The Year That Was
I didn’t set specific goals for 2015 other than that it was going to be a quieter year and one without big decisions and hoping for better health (unlike 2014!). I certainly didn’t start the year with a goal to write a book! Perhaps there’s a balance between goal setting and planning and seizing the moment? Historically I have been a goal setter. I’d set goals in every area of my life (health, relationships, interests, spiritual, family, work friendships etc) and make them look pretty (think coloured pencils, stickers, magazine cut outs etc). I like to dream about what I can achieve and usually have plenty of areas of myself & my life that I’d like to improve! I could pretty easily list 20-30 things I’d like to change in 2016 (and have actually started). The bigger challenge for me is to bring it down to a theme, a word, a simpler focus.
In March I went to a church conference and one of my friends I went with was telling me about her ‘word for the year’. One word to explore, focus on, see what it really means for her throughout the year. That concept has been mulling around in my mind on and off since then as I wonder if I can stop long enough, pause to think, to pray for ONE word, not a page of goals, thoughts, must-do’s, should-do’s. So, for the last few days, that has been my immediate ‘goal’ – quiet myself and seek clarity over a word, a theme. I had an idea, a general direction. It was along the lines of ‘peace’, ‘enough’, ‘still’ but I wanted to ponder and pray a little longer about that one word.
So, after ‘sitting with it’ for a few days, my word for 2016 is TRANQUILITY. Tranquility means the state of being tranquil – calmness, peacefulness, quiet, serenity. I need more of that in my day to day life – this is more about how I react in a situation. How I deal with the chaos around me. How I manage my expectations and whether and how they are met (or not). I’m under no illusion that my household full of 3 boys is (ever) going to be tranquil, but my focus MY reactions to what goes on will be what I’m hoping will be increasingly tranquil! I’ll keep you posted 😉
In the meantime, I’d like to reflect a little of what I’ve learnt and achieved in 2015 before it disappears as quickly as it started…
- In Jan/February I completely re did my website, moving to a cleaner, more user-friendly layout with the capacity for more ‘growth’ … I must have known what was coming!!
- made a photobook of my recipes with a ‘spare’ voucher I’d bought which led to the idea of writing a ‘real’ book.
- started an Instagram account and have been learning how that works (including doing a little workshop, building that up and having fun with lots of images.
- after Easter I downloaded Creative Cloud (after super-hubby’s ‘how to design a cookbook’ research) and began watching hours upon hours of how to use InDesign.
- I’ve been proud of myself this year for taking on many new learning curves. Learning to use InDesign (I’m sure I only use 10% of it’s capacity at most) for the book layout is one I’m really pleased I’ve done. I have stirred the creative juices a lot this year and have enjoyed the IT side of my creativity.
- I’ve worked out how to set up eCommerce on the website, and whilst my ‘shop’ is not the worlds best online store, it’s a start.
- I’ve read A LOT about social media and online marketing and have had fun experimenting with a few things throughout the year. Many of you are now part of this little community as a result of these ventures and I’m very grateful for that. I have increasingly tried to maintain a balance between the ‘marketing/sales’ side and providing everyone with information and recipes etc for free.
- I’ve learnt a huge amount about publishing and then self-publishing a book. When you do it yourself, you have to learn to do EVERYTHING.
- Being a words person, my soul is warm when I get feedback from people about the impact my book has been having on them. I’ve found in fascinating the little connections between people and my book that could only have been made through social connection and social media. Even this afternoon I got a lovely message from a very special friend who said she’d finally had time to sit down and read the book, cover to cover. In fact I’m surprised at the number of people who have read it cover to cover, I’m so pleased as it was always meant to be so much more than ‘a cookbook’.
- It’s not about numbers, but the numbers have been interesting to chart (more for me that for you, but this is a good way for me to record it!)…
The What Annabel Cooks STATS for 2015 in summary
My Facebook following has grown from 421 to 3025 so that’s been brilliant. I am loving the interaction on Facebook too – so feel free to post something you’ve cooked, ask a question or interact with any of my posts.
I started taking my Instagram account seriously in about May and have slowly built up a following of almost 400. I still find Instagram harder to work out than Facebook, but I’m learning!
Newsletter (you can sign up via the webpage)
I started sending Newsletter emails in March and there are now 359 of you who get that monthly. I do try to add different things into the Newsletters so keep an eye out for them as they often end up in Junk/Spam/Promotions unless you’ve set your email up to send ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ to your inbox.
Given many of my posts lead back to the website, these stats are a good indication to me of what you guys look at, cook, how you find me etc. My WordPress annual summary tells me that:
- The website has been view 19,000 times by 8266 of you from 83 different countries!!!
- the top 3 recipes are:
So thank YOU for being part of this journey with me this year!
I’m looking forward to bringing you many more recipes, tips and tricks to make all our lives better!