Yes, I’m excited that the post header rhymes. No, I’m not sorry. I got the idea to do an annual review on the Makearoo blog from one of my favorite sites, Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity. Chris is encouraging other bloggers to do their own annual review, and I’m excited to join in.
I know for those of us who celebrate, this week leading up to Christmas is insane. In many industries, the end of the calendar year is no picnic, either. So over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to keep content light, fluffy, and useful while we’re all running around doing year-end work and shopping and baking and cleaning.
So in the spirit of keeping things simple and not allowing one more speck of overwhelm anywhere near us, in the comments, answer these two questions:
What went well in 2011?
What didn’t go well in 2011?
Break it down into creative work/personal if you’d like (that’s what I did). Don’t over-think this or make it feel like a burden; the point is to look back and learn before planning for 2012, and to have some fun thinking about your past year with pride and the willingness to learning from our missteps and mistakes. I’ve found that the faster I dive into something and just bang out some thoughts, the less likely I’ll be to either blow it off or feel like it’s too much to tackle.
I suggest you get used to this process, because I’m thinking an in-person Makearoo Annual Review and Retreat for 2013 would be mighty fun, don’t you? Let me know if this sounds like an awesome idea and I’ll plan one for next year (think intimate retreat in a cozy rented home, journals, planning, good eats, laughter. Where can I sign up?). If you’re hungry to retreat sooner, check out Camp Makearoo. Yes, I’m going to promote this often, because believe it or not, February 4th will be here before you know it, and for those of you flying in, that 21-day-advance purchase date will come even sooner! And once the spaces are filled, they’re gone! I’m going to have news on the venue and speakers coming next week (or sooner, depending on holiday craziness). This is going to be inspiring, revitalizing, and fun.
Back to our year in review.
Here’s my abridged version of what went well in 2011:
- I hired a career coach, a forthright fireball named Darla LeDoux. Honestly, I could stop right here because I learned more in a few months of working with Darla than I otherwise did this year, or the entire time I was lost in the land of freelance apathy.
- I decided to, for the most part, leave the freelance writing game in favor of building Makearoo and writing fiction and humor. I will still take gigs that are perfectly aligned with my preferences and from long-time favorite editors, but for the most part, the writing I will do will be in my voice and on my terms as much as possible.
- I lost over 30 pounds. Actually, I lost a bit more than that but gained some of it back this fall. Through it all, I kept picking up where I’d occasionally leave off–which is a bigger deal to me than the ultimate number for the year. I can’t imagine a life without regular workouts and healthier eating (with occasional indulgences).
- My husband and I took a leap of faith and a pile of cash and remodeled our kitchen, totally transforming the main floor of our older, quirky home.
- I participated in my first sprint triathlon as the bicycling part of a team (Team Burrito Babes, woo!). I already can’t wait until next year’s race!
- I traveled to Colorado (where I got to meet a long-time online friend, Suzi, and have great Mexican food and even better conversation over a long after-dinner walk), a lovely state park in Wisconsin with our popup camper on a travel writing assignment, laughed my ass off on the Oregon Coast at my girlfriends’ getaway (Fred), and visited the great city of St. Louis for the first time on a travel writing assignment (loved it!).
- Sold my first photos to a national magazine to accompany two travel articles.
- With Darla’s help, I let go of a ton of fear about success and money. That story is worth at least one post of its own.
- I learned that it’s better to take action and risk failure than to stay stuck inside my head.
- I learned that incremental change, where you show up every day to write your words or ride your bike or fix your healthy meals, is the best way to create lasting change. Instant transformations are tempting, but if you’re in it for the long haul, smart, small, and consistent pays off.
- I wrote about 40,000 words of fiction! Yesss!
Here’s what didn’t go well for me in 2011:
- For the first half of the year, my earnings were nil. This was the toughest period for me emotionally; I love writing and love having work, feeling productive, and I don’t just love being able to pay my bills, I need to.
- I amassed more credit card debt this year.
- I probably lost sight of the bigger picture in a recent negative encounter. I was technically in the right and I handled rude treatment with emotion appropriate to the situation but absolute clarity, too. But I didn’t think about choosing my battles for the sake of other people involved (my kids). Time will tell whether it was worth it, and I’m honestly not sure I’d have handled things any differently (it’s a tough call when a business owner you’ve supported for years is yelling in your face in front of your kids for asking him to honor his commitments). This is one I’m still learning from, and keeping an open mind and heart about.
- I wish my weight loss progress had been steadier throughout the year.
- I developed a great way to schedule my weekly work, then pretty much abandoned it even though I think it’s a great plan.
I like that the good far outweighed the bad for 2011. Everything else was an opportunity for growth, even the rough parts where I was stuck or broke or scared of being stuck or broke. I learned from all of it. I plan on building on every one of my good things and continuing to learn from every bad one.
Now it’s your turn! Ready, set . . . review! Post your responses to those two questions in comments. That’s it!