Guest Blog by Sarah Robertson, founder of These Are The Days branding studio
With a new season upon us, if you're anything like me, you'll be in reflection mode. September can often feel like a second January, and that's why it can be an ideal time to check in with our energy and create some space for ourselves before autumn begins.
Around this time of year, I like to review my business and where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going. And today, I'm sharing three things that you can do to gently reflect on your progress.
1. Consider how far you've come
Grab a pen and paper and write a list of 15 things you've achieved since the start of the year. Your successes don't need to be finished projects, product launches, or new services. They could be the ideas you've had, a change in attitude or resetting of boundaries, or perhaps you've taken the brave step of letting go of something?
When I first looked back, I saw the branding course I hadn't created, the storytelling workshop that hasn't launched, and the community project that won't come to life for a while yet. But in time, I've come to see that it wasn't the right moment for me to put my energy into these things. Foundational work was needed, and, in some ways, it was a time for scrapping goals rather than setting them.
We often look at the negatives, the stuff we didn't succeed at or don't feel so good about, the problems we'd like to solve. So how about taking in the broader picture and concentrating on the tiny steps you've taken? Making a list can clearly show how far you've come.
2. Acknowledge that breakdowns create space for breakthroughs
Every individual and business will experience failure. But we can gain insight from those challenging times and look forward with the foresight to make meaningful changes. Sometimes, there's beauty to be found in things going wrong.
The last 18 months have required a heavy dose of self-compassion as I navigated changes in my life along with the rest of the world. And approaching my business with ease has given me a much lighter outlook on a time that, to be honest, has helped me value who and what I have. In 2020 I had big goals for my digital studio, but I was working on projects that no longer fulfilled me, and I had so little time and space for the branding clients I truly wanted to work with. So I had to distance myself from one business to start another and begin the often slow process of building something again.
Maybe you've failed at doing some of the things you set out to achieve, but what did this make room for that was perhaps more important? Look closely, and you might see your breakthroughs too.
3. Reconnect with your 'why'
When I work on branding projects with clients, one of our main focus areas is their purpose for doing what they do. Many people focus on what they do and how they do it. But getting to the heart of why your brand exists and why people choose you can be incredibly powerful.
Last year, I started re-assessing my reasons for being in business and unearthed a few things that gave me the nudge to launch my branding and design studio at the end of 2020. I had lost touch with my work and had to ask, what's driving me? It was no longer my purpose or values, and the connection and enjoyment was no longer there.
What can you do to feel more aligned with what matters to you? How can you run the kind of business you want to run? If you're curious about diving into this more, watch How great leaders inspire action, a TED talk by Simon Sinek, the author of 'Start With Why'. It's an oldie but a goodie, and it might spark a bit of creativity that helps you reconnect with your own story.
Sinek also recently filmed this short video for the TED audience: How to discover your why in difficult times, an honest reflection of his own experience of the pandemic where he reveals more about uncovering your why in life.
Wherever you are on your brand journey, I hope this gives you a moment to celebrate your wins, no matter how big or small.
Sarah is an experienced graphic designer and creative director and founder of branding studio These Are The Days. She works from her home studio in Edinburgh alongside her partner, Jonathan, a website designer and digital director, and together they co-run a digital agency IfLooksCouldKill . When you sign up for Sarah’s Inside Story newsletter you’ll receive a free mini guided journal, Crafting Your Brand Story.
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