I've been writing this for the past week in between catching up on new year emails and starting new collaborations. But, wow, where to start? 2016 was dubbed one of the worst years by a lot of people, and while Brexit, the US election, celebrity deaths...we said goodbye to Bowie, Prince, Princess Leia, (and her mum!), Professor Snape, George Michael... - who didn't play Last Christmas at full-volume when they found out the news? So many wonderful, inspiring people, so much talent... all gone in one year. And then there were the many atrocities in between (Aleppo playing a huge part) that left unsalvageable holes. But despite all of this and sorry for sounding a little smug (although I'm not going to apologise for feeling this way I'm afraid, as it's taken a lot to get me here), it was one of my best years yet. And I'm beginning 2017 feeling more positive than I have in a very long time. This is mainly for one big reason - 2016 was the year I finally plucked up the courage to work for myself. I left the comfort of a monthly salary and began to whole-heartedly pursue my dreams! I'm probably a little older than most photographer/bloggers, so a regular salary is something I've been used to for the majority of my working life. But in September I left a part-time job, which for the past two years had been providing me with a stable wage in Paris. And although it allowed me to travel and take on more creative jobs on the side, it never felt right - hence I never talked about it! (PS it was with a digital marketing agency.) So as the work I wanted started to come in at a steadier speed, I decided it was time to take the leap. It was now or never. So I did it. Believe me, it was bloody scary, but thankfully I haven't looked back. I thought about it for a long time - my friends can attest to that ;) but sometimes it takes a little while to feel comfortable about making a big decision. And I'm the kind of person who likes to think, reflect and gather opinions from friends and family, before I make one. And now looking back, it was the best decision (besides moving to Paris) that I've ever made! I'm now working with brands and clients, and on projects that I could only have dreamed of a few years ago.
Reading over my post from last year that looks back at 2015 and my goals for 2016, I can tell by the tone of my voice that in writing this post today, I'm a lot more confident in chasing my dreams. I was very tentative at the beginning of last year, a little unsure of my future and by the sounds of it, a lot more directionless. So I've compiled a few of my favourite things from 2016 as it's good to look back before you look forward!
I won't spend too much time banging my own drum, as I want to get onto 2017 goals, but last year I collaborated with an amazing number of brands, including GAP, Kenzo, All Saints, Maison Chaumet and KitchenAid - my biggest collaboration to date - you might remember my KitchenAid posts on Instagram. I was chosen as the Paris-based ambassador for their new Mini Mixer. As part of the campaign I was filmed in Paris and was then flown out to New York in September for the launch. A 'pinch-me' moment happened when sitting in the theatre for a New York food awards night (which I'd gate-crashed last minute) and seeing the Mini Mixer campaign video played on the large cinema screen, complete with my face staring up a the Eiffel Tower! It was a wonderful experience and I met some incredible people who made me feel completely humbled to have been selected!
In 2016 I travelled to 11 wonderful countries (Copenhagen, Munich, Venice, Morocco, Vienna, Croatia, Bordeaux, Maldives, New York, Mallorca, Zurich) - 3 of those being completely new to me, with the Maldives being by far the best! I love to travel - not just for the simple notion of getting away, setting your eyes on fresh sights, but to expand my horizons, meet new cultures and people. On my list this year is:
California - my mum is from San Diego and I have family there - it's been 4 years since I've been back, so I'm over-due a visit. (I'm also trying to organise a trip to Coachella with my old London flatmate, as this has been on my list for the past 4 years!)
Vietnam/ Cambodia - these were on my list for last year, but the year raced by, I went to other wonderful destinations and just ran out of time!
Berlin - I have good friends living there and have been saying for the past 2 years that I will come visit!
Barcelona - equally it's been years since I last visited...
South American: ideally Argentina or Brazil, or Mexico - so I can get my fill of my favourite cuisine, marvel at Mayan temples and bathe in the sea.
What's on your travel wishlist?
And so on to goals. Last year I chose three words to live by, inspired by my friend Anne: CREATE, EARN, SAVE. Looking back over 2016 and my bank balance, which is healthier than it's ever been, I think I did adhere to them pretty well. So this year, I'm choosing EXECUTE. Having now worked for myself for the past 3-4 months, I've realised that I need to work faster and more efficiently if I'm to continue reaching my dreams. There is so much more that I want to be doing, but I need to work better and smarter to achieve everything. I'm also going to get some help and am currently interviewing candidates for an internship (thanks to everyone who has applied!!) And I've made a little list of specific goals that I'd like to accomplish in 2017, which will hopefully keep me on my current path and inspire you to set your own goals!
1. Become a morning person: 2017 is the year I'm going to get up early. I've never found it easy to get up in the morning, I wake up groggy and generally feel like I'm pulling myself out of a coma. I'm either sleeping too long, going to bed too late or going to bed wired (new rule is not to look at my phone in bed - I set my alarm before I get into bed now). So I'm currently reading The Miracle Morning to inspire me. I urge you to read it too, if waking up earlier is something that you dream of! Ideally I'd love to be up at 6:30 to exercise, meditate and set my goals for the day, and to be able to start work at 9am. For now 7:30 (not every day) is the earliest I'm managing...but I'm persevering. Do you have any great techniques that you use?
2. Read more & be informed - I spent far too much time on my phone last year, and often before bed flicking through the What's New section on Net-a-porter (ok I still do it) but I'm trying not to do it before I go to sleep and aiming to read more before bed. Not only to relax before I go to sleep, but also to enrich my brain! I'm currently reading Sebastian Faulks' new book Where my Heart Used to Beat. I also want to be more informed and up-to-date on what's going on in the world, politics and in business. Here are some great resources I'm currently tapping into: Inc.com, BoF, the Guardian (being British), Business Insider. What are you reading?
3. Stop comparing: now this is an important one and one I urge you to adopt too. Working within the social media industry can have huge highs (travel, wonderful experiences), but it can also have extreme lows and greatly affect your self-esteem. Theodore Roosevelt wasn't wrong when he said "Comparison is the thief of joy". In fact it's probably biggest stripper of happiness. I've invariably had the habit of going down the social media rabbit hole - those times when you're suddenly looking at some random person's instagram account, not quite knowing how you got there. Or spending 20 minutes scrolling through some gorgeous model's feed, which leaves you feeling fat, inadequate and deflated.. So don't compare, stay focused on yourself and what you're doing, embrace your imperfections - remember we aren't all living the polished life that you see you Instagram. Everyone is human. Here are some great resources: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte,
4. Exercise more: I know it's a cliche and I say it every year, but I feel I need to put down in writing to make sure I do it. I did make it to my yoga class last night and will be going to Zumba tonight. If I can do a minimum of 2 classes a week that's a good starting point, but I would like to do more to make me stronger, fitter and healthier.
5. Build Rue Rodier - my blog has been somewhat neglected of late as the majority of my recent work has been connected with my Instagram. But I want to build Rue Rodier into a platform. More interiors & home tours, more outfit posts and more inspiration to get you lovely people living better! I also want to continue photographing/creating content for clients and for Rue Rodier.
What are your 2017 goals?