2019 was a whirlwind year full of learning and growth opportunities, catalyzed by owning a business and helping other businesses grow through innovation consulting. I’m grateful for the experiences that I’ve faced, people I’ve met, and knowledge I’ve attained. 

What I value the most from my first year of ‘taking the leap’ is the proof of concept of running my own business. Now that I know it is possible to succeed at providing and selling my services on a 1:1 basis, I feel much better, and less stressed about what the future holds. In 2018, prior to forming my LLC, I was wrought with the fear of the unknown with questions surrounding my value, worth, and ability to overcome the challenges lain beneath me. Luckily, I’m at a stage in my life where I don’t have too many responsibilities and obligations, and chose a career path that feels rewarding and relative to skill mastery. 

Overcoming fear and proving my worth were invaluable exercises, uncovered by a willingness to learn and wear many different hats. From design, to development, to writing; it did not matter which avenue I provided consulting services as long as they tied back to growth and mastery.

What I would recommend to those who are starting out on their own is to become ‘T-shaped’ with deep mastery in a particular skill set, and supporting skills that compliment said skill. In my case, design is what I am chasing mastery in, while the supporting skills that have supported my journey this year included finance, project management, communications, networking, etc. These ancillary skills do not have to be rooted in design, rather they are interconnected through an approach; i.e. I go about designing in a particular way, which I then apply to project management through organization, compartmentalization, or a learning-based approach. 

Throughout 2019, I’ve been keeping a journal. Writing journal entries and articles are complementary skills that help fill out this ‘T-shaped’ approach—I don’t expect to master writing or ideation in communications strategy, but these exercises help strengthen my appreciation for content creation and delivery.   

With 42 entries and a few to go in 2019, my Google Docs journal has grown to 30,000 words based on vision, experiences, results, and lessons. These pillars have been discovered by Mike Hren, my business coach and founder of NextLEVL. I look forward to continually keeping entries and fondly looking back at the progress made over the years. I believe that reflection is one of the keys to learning from prior mistakes and continuing to evolve as people. As we close out the decade I plan to continue my journey towards mastery in design, while documenting my way through weekly journaling. 

Photo by Jingda Chen on Unsplash