[Note: for the past 7 years, I've posted an annual re-cap of the highs and lows, lessons learned, etc. After the roller coaster that was 2016, I'm pleased to say it was more up than down. You can find previous years here: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016]
Plan, Do, Evaluate.
It's a simple concept that was drilled into my family when my eldest went off to spend 2+ years in a wilderness camp for boys with emotional difficulties. Make a plan, execute to the best of your abilities, and when it's all said and done, evaluate what went well, what didn't, and how you can improve for the next set of plans.
With the spate of childhood icons and heroes that died this year, it would be easy to tell 2016 to "suck it", but looking at the whole year opened my eyes to just how good things really were.
My 2016 Theme was Radiance. My biggest faith goals were focused in on faith in myself and my abilities as a performer and coach. There were days - weeks even - when it took every ounce of my being to feel the slightest bit radiant. Months where it didn't feel like I was shining at all.
Moving away from my family and friends was an act of courage that took a lot out of me. I landed in a great spot, and I still had to learn how to be on my own. Never in my entire life have I ever lived completely alone. I either had a kid, a room mate, or some other family living with me.
I started the year thinking that radiance was something other people saw through me. I ended the year realizing that I shine for no one but myself - and only then can that light be seen by anyone else.
"It's just the fear of falling that makes my lose my grip ." - Step By Step, Annie Lennox
I had some impressive money stuff happen. 2016 started with the SOLD OUT launch The Fine Line. THAT was incredible. I actually had PR people reaching out to talk about possible radio airplay. Most of it didn't pan out, but it was nice to be approached like that, considering it's been about 10 years since the last album.
Creative Freedom season 2 was abbreviated due to my relocation to Nashville, but it got great reviews and I'm gearing up or Season 3 and a new podcast to add a new dimension to the shows. My friend and client, Pam, offered her basement space as a studio, which gave the show a much needed upgrade in look and feel. We also upgraded the audio, and added new graphic elements designed by Tracy Lay at Digivisual Design. She and I sat down early in the year and started fleshing out the new direction for my branding. I'm looking forward to a new web site in 2017, too! Tracy is an amazingly gifted artist, and I'm one lucky gal to have her in my corner.
Not knowing how it would pan out, A-Club lasted the entire year with impressive retention rates. Only one enrollee dropped before the end of the year. The Incubator has been a long-time dream of mine that I had been sitting on, waiting for it to be "perfect" - the curse of many Fusion creatives. So I decided to launch it imperfectly and SOLD OUT before the initial enrollment period closed. I was going to re-open the enrollment period in January, but it looks like we're going to be full from wait list applicants. So I'm be rolling out Accountability Club enrollment instead (doors are open now, hint hint).
I also saw a sharp increase in sales for Direct Sales Classroom - again, with no promotional effort on my part. Truly passive income is a joy to behold! The downside is that it's unpredictable, so I either have to build it into my marketing plan for 2017 or just enjoy it when it shows up. For now, the plan is just to enjoy it. I've already got other fun stuff in the works, including Creative Freedom Live in October!
"There's a road I have to follow, a place I have to go. Well no-one told me just how to get there, but when I get there I'll know." - Step by Step, Annie Lennox
The move created a bunch of unplanned expenses on both the personal and professional front, but thanks to Profitability 2.0, I had my most profitable year EVER in business: more income, more free time, and more fun - thank heaven!
It was also a great year for media coverage. The work I did with Creative Freedom and the 300 songs project saw about a dozen placements in podcasts, interviews, and guest posts across the interwebs. People got excited about my research into the creative entrepreneur spectrum and many took my free quiz to discover their own creative entrepreneur type.
This was a year of family transitions. In no particular order, my youngest hit double digits. My eldest turned 20. My youngest cousin got married. My eldest Aunt was diagnosed with cancer. I moved to Nashville, and my husband and I have filed for and are now waiting on the outcome of our divorce.
The boys visited me in Nasvhille, and we all spent Thanksgiving and Christmas together. My husband and I are not just civil, we're friends. I don't think I could have said that for most of our marriage. Our relationship is SO much better this way. It's a lot easier in many respects (and yes, harder in others). We each brought our own expectations to our marriage. When those expectations didn't get met, resentment, frustration, fear, and anger were the predominant emotions that one or the other of us was dealing with on a daily basis. We both decided early on in the process to focus on the kids. I told my husband that my goal was to be able to sit across from him at our kids' weddings and still be friendly to each other. We both came from divorced parentage, and we wanted our kids to have a different, more empowering picture of what divorce could look like. So far, so good. Without the expectations of marriage between us, we both seem happier and able to appreciate each other's company on the whole. There's a lot less taking each other for granted, and a LOT more gratitude.
Liam's still trying to wrap his brain around having parents that aren't married to each other, but he seems to be adjusting well. Forest is stepping into adulthood and flexing his wings to fly. I pray for him daily. He's got a good head on his shoulders, but - like any Chaotic creative - gets distracted easily when it comes to matters of the heart.
"I know you're hurting but don't let the bad things get to you." - Step By Step, Annie Lennox
Saying goodbye to my mastermind group was probably one of the hardest 'family' relationship moves of the year. For the past 3-4 years, these local women have been my rock, my source of comfort & joy, and generally great models of human beings in my life. Plus, they give great hugs.
That's been the hardest transition of all. Living completely alone means I can go days at a time without any physical touch. I used to get hugs every day from one person or another, and I find that's the thing I miss the most right now. Sometimes I'll intentionally brush the cashier's hand when they give me back my change at the store, just so I have some human contact. It sounds creepier than it is, I promise.
I was grateful that my transition to Nashville was eased by Tajci Cameron and her wonderful family, who hosted me for a month, while I figured out my living situation. I only know a handful of people in the state of Tennessee, and Tajci's family welcomed me like I was one of their own. I also got to reconnect with a couple of my theater peeps who had moved to Tennessee long before I ever did. They're not in Nashville, but they're close enough to make it a day trip.
I continued my challenge to read more good books, and was fortunate enough the help launch a few into the world. Nely Galan made a splash this year with "Self Made," Mike Michalowicz brought "Surge" to life, and Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy gave us "Living Forward" - a book about developing a plan for your life, not just your work. In fact, I researched and reviewed nearly a dozen planning tools this year as I set about the re-launch of The PEACE System and Dreamblazing- tools I continue to use to map out the direction of my life and work.
Overall, I read about 50 books - some new, some old, some repeats, and for the first time, I gave myself permission to STOP reading books that just didn't do it for me. As a recovering "all or nothing" girl, that was a HUGE awareness for me.
In the physical fitness department, I've managed to increase and get more consistent with my physical exercise, and eliminated most of the gluten and dairy in my daily diet. That was one of the hardest personal tasks for the year, but moving to Nashville made it a LOT easier. I simply don't bring it into the house! That's also made it easier to avoid it when I go out to eat, because I don't miss it anymore. In all, I've lost about 10 pounds since I relocated, and the downward trend seems to be continuing, with a small uptick while I've been back in Michigan for the holidays.
"Don't give up. You got to keep on moving on. Don't stop." - Step By Step, Annie Lennox
I got my dream car... and then this happened:
My son survived the quarter-mile rollover with minimal injuries, but the car was not so lucky. It happened, believe it or not, on the same day Ben and I went to meet with the divorce lawyer. It was a blessing in disguise, since the Jeep was the one asset that was posing a problem for the divorce. Once the car was totaled, it wasn't an issue anymore. And thank GOD for gap coverage - it paid off the outstanding loan, which set me up for a big upgrade this fall:
My own car, my own apartment, and all the responsibilities that go along with them. You'd think that someone who works regularly with 6 and 7-figure income earners that this would be no big deal. But it's YYUUUUUUGE. My husband and I committed to a lower standard of living based on some old money stories that caused part of our marital problems. When I got clarity around that, I gave myself permission own who I am and what really matters to me. Part of that is a strong sense of freedom and interdependence, which made the move to Nashville a logical one.
"Just like a new excursion upon an open road, I've got the will to take me just where I want to go." - Step By Step, Annie Lennox
In an effort to learn the town and get out more, I picked up driving for Uber/Lyft from time to time. It's made for some interesting experiences and great stories. I've met some nifty people that taught me about both Nashville and myself.
My 2017 Theme: Collaboration
NOT doing everything by myself. Asking for help, support, and the genius of others. Just because I live on my own, doesn't mean I have to be ALONE. I want to do more work directly with amazing people. I'm launching FOUR initiatives this year: Portable Coaching, Income Generator, Business Accelerator, and Creative Freedom Live. All of them are designed to be hands-on collaborative tools to help creative entrepreneurs make more money doing what they love without selling their souls to do it. Oh, and I'm still in the throes of writing Creative Freedom (the book), so I've got plenty on my plate this year!
I've also started making other changes to my business model - like creating a full-year promo calendar so that YOU can see what's coming down the pike for my business. One of the things that's always bugged me about the Internet Marketing world is that most product launches have a 2-week window for you to make a buying decision. That's great for them, but hard on you, because if you haven't already budgeted for it, you very often feel pressure to buy. A real business doesn't plow money into every shiny object that comes along. They make a spending plan for the year and budget for their expenses. Once it's complete, you'll know what's coming up so that you can make a smart plan for your life and business. You'll also be on the inside track for early-bird offers that are only available to my subscribers. This is something I've wanted to do for years, but like the Incubator, I kept waiting for it to be perfect - which, of course, it never will be.
My 2017 Theme Song: Step By Step
Collaboration often means slowing down a little at first. That's a challenge for Fusion creatives, and one I'm ready to take on. This will also be the year I step back during the summer. Our new custody arrangement means my youngest will be with me during the summer, and I'm re-structuring my business to accommodate that change. I want to be fully present as much as possible with my kid, and I'm currently looking at support team options to make the transition smooth.
2017 is going to be a fun adventure! I just have to take it one step at a time.
"Step by step. Bit by bit. Stone by stone. Brick by brick." - Step By Step, Annie Lennox
[ALBUM UPDATE: We've got about half the album recorded and I've approached a couple of engineers about mixing and mastering the project - one of whom has worked with artists like Clapton, BB King, and Rod Stewart. This is getting REAL, yo! If you haven't had a chance to pre-order your copy, there are only a few […]
By Sarah Robinson [Editor's Note: I've known Sarah for several years, stalking her at first, and eventually hiring her as a coach and consultant in my business. Her work on developing fiercely-loyal communities has been, hands down, the best training I've ever gotten from her. In fact, this is Sarah's third appearance on the blog […]