Have you ever been in a stone tumbler?!

Silly question, really – none of us have, however, upon reflection that is what 2021 felt like to me.  And for the best part of the year!

What a year!

As I take time, at the start of 2022 (which I believe will be a much calmer year), and reflect on 2021, I realise that it truly was a year of many parts.

The year started, as 2020 had finished, with us all in lockdown again; plans were shelved and rearranged, and rearranged again – and again in some cases…  This was true for me.  All as a result of the ongoing global pandemic, of course.

Whilst I had pivoted and taken advantage of the situation that we had found ourselves in during 2020, it had impacted my businesses, particularly recruitment, from a financial angle quite badly.  In fact, if I brutally honest, as my financial year came to an end, and my accountants completed my annual limited company accounts, I’d made a loss. For the first time EVER.  I had never been in this situation before.  In short, this really threw me as I have always been fastidious with my accounting.

However, on the flip side, recruitment did pick up again early in the year, and it was all guns blazing with vacancies flying in left, right and centre.  But alas, no candidates.

So many employees were on furlough, others were fearful to leave jobs and chose to ride it out, which actually impacts the natural flow within recruitment and slows everything down even further. Add to this the complexities of navigating new working models, whether it was continuing to work from home, returning to the office to work, or adopting a hybrid model – businesses had a lot to navigate (change is good by the way), and there was no shortage of mental health issues arising as a result of all the challenges people had been faced with since the beginning of the pandemic. Many people decided not to return to the work that they had been doing, having experienced a different way of living whilst on furlough, and then there was a gold rush of people leaving the corporate (and other businesses) world and becoming self-employed.

All of this is VERY challenging for a small business. I took on additional staff to help, both on a freelance and employed basis – neither of which worked out for different reasons.  This all takes up a lot of time though, and adds to the challenge and the stone-tumbling sensation!

I experienced challenges in changing bookkeepers (that is a story in itself) but in short, I was left with a VAT return looming and no idea what to do.  With some help from a friend, a qualified accountant, it was submitted at the eleventh hour.  I cannot even start to explain how stressful this was for me – it’s way out of my comfort zone.  I’m happy enough raising invoices and allocating payments on Sage but as to nominal coding … argh!  I was genuinely a nano-second short of a complete meltdown. No, hang on a minute.  I did have a meltdown!

But I survived.  I had other financial stuff going on too – but I survived that as well.

Recruitment and finance talk aside, I also spent time looking into selling my business to lessen the number of plates I seem to be spinning. That’s still a work in progress…

As lockdown lifted, the world seemed to go mad with everyone attempting to catch up and do everything all at once.  Well, that’s what it felt like for me.

Holidays that we had booked and had been pushed back suddenly came in back-to-back, which meant that my partner, Gareth, and I were in Heacham at his folk’s static caravan one week and, a few weeks later, in Wales on a two-part holiday I’d originally booked with 8 weeks between them!  We camped at TOP OF THE WOODS | Eco Luxury Glamping & Camping, Pembrokeshire, Wales and enjoyed trail running on site, which included a fully clothed dip in the secret waterfall within the forest we ran through.

The second part of the holiday was in a guest house in Amroth, where we were able to catch up with Craig Evans, our foraging friend, and spend a good part of the day on one of his coastal foraging courses – highly recommended! Welsh Coastal Foraging Experiences | Foraging Courses | Wild Food   

And then before we knew it, we were in Eastbourne with Gareth competing in a half ironman event, where we were able to catch up with another friend, Zoe, who completed the full event (it took her a gruelling 13.5 hours in blistering heat! She came second in her age category – go Zoe, go!)

And that was just part of the year.

In my infinite wisdom, and with a desire to learn how to promote my Manifest Your Dream Job digital course https://sarahjnaylorcourses.teachable.com/ to the masses, and following a recommendation from a fellow coach, I signed up with Niyc Pigeon on her Unstoppable Success Accelerator course.

OMG!! It felt like I was in the centre of a cyclone – so much to learn in a language (marketing) that I knew nothing about beforehand, and only 6 months in which to do it.  To say I was completely overwhelmed at times isn’t an over-statement.  It was crazy.

I had mixed emotions going through it, and in many respects, despite a hefty investment, I haven’t gained what I went in to learn, but I did get what I need.  I met and connected with some incredible woman globally, and that was the value that I received in bucket loads.

I also worked with Lisa Johnson via her ‘One to Many’ group-based online course that teaches you how to make passive income.

In short, I know the power and impact that my course has and want to be able to share it with as many people as I can. I know that via the course, students learn how to connect with their talents and passions, align their career accordingly, enabling them to live their life on purpose and fulfil their potential and, through doing so, live a happier and healthier life.  This wonderful testimonial sums it all up beautifully:

“After working in Retail for 12 years when I was made redundant, I decided I needed a change of direction and I found the lectures worked hand in hand with this. When I began job hunting I knew that I wanted a new challenge and also work closer to home and the lectures on ‘Goal Setting’ and ‘Being Specific’ really helped me gain clarity on what I wanted to do next.

 When working through the ‘Law of Attraction’ lecture I had recently had a job interview and I wrote down on the ‘What I Would Like to Manifest’ worksheet – ‘I will get good news this week’ lucky for me the very next day I found out I was successful in getting the job I interviewed for!

 I have now started a new career in HR and the office is a 15-minute walk from home which is a bonus! I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people and am very excited for the future!”

I also dedicated time to engaging with my fab freelance editor and graphic designer to create FREE content, supporting graphics, and email sequences … you name it, I didn’t seem to stop. I was even working on my learning while sitting on the beach in Eastbourne as Gareth swam, cycled, and ran his half ironman.

All good stuff, but knackering!

One important take-away from the crazy year that was 2021 is that it’s not always about what you think you want – we get what we need.  And that is why it is always so important to look at stuff from a different perspective – which is how my APE Mindset™ came about, as I took time to reflect upon how I had coped with Covid impacting my business, and the approach I take in life generally.

Whilst running my recruitment business, undertaking training, fitting in trail running and holidays as well as a trip to London to see Mamma Mia The Party at the O2 with my fab friend, Lorraine, I decided to launch my own podcast – Harnessing Happiness with Sarah J Naylor.

I did end up putting it on hold for a month, as I was aware that I could be falling into ‘shiny object’ mode.  I wasn’t though. This felt like the perfect platform for me.  In 2020, I set up my YouTube channel, which I will continue to populate during 2022; however, the podcast was and is perfect for me.

In just over 2 months, since launching Harnessing Happiness https://bit.ly/Harnessing_Happiness on 19th October 2021, I have had over 2000 downloads globally, and am apparently ‘big in Hong Kong’ and in India too – my audience there matches the volume of listeners in the UK!

I love the opportunity it provides me to have really interesting conversations with fascinating people, who are doing things their way and living their best life on their terms.  And I am able to share their wisdom globally and, in doing so, I can hopefully help others to do the same and harness happiness in their life.

You see, for all the challenges that 2021 presented, I have continued to focus on the positives and taken the opportunities that have been presented, acted upon them, and worked through them whether they have had the outcome I desired or not.  I’ve let go of stuff that didn’t work, and despite wanting to sell my recruitment business, for example, I have fallen back in alignment with it for now, having recognised its importance in my life and how I am able to work in it and on it at the same time as working with my coaching clients, developing my podcast and, during the year ahead, dovetailing in the promotion of my digital course to universities and colleges where I can see it having great value.

I am grateful for the support that I have had from all those around me during 2021, and all that I have been able to achieve as a result.

My office manager, Lou, is my eyes and ears to the world whilst also picking up the admin stuff that isn’t my bag.

My family. My dad, who as I write, is sadly in hospital, awaiting a diagnosis.  He went in via ambulance in the early hours of the morning on Thursday 30th December following ‘a turn’ which they think happened as a result of a blood clot.  He’s had TIAs previously.  We’re hoping for some good news soon because, of course, we can’t visit.

My son, Fred, who moved out in July 2021.  It was non-negotiable. It sounds harsh, but he needed more space and to live his life on his own terms.  He’d outgrown the nest.  It’s been the best thing for him, and our relationship is so much better for it.

My friends.  Wow – what an incredible array of amazing friends I have in my life. I am truly grateful for all of them, old and new.

And as for the new friends I have made due to the USA training programme, many of whom are guests on my podcast, they live in all corners of the world from the United States, to Columbia, to Hong Kong and New Zealand, as well as the length and breadth of the UK.

And of course, Gareth, who I met online in July 2020.

As a result of lockdown, we ended up moving in together in November 2020 for a short time, whilst he was completing a house purchase on a new build that he then didn’t get the keys for until the following May.  Six months later.  So, this year that house will be sold.  We don’t need two sets of bills.

Gareth is amazing and makes my life complete.  We have so much fun together and, somehow or other, he copes with living with me and makes my life so much easier!

I realise I have covered a lot here, but the reality is that I’ve only touched on aspects of 2021. I am sure you’ll now see why it felt like a stone tumbling experience!

What have I learned, gained and valued from the year that was 2021?!

  • I survived.
  • Gareth and I have an amazing relationship.
  • The decisions I make are good ones, and even if they don’t pan out as planned, they work out for the best.
  • I appreciate my businesses.
  • I have taken a step back and know that I don’t need to undertake any more courses – I know my stuff.
  • Social media is great, however, the value in developing business really lies with nurturing existing relationships and referrals and the provision of testimonials.
  • I am grateful for all the experiences I have had, my friends, family, and global network.
  • I can calmly approach 2022 knowing what I know and have learned, and can put all into practice knowing, as I have always known, that everything is working out wonderfully.
  • I love trail running and must always listen to my body and let it rest to recover too.
  • 2021 was crazy and it was akin to being in a stone tumbler.

My plans for 2022:

  • To be more organised and apply greater strategy and planning generally, creating quarterly goals, and breaking them down into manageable chunks.
  • To continue going with the flow, trusting my instinct and intuition.
  • To finish off a number of projects, not least the 4 books that I have in draft form under the ‘Shining a Light on You’ series that are aimed at students between the ages of 11 and 21, and their parents, carers and educators to encourage them to be curious, to follow their interests and passions from an early age in alignment with their future career / employment.
  • To build up Student Services Director contacts within the Alliance Group of Universities and discuss the power, benefits, and impact that my ‘How to Manifest Your Dream Job’ digital course will have on undergraduates and graduates as they enter the workplace. I want to see graduates embark on careers that are aligned with their talents and passions and follow their flow – I know how important it is to their overall wellbeing and happiness.
  • To spend more time meditating and doing yoga, in addition to continuing with my running, open water swimming, and cycling.
  • To learn front crawl.
  • To build my Harnessing Happiness podcast following by creating amazing content with awesome guests and short ‘Happy Clappy’ episodes.
  • To build more content for my YouTube channel.
  • Raise my media profile via podcasting, radio, and TV appearances as a guest and as a presenter.
  • Focusing my work energies on 3 areas: recruitment (existing and new business), coaching (to include promoting my course into universities, and launching group-based 6-week programmes to the general public, writing my books, and working 1:1 with clients) and media (podcasting, YouTubing, TV and radio).
  • To take plenty of breaks.

Ultimately, to continuing living life to the full and enjoying every moment, embracing the challenges along the way, and taking the learning that continues to be presented.

  • Have you reflected on 2021?
  • What challenges did you face and survive?
  • What have you learned?
  • What will you do differently in 2022?
  • What are your plans for the year ahead?

Take some time out to reflect, as I have done – it really is an interesting exercise!

Here’s to a wise and awesome 2022.

Lots of love to you all

Sarah xx