Annual Review For 2014: The Year Of The Leap

Last week, I conducted my first Annual Review.

An Annual Review is about taking stock. In this sense, it’s similar to the weekly reviews I do each Sunday. Just on a more macro scale.

The purpose of this Annual Review was to celebrate the past 12 months, be honest about where I fell short, and look ahead to the future. Below is a summary of my review answering three core questions:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What didn’t go so well this year?
  3. What am I working towards next year?

Full disclosure: I borrowed this framework from James Clear, who was inspired by Chris Guillebeau. Thanks you two.

What went well this year?

Shifted my relationship to reading and writing. Believe it or not, I used to dislike both of these things. Then I started to see the positive impact they were having on my life. Now I’m completely passionate about them. This experience has probably been one of my greatest pieces of evidence that passion is cultivated, not followed.

Reading and writing highlights for 2014:

  • 22 full books read
  • 39 new articles published

Built a profitable business from scratch. This is the big one. Within the first month of starting a new job, I realized it wasn’t for me. I made the decision to do more meaningful work, found a way to be paid for it, and transitioned full-time into my coaching business 8 months later. It definitely wasn’t easy; I woke up at 5:15 every morning (still do), hired my first coach, and overcame the fear of leaving a great job to do something untraditional. Believe it or not, I made way more money the month after leaving than I did the month before as a marketing consultant. I’m grateful for my old job, and I’m proud that I was able to leave it gracefully and not burn any bridges.

Business highlights for 2014:

  • Created a manifesto
  • Grew a mailing list to 589 people
  • Worked with 7 incredible, paid clients (and many more unpaid)

Had a successful Spartan Racing season. Despite nagging health issues, I competed at 6 Spartan Races this past year (compared to 3 in 2013).

Racing highlights for 2014:

  • Finished Top 20 in all but one race (I got 21st)
  • Placed 5th at the DC Sprint, my highest finish ever
  • Became part of the Spartan 300, a points-based ranking system

Finally decided to heal my body. By the last race, my lingering health issues had gotten too unpleasant to ignore. I decided to take a break from Spartan Racing and most other forms of high intensity training, including running. This was really hard for me, as I have been a serious athlete most of my life.

Health highlights of 2014:

  • Got in touch with a great herbalist (after traditional medicine left me jaded)
  • Increased the length of my daily meditation (30 minutes)
  • Cleaned up my diet even more (removed 95% of dairy and refined sugar)
  • Drastically reduced the number of tension headaches I get on a monthly basis

Started a life in a new city. Last January I moved in with my long-distance girlfriend Emma. I’ve been blown away with how strong our partnership has gotten and it’s exciting to watch our passions converge. I also took a position as an assistant wrestling coach when I left my job. It’s been a great way to make sure that I get out of my apartment and in touch with my playful side at least once per day. Ironically, I’ll be leaving this all behind and starting over in July.

What didn’t go so well this year?

Not focusing on the most important things in my business. I guess this is normal, but I spent a lot of time on stupid stuff early on that didn’t bring in revenue. I second guessed my direction and marketing every ten seconds. I still find myself doing this occasionally. I also tried - and essentially failed - to create passive income, which is much less passive than people make it out to be (and frankly, not something I’m very interested in doing during 2015 as I like working 1:1 with people).

Creating a strong social network in DC. Even though I’ve made a lot of great connections this year (Camp GLP, for example) I haven’t made too many local ones. I relied a lot on my girlfriend, sister, and college friends for socialization and then spent most of my free time working. I don’t know how much of that I would change looking back, but it might have been nice to have a few new guy friends to hang out with every once in a while.

Finding a different way to be in my body. Once I stopped Spartan Racing in the Fall, I didn’t really pick up anything new. I kept training, but my workouts started to get stale because I couldn’t push as hard as normal. Two things I did this past week help: I asked a good friend to develop a three day split routine for me (thanks, Clif) and dropped into an Aikido (martial arts) class yesterday to see if I would like it.

What am I working towards next year?

Read and write consistently. Clearly these were things that worked last year, and so I want to do more of them this year. I’d like to finish an average of 2 books/month. I’d also like to publish at least one new blog post every week on Thursdays at noon. I think having a set deadline each week will help me make the most of my time leading up to it, and it will help give my readers some consistency, too.

Reading and writing goals for 2015:

  • 24 full books read (2 more than last year)
  • 52 new articles published (13 more than last year)

Break 6 figures. In some ways this is an arbitrary goal, since the money itself isn’t that important to me. But what it represents is important. Because when you are in a profession like coaching, your income is a pretty decent indication of your ability to serve other people. The best way to reach this goal is by regularly creating powerful conversations with potential clients while continuing to pour my heart into my current clients.

Refresh my website. By February 6th, I will be launching a total re-design of this site. That’s the same day that I launched my original blog in 2014. I’ve learned a lot about my audience and myself since then that I want to showcase. I'll be sending out a survey sometime in the next week to make sure that the new site meets your needs.

Make West Virginia a success. If you saw my post on Tuesday, you know that I’m making a big move in July. The most critical thing right now to making this vision a reality is to raise money for our timber frame via Barnraiser.

Bring my tribe together. As I’ve watched Emma outline her mission with The Riverside Project, I’ve realized the how important connection is. I’ve also realized that my tribe is totally top-down; just me talking to a bunch of people all at once. I want a place where we can all engage, and so I’ve been playing around with the idea of having a private Facebook group for people on my email list. If this is something you’d be interested in, please let me know.

Have fun, make friends at Aikido. Like I said, I went to the Aikido gym yesterday. I had a total blast and decided to sign up for 6 months. I’m looking forward to seeing how I progress in that time, and I’m also hoping I can kill two birds with one stone and meet some awesome people there. Honestly, I’m not the type of person who is going to be meeting people at bars and one-off events, so becoming part of a regular community is a better strategy for me.

Last Year's Theme

I'm calling 2014 "The Year of The Leap" because I constantly felt like I was walking off the edge of a cliff. Whether it was moving to DC, leaving my job, starting a business, or finding a gentler way to be with my body, I had to constantly confront the fear of failure (and success).

Still, I lept. And so far it seems like my parachute has opened. I'm hoping that next year will be the year of the glide and not the free-fall. There will probably be a little bit of both.

Going through this Annual Review process for the first time has been completely eye-opening for me. If you haven't done one yet, I’d highly recommend using this format; even if you only have 20 minutes to reflect.

So, how did last year go and what are you looking forward to in 2015?

(Photo credit: demendaj via cc)