2014 Annual Review: Looking Back and Ahead

2014 Annual Review: Looking Back and Ahead

Early in 2014 I started following three location-independent entrepreneurs that were instrumental in changing the course of my life. You’ve probably heard me refer to them before as my real life heroes.

Every year, two of them, Chris Guillebeau and Sean Ogle, do an #AnnualReview for themselves to look both backward at how their year went and forward to what will be coming up. This year, for the first time, I’m taking a page out of the books of my heroes and doing my own review with a few goals in mind:

  • To be honest with myself about the things I didn’t do so well.
  • To give myself a well-deserved pat on the back for those things I accomplished.
  • To plan ahead for goals, improvements, and changes I want to make in 2015.
  • To share my plans for the new year to those that will hold me accountable.

So without further ado…

What went well this year

We all tend to focus more on the negative than the positive when it comes to ourselves. We’re always looking at what we need to work on, what we need to improve, and how far we have to go until we reach whatever goal we’re aiming for.

But when you’re immersed in growth it’s just as important to take a moment to look at all you’ve accomplished.

I launched my blog and a career as a freelance writer.

I have considered entrepreneurism as long as I can remember. But for years, I could never imagine what kind of business I would want to run. Not to mention, I had no interest in managing employees….

Finally this year I figured out what it was I wanted to do with my life (a struggle in and of itself through most of adulthood for me) and set out to make it happen. That, for me, was a major accomplishment.

Now I am fully in pursuit of that dream, combining the only two passions I could ever imaging making a living at - travel and writing. And that pursuit has already taken me places I never dreamed I would go, both physically and mentally. I only see the exploration of the world and myself continuing to rapidly grow in upcoming years.

I have exponentially increased my outgoingness and reduced my shyness.

I think this was a direct result of two things happening in the last year. First, I have become truly comfortable with who I am for the first time in my life, and this is manifesting itself as a significant reduction in shyness. Because over the years my shyness wasn’t truly shyness at all, but discomfort at revealing my true self to others due to fear of ridicule. This year, I miraculously reached that sweet spot where one simply ceases to be concerned with the opinions of strangers.

Second, I feel I must attribute some of my newfound outgoingness to the incredibly extroverted roommate I found myself living with for a large chunk of 2014. In fact, extroverted might be an understatement…the guy was a walking one-man show. Think Sam Rockwell’s character in the movie The Way Way Back.

Although my time co-habitating with him was brief in respect to the larger picture, some of that gregarious nature definitely rubbed off while I was there, not to mention the fact that the guy just LOVED to have company around. Like, all the time. So I got really used to lots of people coming & going and having new folks to interact with regularly.

I found my people at WDS.

One of my favorite words, which I learned from Eat, Pray, Love, is antevasin. An antevasin is a border-dweller or an in-betweener, one who lives in sight of both old thinking and new understanding. I have always felt this was an incredibly perfect word for me as I’ve always had one foot in each “world,” so to speak.

When I attended the World Domination Summit this year, I felt like for the first time in my life I had found my people, as in my true community. I can honestly say that never before have I ever felt such kinsman ship with 3000 strangers. They were just incredibly like me - travelers, creatives, and thinkers - to describe them in the most general sense.

I left WDS in July with not only 5 new close friends who I am still regularly in touch with but with a sense of community that I have never truly experienced before, always having been something of a woman who walked her own path. Now I’ve found people who were walking maybe not my exact path, but paths that were so similar they were obviously born of a mindset incredibly like my own, which I’d begun to believe almost no one out there had.

It was an exceptionally exhilarating experience to find my people after all these years.

 

Image courtesy of Armosa studios.

Image courtesy of Armosa studios.

I pursued & lived a life of relative freedom

This is probably one of my greatest accomplishments this year.

At the beginning of 2014, I determined that the highest priority in my life was freedom. I had never made this determination before and it caused me to turn a major corner in my life as, after spending most of my 20’s confused about what this was, I could now more clearly define what was truly important to me.

For some people a top priority might be love, family, or money, but finally realizing mine was freedom allowed me to start setting goals for what I did and did not want in my life, and exactly where on the priority list each thing belonged. It allowed me to separate the things I truly desired from the false desires that I had been led to believe were mine thanks to a lifetime of the external influences of society.

I stayed true to that realization and therefore my true self throughout 2014. While I certainly got sidetracked here and there from time to time, I never majorly compromised my most treasured value. I’ve kept my compass pointed at my goal of ultimate freedom all year and haven’t deviated from the path I am walking to get there.

What did not go well this year

Personally, I feel like an individual is an ongoing work-in-progress. If I were to someday stop growing and changing, you might as well shoot me on the spot.

That being said, it is sometimes difficult to look closely at your flaws and commit to improving them. But I’ve come to realize just how vital a part of the growth process that step is.

Traveling

For a blooming travel writer, the amount of actual traveling I did this year was truly abysmal. A large part of this was due to finances, which I’ll get to in a moment. But really, for a travel writer, I hardly went anywhere, and I didn’t make it out of my home country once. This is going to be a major refocusing effort for 2015.

Getting the writing business going

When I started my freelance writing business early in the year, I was lucky enough to get my first writing client right out of the gate. Within a month, I had my first client, and shortly thereafter my first paycheck as a result of my written work. Woohoo!

At least, that was what I thought at the time.

The ease with which I landed my first client combined with my tendency towards being lazy proved to be an almost lethal combination. I thought, “hey, this is easy! No problem!” Except that landing my second client turned out to be not so easy…in fact, it didn’t happen until December. And on top of that, my first client turned out not to be very stable. As work slowly started to taper off, always with grand promises of plenty of future work, so did my income.

By October the well had completely dried up and the small start-up marketing firm that was my primary client downsized itself. I was completely up Shit Creek. I’d been lazy and assumed that promised work would show up, so instead of aggressively looking for more clients, I’d basically been sitting around waiting. Big mistake. A mistake that almost killed my business.

The lesson here? Don’t sit smugly on your butt thinking you’ve been successful with your one client. In 2015 I will be aggressively seeking multiple projects and multiple income sources.

Financial management

Of course, it helps to be actually making money if you want to be saving it.

When I was starting up my business at the beginning of the year, I went into what my friends referred to as a “cute” amount of debt for the first time in my life. Now, during the summers I work part-time at a golf course, which is a relatively lucrative job. I figured I could make back enough to pay down the small amount of debt I had incurred in starting up my business. Which was a great idea, except I fell into that classic trap of make more money, spend more money.

And I did. I spent way too much money this summer, and the real kicker is that most of it was on stupid stuff that was completely unnecessary. Money that should have been going to pay down those debts or into a savings account was being spent on going out too much and buying possessions I didn’t really need. Now, I’ve barely dented the debt and could’ve definitely used some savings to fall back on when things got rough in the fall.

As they say, live and learn!

Time Management

Let me tell you, time management, NOT always my strong suit. I feel like I lost days, weeks, months of time into a black hole from which nothing emerged - not concrete writing, not increased skills or knowledge, not improved self.

I have so many things I want to be doing all the time that the list is about as long as my arm. I want to do more writing, including something on the creative side. I have an endless list of books I want to read. I want to increase my travel hacking skills. I want to relearn French and Krav Maga. Etc., etc….

You get the idea.

But man, I just feel like so much time got LOST this year. Again, that innate laziness I mentioned, my worst enemy, can be blamed for some of it. Taking naps or watching tv when I should have been doing something productive. But part of it is also really time management. To be blatantly honest, I need to up my skills in the time management department for 2015.

Getting out of the comfort zone

This is a incredibly vital thing for me. I know not many people actually seek to get out of their comfort zone, but to me it is a necessary kick-starter for growth and change. I’ve never had a change that happened due to the leaving of my comfort zone be a negative one. Similarly, I’ve never had a truly life-altering opportunity present itself while I was safely ensconced within my comfort zone.

I spent a good chunk of 2014 floating around in my comfort zone. I swear, I was there so much my fingers got all pruney, like they do when you’ve been in the water too long.

This is one of the first things on my list to change in 2015. It’s time my ass got kicked right out of the comfort zone. Meaning, it’s time to knock down some doors and create some opportunities for myself.

Physical fitness

This past year was solidly mediocre for keeping myself in shape. Sometimes I did well, and sometimes I did nothing, but overall it was very inconsistent. Being strong and healthy is of high value to me and I need to pay more attention to keeping that value in my sights.

Generally my diet was pretty good, but where I really fell down was exercise. I went through months of time where I was doing very little outside of some walking, which is just completely unacceptable. I’ve already started working to improve this for 2015 and will continue it to the best of my abilities with my increasing travel next year.

Personal relationships

Ugh, this is a big one.

I expended an extreme amount of energy on two relationships in 2014 that did not deserve even the smallest shred of my attention and I have no one to blame but myself for this. The first half of the year I spent getting over a toxic relationship that should never have existed in the first place and the second half of the year I spent giving my love to someone who did not deserve or return it.

Sadly, this speaks to work that I need to be doing internally. I truly believe that every person has exactly the romantic relationship that they want for themselves. I believe this because, if it’s not what you want, why are you participating in it? By allowing it to continue, you are accepting the partner’s treatment of you, whatever that may be.

I accepted the basically poor treatment of my emotions by these two individuals and now I accept responsibility for that. I do know what my love is worth and what I am worth, but unfortunately I think we can all forget this from time to time, or devalue ourselves out of fear, loneliness, or plain old damaged self-esteem.

My upcoming year is looking to be very busy, with a lot of movement on my part, and it’s going to require a lot of focus on myself. Therefore, going into 2015 I will be continuing to cultivate the personal relationships that already exist with some incredible close, amazing friends I’m already lucky enough to have in my life and with my family. But I have no intention of focusing any energy this year on romantic relationships as I will be needing that energy for other ventures that are far more important at this juncture in my life.

 

 

Image courtesy of Dr. Seuss.

Image courtesy of Dr. Seuss.

 

What the big goals will be for next year

I have an ever-running bucket list that I’m always working to check things off of, so I’m not going to delve into those kinds of smaller goals, and I’ve obviously already covered a lot in the paragraphs above. This is just a quick run through of the big stuff I want to change in 2015 so there’s some measure of accountability going on.

Travel & new places

This year my travel is going to increase exponentially. Already a trip for the entire month of February is booked for travels to Portland, Oahu, and Maui. Even bigger changes are coming into play for the end of the spring, with a possible relocation for me that would take me outside of U.S. borders for an extended period of time.

First ever TRUE de-stuff

As a result of the aforementioned relocation, I would be required to do my first ever shedding of a massive amount of my material possessions. To be honest, this scares the hell out of me a little bit, but I also believe it will be an incredibly liberating experience.

Give my writing a purpose

Until this point, my writing business has been vaguely labeled, born of my desire to be flexible and find multiple ways to produce income for myself. Instead, it has come across as weak and indecisive

So this year, I will be revamping my website to clearly portray my services. I will be more actively pursuing the particular genres of writing that interest me and aiming my new, more aggressive game plan at obtaining the work I am truly passionate about.

Self-publishing my first ebook

A long time dream of mine has been to self-publish. I will finally be doing that this spring with an ebook that will combine travel writing and one of my other favorite fictional topics. Can you guess what that is? If you’ve been reading my blog or know me personally, maybe you can…

If you can’t, no worries, I’ll be releasing more information about my upcoming ebook very soon, so stay tuned…big things are happening on The Rogue Road in 2015!

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