Life & Business

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

by Grace Bonney

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!).

Suggested For You


  • Grace: this book is so powerful and I hope you can already feel its legacy. I gave it to my favorite 12 year old for Christmas and about an hour after giving it to her I saw that she’d found a quiet spot to sit down and begin reading it while the rest of the holiday party went on elsewhere. Also, at the most basic level, its heft is powerful. And it’s a text that shows both individual strength and ingenuity while also occupying a unified shape of a book, an archive that holds a treasure trove, a critical mass of varied perspectives. Bravo to you and all those who contributed.

  • I love your girls and share a few of them with you…especially, the listen more and being present.

    My main goal is to give my side hustle all of my attention. I want to get my stationery card/art print business into retailers.

    I have enjoyed your blog for years and am loving your book, In the Company of Women. Thank you for writing it

    Katie Johnson

  • I am still reading this book, interview by interview, at least one a day. It really is inspiring and also informative. There’s at least one answer or anecdote that helps me see something about my life and career in a new way.

  • This post is so great. I hope this year goes amazingly for you! I really struggle with the “just do it even if it’s not perfect” mindset. It’s definitely something I’m working on this year!

    xo, Sofia

  • I love these, Grace. My copy of In the Company of Women just arrived (along with Small Victories – keeping it in the Bonney/Turshen family). One of my goals/guiding themes for 2017 is Generosity – not just being generous with others but putting myself in the position to accept generosity from other people. So often I’ve felt like I have to do everything myself but letting other people in just raises it all up.

  • Hi Grace. I also received this book for Christmas and I love every bit of it. Your goals for 2017 are real and doable. I especially love #2 and #3. I’m also working on speaking up when I need to and I’ve been working on letting go of perfection for quite some time.

    I’m busy building my gratitude warrior business. My intention this year is to get my on-line course in gratitude up and running. I also have a book swirling around in my head so any book proposal tips/ideas are welcome. :)

    I met you in Dallas during your tour for your first book. I’ve been a fan ever since. As always, thanks for showing the way.

  • My in home day care business has been my passion for 22 years straight. I have an intuitive gift into the minds of the little ones I care for. I am inspired by this website and I can’t wait to buy In The Company of Women. I am a big dreamer but I don’t know how to start the process of raising my rates for my families without feeling guilty about it. My home is in need of a new roof, A/C unit, windows and we now have some plumbing problems. This year will be the year that my home improvement dreams will come true. Joy to the world!

  • Dearest Grace,

    I am LOVING ‘In the Company of Women’.
    It inspires me daily.
    I work from home & keep it out on my coffee table so I can soak up the goodness when I need a pick-me-up during challenging days.

    Your business goals for 2017 resonate deeply with me.
    I worded mine differently, but almost all of them are identical to what you have shared.

    With women like you working together to make our world a better place I believe we can create the hope and change people are seeking.

    So much love to you xxxx oooo

  • Three, four and five should be my goals, too.
    This perfectionism I know very well, can be so contraproductive and timekilling. Many times I forget to care about myself, when I try to make everything possible and it ends up in not beeing able to do only one thing at least, and listening to others brings sometimes the greatest ideas for the own work. I think I must get the book. Many greetings from germany,

  • Happy New Year, Grace and thank you for sharing your list. I have read and re-read In the Company of Women and love it. My big goal for 2017 is to finally open the shop I’ve been dreaming of for years. Years years ago, I left fashion design school because I thought it was frivolous. I’ve been a lawyer for 11 years now, and while successful, still feel the pull of my old original dream. I think the past years have been meaningful, though, because I now know exactly what type of shop it will be — great style, but with an emphasis on responsible/ethical brands (plus, I know contracts!). I can picture it so clearly, have my plan and finally gave notice at my job (a luxury I know not everyone has). So, sorry for the long post, but thanks for providing this space and inspiration.

  • Thank you for continuing to demonstrate courageous vulnerability. You and your book are a beacon of light during this difficult time for women in America as well as women the world over. May we call continue to focus on the good as a way to heal the pain and hatred in our world.

  • Dear Grace, from your work and words (both spoken and written) it is evident that you have a beautiful, compassionate, caring soul. My question, as a mother of a son, is why do you exclude males in the majority of your discussions? It breaks my heart that we are a society that is leading to greater division and mistrust between the sexes instead of compassion, respect and understanding. I have a son and a daughter. I worry for both of them. In this note I am speaking on behalf of my son. He has been raised to treat others in a respectful manner – basically to treat others in the same respectful manner that he likes to be treated. But as a teenage male, he has been on the receiving end of very nasty and cruel comments by teenage girls. He was born with a birth deformity of his left leg that is visible. Some of these girls have said to him that it is their feminist right to say whatever they want to him – be it cruel or not. He is starting to believe that women are cruel and vicious. He has always said that he wanted to find a life partner, marry and have children. Now, he is not so sure. I am saddened, and in tears as I write this, because I am so afraid that we will become a society where males and females hate each other. I don’t understand why your book and tour excluded males. Shouldn’t it be about inclusion instead of exclusion?

    • SS

      I’m so sorry to hear about the cruel comments your son has faced- and that those comments would lead to him feeling all women are cruel and vicious. But it sounds like he has a loving and caring mother- I hope that will help remind him that that is certainly not the case. And I created this book to provide positive examples- for all people, not just women- of women who are kind, talented and incredible.

      I’m confused as to why you feel men are excluded here? I believe it’s a false correlation to say that a book devoted to women equates to excluding men from discussions. If that is the logic used for that point, surely the opposite is true in all areas of life then, since women are routinely excluded from (and discriminated against) almost all areas of the professional world (and paid less) and the publishing world, and have been since day one.

      I think devoting time to providing positive examples of women in business is about an attempt to balance out an historically very, very unbalanced representation of women in the media, women in the professional world and women in the world of design and art (which is still dominated by men, statically).

      Again, I’m so sorry about what your son is facing at school. I was very cruelly bullied by boys and girls (for being suspected of being gay, which they were right about) growing up and I agree it’s a difficult thing to move past. But my parents and teachers provided me with healthy and positive examples of both genders doing great things and that helped me remember that yes, sometimes people are cruel, but sometimes they’re wonderful and kind and helpful. Perhaps you can work together to find different communities in and out of school for him to connect with that are more positive? It wasn’t until I got to college and started doing volunteer work that I found (more) young people to connect with that were kind, generous, loving, supportive and non-judgmental about people’s looks, abilities and sexual and gender identities, etc.


  • Grace, Your book is such an inspiration to me and many women. I have dreamed of a book like this and it is so wonderful to be able to have one in my hands. I purchased 25 books this holiday season and gifted them to each of my brand photography clients. They were over the moon and completely inspired! I keep my own copy in my home office close by so that I can have a daily dose of inspiration at my fingertips. The stories and the images are truly amazing. Thank you!

  • This year I want it to be different…

    I want to be more open to projects outside my confort zone, I want to collaborate with other creatives, to share my working process on social media and I hope I will find time to post more often on my blog to help people improve their websites with WordPress.

  • This is so, so beautiful Grace. Sometimes it feels strange to me to appreciate someone so much that I’ve never met, yet in other moments, it doesn’t feel strange at all. Thank you for the thoughtfulness, grace, compassion and humility you bring to the internet/social media as you navigate our crazy world. There so much of the opposite of those things out there and your words are always a welcome refuge and inspiration. Hope you are having a restful weekend!

  • This book has been so extra meaningful. This incredible group of women keeps me inspired. I loved the panel at The New School and I love rocking the tote every day. My mother in law also loves the book so much I can’t bear to ask for it back, so we’ll be purchasing another!

    • I had tickets to attend your appearance in Chicago and planned on a road trip with some of the fantastic women in my life. However, I became dreadfully ill that day and we were unable to make it. I was upset because I wouldn’t get my book, but I was also disappointed in the fact that I would be missing out on an evening with women much like myself. That small bump in the road won’t stop me, and as the mother of a Type 1 diabetic, don’t ever let diabetes stop you!

  • My best friend gave me this book as a Christmas present! (a) She’s an amazing friend, and (b) I can’t wait to dive into it! I’m expecting to be super motivated and energized by this wonderful cohort of women!

  • In 2016 I fulfilled my goals of starting an instagram and etsy (both @ramblingsketcher) and doing more watercolor commissions, I’m trying to spend 2017 starting to turn that side hustle into just….hustle. Also hoping to start selling prints!

    I received In the Company of Women for Christmas and it’s made wonderful morning reading before I start work every day I stay home to work on watercolors! Glad to see some of my favorite mottos and also have adopted some new ones ? I’ve always enjoyed the blog but the book came at the best possible time. Thanks for all you do!

  • Adding this book to my must read list ASAP!

    My first goal is to take action! Too often I find myself second guessing myself, trying to be perfect. Imperfect action is better than no action! Most often we learn more from our perceived failures than our moments of success. I will fail and I will learn and grow from those failures. Here’s to failing forward!

  • Hi Grace, I’ve never left a comment here before, even though D*S is my very favourite blog. My In The Company Of Women was delivered on New Year’s Eve and it’s already making such a big impact on me. It came at the perfect time. Inspirational is an understatement.

    I had no idea you were diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes until reading this post. I have had it since I was 3 years old, so if you need any support in dealing with it, please give me a shout :) x

  • I gave this book to a few people for Christmas, I even gave my newly purchased copy away because I couldn’t find one anywhere and it was too close to the day. When I went to purchase it at Barnes & Noble (the one in the Grove in Los Angeles) they only had one copy left. They told me it was one of their most popular. In fact the woman at the register said she was surprised I found one copy as someone had just come and bought as many as she could find!

    Good on you Grace!

  • I’ve been carrying this book around and keeping it close, constantly referring to it – i’m in a pretty difficult place at the moment and it is wonderful to have this inspiration to hand! it feels like a revolution which we need so much right now. thank you thank you thank you. Jilliene xxx

  • I am so getting this book NOW! (Ms. Thelma Golden has or at least is holding your book!!!! Love her!!! You are so awesome too so this is the second reason-will third because I actually want this in my small collection of books) Thank you Grace.