Every 6 months, I like to set aside a weekend and take the time to ‘check-in’ on my life. What I’ve done, what I’m doing and where I’m going.
Today I’ve been taking a look back at 2010 and the things that have (and haven’t) happened in the last 12 months.
To do this I’ve gone back through all my journals and notebooks, emails, calendar events and the photos I’ve taken to jog my memory about the last 12 months and to see where my thinking was, at different points in the year.
I don’t keep a regular journal but from time to time I will sit down and write as a way of working through a problem or to get a better understanding of a behaviour or emotion that I’m experiencing. I find that looking back through these writings several months later adds a lot of perspective to changes that I’m sure we all experience.
If you’re interested in where I was at the start of 2010, you can read 2009′s review and also my plan for the coming year (written in Jan 2010):
It turns out I’ve done A LOT of thinking in the last 12 months and by making the opportunity to look back can I see that 2010 was more a ‘transition’ year for me than anything else, the subtitle of “the year of focus” was a little off
2010 marks the point where I’ve gone from having a job and working in the traditional role of an employee to leaving that job and striking out on my own as a full-time freelancer. I’m proud to say that at the end of 2010 my new ‘business’ is generating sufficient profit to fund my current lifestyle and I’m no longer burning through my savings. I feel like I’ve been able to lay the foundation for great things to come.
At the start of 2010 I created a list of attitudes that I thought I should try and focus on for the coming 12 months. They were:
- Choose where to direct my focus in the present moment
- Provide a meaningful contribution to others
- Improve my honesty with myself and others
- Show gratitude for what I have and receive
- Be generous with my time and money
- Be open to new people, situations and ideas
- Be discplined and follow the above
Some of these I have followed well and others not so.
I have significantly improved my honesty, but still have ways to go. Facing some hard truths this year is ultimately what led me to quit my job in April. By admitting to myself that I was not happy doing what I was doing and that it was highly unlikely the situation would improve by itself, I was able to take ownership and remove myself from a toxic environment even though I didn’t really know what I would replace it with. I didn’t know where I would end up but I realised that by staying I would be guaranteeing my continued unhappiness.
I’ve come a long way in terms of ‘owning’ my life this year. I’ve gained a lot of clarity around the things that are genuinely important to me, even if they don’t line up with the expectations of society. I’ve also taken more responsibility for what I do and what I agree to. I’ve terminated 3 business arrangements that I had with friends because they were no longer fulfilling. In each case I had to ask myself ‘is this really adding value to my life, or am I just hanging on because I’m afraid of making a difficult decision and potentially losing a friend?’ Only by being honest with myself was I able to confront these problems and move on.
But I’m still not as honest as I’d like to be. I know that I need to make these decisions sooner, even if it is confronting. I’m still inclined to let mediocre situations drag on and cause myself and others unnecessary pain.
The world has given me a lot in the last year, and I’ve tried to say thank you, but I’m sure I could do more. A starting point could be…
This is something that I struggle with. I’m happy to lend my time or opinion but when it comes to money I’m very much operating from a scarcity mindset. I’m a shylock and a scrooge. If I’m out to lunch and the cafe won’t split the bill, I know exactly how much my share is and if I end up paying even the slightest bit more than my share I feel hard done by. It’s rare that I buy people coffees or lunch outright. To make matters worse I’ll happily accept the generosity of others, whether it be food, transport or anything else. This mindset needs to change.
Focus and Discipline
Becoming more focussed and disciplined is likely to be at the core of my 2011 goals when I decide on them later this weekend. Time and time again in my 2010 notes can I see the theme of time management, focus and motivation appearing. If I want to achieve the things that I think are important to me, I need to find a way improve these qualities rather than allowing myself to self sabotage and only put in a mediocre, unfocussed effort.
When I put this on the list at the start of 2010 I don’t think I had any idea of how I would do this. But looking back over the year I feel honoured to have helped a number of people with leaving their jobs or providing emotional support and advice when they were going through a rough patch. My mindset has never been “how I can contribute” but unknowingly I’ve naturally done it anyway. It feels good.
I’m a judgemental bastard. I’m outgoing and enjoy trying new activities, places and things but I usually only feel comfortable doing so with my existing friends. I tend to make new friends, through my existing friends. There’s been a couple of occasions in the 12 months when I’ve spent time by myself or have been introduced to a large group of people without knowing any of them and it’s fair to say that I haven’t felt very comfortable starting from scratch. I have a (bad) habit of taking on an air of superiority around new people which comes from a underlying lack of confidence.
While it’s not in the list above, I can’t do a review of 2010 without examining my business more thoroughly. From the sheer volume of notes that I’ve scribbled in the last 12 months perhaps the thing I have struggled with more so than any other was defining my freelancing business. I struggled to define my service offering and ‘who I was’ as a freelancer. My ideas bounced from business coach to internet marketing consultant to vague generalisations.
I’m still not comfortable answering the question “so what do you do?” and I don’t have an elevator pitch on the tip of my tongue. But funnily enough this doesn’t seem to have been the end of the world for my business as I still got clients. I think the mountains of thinking and note taking and brainstorming that I did on this were useful, but ultimately I think clarity will come from experience.
A recap of some of the more significant events:
- Ended my direct involvement with Orange Dot
- Secured 2 great clients
- Removed 3 clients that weren’t a good long term fit
- Had some personal coaching
- Went skydiving
- Did a road trip on my motorcycle and spent some time with my grandfather listening to his stories.
- Climbed Mt Warning at sunrise with friends
- Attended the Our Internet Secrets conference and made two great friends as a result of this
- Dissolved PDQ
- I was invited to be a grooms man for my friends’ wedding
- Walked the Bridge to Brisbane
- Completed NEIS
- Did a freelancing course called Earn1k. The first internet information product that I’ve ever purchased.
- Bought into, and subsequently cancelled an internet marketing program
- Went snorkelling in Byron Bay
- Had an enjoyable Christmas with my family, for the first time in a long time.
It’s clear to me now after writing all this that while there’s no stand out achievement from the last 12 months, no ‘look at what I did’ moment, the foundation that I’ve laid is arguably more important. 12 months ago I was unsure of what life without a job would bring and how I would find the clients that I would need. But by actually going through that situation this year and coming out on top, I’ve received a massive confidence boost that I can sustainable lead the lifestyle of my dreams rather than handing over the next 40 years of my life to someone else. Thank you 2010.