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7 Work Goals for 2017: What I Learned from In the Company of Women

I always like each new year to feel like a clean, fresh start. Like a crisp page break or an obvious place to wipe the slate clean. But this year doesn’t feel that way to me. It feels, in some ways, like a pause to collect myself and to continue with the work I started doing last year. Making In the Company of Women, hitting the road to connect with our community of female entrepreneurs and makers and getting to see real change start to happen because of that project has been the thing I am most proud of in my 12-year career at Design*Sponge. In the Company of Women speaks to who I am now at 35, what is most important to me and the type of work and connecting I want to do going forward.

So this year I’m continuing that momentum by setting 7 clear work goals I’d like to accomplish, inspired by what I learned from the women and the momentum this book and book tour are a part of. In addition to sharing these goals publicly (so I hold myself accountable), I’d love to hear what YOUR work goals are this year. Big ones, small ones, and everything in between — what are YOU hoping to achieve this year? Click through to read mine below and please share yours in the comment section, too! xo, grace

Goal #1: To dream big and ask for what I really want. I have spent most of my life wishing and hoping for certain things to come true, without having the nerve to ask for them directly. This book was the result of me finally putting my heart on the table, taking a risk and saying, “This is exactly what I want to do, no ifs, ands or buts.” Image of Carrie Brownstein (and hand lettering) from the book taken by @mabuhaydiy.



Goal #2: Speak up, speak out and speak with compassion. The older I get, the more aware (every day and in every way) I become of the many ways in which I am incredibly lucky to do what I do and get to work on the projects I have. These opportunities don’t get offered to everyone equally (despite merit and deservedness) and I’m becoming more and more aware of the ways in which, by not speaking up, I’m complicit in their continuing. Above all else, I care about our community — and everyone in it. And I want everyone’s voices, faces and points of views to be heard. Why? Because they deserve to be heard and because greater inclusiveness makes our community a stronger one, a richer one and a more open-minded one. Our community is a diverse and varied group of people from different backgrounds, geographic locations, financial situations, religions, races, sexual identities and much more. I don’t care what it costs me anymore, if I have the privilege of any sort of platform to work from, I’m going to use it to speak up alongside people who have been too often left out of the conversation. Photo by @anjelicamalone.


Goal #3: Embrace the imperfect and just get it done. I am the WORST when it comes to hemming and hawing over the perfect way to do something, whether it’s launching a new project or deciding what to eat for lunch. I overthink things to the point of exhaustion and then end up missing out on the whole idea or actually enjoying whatever that thing is. The book was the best example of diving in with very little time and making the best of what we could do with the time we had and, while I wish I could have improved some aspects of the book, I’m incredibly proud of how it turned out. So this is a big, loud message to myself: STOP WORRYING SO MUCH AND DIVE IN, GRACE. YOU’LL FIGURE IT OUT AS YOU GO. Photo by @leissewilcox whose adorable children wrote this in their kitchen. 


Goal #4: Speak Less, Listen More. I’ll be the first to admit that it can be a slippery slope when trying to figure out how much your voice “matters” online and how much it truly needs to be a part of the conversation. This year I learned that while I need to speak up when appropriate, I need to keep working on listening more and letting other people’s stories inform my worldview and my understanding of every subject possible. I so enjoyed moderating discussions on book tour and not being the main speaker — it gave me a chance to sit back, pay attention to other people’s voices, and to find the best way to help everyone shine and connect with the audience. I think that’s something I learned doing my radio show and it’s a skill I want to keep working on this year — knowing when to speak and how to be direct, compassionate and efficient with my words. Photo by @newbooks_oldclothes


Goal #5: Take better care of myself. Being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes last year shook me to my core and forced me to eat healthier, make physical fitness a priority and make choices that would support my long-term health. That said, it certainly didn’t make me better about sleeping more or finding ways to clear my head so that sleep was of a higher quality. But this year I plan on committing to a no-screen/no-work rule after 8pm and letting myself ease into bed as early as I need to feel rested and ready to go the next day. I’m ready to let the myth of “busy is better” stop ruling my life. It’s okay to sleep and to let your body restore itself, period. Photo by @oliviasoaps


Goal #6: Continue to use whatever skills I have to be a conduit for connection, collaboration and support. Since Day 1 of Design*Sponge, I’ve been very aware of my limitations and skills as a blogger. While I lack many qualities I wish I had, I am proud that I have been able to use this positive platform as a way to connect people who haven’t yet met or collaborated or had a chance to be inspired by each other. And nothing makes me happier. Seeing people, especially women, connect with people that can inspire them and support them in ways they haven’t yet experienced makes my heart sing. Photo by @royaljellynyc (that’s Maya on the right, with Thelma Golden of the Studio Museum — both of whom are in the book!)

Goal #7: I’d like to let myself be present for and enjoy moments of success and appreciation. At the end of the In the Company of Women book tour, which was two days after the election, we met in a room that was brimming with emotion. Our amazing Philadelphia audience showed up for a much-needed moment of solidarity and support and they worked hard to connect, listen, hold each other up and hold ME up when I could no longer hold back my tears. When we finished our panel, the audience slowly stood up in a standing ovation. It was a moment I will never forget and will probably never experience again, but in that moment I looked down at our row of panelists and let myself feel what we as a team, and a room full of motivated women, had accomplished. I don’t ever want to let those moments make me slow down or confuse appreciation for adoration, but I also don’t want to keep denying myself — or any hardworking woman — a moment every now and then to pause and feel the results of doing good work together. Those moments keep us going in tough times and I am so thankful for them. Photo by @Winterbureau (who was also on the panel!).

via Design*Sponge