History never repeats...

Pause by Ana Aceves

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 turning out. 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 in the previous year, 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 lost a major client the previous year, 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 a little stressful! After having some time to take it all in, and realise 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 wasn't great for local business confidence, and not the best time to have a fledgling new business. By the end of the year, I thought I've had the 'three' bad things, and next year would 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 '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 were planning a restructure. In early December, I was told my position had been made redundant. That wasn't the greatest way to end the year, but it did ensure that my year fit the 2020 narrative a little better! On the upside, things were a little different this time. It was a part-time income, not a full-time one, and my (more recently acquired) business was a lot more established. I had also completed my new studio last year, so I have a great new space to work in. Like last time, I plan to spend the extra time on my business and see how much further I can grow it.

I have learned a few things from running a business for this length of time. One of them is identifying where my strengths and weaknesses are. There is one area that has stood out as something I need to work on. Planning and time management are not my forte, but are important skills to have in order to grow a business. To improve my skills here, I am working with a coach this year. 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...?)

With the extra time gained, I am planning to produce more new designs this year. I am going to start 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. One step at a time!

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