Thanks to reverb10, the month of December has been a month of reflection. I've been writing down all my thoughts about the year and responding to the prompts in 750words. In 2009, I did my first annual review and I found it to be an incredibly helpful process. It forced me to look at all aspects of my life, including my health, career, money management, and more.
In this essay, I'll review some of the good, bad, and shocking things that have happened to me this year. At the end of the post, I'll give you a few tips to conduct your own annual review. Consider using some of these suggestions to get started!
What Rocked My World
Logan's Grandmother told us when we were younger that our thirties would be thrilling and she was right. I turned 32 in November and the last few years have been incredible, especially 2010.
Below are a few highlights:
Business. Leaving my day job and starting my own little business was the highlight of my year. I wasn't sure if I would fall flat on my face or thrive. So far I'm thriving.
I'm incredibly happy with my writing, ebook sales, and the freelance work I've completed this year. It's been an amazing process and I'm extremely grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way.
Of course I'm not getting rich; my goal is to live well on less rather than living better on more. More importantly, learning to run my own small business empowered me on a number of levels.
Blogging. As most of you know, I started RowdyKittens three years ago as a personal journal. I never imagined that it would grow so much. As the blog has grown, I've grown and changed tremendously too. I've shifted my focus from materialism to relationship building.
Needless to say, the growth of this project has exceeded my expectations. Please know, I'm grateful and honored that you read my written words.
Relationships. Developing strong relationships is the KEY to creating a happy and healthy life. The best part of blogging is connecting like minded people and developing new relationships. And I feel like I'm on the right track in this aspect of my life because I've never been happier and healthier!
Events that Shocked Me
All the media attention we received this year was shocking and exciting. If someone had told me in January of 2010 that our downsizing story would be featured in the New York Times and that we would be on the Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, and on dozens of local media outlets, I would have said they were out of their mind.
It's been thrilling to tell our story and humbling to receive so many emails and blog comments from readers. Readers have expressed how our story inspired them to make changes in their own lives, by paying off debt, making career changes, and more.
The Bummer of 2010
Once we arrived in Portland and unpacked, Logan had to go back to Davis to finish up his Ph.D. program. Living by myself for an extended period of time was hard. Yet, having some alone time was good for me. In many ways, I think the time we spent apart made our relationships stronger. Now, we're less likely to take each other for granted.
Happiness, Gratitude, and Lessons Learned
Right now my happiness level is probably an 8 out of 10. I'm incredibly happy and grateful to be at such a good point in my life. With that being said, I still have a lot to work on. Especially, when it comes to reigning in my anxiety.
I tend to be a really nervous and jumpy person. Yoga has helped me tame my lizard brain, but I still have a long way to go. During 2011, I'm going to continue to practice yoga, work on slowing down, and becoming more comfortable in my own skin.
Setting flexible goals is really important. Studies have shown that people who set both short and long-term goals are more apt to be happier and healthier. I have a number of goals I want to accomplish in 2011:
1. Sell the book. As most of you know, I've been working on a book proposal for the print world. My literary agent is reviewing another draft and I'm crossing my fingers that he can pitch the proposal to publishers in the new year. If all goes well, we'll be able to sell the idea and I can start writing a print book in 2011! (The book is going to focus on our downsizing story and will include some of the latest happiness research).
2. Evaluate my current eBooks & revenue streams. In 2011, I'm considering adding additional content to both of my ebooks and re-releasing them or I might release a brand new ebook. I have a number of ebook ideas that I've been thinking about, but I've decided to let the concepts simmer for a while before I do anything.
Over the next week, I'm going to take a hard look at my 2010 revenue streams and during 2011 I'm going to monitor my income streams more closely. I do a majority of my work for free (writing for this blog, responding to hundreds of weekly reader emails, comments, and more).
I love my work and I want to make sure my little business remains sustainable in 2011.
3. Build a tiny house. Long time readers know that I've been obsessed with little homes since we started downsizing. Our finances are in order and now that Logan has a job, we'll be able to save even more money.
4. Donate more money to charity. This year we donated about 5% of our income to charity. In 2011, I want to step up my giving game and donate 10% of my annual income to charity.
Tips to Start Your Own Annual Review
As you get ready to start you own annual review, think about the things in your life that are important to you.
Begin by brainstorming different life categories like travel, work, relationships, money management, and more. As you review the categories, decide on a theme for the upcoming year. I think of my themes as an overarching goal that will touch all areas of my life. For example, my theme for 2010 was the year of change and transition.
2011 is going to be the year of focus. I'm planning on focusing more intensely on my writing and working on one thing at a time, instead of jumping from task to task.
After you're brainstormed all your life categories, start writing your thoughts down. Just write and don't worry about grammar or how your sentences sound. Most of the time, the first draft is a shitty draft. So don't be hard on yourself if you have to rearrange content or work on grammar. The important thing is to get your thoughts on a piece of paper or in a private text edit program.
Here are a few other tips to consider:
- Participate in Reverb. For about an hour everyday, I've been reflecting on the past year and writing down all the things that pop up. The Reverb prompts are thoughtful and have helped me remember events and ideas that I would haven forgotten about.
- As you think about each category, consider the good, bad, and surprising things that have happened to you in the past year. Ask yourself what went well and what didn't go so good.
- Talk your review with friends and family members. Ask them if you missed anything on your list. Sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in your own head and forget about things.
- If you're a blogger, share your review with the world. And if you don't blog, share the results with good friends and family members.