Why I'm going to do things very differently this year...
By Helen Lewis, co-founder of The Author School
My first blog of the year…
It’s a New Year and my little Christmas bubble has burst. Having two incredibly awesome little ladies in my life meant that my two weeks off work were beyond amazing. We went on long walks, had loads of visitors, saw friends and family, spent some time by the sea (which is my favourite place to be), had PJ days, watched lots of films, played silly games, enjoyed two cheese fondues and copious amounts of wine and cheese. It was total heaven to be honest. I went back to work on Tuesday 3rd January and the kids went back to school. I was greeted by 2000+ emails, which was ridiculously excessive even for me. I managed to delete 500 useless spam emails but the rest had to be read and replied to and I’m not sure I’ve got back to everyone I was supposed to even now. I’ve spoken to a lot of people on Skype and the telephone this week, and will be in London for meetings tomorrow to speak to even more people, and the majority have mentioned some kind of ‘back to work blues’. I get that after the summer break, I'm obsessed with the sun, but after Christmas I always seem able to go back to work with a spring in my step. I put this down to my eternal optimism when it comes to a New Year. I love New Year’s Eve. Before children I would celebrate in style, with a bang, plenty of sparkle and always to excess. Over the past eight years the celebrations have been forced to calm down (a bit) but my introspection, reflection and planning seem to have escalated.
The New Year’s Eve of 2014, the worst year of my life and the one in which our family lost a really important member – Dai Fitzpatrick – I was so angry I went to bed early - too upset to say goodbye to the year and too afraid to welcome in a new one. I couldn’t believe how awful the year had been and couldn’t find any of my usual optimism and positive thinking.
Since then, every day that goes by I honestly thank my lucky stars that I’m still around and I've survived it all. I’ve been through enough therapy since 2014 to know that it wasn’t a case of ‘her or me’, or that I owe anyone anything for the fact it wasn’t me who passed away, but I did have those feelings and they creep back in every now and then. Now, however, when something bad happens in work, or in my ‘other life’ i.e. outside of work, she’s the first person I think about, because let’s face it, a difficult conversation or a horrible person having a bad day and taking it out on me is never going to be as bad as that day in February 2014, or the days, weeks or months after during that year when other pretty crazy and crappy things happened. It’s called perspective, I guess.
In 2016, bad things happened but nowhere near as bad as I’ve been through before – and I’m still, thankfully, standing. The children are thriving. I live in a nice little village in the countryside; I have amazing support from friends and family. I have stuff to be grateful for. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have stuff to be grateful for, and sometimes I feel hard done by. But most of the time, I am lucky enough to have the sort of personality that enables me to bounce back from the crap times.
In 2016, good things also happened. The business is growing stronger every day and I’m so proud of the fact my little idea back in 2006 has sprouted into the businesses they are today: The Author School, Literally PR, Hashtag Press and food&drink towers are all amazing ideas that help people and I’m very proud of them.
There were times last year that I thought I was set to implode from all the work and the deadlines and the pressure. There were times I felt married to work rather than my husband. I felt plenty of Mum guilt, on an almost daily basis, about not being there to pick the kids up every day at school, or for missing their celebration assembly because I was fulfilling a dream of being at the Frankfurt Book Fair, or I forgot that birthday party invite and had to buy a last-minute crap present from the local petrol station. Over the past two years my work enabled me to travel, which is something I crave and haven’t been able to do so much since the kids came along. I went to Zurich, New York, Frankfurt, Mallorca…and not so far away to Leicester, Manchester, London and Hampshire… I’m grateful for that.
But this year things are going to change.
I’m learning to say no.
I’m writing a diary every day – and being honest with what I’m writing (no editing out bad memories – I’ve realized I’m very good at that).
I’m going to be blogging more – from the heart – to share my experiences.
I’m going to surround myself by people who are kind, energetic, happy, real, honest, interesting, exciting, and who like to collaborate and work as a team.
I’m going to step away from those people who are difficult, cold, stressful, bossy, rude, unrealistic and unkind.
I’m going to do my best to manage expectations from the outset – people often come to me expecting that I can fix all their problems over night. As the fabulous ‘Rag n Bone Man’ sings: “I’m only human after all.”
I’m going to keep dreaming big and working hard to achieve my goals.
I’m going to enjoy the moment and take each day for what it is – being grateful for the small stuff as well as the big stuff.
I’m going to enjoy my children while they’re still young and want to me with their old Mum!
I’m going to take time out to stop working.
I’m going to write my book: Legacy of the Working Mum and build a community of working Mums who want to collaborate and share their ideas, thoughts, tips and strategies for managing it all with others without judgment or agenda.
I’m going to help as many people as I can – particularly authors and entrepreneurs – to achieve their goals.
I’d love to hear your goals for this year. Are you hoping to write a book or perhaps you want to publish something you’ve already written? At The Author School we’re hosting evening classes as well as our full days. They start on January 23rd at 1830 in London and the first class (just £25 if you buy a ticket before January 9th) will be about publishing paths – what options do you have for publishing and what would be best for you? We’ll provide bespoke advice in a friendly, informal setting. You can even bring wine if you wish J
Here’s to a wonderful 2017 for each and every person reading this blog. Let’s hope I manage to keep to my goals and you’ll be reading more blogs from me very soon.