As the snow blanketed New York last week it reminded me that there's something about a fresh coat of snow on the ground, a new notebook and the turn of the calendar that's irresistible. Even though I don't make resolutions anymore, I do a theme of the year which helps me set intentions and turn the page on the new year.
In order to move forward, to make that fresh start, I look back at the theme of the past year. Let's be straight about this. I made a bunch of mistakes. In a way, I'm kinda glad because those errors gave me a chance to reassess and eventually informed many of the best things I did last year.
I stopped worrying about what others thought of me
Being brave (and caring less) was a big goal for me last year. In fact, it was my theme for the year. Worrying about being appropriate or whether someone likes me has a well ingrained habit I've been working on. This year, I allowed myself to outgrow people, and them to outgrow me. I spoke my mind more freely, even when it felt perilous. It was one of the hardest but also best things I’ve done in a long, long time.
I took a chance on a passion project
I came up with the idea for a podcast two years ago. I even named it. But something was holding me back. I thought I didn't have time or that it would be too hard. This year I stopped making excuses and started recording my podcast. I published 24 episodes. I love doing it so much that the podcast will continue into 2018. The first episode of 2018, is an interview with Vaidehi Joshi, the smart and accomplished creator of Basecs.
Became comfortable with rejection
Though I’ve gotten much better with rejection, it still hurt me more than I cared to admit. The biggest surprise for me this year was how my podcast helped me get over rejection. Having a weekly podcast means you constantly need to come up with a steady stream of guests. Asking people you don’t know to come on your podcast means you don’t have time linger on the rejection — you have find your next guest and fast. If you have a hard time with rejection, prioritize getting better at it. It will make your life so much less angst-y, and you'll accomplish more.
Took a risk with my business
Business was pretty good. But something wasn’t quite right. I was talking with a friend about something random when it came to me: I needed to reposition my business. I worried it might be a disaster but I knew it was the right thing. Three weeks later, I made the shift. Best decision I’ve ever made.
Started going to the farmers market every Sunday
I’ve been going to the farmers market weekly for the past two years. Making it a Sunday morning date with my partner has made it one of my favorite routines. I simply love starting my week with fresh vegetables and a bit of romance. It makes everything so much easier, and more fun.
Got back into my yoga routine
Yoga changes my life in remarkable ways but I admit I can fall out of practice pretty easily. This year I aimed to change that. Not only did I get more flexible, I learned how to navigate around my perfectionism. If a mindset is getting the way of a habit that makes you feel better -- find a way around it.
Got rid of a bad habit
I’m pretty productive. In 2017, I published 34 blog posts and 10 articles for Fast Company in addition to creating and editing 24 podcasts. Still, I can get sucked binge watching the latest series, Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld… So I took a month away from watching a glowing screen. While I'm back to the screen, I've cut my time watching it by 50%.
Stopped tracking my hours (for good)
As a recovering Type A, I have a thing for meeting a goal which often means I love tracking things. After going back and forth on this for years, in 2017 I finally flipped the switch to focus solely on value. Much less stress and more impact. If you work for yourself or sell your time in any way, check out Value-Based Fees.
Got my first trademark
I knew I needed to trademark Bet On Yourself—it’s a good name, and folks have been trying to build on it for a while. Even though I have the domain and have been using it longer than anyone else, I knew could run into problems. I finally filed a trademark after someone else tried to trademark the phrase to sell sports apparel. It was a lot less stressful than I thought and totally worth it to know that the name of my business isn't at risk.
Hired my first business attorney
I was terrified it would cost me thousands of dollars to defend Bet On Yourself but I found a really amazing lawyer for only $250 through Upcounsel. He took care of the entire process all the way through until it was official. It was a great reminder to get help for the mission critical stuff.
Went back to calling myself a coach
Even though I went to school for it and have coached for a number of years, I’ve shied away from the term coach because these days pretty anyone can call themselves a coach. I figured it might shoo people away. When I re-positioned my business, I took up the executive and career coach moniker again. I just decided to call a spade a spade. Well, I had my biggest year ever so I guess I’ve proved my fear false. Never apologize or back away from who you are. Always be true to you.
Read Give and Take
This was one of the best books I read all year. The book is an illuminating read on who really gets ahead: givers or takers. (It might not be who you think.) What I loved most was understanding how givers can still be successful rather than always falling to the bottom with their natural propensity for being too generous. If you tend to give too much, this is a must read.
Went to my first RubyConf
Though I’ve been a part of the Ruby world for seven years, I’d never been to RubyConf. I guess I was worried about the size of the conference and that I might not be welcomed because I’m not a developer. I’m happy to say I was utterly wrong. The talks were universally insightful. People were so welcoming that it felt like a much smaller conference and not one person cared if I was a developer. Come to think of it, no one ever asked. I learned that sometimes I (still) make up stories that don’t serve me. And, I need to stop doing that.
Started sleeping in the living room
We moved to a new apartment last spring. By sleeping in the living room and making the dining room a living room, my partner and I each got our own office. (That might sound strange but it's actually common in NYC.) This means we each get our own private space which is critical when you both work from home. Our unconventional move meant that we reduced our rent and at the same time increased our write-off for office space. It reminded me to never eschew offbeat solutions, taking a chance might just be the best thing you do.
Decided it was ok not to push so hard
Though my Type A tendencies are mostly in check, I still find myself pushing too hard at times. Most years I pick a theme that challenges me and last year's theme was perhaps my most challenging yet. While I grew tremendously, I also realized that maybe where I am is ok. That's why my theme for 2018 is focused on honoring my creative impulses. In addition to my work, I'm planning to read more for fun, get back to creative writing and working on a few more creative projects. I can't wait.