HAPPY NEW YEAR – 13 Things I Did In 2013 That Make Me Proud And 14 Goals For 2014

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It's that time of year when I get a genuine opportunity to step back and reflect on the past 12 months, appreciate all the good stuff, get over the bad stuff and take a look forward to how I'd like 2014 to shape up.  I sat here and wrote this piece from start to finish today, new years eve 2013, as I had a peaceful couple of hours to myself whilst my children and their friends played excitedly upstairs, sharing stories of favourite Christmas gifts and childish anecdotes of the past few days. 

It's been fascinating to reflect on all that has happened this past whirlwind of a year – so much of 2013 was taken up with visits up and down the country to promote my first book, Style Me Vintage Weddings, whilst trying to hold down my business and not feel like too much of an absent mother at the same time! It's been a hectic year of incredible highs and at times, pretty rubbish lows, and I've learned a great deal about love, forgiveness, hope, family, friends and humility as a result.  For that reason, I'm grateful to be here right now, with a warm home and roof over my head, my family safe and well close by, and no major book writing deadlines to commit to.  Things were certainly very different this time last year.

To help me gather my thoughts, I thought I'd play a number game and write down 13 achievements from 2013 that have made me feel proud or happy, as well as 14 goals I'd like to focus on for 2014.  Most of the photos on this page by the way are taken from Love My Dress on Instagram;

1. I became a published author I still have to pinch myself that I have a book of my very own stocked in Waterstones and on Amazon – it thrills me every time I see my book sat there gracing the shelves of an independent book store (I'll not deny having whipped a pen out of my bag and signed a few copies whilst in the shop and no one was looking either!).  I'm adjusting to the fact that one of my life dreams came true this year, but I'm also very aware that it took a huge amount of hard work, sleep deprivation, stress and a mammoth team effort to get there.  It is a wonderful thing though – an achievement I'm incredibly proud of and I've learned so much about the alien world of publishing.  Now to get back to those plans for book number two…

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2.  I started reading more to my children.  I adore reading to my girls at bed time but this wonderful little pleasure took a rather long hiatus in 2013 after we moved house and took time to settle in to new routines and the demands of working all hours to promote my book. Now that things have settled back down, I relish the chance to sit and read to them both at bedtime.  It's such a precious part of my day that I cherish greatly and a wonderful way to de-stress for 20 minutes I find too.  Plus, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is brilliant.

3.  I ventured in to baking In general, for years now, I haven't cooked, or even baked for that matter.  I'm not a natural in the kitchen and it's so easy to feel intimidated by my lack of culinary skills when I'm surrounded by so many talented cooks, bakers and TV shows designed to illustrate how easy it all is.  My husband is also an self-taught expert chef, so I've pretty much taken a back seat for years now.  2013 however was the year I put my self-doubt aside and got my pinny and rolling pin out.  And did I bake some delicious cakes! I've definitely sparked a passion for wanting to learn more about baking and am delighted that Father Christmas brought me a new pinny and some baking moulds.

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4. I disengaged from social media and reconnected with the real world Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, it all started getting a bit much earlier this year, so I took a firm decision to try to disengage from it all during the weekend so not to be distracted by it during precious family time.  You might see the odd Instagram during a Saturday and Sunday but on the whole I switch off from checking Twitter and Facebook on my iPad every 2 minutes because I don't want social media to take over my life.  I have learned more than ever this year that juggling the raising of a young family and management of a growing business is darn hard and requires discipline in terms of routine and set hours.  Family time in amidst all of this is sacred.

5. Collected Awards – That I get to do a job that is a real passion of mine is just out of this world.  That Franky and I receive awards for our efforts is such an incredible privilege.  This year, we collected awards for the 'Best Bridal Style & Fashion Blog' from Wedding Magazine and 'Best Wedding Blog (Highly Commended)' award from Perfect Wedding Magazine – both these magazines readers voted for us to win these awards which makes it even better.  We are so very lucky that we get to do what we do.


Found via The Little Wedding Helper

6.  Became a better self employed business person – I just love being self-employed. I simply adore the freedom and flexibility it provides, the sense of reward and fulfilment that is guaranteed for all the many hours you lovingly commit to building and developing your own little empire.  I've learned so much this year in terms of how to be a better business person, how to deliver better customer service, how not to take things so personally, how to be less reactive and more considered in my response to challenging situations, how to focus on the bigger picture. 

The biggest lesson I have learned this year is how important it is to buy your own time back when you are managing your own business – I can't emphasise how important a revelation this has been to me.  Simple things like moving management of my invoices over to Kashflow, paying my accounts more to pick up all of my book-keeping responsibilities and increasing Franky's hours.  It's given me my life and sanity back and removed a whole level of anxiety that I really didn't need. It's meant I've been able to lift my head above the parapet and focus on my own business strategy (and registering the Love My Dress® trademark) rather than fire-fighting general issues on a day-to-day basis.

7. Stayed in business for another year – no mean feat!  Being self employed and especially when you spend a large part of your time working on your own can be pretty damn scary, but I did it and I'm so incredibly proud of Love My Dress and what it stands for right now.  Being asked by Conde Naste Brides Magazines to be their official blogging partner for Brides The Show was such a highlight for me this year and testament to the brand and reputation that Love My Dress has come to represent.

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8.  I got to hang out with my lovely colleague Franky it's a fact that I could not do my job without my right hand lady, the wonderful, adorable, funny, smart, intelligent, straight talking, talented writer that is Franky.  I'm so incredibly grateful to have Franky to work with, even if I do drive her nuts at times, she never lets on. I cherish my friendship with Franky close to my heart and feel so privileged to be able to work along side her.

That's me in the centre pulling the ridiculous pout and Franky on my left looking gorgeous as ever.   The other rogues in this photograph are, from left to right, Mrs Caudery (in the shades), Emma Meek of Miss Bush Bridal (face half hidden), Hermione Harbutt (sporting one of her own gorgeous black headpieces, Franky, me, Catherine Mead (immediately to the right of me), Gayle of Bloomingayles (a flash of red hair top right), Michelle of Twobirds Bridesmaid (in the specs, face half hidden), Sharon of Wonderful Hair by Sharon Roberts in the hat and Emma Woodhouse of The Wedding Reporter looking decidedly suspicious on the bottom. Can you blame here with that lot surrounding her? 🙂 The photograph was taken at Brides The Show by the amazing  Photo Emporium guys.  

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9. Let bygones be bygones – What is the point of holding on to negativity from the past?  The answer is, there is no point. Ever. Make your apologies when due and accept apologies graciously when they are offered.  Get over any grudges. Life is too short.

10. I started managing my time more effectively – I started getting to bed earlier so that I could wake up earlier.  I've struggled with a good working hours routine for months this year, but about the same time that I stopped drinking and doing a little exercise, I started getting in to better sleep/work habits.   I've always adored the late hours, even working in to the wee hours of the morning – it's always felt like such a peaceful time to me – my time, but it just isn't practical when you've got to be up at the crack of dawn with little ones to get ready for school.

11.  I purchased my first proper piece of art -  She cost me £350 in a local antique store and is by a local artist.  I just adore her.  More about her here.

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12.  I stopped smoking sneaky cigarettes.  It's been an on-off thing for me to do over time (I can go months, years without one, then go through a phase of wanting the odd one quite regularly) but I just got fed up of it. Let's be honest, it's expensive and makes your breath and clothes stink.  It's been interesting to see people I've known for years (including my own Dad) stop smoking over the past 18 months – some of them opting to use electronic cigarettes instead.  Certainly better for your health!

13.  I gave up alcohol – completely.  Following a series of debilitating migraines this year which have forced me to examine what I eat, drink and how it affects my overall health and because I've never really been great at doing 'just one drink', I decided I wanted to give up the drink for good.  That was back in July and it's turned out to be the best thing I ever did.  I feel sooo much fitter, healthier and motivated for it.  This has been my first Christmas without alcohol, and I've loved absolutely every second of it. Having few drinks at Christmas really works for some and if that's you, that's great! I raise my glass of Schloer to you 😉 I'm really happy with the decision I made to head in to my 40th year (hello 2014!) with a much bigger focus on my health and fitness.  A fabulous bi-product of giving up alcohol has been natural weight loss too!   It's a win-win as far as I'm concerned.

When I look back through the above, it seems like quite a considerable list of achievements, perhaps I owe myself a pat on the back!  So what for the next 12 months, and how can I use this time and opportunity to set myself goals and targets that will help me become a better person?

Here are 14 thing I'd like to do in 2014…

1.  Get more active it's shameful to say, but other than a period of quite intense exercise in the July and August period, I've been pretty inactive this year and realise that I haven't factored exercise and activity in to my daily or weekly routine.  Which is kind of a bit rubbish when your job is very sedentary like mine is.  We'd stopped walking so much as a family together because there always seemed to be more important things to do. This will change drastically in 2014.  We're already mapping out local walking routes and setting aside days where we can take ourselves out on explorations and adventures in to unknown areas.  I really want to reconnect with the outdoors and get fit and active at the same time. 

By the way, Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred REALLY works brilliantly. I'll be picking up my regular 20-day work-outs from January and can't wait!

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2.  Learn how to use a camera – properly.  I've got all the books, I'm surrounded by naturally talented colleagues in the field who inspire me every day, and 2014 will be the year I pick up my camera and learn how to shoot manually. I'd also like to invest in a film camera and learn how to shoot film.  But one step at a time. This time next year, I hope to have some of my own photography to share with you on Love My Dress.

3.  Bake more – Now I've ignited an interest in baking, I want to be able to develop a real skill in the kitchen.  I want to be able to prepare basic dough without having to pull the recipe book out and have the ability to teach my own daughters the basics of baking before the year is out.

4.  Read more I'm still debating whether to get a Kindle to make reading easier but I will absolutely be reading more in 2014.  I've shamefully barely read anything this year but  have adored the few opportunities that I have made for myself to read a book from start to finish. Reading as much as you can makes you a better writer too, which is kind of important when you blog for a living!

5.  See more of my friends I live in Whitby in North Yorkshire and most of my friends are in London, but that shouldn't stop me from seeing more of them in 2014, be it during time I set aside for friends on business trips to The Big Smoke, or inviting friends to come and stay now that we have the room to host visitors in comfort. Friends, if you are reading this, do come and stay, we'd so love to have you.

6.  Decorate the house I've a minor obsession with interior styling magazines and have had ever since we moved in to our house a year ago, but we've not had much of an opportunity to focus on home decor up to now.  I'm so excited about making the place really feel like ours. 

7.  Keep a personal diary I had an amazing 'line a day' diary as a gift from a friend for Christmas, and it's inspired me to document more of mine and my family's life for us to reflect back on and enjoy in the future.

8.  Learn more about my family history Inspired by my husbands Mum who has undertaken her own extensive research, I'm really keen to learn more about my family history this year.  The Beeforth name goes back hundreds of years in Whitby and the surrounding area and I want to learn more about my children's heritage.

9.  Learn more about buying antiques and vintage this gorgeous little set cost me just £35 from a local shop in my home town of Whitby. I adore it, it's from the 50's and by all accounts I've stumbled upon a little bargain.  I love collecting antiques and vintage finds and want to be able to develop my passion in 2014.  Any of you got any recommendations for any good antique fairs?

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10.  Grow my own flowers My husband is an amazing gardener who adores growing roses.  This year, I'm going to actively listen to all the pearls of flowery wisdom he shares with me and attempt to grow something of my own.  

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From this shoot on Love My Dress, photographed by Eve Photography

11.  Write more personal posts for my blog I gave these kind of posts a bit of a rest during 2013 as I focused on my book but have really missed sharing little insights in to my life.  I've always believed that one of the reasons a blog is successful is because of the personality behind it, so I look forward to sharing my mishaps and adventures throughout 2014, as well as my experiences of managing my own business.

12.  Have as much silly fun as possible always.  My colleagues set a great example, as you will see…

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Taken from my book launch event by The Photo Emporium

13.  Stay true to myself – that means sometimes choosing to go with what my heart tells me is the right thing to do, over what other people may be telling me.  I've come to learn that your gut instinct is pretty much always right.

14.  Pursue happiness. Pharrell says it so excellently in my favourite track right now…

What did you achieve in 2013 that you are proud of? Is there anything you would like to set out to achieve in 2014? Are you creating any personal goals of your own? 

Here's to your own 2013 and a fantastic year ahead for each and every one of you, especially all your gorgeous brides to be.  I simply cannot wait to get back to blogging again – Franky and I have so much to share with you in the new year. Exciting plans are afoot 🙂

Have a gorgeous evening seeing in 2014 my friend, now have yourselves a digital-detox for a little while – we'll be here when you get back.



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Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.

15 thoughts on “HAPPY NEW YEAR – 13 Things I Did In 2013 That Make Me Proud And 14 Goals For 2014

  1. This is such a beautiful and honest post Annabel, thank you for being so inspiring and you must be so proud of your achievements! You are right, it’s no mean feat. Thank you for all of the support you have given me/us with the businesses this year, picking up our work to feature and giving it so much time. It’s never unnoticed.
    Have an amazing New Year’s Eve and see you in 2014! X

  2. Thank you so much Claudia! It’s been such a pleasure to work with you – and I so look forward to sharing more of your beautiful wedding photography with our readers and to learning of the safe arrival of your first baby too 🙂 2014 is going to be BRILLIANT 🙂

  3. Well when you put it like that, it does seen like you packed quite a lot in during these past 12 months…!
    Look forward to seeing things get bigger, better, stronger and smarter as we topple over the precipice of the new year. Thanks for having me along for the ride!

  4. Congratulations on becoming a published author last year. That is one of my goals for 2014. I’ve been working on my book for two years and feel that I am almost ready to shop around to publishers. 🙂 I love your post, it’s great and definitely full of passion for what you do.
    I’m a new reader/follower of your blog, I think it’s great.

  5. What an inspiring post! You have achieved so much, especially with your book being published and this brilliant blog, which keeps on going from strength to strength (in my humble opinion!). Love My Dress is by far my favourite wedding blog, not just because of the features but because of the lovely tone you write with. When I read your posts it feels like I’m curling up with a cup of tea to chat with an old friend! Wishing you even more success for 2014!
    As for me, I get married next month (eek!) so finishing off the little bits of wedding planning is very much a goal for me before enjoying the big day! I’ve also started a new craft blog so I’m hoping that will do well, and in the summer, my new husband (well, he will be by then!) and I will be covering the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow which we are both really looking forward to. So lots to get excited about!
    Happy New Year! x

  6. This has really inspired me to want to get going and achieve my own goals in 2014, thank you Annabel! I adore your blog and love how it brings such a ray of sunshine in to my day to day, it has been a huge inspiration so far in helping me plan my January 2015 wedding.
    Huge congratulations on the publication of your first book, I must get myself a copy, it’s been on my to do list for weeks now!
    Best, Leanne

  7. What a great post, and it is very welcome relief to hear such honesty about the demands of juggling a business and also managing to be a mum and squeeze some time for you too! I’m just setting out on building up the profile of my business online and already see how it can just eat up time, perhaps a set time away from it is the way ahead. As for the baking, that looks a sterling effort – am impressed!!

  8. Hi Kate! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a lovely comment, and such positive encouraging words too ☺️ I’m so pleased you feel like that when reading Love my Dress, that’s just exactly how I want our readers to feel.
    And next month, wow! So close now! What date, and where will your wedding be held?
    Covering the games, wow! Will you be reporting or photographing?
    A very happy New Year to you too Kate

  9. Loved reading this, its never easy combining parenting with business especially when an additional business aspect (like your book) takes up your time. I can relate to working into the wee hours but it ends up with me feeling so tired the following day as of course, you still need to get up at 7am due to the children!
    i’d love to hear more about your personal life and/or more about you as a businesswomen as I think this will be inspiring to many small business owners in the wedding industry.
    Lots of love and see you at TWIA

  10. Such an inspirational post – to see the huge amount you have achieved in just a year spurs me on to keep dreaming and keep achieving. I hope 2014 is equally as successful for you Annabel x

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