Every year, I have one ritual.
I write down all my accomplishments. I also write down things I had intended to do, but didn’t. I then determine whether to put those things back on my list, or demote them to the “back burner” or take them off the list entirely. This is just a start.
Some surprising things come up from this exercise.
I find that not only do I have a pretty good list of accomplishments, but I’ve “leveled up” in most years.
Then I take time to reflect on NOT just each individual item on the list, but the overarching THEME of that particular year.
For example, some years were about physical and athletic accomplishments. Other years were all about making ONE pivotal move.. 2015 was about making my first trip to Zagreb happen, and having faith that it would.. and also in learning the language. (I still have a long way to go)
It’s hard to see this during the course of daily life. Often it feels like I am plodding along, tired, inefficient, and slow. I then feel like I need to hire one of those “productivity” people to put me back on track. But honestly, life unfolds at the perfect pace, without having to freak out about being more “productive.”
I’m aslo fond of the saying:
“We tend to overestimate the work we can accomplish in a day, and underestimate the amount of work we can accomplish in a year”
Many years it was all about simply showing up on a daily basis, as in getting through acupuncture school, building a practice, gaining experience, or setting up technical systems that would be the foundation of what I am doing today.
I had long stretches of time in which my days could be classified as boring and uneventful to most. Studying, training, and preparing.
Other years I made radical, dramatic changes. In 2017 I sold or got rid of almost everything I had and moved to Europe to become, for lack of a better word, a “digital nomad.”
This past year, the theme was about “culling” and going against traditional advice to always, always venture outside of the dreaded “comfort zone.”
After being a nomad, constantly adapting, dealing with mostly wonderful clients and a few nightmare clients, my comfort zone consisted of being always so far outside of my comfort zone that I found myself tolerating shit I really don’t want to anymore.
What’s the point of constant growth if you never get to take time out to enjoy what the growth has produced for you?
I got rid of trying to be everything to everyone and trying to keep up with it all. I decided to only work with a very specific type of client. I got rid of my Instagram account. I “settled down” a bit, and enjoyed allowing myself to get a little (yikes) comfortable. I’m making friends, and feel much less isolated. I won’t do the brutal, epic travel days anymore. Fuck that.
This year, (2020) I have not arrived at an overarching theme. I’m continuing my winter desire to go into a necessary “hibernation” mode, which is actually helping me produce MORE.
In the past, I’ve proven that this works by reflecting on how much I really DID accomplish, even when it felt like I wasn’t really getting anywhere.
My point is, unless you actually write this stuff down it could go right past you, because the tendency is to focus on what isn’t happening fast enough. The stress, the frustrations. The fact that you feel like a failure in a given moment because you gained a few pounds and your clothes don’t fit well, you look old and exhausted, your bank account is low, and you have nothing to show for your efforts.
We all have those moments:
You feel as if all you ever do is fight off entropy, feeling as if it will win by default because of pure exhaustion on your part, or that life is just an endless string of problems to solve but lead nowhere. Those days when life just feels futile.
Or you may have those “my god, what have I DONE?” moments that fill you with intense doubt, teetering on the edge of regret.
Or maybe you just feel a little stagnant, and have lost a sense of purpose and meaning.
Or maybe things are really going well!
Whatever part of a cycle you are currently in..
This ritual helps. It puts things in perspective.
Why am I writing it on my marketing website? Because this has a LOT to do with marketing,
Because being an entrepreneur is tough. VERY tough. If you lose site of the big picture and the progress you are making, it’s all to easy to give up and see the whole process as pointless.
• Maybe you lost a client and it devastated you. But maybe you forgot that you also picked up two new clients, and were better prepared to serve them because of what you learned with the first client.
• Maybe you didn’t realize that this year you set up your whole marketing funnel and stayed consistent with your blog or your podcast or your speaking events or whatever your intentional strategy was for the past year. But you are focusing instead on all the stuff that you put on your to-do list that hasn’t gotten done yet.
Maybe you got your first client from all this effort you put in, or are finally booking clients or patients consistently, But it just didn’t sink in yet that you put in the work which is resulting in steady cash flow and maybe just a little bit less stress, even when some days or weeks may still suck.
• Maybe when you look back, it took a LOT more time and energy to accomplish what now, is a breeze, because of your experience.
You can’t often see the fruits of your labor until you see it all in retrospect.
This is the perfect time to give yourself a raise, take a bit of a rest, and consider investing in yourself this coming year. To “level up” in an intentional way.
What will this investment look like? A photoshoot? A new podcast? A new website? A coach? Time to just do some things that make you happy? (For me, it’s taking care of 2 dogs here in Bosnia that kind of stole my heart)
What if this past year was honestly a shitty year? It’s still a great exercise. Write it all down. Write down what you can change, and spend some time releasing and letting go of the not-so-great moments. Let yourself begin a new chapter. Allow yourself to have compassion and take some time to rest or do something nice for yourself.
I’ll be honest.. this past year really was much better than 2018. It really hit home when I reflected back on this exercise from 2018. I’m not immune from the stresses of daily life or stressful events, but I’m moving in the right direction, and I’ve grown.
And because of this, so has my business, in the way I want it to.. not in the way that the “6 figure marketing gurus” tell me I should be doing.
A year end review can give you these wonderful “aha” moments that you can OWN.
This year end exercise will help you figure out where to best spend your most valuable resources of time, money, and energy, based on your perspective, values, reflections, conclusions, and intuitions.
How do I do it?
• I take an entire day off. I don’t plan to have to be anywhere or doing anything but take a few walks, reflect, and think. I’ll start with some coffee.
• I note accomplishments based on my calendar and checked off To Do lists. I look at the sum total of showing up daily as well as the big, memorable moments.
• I journal, based on the patterns I see emerging.
• I look at past years to see how far I’ve come, but also to appreciate the things I did at the time that I have not done this year.
For example, in 2018 I noticed that I was no longer the athlete who raced mountain bikes, or the drummer who learned to play a challenging song. I was totally out of shape and practice with those things.. and I honored what my younger self did.
However, in 2019 I noticed that it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to get back into those things on a different level. I can try snowboarding in Sarajevo, it feels a little bit more possible. I have a consistent workout system that I did not or could not have when I was a nomad. Who knows? Maybe drums are in my near future..
• I do some purging.. this is usually the time when I let go of mental baggage in the form of paperwork, excess files on my laptop, and yes, FB “friends” who don’t offer any value. I’m not harsh about it.. if I honestly don’t recognize a name, I’ll unfriend. Some may say this is not a wise marketing move, but I disagree.
This past year, I made the decision to stop posting on Instagram, even if I’m told that it’s something I “must” do in order to compete in a global market. I’m also allowing myself to not worry so much about live videos, at least not the way that it seems like we are all “supposed” to be doing it: looking like an anchorwoman in a nice suburban home with a background that suggests affluence.
It was too much pressure, and I prefer to do training videos in which I’m not on camera or do raw, “on location” videos when I feel like it. I gave myself permission to not have to be on camera, at least for now. We’ll see what happens.
In exchange, I’m thoroughly enjoying creating, testing, and launching a new course.
• I do some re-connecting with those I may have been neglecting.
I may even also clear the air with certain people, if applicable that year.
Usually this ritual is followed by a period of increased clear thinking, creativity and inspiration. When that happens, I go with it.
I’ve also added photos and videos, which are a powerful accompaniment to the words and lists I write. I may even include a “soundtrack.”
If you are a one-woman or one-man show, your personal life and business ARE going to be connected, even with clear boundaries.
That’s why I’m including personal growth in this exercise.
I swear that this method is MUCH more effective than New Year’s resolutions. It’s a whole new way to think about time, patterns, to gain confidence, and jettison baggage.
Will you have your own year end ritual? Tell us!