Happy New Year, again friends! I’m back with another OOTK series: reflecting on 2017 and looking at the year 2018 ahead.
In one word, 2017 for me was: growth. I feel as if I grew more last year than any single year of my life. It was a year of positive challenging experiences, new ventures, lots of business travel, and definitely achieving a lot of success. There were so many things that defined last year for me that I realised it would be best to listicle it out so you can see it at a snapshot.
I believe that it’s important to move forward by properly reflecting on the past year. I loved this post that Julia wrote about reflecting on a full year, and adapted one of her steps here. It can be easy to forget all the amazing things that happened during your year, so write them or journal them! I found that separating business accomplishments from personal growth changes helped, and to all list the challenges I had aka, the things that didn’t go so great that I would love to see if I can change/adjust.
Top 5 Business Accomplishments I am Most Proud Of
I was featured in Essence’s Print magazine: this was such a fun accomplishment! They had reached out to me to be featured in their magazine, but when I found out that it was going to be the print issue, I nearly flipped. My bff bought four copies for me (of course haha) and they are proudly housed on my office’s shelf. It was a moment that I realised that oh, I’m doing important and recognised work.
I spoke at the National Conference on Girls’ Education: I actually cried when I got home after doing this. Speaking to a room of hundreds of high school Jamaican girls, who were completely enthralled with our jobs was such an honour. It reminded me that the youth really are our future. Honestly, this was probably one of the most proud things I’ve done my whole life. Being able to keep in contact with several of the girls afterwards who are budding entrepreneurs was also such an honour. I also got to meet Godiva, who has an amazing spirit!
I wrote a book! It’s That Easy: your easy, step-by-step guide for switching to a healthier, meatless lifestyle you’ll love: Writing this ebook taught me a multitude of lessons that I just couldn’t have learned otherwise. Sticking to a passion project from start to finish that ended up being so rewarding is something I’ll also be writing a post on, so look out for that! For now though, my biggest lesson was to push perfectionism aside and to just *finish*. When I finally finished this, I feel like I slept for a whole day after! It was really rewarding, and something I would definitely do again.
Jessica in the Kitchen got an insane face-lift! (and got called a recipe maven): In case you’re new to Jessica in the Kitchen, it got the biggest transformation since inception on my 3rd blog anniversary, August 8, 2017. Since we were hours ahead in London, I anxiously awaited and was so ecstatic when the actual switch over happened. Investing in such a big website change, logo redesign, and brand refresh was the best investment I made all year, for sure. It was so worth it and it really changed the way I saw my own brand, and how others saw it too!
I got nominated as a top 3 finalist for a Best Original Photography Award!: Surprise! I’ll be doing a post on this too, but this was SUCH an honour!!! I’ve always loved photography, and to hear/read about this really confirmed that it’s one of my greatest skills, and helped to banish a lot of doubt that I had often associated with my photography. I can’t wait for the awards ceremony, and to share way more with you of course!
Top 5 Personal Growth Changes
I stuck to meditation. I first started Headspace in January of 2017, and ever since then, it was changed my entire life and mindset. Meditation has helped me to see things much clearer, to separate myself from some damaging thoughts, and has made me a happier person overall. I highly recommend trying it!
I started theOut of the Kitchen Series. Sure, this could probably be listed under business too, but really was a personal venture for me. It went from me sharing my thoughts, to turning into a series that many of you have asked me to do more often! I’m happy to say that several Sundays every month, I’ll be doing more of these OOTK posts! It’s been a really fun place for me to share my journey, challenges and solutions with you, so thank you for your incredible feedback!
I really dug deep spiritually. Oh – what a change this made. From morning meditations, to long yoga sessions, to asking for signs, to turning prayers into deep conversations with God, to journalling, to simply, and truly, trusting the Universe. These practices made such a difference for me. Apart from literally changing my life for the better, it helped me to approach situations with more calm, to respond rather than react, and to know that I am not alone.
I read and listened to a lot of self-help books and podcasts. The words “self-help” can scare people sometimes, but I love to see these types of books as books that help you explore deeper into yourself. I’ll be sharing these separately so as to not overwhelm this whole post, but a book a month is something I would definitely recommend. It helped me to be way more aware of myself, my thoughts, the things I surround myself with, and my abilities.
I had a qualitative change in my mindset about my capabilities. I’ve always believed in myself to a degree, but this year I had to make some difficult decisions which required me to really believe in myself, not what other people thought of me. Focusing on God, knowing that I’m enough, and actually listening my own accomplishments all helped with that. I spoke at three different seminars/summits/meetups this year and that also made such a big change too. Knowing that people were looking forward to what I had to say made me realise that again, I am doing important work, and that I would not be able to help if I didn’t believe in myself. Being able to say that feels amazing.
Top 3 Challenges I Faced
There are no flowers without rain. I went through a lot last year and while I’m not trying to be perfect and *fix* these things, I already know how to hopefully prevent them from happening in the future.
1. Self-Doubt: Ugh. With growth came an inexplicable amount of fear that I really battled for several months. It seems to be wearing down, and I’ve found that I MUST start my day with meditation to combat it.
2. Burnout: During the summer holidays in August we went to London. While it was such a fun trip, it wasn’t a vacation since every night I was either working on the site redesign, or finalising my ebook. Then in September the book came out, then right into Quarter 4 which is my busiest quarter. Needless to say that burnout really hit me hard during the last part of this year. Some things I plan to do to combat this will be to outsource more and to stop working 7 days a week.
3. Perfectionism Complex: A beautiful thing that I learned from one of the books I read was that perfectionism is just a pretty word for procrastination. I spent a lot of time this year saying “don’t publish that/do that yet because you aren’t ready”. Now I know better, fortunately. I’m aware of it, and it helps to recognise it as procrastination!
Top 5 Lessons Learned
The only one standing in your way is you. When I really took a look, I realised that I was my own limiting beliefs were what was holding me back in any situation that I felt held back.
Nothing great ever happened in the comfort zone. I can’t find who originally said this, but it’s so true!
Ask for a sign. A gem from Gabby Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Backreminded me that when, not if, you need help, ask for it. Clearly and honestly. Then believe you’re going to get it. It hasn’t proved me wrong yet.
When you think you’ve surrendered, surrender more. This gem is straight from Gabby Bernstein that was SUCH a huge reminder that too often, I placed so much pressure on my own shoulders. Surrendering and letting go helped me to relax, refocus and really trust in God an The Universe having my back. It creates such a mind shift that I know I can’t go back to how anxious everything used to make me before.
Surround yourself with ONLY people that love and support you at your core. WOW! This was not easy for me to do in the beginning, but after seeing how different my life was, I am so grateful for the change. You can’t grow if you surround yourself with people that are holding you back, jealous of you, or dislike you. Toxic friendships and relationships will do you no good, and as scary a lesson as this was for me, having a core group around me now has led to me realising all that I am capable of, and that I am truly loved.
Books that Changed my Life in 2017
I’ll be doing a whole separate post on this, so look out for that this month!
2018 Thoughts, Word of the Year and Intentions
So, 2018! I am not big on resolutions, so I love to instead put some positive thoughts and intentions towards the new year. My thoughts are definitely that I am looking forward to all 2018 has to offer, and I already have some exciting things coming up, and some ideas for Jessica in the Kitchen. My word of the year is DARE. As I stated in my Instagram post, this word definitely chose me. I’m looking forward to embracing this word, and to see what it has in store for me.
With regards to my intentions:
I intend to focus on self-love and to care for myself properly this year. To get proper sleep, eat properly, and surround myself with love.
I intend to be kind to myself and others.
I intend to be DARING, and to be courageous, to stand up and to stand out.
How was your 2017, friends? You can let me know in the comments section below, or even via email! I’m wishing you the BEST year yet!