[Note: for the past 9 years, I’ve posted an annual re-cap of the highs and lows, lessons learned, etc. You can find previous years here: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 ]
It's my birthday - or will be by the time this post goes live. That means it's once again time for my year in review, for those among you interested in the inner workings of me, myself, and I. If you're new to this ride, you might want to check some of the previous years' posts to catch up. Otherwise, strap yourself in, because we're taking a ride in the way-back machine to this time last year.
One of the phrases my clients are probably tired of hearing me say is "Plan. Do. Evaluate." It was something I learned from my kid when he lived in the wilderness camp for two years. They did it every day. I'm not so gung ho, so the beginning of a new year is a great time to look back, see what went well, where things went off the rails, and begin to formulate a new plan for this year.
My 2018 theme was Wealth and Health. My definition was "finding the appropriate balance for me between making a living and having a life; Working in a way that affords me the ability to enjoy my life, while experiencing wealth and happiness at a deeper, soul level, with a sense of peace and contentment I’ve never had before."
So that was the "plan" part. The "doing" didn't go as well as I'd imagined, but not nearly as bad as I'd feared. My 2017 theme was Collaboration, and I doubled down on that in 2018, bringing on a few new (and amazing) part-time team members to round out the organization. I got a LOT better at trusting Jeanie to do the work... maybe a little too well. There were times when I found myself with little to do - and no motivation to step things up. I found myself going through a mild depression about half way through the year that lasted most of the third quarter. More on that as we look at how I fared in my 5 Key Area goals.
This year, I wanted to trust more deeply. Opening myself to a loving relationship wasn't really on my mind when I set my goals for the year, but nothing sets you up to trust more deeply like new love. I met and fell hard for a guy that checks boxes I didn't even know I had. That was one of the biggest surprise blessings of the year. It hasn't been easy to let go of old stories, patterns, and habits. 10+ years of marriage creates some deep ruts in the routine patterns of your brain. It also came with challenges that really forced me to examine my beliefs about life, God, and really, everything. The year-end result is exactly what I'd hoped for, even if it didn't happen the way I'd planned. I know myself more deeply. I trust my decisions more fully, and I feel infinitely more confident in my relationships because of it.
About mid-year, I got the intuitive guidance that I needed to pare down everything and get ready to move. So I did. I put nearly everything in storage, expecting that I'd go on the road once my youngest was back home with his dad. That didn't happen. At the very last minute, I found a new apartment on the opposite side of town and I've been there ever since. It worked out so effortlessly, that it felt like Divine timing.
Trust the process, right?
We had some clients complete the Incubator earlier than expected (all but one was a Chaotic creative, which is another story for another day). That also called me into a deeper relationship with my sense of Faith. It's easy to say "letting go of a client makes room for something even better". It's another thing to believe it and live by it. I expected this might happen as the Incubator grew - a function of needing to refine our screening process as our pool of applicants grew. Several clients were entering a business downturn when they came to us (normal in every business), and when cash flow slowed, it scared me a bit. I had to lean harder into my Faith, trust the process, and keep showing up to do the work in front of us.
This year's goal was a continuation of last year. I needed to continue to rehabilitate and strengthen my relationship with myself. My ex remarried in a surprise wedding in China, which created a lot of unexpected emotional stuff for me. As an advocate for my child (who still lives with my former husband), there were a lot of unanswered questions about his new stepmother and stepbrother. As someone still friends with my ex, it was another emotional blow in the trust department. The emotional tailspin found me unable to complete the Creative Freedom shooting season, and we ended with only 10 episodes - my shortest season to date.
I spent the rest of the summer hanging with my kid and my new sweetheart, digging into those relationships for some stability and comfort. Intellectually, I knew that I had no longer been attached to my ex husband for well over a year, but emotionally, the marriage started a grieving process I didn't even know I needed. So I took it easy all summer, until we were able to finally tell my son the big news. Initially, he seemed shocked, but took it well. As time has gone on, however, he's had some emotional "leaks" that indicate he's trying to wrap his 12 year-old brain around what's happening to his family.
I felt the final stitches of my family ties unravel this year. My last trip back to Michigan brought some joy, but a lot of pain, and it became clear that it's not my home anymore. It's where my kids live. It's where some of my best friends are. But it's not home.
2018 was a year of immense clarity for me in my relationship to myself. I've gotten much better at being my own advocate - before I need to learn a hard lesson about boundaries. 🙂
On the one hand, this year was a joke in the physical fitness department. I didn't hit my goals and I found myself undoing all the progress I'd made in 2017. On the other, I learned a LOT about my body. A trip to the ER got me more focused and curious about how nutrition really affects me. I learned that iron is inversely related to blood pressure. So if my iron is higher, my blood pressure is lower. I didn't learn it from the ER doc who was treating me for a migraine, tho. I learned it from donating blood at Red Cross. This year I learned a LOT about what works for my body (and what doesn't) - mostly through trial and error. I learned that, while I'm grateful for medical doctors, they're overworked and focus on symptoms more often than causes. It's up to me to be in the know about my body and what it needs to be healthy. I've been lazy about that all my life. That changed this year.
My emotional funk also did a number on my mental well-being this year. Despite having a fantastic relationship with a guy that I see as a real blessing in my life, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. We each hard plenty of relationship fear and baggage that was triggering us, and it took patience to drop the baggage and hold each other instead. Suffice it to say that 2018 was an emotional roller coaster that gave me a lot to be grateful for after a LOT of emotional labor to be ready for those blessings.
It was a banner year at Ark Entertainment Media. We did more than double our previous year's earnings, making it one of the highest-grossing years of my entrepreneurial career. We expanded the Incubator this year, which helped bolster revenue, but book and course sales were higher, with an average 33.73% of my revenue coming from leveraged offerings. My goal was 60%, so I fell short, but with the business downturn in Q3/4, I'm pleased with the final outcome, since we're on track to do even better in 2019.
One of the interesting things that I discovered was that Portable Coaching is a great feeder to my other offers. In fact, by the end of the year, most of the people who started Portable Coaching had graduated to A-Club or another program. Since I didn't market it heavily, the program didn't get many new enrollments. On the other hand, A-Club doubled in size this year, and our retention rate is still around 80% with an average member lifespan of about 20 months. Still one of the highest in the industry, as far as I know. And we just added private coaching as a "consistency incentive" to stick with the program, so I think we're going to do even better as we move forward.
I added coaching because I realized how much more progress people can make with even just a little help from me. Clarity matters, and a good coach can help you get that clarity quickly.
After the launch of my book, Creative Freedom, I saw a flurry of activity from radio stations, podcasters, and other media outlets that wanted to talk about the book and my process for helping creative entrepreneurs make good money doing what they love. My goal is at least one interview or guest post a month, and that's a goal I'm maintaining this year. We're entering year three of the Creative Freedom brand and season 5 of the show is just around the corner. Yes. I got out of my funk long enough to develop a content plan to re-launch the show very soon.
My 2019 Theme: Free to be me
I feel like I lived in a sense of Health and Wealth last year, but it certainly didn't look at all like I expected it to. I'm glad 2018 is over, and i'm already soaking up the rays of 2019. It's a beautiful day in Nashville today, and, for the first time in a long time, I have fun plans to be with someone I love on my birthday. That is no small thing for me. It's more meaningful than me winning the lottery without buying a ticket. More meaningful than bigger gestures. Just staying true to what I really want and seeing that become reality. I want more of that in my life, and this is a great start to my year.
My 2019 Theme Song: I Don't Want To Be
It's a #BraveNewYear for me, and as Gavin said, I don't want to be anything other than me. The writer. The Performer. The Singer. The teacher and coach. The friend, lover, and mother. Just me. And be well-compensated for it. This year, it's about a new album, a new publishing division (got a book inside you? Let's talk!), and new ways to reach even more creative entrepreneurs to help them own their dreams without selling their soul. There's more, and it'll come in time, but for now, that's the news that's fit to print. I'm off to enjoy my birthday!