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2015 is coming to a close and I don’t think I’m the only person who found this year emotionally draining. It was my first full year of living in Finland and my expat dream didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. The first few months of the year were downright depressing for me with no work at all and a dwindling bank account. But in a weird way, reaching that low point motivated me to set things right and do things properly. As such, my work load exploded from that point on and I now have several regular clients I am doing work for on an almost daily basis. Considering that in the last few years since I graduated, there were months at a time where nothing at all happened to me, it’s been quite an incredible transformation.

That wasn’t the only thing I achieved this year. I had my first print book editing credit. (Unfortunately I don’t have a photo to prove it. Thanks, Royal Mail!) I’ve had reviews and articles published on several websites, making up quite a nice portfolio for myself. I’ve been doing a lot of photography, which I really enjoy, and have even had some pictures published. I’ve kept this blog more or less constantly updated. Most exciting of all, I finished the first draft of my novel! I’ve been working on-and-off on it since university so I’m very happy about that.

Despite all these successes, I’m still not earning a whole lot more than what I was making when I worked part time jobs. Working from home does mean I’m saving money on transport and eating on the go and it is definitely preferable to working retail, but I do still have to work very hard to make just above minimum wage.

As such, my main goal for 2016 is to pitch to higher paying clients so I can gradually wean myself off of the low paying clients and write more stuff that I’m passionate about. Ideally I’d like to do the same amount of work I do now for more money. I know it’s possible. Other goals for this year are:

  • Learn Finnish. I know it’s awful that I’ve been living here for over a year and I know barely any Finnish. I’m maintaining a stereotype about British expats that I all too often complain about. I have had many other issues this year to deal with and I didn’t have any money for classes, but I’ll try to find a way to at least learn a little by myself.
  • Finish the second draft of my novel. I already have a plan in place and a very long list of books to read for research. I’ve already spotted a lot of plot holes and things I want to change so it’s going to be a fun challenge!
  • Practice more photography. Perhaps even get some more photos published.
  • Market more through social media. It’s such an important thing for freelancers but I’ve been neglecting it far too much. Apparently browsing on Tumblr doesn’t count.
  • Keep my blog updated.
  • Submit more short stories. I’ve already found a few interesting anthologies I want to submit to this year. I also have some old stories stewing around on my laptop that I want to get out there.

If like me you’ve had a difficult and challenging year, at least it’s over now and we all have the chance for a fresh start. Don’t let yourself get anxious or depressed because trust me, it’s not worth it and there is always a way to dig yourself out of whatever hole you find yourself in.

Here’s to 2016 not sucking quite as much as 2015!