I started this ritual last year. I am an avid reader of Chris Guillebeau’s blog and books, and he has been doing an annual review for years. He set out easy-to-follow instructions on how to conduct your own review, as well as give you ample examples of how to do it. I loved the idea so much, I spent my entire New Year’s Eve at home in 2014 writing out my personal review.
After hours of writing (Chris takes up to a week to do his!), I felt better than I ever have about my 2015 road map. I knew what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it. Now the question is, did I stick to it?
(Sunset in SF)
Let me start by saying that each year has a theme. And last year’s was ‘the year to take the next step.’ In truth, I took the biggest step I could have ever imagined.
2015 Annual Review
What went well
I did a shit ton this year. More than I realized once I start writing everything down. It’s been a year of insanity and growth to say the least. I stuck to a lot of my 2014 plans including travel, writing, and getting published.
• The Day of Trust– I started my very own social campaign to bring awareness to solo travel for females. I had women (and men!) pledge to participate on October third to take the day to travel solo somewhere new, experiencing something new. It was the most effort and work I’ve ever done in my life. And it was worth it. I had 250 people pledge 🙂
• Travel + Trust & Wanderlust- In April, I was on a road trip home to Idaho to visit my grandma when I came up with the idea for TT&W. Fast-forward to now and I have a beautiful website, contributing writers from around the world, and a growing readership that I am so happy with!
• Writing- Coming off of a 100 day writing challenge with Matt Trinetti, I made writing a huge focus in 2015. I actually didn’t stop writing after those 100 days, and I haven’t since. I write everyday now and it is the best thing I could have done for myself. As practice makes perfect, I was invited by Ariana Huffington to write for the Huffington Post about my travels in Australia. I also was published on Hipmunk, a great travel search engine site, and Mind Body Green; a massive wellness website.
• Traveling- Although I didn’t travel every month like I wanted to, I did get to a few new countries and was able to meet up with friends around the world. I went to Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, Croatia and of course, New Zealand. I also was able to visit the Oregon Coast a handful of times and took a road trip to Idaho and California where I spent six weeks. It’s not bad when I actually write it out 🙂
(The road to Glenorchy from Queenstown, New Zealand)
• Family time- This year I lived with my parents in Vancouver, Washington and it’s the most time I’ve spent with family in a decade. While my Dad and I rarely see eye-to-eye, I had a wonderful time with family. I got to see my brother and his family a lot more than normal, as well as my sister in Idaho. I was also fortunate to reconnect with my cousin in NorCal after years of not seeing each other. It was one of the best reunions of my life.
• Networking/Business- I hustled my ass off this year. I felt like I was constantly on the go, always thinking about how I could create an opportunity to work with others, new blog posts, new ideas for the website, new partnerships, new campaigns, you name it. My brain refused to stop. I went to a lot of great meet-ups in 2015, including the academies at World Domination Summit. Funny enough, they ended up changing the course of my travel site completely. I met a lot of incredible entrepreneurs last year that made me light a fire under my own ass.
(Travel networking meet-up for Travel Massive at WeWork in SF)
What didn’t go well
With all the craziness of starting a new website, social media campaign, and a new direction in life came a lot of unbalanced moments. I knew I wasn’t going to be perfect creating something new, but I had no idea the emotional and physical impact going out on your own would have on me. Many of my plans from my road map were a miss, as stated below.
• My health- I was all over the place this year. I lost weight, gained it back and then some. I was lazy and relentless all in the same hour. I slept too much or too little. I did nothing one day and a hundred the next. I was disgustingly hard on myself both in mind and body, and it showed. My mind was continuously pleased and disgusted by the work I was producing. There were days when I thought that even getting published on the Huffington Post was not good enough. I went through a terrible month where the worst possible events that could happen, were happening. And they all involved money. But all in all, I was entirely too hard on myself.
• Money- 2015 was the most broke I’ve ever been in my life. I actually went on food stamps I was that in need. Kelsey and I were in San Francisco and we’d laugh at how ridiculous our lives were. On food stamps in one of the most expensive cities in the world. But we made it and found plenty of ways to see SF on a zero-dollar budget. I was riddled with unexpected circumstances that continuously left me without money. I was always back-and-forth being ok to being broke. My financial intelligence was at an all-time low.
• Some writing jobs- I unfortunately didn’t make every one of my freelance clients happy in 2015. Some I didn’t understand their criteria, others wanted jobs done yesterday. It had a lot to do with the fact that I spread myself too thin and was not asking for enough money. My work suffered because of that.
• Family- My uncle died less than 48 hours after our last conversation. I was having a difficult time in San Francisco, not really understanding why I was living the way I was and how I wanted to quit everything and go get a serving job just to have money, regardless of how unhappy it made me. He told me that I needed to get out of the house and go talk to a stranger-listen to their stories, ask them how their day went. He said, “‘cuz you never know, you might be the one who makes their day better, or they do the same to you.” It was the most perfect advice he could have ever given me. And then he was gone.
(Spending quality time with my sissy and her husband in Seattle)
My theme for 2016
I’m not going to leave this post on a sad note, that’s not what my uncle would have wanted. He was one of the most positive lights on earth, so I will leave this with the most powerful of intentions I am going to set for 2016:
The year I am going to love myself.
(Bringing out the inner-child in Trinidad, California)
What are your intentions for 2016? Share with us in a comment below 🙂
If you would like to conduct your own annual review, head to Chris’s post here: Annual Review
About the author:
Jen Heuett is the creator of Travel + Trust & Wanderlust, an online community to educate, empower and inspire women to travel solo. Her words can also be found on Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, and Travel Hooligan, her first travel company that inspires young adults to utilize the Working Holiday Visa in Australia and New Zealand. When she’s not traveling the world, she’s enjoying the Pacific Northwest and her mom’s tacos.