It’s that time of year. You may have seen many of these ‘year in review’ type posts flying around. I’m adding mine to the mix. And you know, there’s a reason they’re so popular. They invoke intentional thinking and positive future action. They allow us to take a step back and look at the year behind us in order to move forward with new perspective in the year ahead.
I like Chris Guillebeau’s approach to his review process, and so I’ll use it here to answer two main questions (mostly focused on my professional life):
- What went well in 2011?
- What did not go well in 2011?
Let’s start with what went well:
- I learned a lot about big business in a fairly short amount of time in my eight months as a consultant at Ernst & Young.
- I decided to leave my job as a consultant in pursuit of passion and building my own business. This has been a huge blessing and something to get excited about every day.
- I built, or continued building, strong relationships at E&Y, on a personal basis, and with my family and friends.
- I narrowed my business reading to several key blogs and publications. My blog reading now includes: Chris Guilleabeau, Corbett Barr, Scott Dinsmore, Lifehacker, Jonathan Fields, Pat Flynn, and A Smart Bear. My publication reading includes: Inc., Entrepreneur, Wired, Fortune, Fast Company, and occasionally the Wall Street Journal.
- I officially registered Unconventional Innovations LLC under my name and laid the groundwork for my coaching company, Living for Monday. Groundwork included writing 5 eBooks (and likely making that 7 by year’s end), investing in information products key to small business growth, having several conversations with great contacts and prospective customers in my target market, hiring my first teammate to accelerate the Living for Monday launch in early 2012, and establishing my vision for where I want the company to head.
- I did a great deal of learning and growing on a personal level. I read a ton of books and soaked up nearly endless information on technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, passion, health, and wellness. I have also begun eating better, sleeping better, and being more intentional with all of my actions. I think overall I will end this year in better shape, with a better outlook, and with a much more positive work/life balance than I began the year.
- I took nearly the entire month of September as a time for me to reenergize, refocus, and move forward. During September I was largely alone at my family’s mountain house with my black lab, Hank. I read nearly the entire Bible for the first time in my life. I did research. I thought. I brainstormed. I put ideas on paper for my business. I cooked, hiked, and generally tried to clear my mind and get ready for a new phase of my life. It was an incredibly important time for me, as it allowed me to begin the process of being intentional with my time and actions.
- I committed myself to service. This year I volunteered with two organizations. First, I have always loved Habitat for Humanity, and I set a goal of volunteering once a month. While I didn’t achieve my goal, I did become more involved than I was last year, which was a step in the right direction. I also volunteered with an organization called Camp Horizon. I loved it so much that I joined their board of directors, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to do so.
- I began focusing on meaningful experiences, instead of things. This change has occurred in a more pronounced manner since I started pursuing my passion. My girlfriend, Nicole, and I have started looking for great experiences and restaurants around Atlanta, as well as looking for opportunities through travel. We picked our own pumpkins for Halloween, visited Stone Mountain for their Christmas celebration, bought tickets for World Domination Summit 2012, went to see Cavalia Odysseo, planned trips with our close friends to St. Simon’s Island and my mountain house, and more. I also went on a trip to Orlando’s Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure with my family. The end result: sheer happiness. I find that experiences are incredibly rewarding and have a lasting impact on my personal growth.
- I’ve gotten on a consistent Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule here on the blog, which I like. It keeps things fresh, it keeps me writing, and it gives me structure. I plan to continue that schedule as I plan the transition to Masteringpurpose.com in early 2012, although I may start writing shorter, more powerful posts, as opposed to long, wordy posts as I do now. I believe this will help me grow as a writer and really hit on the core essence of message with every post.
What did not go well:
- For a good portion of my time as a consultant I was fairly miserable on a personal level. Despite working very hard, building meaningful relationships, and outperforming my goals and performance metrics, I just wasn’t happy. I brought the people around me down and had a negative impact on my girlfriend and family. It was a hard time for me, and one of intense soul-searching, but I shouldn’t have let it affect the other people in my life.
- My unhappiness as a consultant combined with the uncertainty of my move into owning a business created a rough transition period. The month away in the mountains helped… However, upon returning and beginning work on my business, I found it hard to work alone, establish direction, and generally feel happy. I was passionate about the work, but something was still missing. Somewhere in the mix I visited the doctor to check out a couple of health concerns I had. That visit led to a pretty bad downward spiral precipitated by the uncertainty of my transition. Let’s just leave it to say that I was obsessed with my health, scared of dying, and borderline depressed for a period of time. Luckily, I’ve been able to climb out of that mind frame and find positive ways to focus my energy on my health and wellness.
- In general, I could have done a better job of seeking out time with friends. I have found that since leaving college, and even more so since starting my own business, I tend to spend a lot of time alone, despite my investment in building relationships. In 2012 I’d like to find a way to spend more time with my closest friends, which will be difficult since we are spread apart. However, I also think this is a key to my continued happiness and wellness. Included in this would be quality time with my girlfriend. Often times I find myself working, or not being totally present when we are together. I need to continue to invest in our relationship and enjoy the time instead of taking it for granted.
- I didn’t take any life-changing trips in 2011. My 2010 was defined by my time in Oxford, UK and Europe and then my graduation from college. But with the start of my working life, and subsequent penny-pinching through starting my own business, I haven’t gotten to experience any more of the world this year. Ironically, I did travel through E&Y in the first quarter, but I didn’t see much of anything other than business buildings. One of the things to which I am most looking forward in 2012 is a planned trip to Portland, Oregon with Nicole. With some luck and business success, hopefully I will be able to travel much more in the years to come.
- Although I am moving in the right direction now, it took a long time to figure out how I work best outside of a structured work environment. I now know that I do my best, most creative, most efficient work in the mornings. I work out well just before lunch. And reading, email, admin, etc. are best saved for the afternoons. I lost out on a lot of productivity, and therefore product development, in the transition to finding these things out.
That’s it for 2011 in review. Up next on Wednesday I’ll look ahead at a high level to 2012, and on Friday there will be a new book review of Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (as with all book reviews, it will be a part of The Spreading Great Ideas Book Project).
What is one thing you did particularly well in 2011? What did not go so well in 2011? I’d love to hear how your year has been or any thoughts on my year as outlined above in the comments!