January 5, 2021

Pulling the positives from 2020 (and just one resolution)

As we all move desperately, in spite of current circumstances, to embrace the shiny brand-new year, I can’t help but think that ‘2020’ somehow seemed to contain an extra sprinkling of futuristic promise. Perhaps that made the way it would unfold even harder to swallow? In any case, unfold it did in its well-documented and uniquely shocking way. But it wasn’t all bad.

As markers of pre/post-Covid life go, mine is pretty memorable. I got married on 14th March, just as the Irish Government restricted gatherings to a maximum of 100 people and the day before the pubs closed. That means that we had what was surely one of the very last decent-sized weddings in the country.  Of course, I can see now how incredibly fortunate we were, though I must admit that it didn’t feel like that as last-minute cancellations flooded in and meticulously arranged seating plans went out the window. However, in the end, it turned out to be a fantastically memorable last blast of beautiful normality which we were incredibly lucky to have, particularly in light the severe restrictions that would follow.

Being able to celebrate our wedding with friends and family was certainly a 2020 highlight for me personally but there were also some more subtle positives that emerged, some of them on a professional level.  I launched this site back in July and I can see, with the gift of hindsight, that the pandemic and its associations definitely took some of the pressure off my little venture to be successful immediately (notwithstanding that fact that this was mostly pressure I placed on myself!) Over the past six months, I have come to deeply appreciate the fact that my work can be completed entirely online with no significant overheads to speak of. I have also done away with most of the(largely unrealistic) markers I originally set for myself and have instead come to appreciate my (modest) success in the context of the crisis, quickly reminding myself in moments of doubt that any growth and progression at all simply must be taken as a positive in the current climate.

Another overwhelmingly positive development I’m taking from last year is my ongoing participation in the Empower Start Programme for budding female entrepreneurs in the West of Ireland which began back in the Autumn. This programme has proven to be both comprehensive and challenging with a fantastically knowledgeable selection of experienced mentors and businesspeople providing excellent advice and direction. Best of all has been the opportunity to form a valuable support network with the nineteen other ladies on the programme, each one of them as talented and passionate as the next. I would certainly recommend this excellent programme to any woman in this part of the country who is even considering starting their own little business. It really has exceeded my expectations in every way.

The events of the past ten months have also brought about more positives, some of which have been widely cited. Without the pubs to sit in, there has certainly been more reading. Without a full availability of cafes and restaurants, there has been more cooking (some of it fairly hit and miss at times – sorry Joe!)  So, in short, though it has been a time of great hardship and difficulty for many, it has certainly presented some unexpected new opportunities for change and growth. That sounds like a cliché but it also happens to be true.

I fell out of love with New Year’s resolutions many years ago, having tried and failed to give up chocolate for the umpteenth time (it’s just not going to happen).However, this year I do have one resolution which I am determined to stick to into February and beyond. That is to make a sustained effort to support small local businesses. Admittedly, this is something I have been pretty slack on until fairly recently. Sure, I liked the idea of it in principle, but the lure of Amazon Prime was usually too much for me. With the implications of Brexit still very much up in the air for Irish customers of the British market, however, there has simply never been a better time to look closer to home for what we need and want. And, as a newbie small business owner on the hustle, I am now acutely aware of just what supporting small local businesses really means, not just professionally but personally.

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