One of the things I do when I reflect on a year is to go back and look at the theme I chose twelve months ago.
My theme for this last year was The Year of Personal Expression.
What exactly did that mean to me?
When I made that plan twelve months ago I came up with two directions.
One area of personal expression: having fun with my outfits
I wanted to enjoy expressing myself through clothing. I mean REALLY enjoy it; enjoy it like I did when I was a senior in high school experimenting with clothes.
So last year I encouraged myself to be creative; to play against rules and push my own boundaries. It was personal but my expression ended up inspiring others which was a sweet by-product.
Tracking how I had fun with clothes
What was cool is that I found a way of measuring my personal expression through clothing and that was with Instagram.
I started asking family and friends to take photos of me in my creations. It’s not like I was going wild and crazy with my style but I was having fun. And isn’t that what we wish for our clients as well? My fun with clothes spilled over to my clients. I helped them break rules this year and enjoy their changing style.
Back to tracking: I’d turn pictures over to Lucy, my social media manager, and she posted them to my Instagram feed. The thing about posting pictures is that you get feedback. It was great fun to learn that others got inspiration from my personal theme for the year.
I soon discovered a whole community in fashion and style. And people found me.
In one year of posting, my Instagram followers went from 290 to 4560. (I kept track!) I just got named as one of the 7 Wine Country Fashion Bloggers to Follow on Instagram by Sonoma Magazine. Who knew all this would happen? So many wins have come out of following the theme for my year.
Another area of personal expression: writing blog posts
Another way I have of expressing myself is through writing. I write my newsletters; I write fashion and style content for the Monthly Marketing Bundle members to use, but I was ready to do more personal expressing through my blog.
When I started blogging, I got a desk calendar for the year and wrote down the titles of my blog posts in it. I’d count how many posts I’d written in each month and note it in the desk calendar. In past years, here are the tallies.
In 2013 I wrote 41 posts.
In 2014 I wrote 65 posts.
In 2015 I wrote 68 posts.
In 2016 I wanted to spread my wings. Yes, of course I’d continue to write about fashion and women but I also wanted to bring more of my personal life into the writing. Be more vulnerable. Talk about loss. Talk about aging. Talk about family life. Tell the stories behind the scenes of outfit building.
There were many times this last year when I pressed the “publish” button and I was completely anxious about it.
Had I gone too far?
Had I been too revealing?
Would anybody be interested in personal posts about family and loss and challenges?
You may have read some of my posts on BrendaKinsel.com and not noticed a thing but to me, I was stepping outside my comfort zone. And I knew it.
When I’d wake up and there would be comments from people thanking me for writing about sensitive subjects, I’d exhale and be amazed.
The result is that I feel my personal expression about fashion and beyond has grown a tighter knit blog community. It’s a most joyful feeling.
Measuring my personal expression in writing
Back to tracking: How did I track my year of personal expression through writing?
I stuck to my old system of writing in my blog posts on a desk calendar and adding them up at the end of the year.
This year I wrote 63% more posts than last year. My total published posts was 111. My commitment to my blog was to try my best to create a writing schedule and be consistent in posting.
I didn’t realize how consistent I had become until the week after Christmas when I was home, sick in bed, and not writing. When I resumed a week later I got a couple of comments on that next post saying, “So glad you’re back!” How sweet is that?
I don’t have a goal or intention of writing more than that. I’ve probably peaked out at 111 or maybe I’ll get to 125. But I’ve grown a habit of sticking to a schedule which I do about 80% of the time or more. That works for me.
Creating your theme for the year
So this year, if you create a theme for the year, think about how you can measure it. Half the fun is getting to the end of the year and seeing how you did with your commitment.
Create a plan and a strategy that you can win.
If you want help analyzing your year and creating intentions for this year, check out my ebook, 10 Strategic Steps to Advance Your Career in 2017. It puts order in your professional life and helps you track your road to success!