Another year is almost done and I’m choosing to see the (wine) glass half full.

2021 brought with it a lot of challenges – homeschooling, presser anxiety, Zoom fatigue and unwelcome variants. It also showed us that the simple things in life really are the most important – hugging a loved one, seeing a non-masked smile on a passing stranger, and prioritising time to look after our mental and physical wellbeing. The things we miss, really miss, aren’t about stuff. They’re about experiences and human connection.

With all my family overseas, I spend most holidays with my in-laws. As we scoff on a delicious Christmas meal, we each share our highlight and lowlight for the year. Sometimes we answer without hesitation. Sometimes it takes a bit of thought. But it’s always a great insight into what matters to each of us.

With only days until the fat man clogs the chimney, I’ve been reflecting on 2021 and these are the successes and challenges that stand out.

Business highlight: (Finally) launching my website.

For the last five years, I’ve been embarrassed about the crappy Wix website that I threw together in between client projects. It didn’t represent me or my skills. This year, I was determined to change that. I engaged Morgan Jamieson to design a new logo and colour palette, Ange from So Right Creative to design my website, and I got cracking on the copy.

Did I overthink everything? You bet. Did I finally press send on my copy deck? Yes. And I’m so proud of how it has all come together. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders and a great way to head into 2022.

Business lowlight: Losing my mojo in early 2021.

At the beginning of the year, I fell out of love with work because I was completely burned out. My perfectionism and people-pleasing ways had resulted in insane work hours (i.e. no weekends off) and taking on jobs that weren’t aligned to my values. I went to bed every night feeling anxious about the day ahead. I was still producing quality work but I was drained, exhausted and doubting my direction.

After chatting to The Clever Copywriting School community, I decided to take some time out to reset. I thought about why I started my business in the first place – to work with purposeful business owners while having a more flexible and fulfilling life – and I started to make choices that brought me closer to that vision. I rediscovered the biz love and my creativity (and sanity) returned.

After a bit of reflection and a fair few changes, I’ve fallen back in love with my business.

Personal highlight: Running my first 15km.

On Monday 8 June 2020, I decided to get healthy the old-fashioned way by moving more and eating less. My torture of choice was running. By the end of 2020, I had lost 25kgs. Twelve months later, I’ve kept it off. When I started, I couldn’t run to the end of my street without looking like a beetroot with emphysema. And I hated every minute. Earlier this year, I ran 15km without stopping. And I loved it. I’m now training for my first half marathon (21.1km).

I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d enjoy running but it’s become my thing along with strength training, aerial yoga and Pilates. Thanks to #OperationFitForty, I’ve found my way back to myself. My energy and optimism have returned. The scary BMI and early signs of fatty liver disease are gone. I’ve added years to my life and it feels bloody great.

Agency copywriter, Jacqui McCallum and a woman with long blonde hair are sitting in brown leather chairs facing on another. Jacqui is wearing a multi-coloured silk shirt and mustard pants. The other woman is wearing blue jeans and a white shirt. They are both drinking coffee and smiling.

At the end of this run, I was exhausted but immensely proud.

Personal lowlight: Another year without seeing my family.

When I decided to move to Australia on my own 18 years ago, I said goodbye to my family in South Africa. My mum and sister have since moved to the UK. My dad is still in South Africa. With all our holiday plans cancelled during COVID, it’s been five years since I saw my sister and nieces and over two years since I saw my mum, dad and their partners. I miss them. I miss the certainty of plans made – the counting down without the fear of change. I’ve booked a trip to the UK in April 2022 but old mate Omicron seems determined to say óchi. On the semi-bright side, we’re all safe and healthy and I get unlimited international calls on my phone plan so I’ll cheers to that this Christmas. 

So there you go, my highlights and lowlights for 2021. As my son reminded me while stealing half my lunch earlier, “Sharing is caring” so I’d love to read your highlights and lowlights in the comments. What lit your soul on fire this year? What did you miss? What made you reassess your priorities? What did you learn?

As we head into Christmas, I’m wishing you clarity, contentment and soul-satisfying connection. Listen to yourself. Look after yourself. And I’ll see you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in 2022.

What would you like to do now?