I’ve always had a bitter-sweet relationship with this time of year. Whilst I acknowledge that to many it’s a time of renewal, fresh starts and optimism my association with it is far from any of those things so I choose to use this time of year in my own way.
For a very long time I believed there was something wrong with me because I didn’t get excited, I didn’t make ‘New Year, New Me’ plans and I didn’t decide to make massive changes to my life or my business because a date on the calendar and social pressure dictated that I should.
For many, many years I spent this part of the year in a deep depression, numbing my inner pain with excessive alcohol, one-night stands (when I wasn’t in a relationship) and eating rubbish food. I was a party animal, living up to the expectations of all those around me but deep down hating myself, my situation and everything I was becoming, my behaviour and habits developed as coping mechanisms after the shame of my first abusive marriage ended in divorce when I was just 22.
I stopped behaving in that way when I got married again at 31 and had my son, but it wasn’t too long before I had other negative associations with this time of year when my previous successful business became insolvent on New Year’s Eve 2008 and I had to make my team of 6 redundant with immediate effect and no pay.
That’s a pain and memory that has haunted me for years.
I had a brilliant team, they helped me to grow my business from a ‘lifestyle’ business to a key player in the industry at that time. It wasn’t their fault that my business was now in the position it was. Paying their salaries was my responsibility and for years I have beaten myself up, berated myself and told myself that I’m never ever going to be in that position again. And guess what?
I’ve never been in that position again.
In fact, I’ve consciously and sub-consciously, ensured I could never be in that position again.
The prospect of employing a team or taking on outsourced support terrifies me, not because I don’t trust the people I’m delegating work to, but because I didn’t trust myself to be able to pay them.
The daft thing is, with the exception of that instance, I have always met my obligations and commitments, but I have allowed that one instance to over-shadow all of the evidence I have, that says I can meet my commitments, reach my goals and empower others.
My team were great because I empowered them to do their jobs, they knew what needed to be done and knew that I trusted them to do it. I trusted them to build and maintain relationships with my clients and my clients knew that I appointed them the best account manager for their needs. I didn’t receive a single complaint from my staff or my clients about the way things worked for them. Even after delivering the shattering news to my team all of those years ago, all bar one of the team asked if there was anything they could do to help me.
Looking back, I recognise I spent a lot of time building relationships with everyone around me; my team, my clients, my suppliers. And it was in building those relationships that solid foundations and support were laid.
I certainly recognise what went wrong and learned a very hard lesson about toxic relationships.
For someone who historically hasn’t enjoyed this time of year, I’m still not excited as the midnight hour approaches on 31st December but I acknowledge how far I’ve come and the lessons I’ve learned.
This year will be a very different and exciting New Year’s Eve. For one I won’t be drinking as I’m collecting my son from his work sometime in the early hours. And my partner won’t be drinking either, as he celebrates the end of a whole year without alcohol. We’ll head to bed at our usual time, or I may watch Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenany if I’m awake, maybe I’ll read a book and I’ll set my alarm to give me just enough time to throw on some jogging bottoms and shoes to get in the car and collect my son. Then I’ll head back to bed ready to enjoy an early start and the first day of the New Year.
It may be the day I decide to make all sorts of changes, or it may not, but for the first time in 13 years I won’t be spending it in fear or dread of what might be just around the corner. I’ll do my thing, my way, empowered by the decisions I make and walking my own path, one foot in front of the other.