In an ideal world, I’d do a review at the end of each day. I’d go over what went well that day, where I could have improved, and what I wanted to achieve the next day. I used to do this (using the 5 Minute Journal and later, the Freedom Journal) and it helped me make minor yet compounding improvements to my life by tweaking daily habits and actions. But it’s not an ideal world and I’m an imperfect human which means I haven’t been doing this daily practice for the better part of 2017. I figured the least I could do was a yearly review, though, so that’s what I’m going to do today. I borrowed this structure from James Clear’s annual review format. I encourage you to do a review as well.
What Went Well in 2017
It’s true that the world was a bit of a dumpster fire in 2017 (especially South of the Canadian border), but my own little bubble was pretty good.
I had the most beautiful baby on the face of the planet. Poppy was born on April 15, 2017 in Vancouver. She arrived 6.5 weeks ahead of her due date. My water broke the night before we were set to move to the town I now live in (Nelson, BC Canada). After cancelling the Uhaul and telling our friends not to come to haul boxes, she was born 30 hours after admission into the hospital. Eventually I’ll post her birth story on Adventure Baby, because Unsettle is not the place for it. But Poppy is the best thing that happened in 2017 (and perhaps my entire life, besides Ryan).
I took a 12 week maternity leave from Sumo and some of my clients (I eased back into some client work after 6 weeks). During that time, Ryan and I got used to being new parents. We spent two weeks in the hospital while Poppy became strong enough to feed on her own, then we moved, went on a 2 week road trip across Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, and did a ton of hiking, beach days, and exploring our new town. 12 weeks isn’t long enough for a new mother. Canada’s generous maternity and parental leave policy allows about a year of time off, partially government paid. Because I’m technically self-employed, I wasn’t entitled to that benefit (both because I hadn’t paid into it and because even if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to take a full year off from my businesses and work obligations). My only wish is that I’d taken more time, to heal from birth, bond with my new family and adjust.
Business and work
I wish I knew why, but having a baby was like rocket fuel for my career. Maybe it was just a coincidence or maybe there is a simple explanation, but in 2017 I had more opportunities than ever before, seemingly handed to me on a silver platter. I took on several content marketing strategy clients, wrote 120,000+ words, increased my income by 30%, started new projects, wrapped up old ones, delivered two content marketing breakout sessions at SumoCon, and went through more personal development than I thought possible in a year.
2016 was the year of adventure. I lived and worked as a digital nomad, visiting 29 cities, 11 countries, and spent 250 days travelling. In 2017, I set the intention to slow down. I still traveled, but spent the entire year pregnant or as a new mom, a role that I wanted to sink into a bit. Travel consisted mainly of exploring the US. I visited Austin and Washington State three times, returned to Oregon, and saw San Francisco, Vegas, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana for the first time. I also visited Aruba and Bonaire, and during this trip is when I realized something: travel was my hobby for a season. I still love to see the world, but I no longer crave the next trip after one trip has ended. Quite the opposite, actually — I now crave home and familiarity. I’d chalk this up to be a huge win for 2017, because it’s a reflection of my growth and shifting priorities.
To the end of my 2016 travel-blitz, I started last year feeling rather unsettled (pun intended). I craved a place to call home. 2017 delivered that. The small city Ryan & I moved to in May with newborn Poppy fit us perfectly. It’s the place I crave returning to when I’m away. It’s quaint without being cheesy, it’s young and vibrant and social and everything I have ever wanted in a city. So much so that we decided to put down some (maybe temporary, maybe permanent) roots here and buy a house. We don’t take possession until next month, but I can say with certainty that it’s our dream home.
What Didn’t Go So Well in 2017
The good outweighed the bad, but there were some bad things about the year.
I’ve never been an anxious person, so I wasn’t fearful of PPA when I was pregnant, but after having Poppy I found myself in an odd headspace. I didn’t have the typical symptoms of anxiety, but that’s because my PPA manifested itself into PPR — postpartum rage. I was fine most of the time. I was rational and happy. But then something would make me snap, and I’d experience an overwhelming anger. I’m taking a low dose of escitalopram to treat it, and it’s been very helpful, but as with any medication, this has a lot of undesirable side effects. My plan for 2018 is to follow a ketogenic diet, find a decent therapist and fall into a better routine including working out and doing more things that balance out my hormones and make me happy.
Teaching marketing to marketers who do internet marketing
I gagged just writing that. My goal with Unsettle and with my career was never to fall into this undesirable group of people, but I fell into being too “internet marketer-y”. I’ve combatted this by taking an opportunity with a completely marketing unrelated company to apply my knowledge and skills in a more authentic way. I’ll write more about this in a future post, but for now, know that I recognize what I’ve turned into and I’m taking steps to fix it.
My money game
A couple of years ago on the heels of my divorce, I sold my house in the greater Vancouver area at a huge profit. I haven’t had a system for my money since. I maxed out my TFSA which is invested in ETFs and a Tangerine Growth Equity fund (as is my RRSP). That has been growing nicely, but the rest of the money has been victim to inflation in a high interest savings account. Womp womp. I also have virtually no system for my money. I’m reading Profit First which is extremely helpful, and have a financial planning session booked for early February, so there’s hope for me yet.
In early 2017, I re-launched my sell on Etsy ecourse and the launch flopped. This was surprising, since my first launch in 2016 did well. Upon reflection of the launch, though, there were a number of reasons the launch was less than impressive, which just means a huge opportunity to improve this year.
My Intentions for 2018
I have a few intentions (not resolutions) for this year.
2017 was a year of tremendous personal growth for me. I became a mother. Not only just a mother, but a pretty good mother at that. I finally accepted that it’s okay to ask for help. I came out of my shell, made new friends, and distanced myself from toxic relationships. But throughout all the change, I found I had no routine anymore. I ditched my cornerstone habits. I read maybe 4 books from start to finish all year, I stopped working out. My diet suffered. So one of my biggest and most important intentions for 2018 is to re-adopt good habits. I’m starting with introducing my morning writing habit, and will then slowly introduce working out, reading before bed, etc.
I love to start things. Projects, articles. I’m a great initiative taker, but when it comes to my own projects, I struggle to finish. I have literally 60+ article drafts with over 1,000 words in them in my Google folder, if that tells you anything about the gravity of this issue. So in 2018, my goal is to become a finisher. Not just when I’m accountable to a client, a team, or a deadline, but when I’m not accountable to anybody except for myself. To kick this off, I’m finishing this article during my morning writing habit.
Systems make everything easier. They simplify projects, provide frameworks and help success become inevitable. I’ve set the intention for 2018 to become the year of systems. I’ll set systems for money management, for hiring, content marketing, freelancers, email marketing. I’ll systemify my business, my work with Perfect Keto, and personal life.
Saying “no” is powerful. It helps you hone in on your priorities, simplify your life and even become happier. In 2018 I’m saying no to instant gratification, frivolous distraction and unnecessary travel. I’m also saying no to things that haven’t worked for me before, squandering my time, and responsibilities disguised as “opportunities”. Saying no to these things will allow me to say “yes” to family time, deep, fulfilling work, and personal connection. That was my 2017 in 1500 words. Here’s to an even better 2018!