Annual Review Part 2: Lessons Learned & Looking Forward

Quilatoa Crater, Ecuador

This is the final post (#4) in the series wrapping up the year that was in 2010. Previous posts can be found here, here and here (with my favorite annual reviews around the web posted here). I can honestly say this has been the most thorough annual review I have ever done. I’ve chewed and let pieces of it reverberate in my head and it’s felt really amazing to take this time to reflect on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.

Year of the…

I believe in creating themes and having power statements as I look forward. I’ve made vision boards and life lists. I actively envision the future I want. But for the first time, I’m creating a theme for the year. My friend Erica O’Grady talks about this, as does the master of the annual review Chris Guillebeau. I’ve decided 2011 is the Year To Be Mindful.

Mindful is a mix of being aware and cognizant. I look to 2011 as a year not only of focus, but as a year where I am aware and indeed mindful of my actions, decisions, interactions and entire being. This includes how I spend my time and my money, where I spend my energy (personal and professional) and the outcomes of those actions. Part of this is meant to streamline my own process, I’m simply one of those people who want to do everything. All. The Time. In reality that is impossible. I can’t know everything all the time, read everything, be everywhere or be everything to everyone. This will be a challenge for me, but a welcome one. I plan to be mindful of being mindful, have fun along the way, and of course share my thoughts and perspectives here as the year goes along.

What lessons did I learn in 2010?

** You control how fast the wheels spins.** I can easily let myself spin out of control with too many obligations and saying yes to everything that crosses my plate. About half way through this year I was completely burnt out. And not fun to be around! I had a situation where I was asked to submit a proposal for a big (huge) brand and they offered me the job but countered with an offer that was way underpaid. I wanted to say yes because of who they were and what it could do for my career, but I also knew it was too far below my bottom line. I realized I control the wheel and I control how overcommitted I let myself become and also value my own work and not compromise to a level I’m uncomfortable. I said no to the project, and took back control. Saying no (respectfully), taking time off from being online, and creating boundaries are glorious revelations I’ve had this year that have made me better and stronger. I’m more of a marathon runner now and I don’t feel that push and pull of being burnt out or pressured by what I perceive as other peoples’ schedules and how that impacts my own psyche. It’s an amazing shift and I’m not letting go of this one for a long long time.

** Learning when to exhale.** Home, for me, is where the heart is and where my friends are and where my family is. It’s not always my home where I rest my head or the driveway I pull into or the ever-elusive view of where I think my life should be. I didn’t have a permanent place to rest my head in 2009 and in 2010 I moved into two separate furnished places in New Orleans. Both felt immediately like home. I went to Seattle and Los Angeles and Pittsburgh and New York City and immediately felt at ease. I wondered why. It occurred to me that without realizing I had fundamentally changed the concept of what home is to me. Refined the idea of stuff. My heart might be in one place while I’m physically somewhere else. It’s all less tenuous to me now. I can exhale and relax easier knowing it’s not tied to preconceived notions of stuff.

** Walking makes everything better.** I can seriously get my walk on. I have always loved being outside and walking but the big change this year was feeling the difference in me when I could take that time to get outside, clear my head and change my environment. I have a theory that everything changes when you walk 10 minutes in one direction. Often this year, I needed that perspective to keep going because life was so busy and I was balancing a lot of emotions at once. It wasn’t only walking but also leading a healthy lifestyle including yoga, eating healthy, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, all of these things made a huge difference in me and almost eliminated entirely the mood swings that I remember all too well from my 20s. I largely credit walking.

What am I looking to create and what challenges do I see for 2011?

** Know your colors, know your fabrics.** Collaboration was huge in 2010. I really valued working with people whose own skills and backgrounds complimented my own. I’d like to continue to collaborate with the same success (or more) this upcoming year with amazing partners. Everything hasn’t worked, every relationship hasn’t worked out but I have learned an insane amount about people and how they operate from working for myself this past year and collaborating on more than 10 major projects and client campaigns. I’ve learned more about my strengths and weaknesses and have actively worked on both. Continuing the trend this year.

** If seeing is believing, let’s make believing seeing.** I believe in visualization techniques. Of course they don’t work every time, but when something is meant to work out I swear I can actually envision it and see it. I will have vivid dream about it. I can actually taste it before it even comes close to touching my lips. I want to believe what I see as much as I see what I believe. It’s a 360-view of how to make dreams a reality and I’m all for being my own personal biggest fan. It’s important to cultivate a balance between the id and the ego. Believe in yourself, but don’t let it go to your head. This is a balancing act, but I know that believing I’m the best fit for an opportunity means something in the greater scale of the Universe.

** Creating is good for the soul.** Giving back is good for the soul. Being happy and healthy is good for the soul. Well then so too is creating. Last year, I created a lot ONLINE. And it was amazing. But as the year came to a close, I craved something offline. I went crazy custom wrapping my Christmas gifts this year and only one week into 2011 have been a cooking and baking machine! I need to balance my online life (personal and professional) with offline activities and projects. Those can be producing the book I have talked about, becoming a better cook, challenging myself to get outside more or taking a class (as I’ve also talked about really wanting to do). Any of these acts that are done offline will help my online self be fresh and perky and ready to hit the ground running.

There it is. I hope my annual review has helped any annual review that you have undergone. I would love to read yours and share tips as the year goes one. Please leave a comment or send me an email to continue this conversation!

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