Another year bites the dust… and it’s time to usher in 2023!
As per usual – it’s time for my year end round-up post. I’ve been doing this for quite a few years now, and it’s the perfect way to reflect and set some goals for the year ahead. People ask “what’s the point in setting goals? Just make goals as and when!” I get that, I agree. But setting resolutions for the year is something I’ve done forever, long before the age of even blogging and social media, and all the way back to when I was a child writing in my diary at night.
If you skip to the end, you can also see how I did with my 2022 resolutions.
Let’s get into it.
🤷🏾♀️ 2022 was…
I look back on 2022 and I actually feel quite satisfied, but perhaps torn in 2 directions. For one, it has been a hard year for the world. We’ve had war, a cost of living crisis, insane markets, labour uproars and are teetering on a brink of a recession. Some people can barely afford to heat their houses this winter period, the threat of financial collapse and soaring rates looms over us, and a small pack of cherry tomatoes costs £5. Perhaps that sounds very dramatic and dooms-day-ish, but I think we can all agree that for the world collectively, 2022 has been a pretty shitty year.
That said, I recognise that I am in a very lucky/blessed situation to be able to look back on the year and feel… satisfied. In 2022, I launched Soulful Kitchen, which is the first “serious” platform/project/business or anything I’ve ever really launched. I stepped into new shoes in the office, becoming a Vice President and proved to myself that I can “do it”, and I continued to grow in myself and feel more empowered every day.
🚀 Launching Soulful Kitchen
And the story goes… in 2020, when we were all in lockdown, I really started to miss my parents’ home cooked Nigerian food. My boyfriend, who is Caribbean, felt the same about the food he grew up on. Whilst I was getting my parents’ jollof rice recipe and trying to perfect that, he started to do the same, but with an oxtail recipe. One day I saw an advert for Hello Fresh and exclaimed “I’d totally love to use that, if there was the African & Caribbean version”. And, voila. The initial idea was born, and eventually was scrubbed up to what it has now become. I’ve wrote a full post about it here, but in essence, it’s a recipe platform which can be customised to the user’s dietary preferences, and also has extra features such a detailed nutritional information, in depth search functions and shopping lists. You can also find detailed history behind many recipes. Over time, these features will expand. It was a made from scratch website that I worked on with a developer throughout 2021, and launch in May this year.
So, how’s it going? I am often asked.
Well, it’s taking up a lot of time as you can imagine. Whilst I have some help on the social media, I am producing a lot of content myself, and have to have recipes/videos written and filmed on a regular basis. Over time, I will get more help with running and expanding the platform, but for now, it is still very much in its infancy. That said, I know that over the half year of running the platform so far I have been able to balance the extra workload better, and the quality of the content has improved too. I’m looking forward to continuing to put my head down and plug away at this next year. What I wanted to do was create a platform for (1) many of us diaspora who did not learn how to cook our home grown meals growing up, and (2) others interested in African and Caribbean cuisine. I wanted to create something that was really straight forward, authentic and easy to follow, and also something that makes it straight forward to discover new and targeted recipes. In 6 months so far, we have racked up 1k+ followers on Instagram, a number of sign ups to the website, monthly website views in the hundreds that are increasing, and 30k+ YouTube views. Let’s see where 2023 takes us!
📈 Changing roles
This year I was promoted at work, but, what changed my role the most was actually somebody in my team leaving. I have been in the position a few times now where somebody in my team over the years has left who was, in my opinion, truly integral to my role. So, whilst I’m used to this (this is the industry, people don’t stick around forever), the one this year came as a surprise, and I think I needed a few weeks at least to really adjust to the fact that said person wouldn’t be here.
The reality is, when somebody you work with moves on, particularly when they were more senior than you, you either sink or swim. Most of the time, people manage to keep their heads above water. You’ll never really feel ready to take that next “big step” in your career, so sometimes you need to be pushed into it. My role has changed quite a lot this year, especially in comparison to what I was doing at my old firm, and a lot of that opportunity was due to that space that opened up. It has truly changed my day-to-day at work, and probably pushed me to mature a little quicker too, and honestly, the changes have ended up being for the better.
📍 Work mode
✈️ Frequent travelling
As we moved into a post-Covid world, 2022 was packed to the brim with travelling. A lot of my travelling this year has notably been for work – I’ve travelled across the Nordics (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) multiple times, but work also brought me to Dublin, Paris and Madrid in 2022.
I’ve also had some very fun personal trips too. At the start of the year, Levi and I did a weekend break in Edinburgh (it was a beautiful city, but we went when it was way too cold); around May we extended a work trip to Paris into another weekend break, which was our 2nd time in Paris together; then during the summer I did my first 2-week summer holiday in years. Levi and I spent around a week in Lindos, Greece, then hopped on a ferry in week 2 and booked a villa with 2 friends in Fethiye, Turkey.
Finally, in October, I returned to the states for the first time in 2019 for some family fun in New Jersey and New York. 1 wedding and 1 birthday.
Next year, I have a ski tripped book (I don’t really enjoy skiing, but c’est la vie), will definitely do another long summer holiday and the plan is to head to Nigeria to enjoy Detty December for the first time. I’m sure some other weekend breaks will be dotted around in there. It’s definitely fun to get back to travelling properly again after 2 years of either no or very uncertain travel.
🗈 2022 lessons
- Blocking out the noise: Life can be a lot of pressure, especially as we get older. It can often feel like you’ve either taken the wrong steps, or about to take the wrong steps, due to constant comparison to others. This year I’ve taking small steps to learning to trust my intuition and to feel more confident and self assured in my decisions. I can’t say I’m perfect here, this point is still a “work in progress”, but what I do know is that if I had lived my life doing multiple, conflicting things that have been recommended to me over time, I’d be in a worse off position.
- Dealing with ending relationships: Friendships come and go – sometimes, even a truly long term friendship can slip away. This year, a friendship of near 15 years was somewhat stamped off, and not necessarily in a dramatic way. Sometimes the ending of a long term friendship can feel as painful as the ending of a romantic relationship. The only thing that lets me rest easy is knowing that it had nothing to do with me.
- The journey of health & fitness: They call it a “health & fitness” journey for a reason. This year, I actually gained a lot of weight. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I gained the weight due to going back to being in the office, and quite frankly, eating unhealthy or supersized lunches. Fitness is always an easy one for me, but overindulging is where I can get out of control. Post summer, I cleaned up my diet, and am on my way back down. I also gained a lot of strength this year and started doing gym programmes, rather than making up my own workouts. Next year, I want to get into the best shape of my life – cardiovascular fitness, real strength, and (what I deem to be) a good level of muscle and fat mass. I’m excited.
✔️ Recapping my 2022 resolutions
1. Launch Soulful Kitchen
It launched! At last! Wahooo. Head over to our website to support.
2. Continue to blog consistently – more times than I did in 2021. Make efforts to try to expand this blog in more ways than just regular posting
Now this was a huge failure. In 2020 I blogged 24 times, in 2021 I blogged 40 times, and this year, it was a disappointing 21 times. I started off the year quite strong, blogging weekly as I’d gotten used to in 2021, but once Soulful Kitchen launched, time really ran thin. I spend a lot of the weekend working on it and then poof, I’m back in the office. I really hope to get back on some kind of track in 2023, but I also recognise I’m not super woman and sometimes, there is only so much I can do.
3. Make some good progress with writing this book
Another big fail! But I partly think it’s because I put so much pressure on myself to meticulously plan an amazing book and story line, and that pressure makes me struggle to even write chapter 1. I spoke to a friend recently and she told me just to write – have a vague idea and see where the words take me. This is what I do with my blog (I literally mind fart it all onto my laptop and clean it up later), so, I’ll try and take this approach in 2023. I really want to write a book as I feel as though that was my first, God given genuine interest from the time I was 5. You know people say “if you could do anything and not worry about money, what would it be?” Mine would be to be a writer, and I want to embrace that again.
4. Up the amount of investments I make another notch
I dipped my toes into crypto in 2017 (very lightly), and got on the property ladder in 2018. I started investing in the equity market (via ETFs) in 2020, and I’ve gotten pretty used to it now. I put money away periodically, and do that on auto pilot. Granted, I am totally in the red this year… but aren’t we all? I feel comfortable that over the long term, this red will turn green again. I made a post at the start of the year about where I wanted to put my money, before the market went to shit; in hindsight, I’ve realised we’d all gotten used to the market going only one way – up – for the last few years. Even the Covid market crash was very short lived. It’s a reminder that in life there is no money tree or any guaranteed way to make fast money, just because we saw a certain pattern of things in 2021/2020/2019, doesn’t mean the trend was set to continue in 2022.
5a. Get better at tuning out multiple and conflicting opinions of what I should do with my life
5b. Be confident in my path in life, believe in my own success and stop feeling like I need to prove myself to anyone
I was in a weird place last year where I felt like I was always doing the wrong thing and about to “fall behind”. There was always someone telling me to do something different than what I had planned:
“I want to buy an investment property!” “Why? You won’t make any money. Buy crypto.”
“I want to buy ethereum!” “Why? You won’t make any money from that. Put all your money in TIME.” (Nb: Please check the price developments of TIME this year)
“I’m doing well in my job!” “You won’t ever have a life doing that job. Your future marriage will suffer from all the hours you work. Just quit, be daring.”
“I want to build a recipe platform!” “There are 100 people doing that. Will you even make money from it…? Yawn. Focus on your job.”
This is honestly an on-going resolution. Trying to fight my own demons and a fear of doing the wrong thing and being left behind. Standing firm in my decisions and whatever life throws are me.
6. Have a strong year on the career front
See above. TLDR: This goal was ticked.
💭 My 2023 resolutions
1. Grow Soulful Kitchen meaningfully
2. Start writing my book that I want to finish by 30
3. Continue to work on drowning out the noise and focussing on my own path in life
4. Get in the best shape of my life!
5. Strike the balance of juggling: Soulful Kitchen, my blog, the gym and my book (and, a life)
In summary, 2022 was a good one. I ticked off some goals, had a lot of fun, continued to mature when it comes to work, investing, and just… being, and have some steam behind me. Let’s see what 2023 brings to the table…
Happy new year everyone! 🥂