Annual Review For 2015: The Year Of Flight

Last year I conducted my first annual review. It really helped me take stock of the previous year and apply those lessons to my goals for the new year.

I’m amazed at how effective this process was in enabling me to live more deliberately. So I'm doing it again this year.

Here’s the basic structure of an annual review:

  • What did I do well last year?
  • What didn’t I do so well last year?
  • What am I working towards this year?
  • What is this year's theme?

Let’s dive in…

What Did I Do Well Last Year?

Strengthened my reading and writing habit. Two years ago I jumpstarted my reading and writing habits by reading 22 books and writing 39 blog articles. Last year I built on that momentum, though I did end up taking a few weeks off of blogging here and there in order to spend more time with family.

Reading and writing highlights for 2015:

One thing I’ve noticed is that more isn't always better when it comes to these two habits. It’s easy to read a lot and not actually use the information. And I’ve seen diminishing returns from my weekly blog posts in terms of growing my audience.

While it can be good to start off with firm goals and benchmarks as you’re building a habit, it's also important to know when to ease off and allow things to proceed organically. So I won’t be setting goals for my reading or writing next year or committing to a weekly Thursday blog post. I’d rather make the books I read and the posts I publish count.

I'll most likely be using my writing time to work on my upcoming book.

Grew my business and income substantially. While I think I fell just short of my 6-figure revenue goal (final numbers are still coming in from the bookkeeper) I made more money from my business last year than I used to at my old job as a marketing consultant. More importantly, I served in new and better ways. My new Catalyst coaching program is now on its second cohort of inspiring entrepreneurs, each of them working to make a full-time income doing work that matters.

Business highlights for 2015:

  • Donated 18% of profits to Acumen, a non-profit that invests in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty. This organization is very innovative and happens to be perfectly aligned with my mission to unleash potential through entrepreneurship.
  • Grew my mailing list to 1,053. This is nearly twice as many people served compared to 2014. While my business is not built on scale, it’s nice to know that readers have been benefiting from and sharing my articles.
  • Worked with 12 fantastic clients. Got this video testimonial from one of them and many other written ones.
  • Created, launched, and iterated my group coaching program Catalyst. It’s been incredible to see the value that’s been created just from getting together the right tribe of people and letting the magic of connection do it’s thing.
  • Brought my tribe together during the 30-Day Bravery Challenge. This was a goal I had at the beginning of the year and it ended up being a total blast. Another testament to the power of connection.
  • Completely revamped my website.
  • Helped put together and facilitate the first ever Revolution Why retreat with my team. What an incredible experience. Rev Y reminded me how much I love speaking and I'm looking to doing more of it this year.

Learned to let go. This was a big one. For a long time I had a belief that I couldn’t let go and still continue to perform at a high level. One of my mantras last year has been “high intention, low attachment”. In other words, knowing what you want but not needing it to happen. The ironic part of this is that the less I grasp for things like money and other achievements, the more I generally get of both. This also proved to be a valuable mindset in dealing with my health last year as I found ways to accept and work around one of my chronic injuries.

Made another successful move. After a short stint in DC, Emma and I moved to an 80-acre farm property in West Virginia. The was a hard transition for me at first. But we've now created a really beautiful foundation here from which to grow together. Also, Last night I helped out at a local wrestling club for the first time after leaving my Washington, DC team. I’m really looking forward to doing more of that here.

West Virginia highlights for 2015:

  • Supported Emma as she founded the Riverside Project.
  • Ran our first few events, including an epic workshop where we raised a timber frame pavilion.
  • Got our dog Scout. Having her has gotten me outside more and she’s an awesome companion. You can see pictures of her on my Instagram.

What Didn’t I Do So Well Last Year?

Didn't focus on health, hobbies, and relationships. You might notice that the above section is pretty business-heavy. That's because I spent a lot of my time and energy last year working. In many ways, that was a conscious choice. But in other ways I think I fell short of creating a life around more than just my business and relationship with Emma. It's impossible to be completely fulfilled by just one or two areas of my life (as great as they are).

Divided my energy between scale and impact. I spent too much time last year doubting my business identity and chasing shiny things. Doing work in the online space, it's easy to prioritize growth and automation over actual transformation. This year I'm committed to building my business purely on the dramatic results I get for my clients. I'm not interested in being a guru, doing affiliate deals, or creating information products. I'm interested in going deep and unleashing the potential of one person at a time.

What Am I Working Towards This Year?

Prioritize connection and vitality. It's way too easy as an entrepreneur to succeed at business but end up with an unhappy and stressful life. That's not something I'm interested in doing. This year I plan to cultivate deep personal friendships, find a compelling creative hobby, and proactively seek out the best care I can for my body. These are foundational areas of my life and I want to build an even stronger base as the business grows.

Do more speaking, training, and interviews. Paradoxically, I often creatively avoid taking initiative on these things precisely because they are so meaningful to me. In fact, I may have more natural talent and passion for speaking than I do for coaching. If you know anyone who's looking for speakers or podcast guests, reach out and let me know.

Build my business on results and transformation. I won't be blogging weekly this year, I won't be building funnels, and I won't be doing affiliate deals. I'll simply be working with a small handful of champion entrepreneurs who are committed to having a big positive impact. There are too many tools for deception available online today and most self-proclaimed "coaches" never master their craft. Mastery requires myopic focus on one thing, and I'd rather become the best coach in the world than the best marketer in the world. Once you make a decision like that, all the other distractions just fade away.

What Is This Year's Theme?

Last year, 2015, was The Year of Flight. I made the leap full-time into my business in 2014 and, although I felt pretty untethered at times, I also really spread my wings. I learned to let go. I moved to West Virginia.

I expect 2016 to be The Year of Grounding. I hope to become rooted in my skills as a coach, my simplified business model, and my life outside of work. I want to be decisive about how I spend my days and build a great base for the business to grow on.

What was your theme from last year and what will it be for 2016?

(Photo credit: Rod Waddington via cc)