At the end of each year, I like to reflect on some key accomplishments and learnings before I jump into new year planning.
This year is the first year I decided to publish my reflections in a blog post with the amount of detail you might see in my journal.
2021 was the year of big change. I stopped corporate consulting and went full-time with my business. I left the US and started nomading around the world. I started the most loving and healthy relationship.
2022 was the post-honeymoon-clean-up and stabilize for the long run year.
So if you’re ready for some imperfections, here’s how this post will be broken down:
What Went Well
A year ago I jumped at opportunities that came through my door and went through a few burnout cycles. In 2022 I traded less growth for more sanity and brought a lot more intentionality into my work.
I launched Free to Create – an intimate group program for entrepreneurs whose procrastination, people-pleasing, and perfectionism is getting in the way of growing their business. This is something I wanted to do last year but kept coming up with excuses of why it wasn’t the best timing or didn’t make sense to niche down further. I’m happy I listened to my gut because this program filled up and the results were beyond what I hoped for.
I still have my signature program Avoidance to Action, which has its own community full of people I love in any discipline or area of their life. This is not something I want to discontinue yet. My 2023 work will be dedicated to running and continuing to iterate Free to Create and Avoidance to Action and not much outside of that because I love a simple business structure.
Outside of program work, I hired a brand strategist (new look and logos) and got professional studio photos taken. My brand was not something I invested in when starting my business, despite my inner perfectionist who wanted to have a complete look together before taking on clients. I started messy, imperfect, and mostly DIY.
THAT BEING SAID, really nailing down how I want to show up online, and how I want my community to feel helped ME feel a lot more confident and comfortable with my online presence. I am, however, glad I waited until a time when I felt clear on my business model and prioritized client acquisition and delivery over aesthetics in the beginning.
Most importantly, I stopped working with anyone who I was not working well with inside and outside of my team. This included people who I coached and people who coached me. I teach how to overcome people pleasing but boy was this hard. The fear of disappointing people and the guilt for making things difficult in the moment brought a lot of resistance. But after each employee, client, and coach “break-up” came so much relief.
It takes energy to confront what is not working, but it takes more energy in the long run to avoid addressing it.
I exercised and meditated a lot more this year and it was through embracing a lesson from a previous year, which is: you can shame yourself for not keeping up habits OR you can make it way easier to do more of what you want to do and harder to do want you don’t want to do.
I love how it feels when I start my day early, but I am not a morning person. I put my alarm on the other side of the room which makes it harder to sleep in and easier to begin my day mindfully instead of reactively. I love how it feels when I’ve worked out but I’ve found I am inconsistent without structure. So I gave myself full permission to invest in monthly memberships because fun classes in my schedule make it 10x easier to keep up on the days “I don’t feel like it.”
I still kept up these habits to a good extent through some of my busiest months and travel, whereas in the past during these periods, all things physical and mental exercise went out of the window.
EXPERIENCED MORE AND SPENT LESS TIME AT MY DESK
One of the biggest reasons I started a business was so that I had time and location freedom. While there are more responsibilities you take on when you sign up for entrepreneurship (wearing many hats, fluctuating and uncertain income, having no one to hold you accountable unless you pay for it, so much self-doubt in the beginning) I saw it was all worth it on the other side.
I started learning German so that I could better understand my boyfriend’s family. I spent 3 months in South America and went on a 10-day trek through the Andes with 17,000-foot peaks. I returned to routinely painting after years of barely touching a paintbrush. I established residency in Portugal, where I can now live all year. But it took me a lot of time, trial and error, to get to this point of my ideal week.
The saying “you overestimate what you can do in a day and underestimate what you can do in 5 years” puts it nicely. 5 years ago I was anxiously searching for what type of work would give me purpose while procrastinating work I was convinced I’d fail at. I was hoping a corporate consulting company would move me abroad (they never did). I was rushing through life, starting to develop an eating disorder, and delusionally writing massive New Year’s resolution lists I couldn’t keep up with.
I’ll note my health and hobbies are a lot easier to balance with a team behind me, no kids, and having made it through the roller coaster of starting a business, but even still I fall out of habit. I had to take pauses on learning a language this year. In December I was a lot less active when it got cold outside. But bouncing back is a lot easier when you are not measuring to perfection anymore.paint
Challenges and Learnings
TOO MUCH CHANGE AND TRAVEL
Lisbon is now my home base and I do work that I love, which I could not be more grateful for. It’s a privilege that still feels unreal.
But this was an extremely lonely year for me. Most small business owners spend a lot of time on their own, throwing spaghetti at the wall, with no coworkers or bosses. And starting over in a new country looked so glamorous but was fucking hard.
New systems to figure out – taxes, insurance, health care, banks, languages and you don’t have close in-person friends when everything is new. It did not help that I was hopping on international flights every month.
Part was not planned. I lost two family members in the U.S. Another part was logistical. Most of the people I am closest with are in the US, most of the people Lukas is closest with are in Austria, and our new home is in Portugal. I was a bit optimistic about trying to maintain time in 3 places. I also underestimated the psychological effects of transitioning countries.
Despite having the life I wanted, my nervous system was dysregulated. I was massively confused with how much my emotions fluctuated, how much I cried, and how it got to a point where I needed help. Working with an expat therapist helped me stop trying to intellectualize what I was feeling and now things feel a lot more stable.
I learned how powerful somatic work is. I fell in love with a new modality – breathwork. And through seeing someone to help with my transition, I also explored some past chapters I did not realize were unresolved. I am writing this with a small voice in my head saying these are privileged problems. And they are. But shaming myself in saying I didn’t deserve to work on my mental health because “people have it worse” helps no one. I’m grateful I can invest in myself and can only validate my struggles, and give myself permission to work on them, while supporting organizations that help others do the same.
At the start of 2022, I had a surge of followers and client applications (a good problem I was not prepared for). I was still in my say-yes-to-a-lot-of-things-partially-out-of-scarcity mindset and found myself way over my head. To manage I hired an agency team who quickly went to work on my backend operations and administration, but this left me with no time to be selective about who worked with.
The result was team friction, a lack of trust when I delegated, and some massive helicopter parenting over my business. I had a lot to learn about team management, but releasing control became a LOT easier once I found people whose styles I work much better with (Jess and Inis if you are reading this, you are rockstars).
If I had to pinpoint what helped ditch the last bits of scarcity in my business, it’s all the uncomfortable conversations I took in 2022 – all the no’s to unaligned opportunities and people.
What I am Focusing on in 2023
Showing up more authentically online. For the most part, I’ve only posted straight-to-the-point educational content. I would like to share a little more outside of that and lean into my personality. It’s part of the reason I am sharing this post!
I’ll be starting the year by taking a trauma-informed program that will deepen my ability to work with my client’s subconscious blocks. Continuing my education is always something I am working on in the background, but this will be the most structured and time-consuming program I’ve signed up for.
Figuring out a foreign tax system. I’m still deciding whether I should move my business out of the US. My goal by the end of 2023 is to have everything in order.
Hiring 1-2 coaches to work on my team. In order to increase the number of people I can help without burning myself out or decreasing the quality of my programs, I will be hiring coaches to join my team.
Being still and building my personal community in Lisbon. I can’t build the biggest thing I was missing in 2022 if I’m jumping around every few weeks.
Growing on a new platform. This year I just started Instagram and grew from 4,000 to 117,000. Instead of starting SEO blogging like I originally planned, I leaned into repurposing what I was already doing. In 2023, I want to continue expanding to another area of the internet 1) because it continues to derisk my business and 2) because this was one of the most rewarding moves of 2022.
TikTok was my first platform and my community there will always have a special place in my heart but I was surprised by how much I also enjoyed my Instagram community. I used to resent my relationship with social media but now that I have help with managing my content I have time to read and engage with some of the kindest supporters.
Huge thank you if you’re one of them! Also appreciate you reading this far. Send me a note so I know who you are as well!
Favorite discoveries this year
I can’t help but continue to binge self-development books but in between those this fictional read ended up being what I enjoyed the most. It has some good lessons on decision-making and regret.
Waking Up by Sam Harris
Something that helped me significantly deepen my mindfulness practice was discovering this app filled with philosophical conversations and thought-provoking meditations. Here’s a free month to try if you’re curious (not an affiliate link) and make sure you start with the introductory series.
Arraiolos in the Alentejo region of Portugal. This was the first trip we took with almost nothing on an agenda. I loved every slow minute of it.
Robes. A 30 dollar purchase that can make a not so morning person who wants to get up early a little happier. I also swear by slippers ever since moving to Europe.
If you’d like to read my much shorter year in review from 2021, you can check it out here!