I'm not there at the moment - hopefully the antibiotics will kick in and I'll be swimming by the time you're reading this) - my aim is to fix my bad back, feel generally more positive (and less panicky), and hopefully loose a bit of weight (I'm not going on a diet as such - I hate them - I'd rather move more and still eat cake).


So, my overall goal for 2018 is to be easier on myself and look after myself better. Other than that, I have the following plans at the moment (they might change - plus my first Dream Plan Do goal is for three months so there will be new ones in the spring anyway).

  • Go to the gym as often as I can, even if it's just for a quick swim and a dip in the jacuzzi.
  • Plan some fun things with friends and family (which will hopefully be easier to do as it's my big birthday year...)
  • Diarise trips into town to see exhibitions as I didn't do this enough last year. On my list at the moment are: Rachel Whiteread and Tove Jansson (need to get my skates on for these two), Orla Kiely, Red Star Over Russia and Modigliani, Elizabeth Friedlander and Frida Kahlo...
  • Plan some photowalks and trips with just a couple of people - not opening them up to others/giving me masses of work to do for very little reward.
  • Business wise:
    • Relaunching with a clear strategy - so this involves properly planning out what I intend to offer and what I don't, along with improving my communication with regard to what I do - revamping my website to reflect this and then just getting on with it.
    • Boosting my portfolio - as I said I mostly fought fires last year and the lack of new, interesting work I have to show is holding me back. I've already started on this.
    • Finally sorting out Pinterest and SEO for my blog - which I've been avoiding as it's not fun, and I don't really know what I'm doing...

So there we go. Nothing too major. I've never been one for embracing change and if 2017 taught me anything it's that I need to learn how to. My ideas about what I want my life and my business to look like in the future have changed (and to be fair, are rather hazy at the moment) but that shouldn't matter. I've also learnt that tenacity is good but there comes a point where ploughing on regardless with something that isn't working is really damaging.

Watch this space for some new stuff (very soon!), oh and if you see me flagging, do give me a kick and remind me of what my priorities need to be!