A Year End Review to Make 2021 a Success

Every year, I have one ritual. This year is no exception. I would like to share it with you. 

You can read this blog for inspiration in creating your own year-end ritual.. or you can skim and follow what I wrote in burgundy to get a quick start. 

Here we go: 

I start by slowing down, taking time to clear my mind. I’ll then sit down with a cup of coffee that leads to another walk or similar relaxing activity that lets clarity and creativity bubble up.  I get in the “zone.” I light a candle and pour a glass of wine.. and thoroughly enjoy this process.

I take time to 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)

2020 was also a pivot for me.. intentionally, before the pandemic, but I also had to adapt in other ways. I’m sure I’m not the only one!

It’s hard to see this during the course of daily life. Often it feels like I am plodding along, tired, inefficient, and slow, or blindsided by something outside of my control.

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 also 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.”

A few years ago, 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 doing certain types of work, like VA work or anything that didn’t allow me to do my best work that I can be proud of.. and focused on building my own empire.

This  past year, (2020) I have not arrived at an overarching theme or specific word that would encapsulate my experience just yet, but I have no doubt that my ritual will reveal more.

In the past, I’ve proven my success (which I define on my own terms) by reflecting on how much I really DID accomplish, even when it felt like I wasn’t really getting anywhere, it gave me the momentum I needed to move forward.

If you’ve felt as if this past year has sucked, like many of have, taking time to write down even a few challenges you overcame, small steps taken, or things that surprisingly fell into place without much perceived effort, could be just the remedy.

But 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, or worse.. 

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.

Year End ritual

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. Especially right now.  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.

For example..

• Maybe you lost a client or had to close your clinic and it devastated you. But maybe other opportunities arose that were hard to see.. or are still difficult to see in the midst of day-to-day life, chaos, and other weird and toxic shit happening in the world.

• 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 virtual speaking events or whatever your intentional strategy was for the past year. You ended up focusing instead on all the stuff that you put on  your to-do list that hasn’t gotten done yet, and it’s making you feel as if you’ve failed, when you actually ARE making progress.

Maybe things are going well for you..  but it still has not yet sunk in 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 easier, (or at least doesn’t throw you into a downward spiral) because of your experience.

In other words, you prepared yourself well for both the worst, and for eventual opportunities that could arise out of the ashes of the dumpster fire that was 2020.

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. Do one of those “burning” rituals. Usher in the Age Of Aquarius. Whatever it takes.

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.. for me, this past year didn’t feel any better or worse.. just different. Overall, I do feel like I’m in a better place. As I write this, I haven’t yet done this ritual for 2020,  and I can’t quite put my finger on why I think that overall, things are better for me, but the ritual helps me get super clear on all my BIG WHY’s.

It helps me discover how the pieces start to fit together, and how the dots connect.

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.

Maybe the word for this year is “sovereignty.”

And now.. it’s YOUR turn.

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.

I was hoping in 2020 to be able to do some of these things on a different level, but right now, it’s not going to happen. What I can do is take small steps to make these things happen, and be open for opportunities.  For example, I’m in better physical shape. I can buy a practice pad, and investigate where to rent snowboarding gear in Sarajevo.

Sometimes I go through “boring” periods, and that’s ok with me. To stay home, for me, meant being able to focus even more on my work, and good things have come from that, but I’m taking better care of my physical body, getting more sleep, and creating better boundaries.

• 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, social media and IRL “friends” who don’t offer any value. I’m really “niching down” who I want to associate with lately. I’ll be exploring more of that when I do this exercise in a few days.

I’m still working on taking the pressure off myself when it comes to my business and my work. I know I can’t do it all, all the time. I find that I have less energy than I did a few years ago.. I no longer can work those 16 hour days. Not even 10.

• 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.

This year, I’m going to ask for help, or at least invite it. Something I have not been very good at in the past.

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.” It becomes a story, something my entire mind.. both conscious and subconscious.. can get on board with and enjoy the ride. 

The goal is to make it come alive, using all your senses, so that it sticks with you and has far more impact.

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!