In addition to choosing #onelittleword to serve as a guide for me, I also have a tradition of doing an annual review at the end of each year. My annual review, while inspired by Chris Guillebeau, is also heavily influenced by The Handel Group’s 18 Areas of Life intake and Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map.
In the spirit of Creation and wanting to share more ideas than I keep precious, I typed up my 2014 Review and shared below. Maybe it will be helpful for you, too?
Part I: What went well & what didn’t in 2014
Despite numerous challenges (and some straight up failures!) there were a lot of things that I was proud of this year.
- I made new friends. And some really, really good ones, too. Having lived in Boston my entire life until late 2013, I never really had to learn to make new friends… at least not on this scale. I am really proud of having pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone and put myself out there to new people and connections, most notably, my former colleagues from Beats, the people I met at WDS, and all of the wonderful independent strategy folks I have met from LA.
- I have a real business (!!!). What started off as me freelancing has grown into a very awesome and legitimate consulting business… Something I always imagined it would become, but never could have dreamed would happen so soon. Coming off of a very challenging 2013 (professionally and personally), I was surprised by how quickly I was able to find work & keep working. Perhaps the most interesting part of this story, which many of you likely don’t even know, is I was actually offered my “dream job” at an agency in January of this year. I turned it down in favor of this dream. Huge risk? Yes. But I could not have possibly anticipated seeing the rewards of that risk unfold. I have so many people to thank, including a growing team of people without whom I can’t imagine my business even surviving and thriving as it has (more below).
- I treated my business like a real business. I hired a web designer to re-do my little web home here. I hired a business coach to help me get clarity around my service offerings. And I worked with a CPA and an attorney to build a solid legal/financial foundation. I actually invested a lot of money I earned back into my business, which has already shown so. much. of a return.
- I fell in love with LA. I made my way through more than half of Magic Mike’s 112 things to do in LA list in 2014, including some bonus ones he threw my way (Comedy Hack Night, Brew Ha Ha, and Wolvesmouth to name a few). Having this list to guide my experience really motivated me to get out and explore the city. I feel like I not only have my bearings here now, but I would say I’m actually pretty tapped in to what is really happening in this strange place. It’s helped my confidence immensely. And if you need recommendations next time you come, I’m probably your girl.
There were also a lot of things this year that did not go so well.
- I was hard on friends and family. While moving out to the west coast was the best decision, it did not come without challenges. I am still adjusting to life 3k mi away from everything & everyone I know and at times I have been a real monster. Especially toward the beginning of 2014, I was feeling pretty low in self-esteem. I wasn’t always the most gracious host and I wasn’t always the most present friend. My coping skills sucked. I made some shitty decisions that affected my relationships. I struggled with anxiety it often came on strong and without warning. My husband bore the brunt of most of it and I feel badly about that.
- I let fear make a lot of my decisions. I said yes to many things I really wanted to say no to, especially professionally. I was scared that if I turned anything down, then I would have no work and no money and end up back in the 4am shift at Starbucks. I was conservative in how I priced a lot of my work so as not to scare potential clients way. I maintained relationships with people that I didn’t need or want to be in relationship with. I defaulted to the safe choice 80% of the time and continually put my own needs and desires behind others’ (more below).
- I lost Kaitlin a little. I didn’t do very much yoga or running this year. I didn’t take any vacation that wasn’t also a work trip (read: not a vacation at all). I drank more than I am really comfortable with (side effect of socializing in a new city?). I spent about 12 weeks on the road this year and struggled with maintaining my typically healthy food & self care regimen. I had very little balance with my time – I would go through periods of intense, intense work and then completely crash on the couch. I got sucked into social media when a lot of the time I wasn’t even that interested in what I was reading. I just sort of lost my own voice this year.
What’s interesting to me now reading the worked well / didn’t work well lists is how each really had a relationship with the other. For example, I spent so much time overcommitted to work or going out to meet new people that I really struggled to fit in time for myself. Without time for myself, it was easy to lost sight of what I really wanted and thus I made some not so great personal and professional decisions. I think what I am seeking for 2015 is more balance across the board. Continuing to spend time building relationships & business out here, while also spending time reconnecting with myself and the things/people I really care about.
Part II: What were the big takeaways of my 2014 experience?
- If you care about & take pride in your work – it’s easy to be really good at your job
- People don’t expect you to know everything, just be honest about when you don’t
- Being a great listener is the most important business skill to develop
- Above all, people hire you because of who you are, not really what you do
- (See bullet 2 above) – when in doubt, just be honest
- Opening up to someone/something is the best way to get them to open up to you
- Risks are usually rewarded
- The only person you have to rely on is yourself – and once you truly know this, it frees you
Part III: Looking forward
I’ve really set my sights on making 2015 the year of Creating. I spent a lot of time over the past 2 years laying a foundation for myself, and want to focus on taking action this year in almost all areas of my life. So I put together some pretty specific goals for 2015. I am a big fan of S.M.A.R.T. goals and often use the Handel Method of Promises/Consequences to hold myself accountable to things. Hopefully this way I can refer back to my annual review at the end of 2015 and better assess my progress.
- Grow profit more than 20% from 2015 by better scoping & pricing work and remembering that more money means more resources to help more people/businesses
- Launch at least 2 products that will be a huge value-add to my audience and contribute to “always on” revenue for my business
- Publish at least 15 blog posts here because sharing ideas/stories/etc. is important – plain and simple
- Grow my newsletter list to more than 100 quality subscribers and share at least 12 awesome, value-add love notes with them to keep them inspired & engaged
- Attend at least 1 creative retreat or conference to keep myself inspired & meet new, like-minded people
- Sign at least 2 private coaching clients
- Train for and run my first 10k for a charity that is close to my heart
- Teach at least 12 yoga classes to keep my skills fresh and to share the joy with others
- Spend at least 1 hour a day practicing self-care, especially when traveling, in order to be my best self in life & work
- Take at least 2 vacations- no work, just R&R… maybe even cell phone off (!!!)… to re-charge
- Increase time spent each day nurturing relationships with loved ones
- Build a tribe/mastermind group of like-minded folks who I can turn to for personal/professional support (and vice versa)
- Create create create create create create
I am grateful for the journey and everyone who has helped along the way. I am looking forward to whatever 2015 may bring. If you would like to be a part of anything I listed here, please hit me up! I am currently on the look out for creative accountability buddies & mastermind members in particular (seriously! let’s be friends?). And if you want to keep up to date with the fun things I’ve found in my research or cool people I’ve spoken to recently, please join my already awesome crew of subscribers to The DL. That’s where I’m going to be sharing all of the info about new product/service launches, workshops, etc., too.