Annual Review, 2015

Last year was the first time I set course with an eye on the new year through an official annual review. The pros and cons of the previous year, where that left me emotionally and physically, and what I was looking towards for this year.

All to often we hear of the typical “new year’s resolution” where a single target is looked upon and, in at least some cases, almost immediately forgotten once the snow begins to melt. By following a more structured and encompassing approach to the upcoming year, the lens becomes holistic rather than micro-focused.

Twenty fifteen was a big year all around, and one that certainly leaves me thinking even more. Anticipatory for the new year, yes, but also a bit melancholy and not as excited as I thought I would be about certain things I figured to be a lock. Funny how that works, isn’t it? That being life, perhaps.

Fresh on the heals of Chris Guillebau’s latest Annual Review, I present you with mine, originally inspired by Chris and further fleshed out as feels best for me.

What went well this year?

Succinctly noting positive vibes as they relate to life, even if there’s some hesitation to be “preachy” about things. That’s ok! We all have things we’re happy about.

  • My personal relationship has been overwhelmingly positive. We passed the two year mark for having been a couple, and things feel great in all facets of our relationship. I’m extremely thankful for this woman! I continue to learn a lot about her and myself in this space.
  • New friends arose after a rather tough year with others falling off the map. New faces and fun friendships surfaced through the gym I attend. One of the best pieces of advice I received last year was to invest in friendships nearest to the places you frequent. In other words, be available for growth when it’s right in front of your nose, versus seeking it in places it may not exist as cohesively. I found this to be very true.
  • Physically the year was a success, and I remain steadfast in making sure my body is taken care of in order to enjoy really fun bike rides, or hit a tough workout even during the holiday season. It’s freeing to know I can push my body and feel complete after the fact.
  • On the business front, we made huge strides this year as a business even if many of the strides came from calculated risks and a few failures. More on that later.
  • I haven’t traveled as much in the latter half of 2015, but the first part of the year was an exclamation point when we returned to Japan for a visit during the cherry blossom season. It was my first experience with 花見.
  • The men’s group I wanted to pull together did in fact come together, and we met 5 times this year. One in the group had a new son, and two others in the group welcomed new babies into the world later this year, too, but we still managed to get together every couple months.
  • I’ve been inspired by and challenged with a book called Traction. It applies to running businesses and advising startups (but I’ve found it can apply for many things web), and it’s been a turning point for how we think about business. For myself personally, too, in how I think about my own ideas. It also helped spark ideas that lead to the launch of our first ebook, Partnering for Success.

What did not go well this year?

The tough spots of the previous year, however difficult to pull into words. Things “not going well” is a relative phrase to each of us, so your own annual review may differ in tone.

  • Our web design and technology studio went through quite a bit of growing pain this year. We lost a great employee in the beginning of the year, and subsequently hired two new faces to assist with areas of the business we were admittedly very green on at the time. Looking back, we did a poor job as managers for those roles, not knowing exactly what we needed, and they ultimately didn’t work out as team members. That’s been the toughest part of operating a business: finding the best fit for specific roles and being OK with parting ways if the fit isn’t working out.
  • On a similar wavelength, this has been a tough year for client expectations and communication. I pride myself on great communication, hitting deadlines, and generally being “on point” with clients. That said, client services (as the provider) has a rude way of holding that level of accountability to the provider, but not to clients. All too often this year I let it get to me when a client, however well intentioned, dropped the ball. This willingness to let those moments go is a work in progress for me.
  • The mens group I sought and put together for this year was positive. But at the same time, I don’t think it happened enough (every other month). We pulled in some amazing men, and yet connecting every two months meant that it was more of a brain-dump format rather than a casual catch up. We had some great conversations, absolutely, but I’ve realized it’s hard to coordinate a broad spectrum of men around life especially when we’re not typically all consistently hanging around as a group outside of scheduled evenings.
  • This website, Spirit by Design, has been tough for me to further define. I’ve realized it needs deeper roots, and roots that are more specific to a particular topic or cause. I believe I can still share my own reflections of life, music, etc., but at the same time it needs something to transform. That something is still to be determined, and I’m struggling with what that is.
  • Giving back to people, or to my greater community, has been riding heavy on my heart during the second half of this year. At times I’ve felt bad when I see a homeless man or woman on the side of the road in 15 degree weather. Emotions of I need to do something arise, even if it’s not specifically about that person (or homelessness). In general, finding something beyond myself has left me struggling, internally, for a large part of the year.

Results from last year

With a year behind me and record of what I hoped to achieve, here’s my recap from the last 12 months:

  • I did have a great mens group. We met 5 (not 6) times, and it was really inspiring to see men from different walks of life—all amazing and unique in their own ways—open up and talk the real talk.
  • The Southwest Companion Pass was a success! I’m glad to say this has been locked in for the entirety of 2016 as well.
  • Leaning into my partner has been both a great challenge and an amazing reward. We’ve laughed, cried, and battled it out, but after another year with her I don’t question where we’re headed. That’s pretty cool.
  • Meaningful friendships have started forming around me, many of which come from the crossfit gym I attend. I’ve made it a point to not over-stress what these people mean in my life, but allow them to grow and flourish naturally. Excited to see what the new year brings with those people.
  • I did not ultimately ride to the top of Mt. Evans from Golden, but I did get the opportunity to ride to the top of Mt. Evans from nearby Evergreen with a strong cycling buddy, Chris Case. It was a hard, cold, bucket list ride for me.

Plans (with actions) for the new year

Given results from this year, the positive and the negative, these are my thoughts and plans for 2016 in no particular order. If you write your own review, try to be very descriptive and determined. Write with care, and purpose.

  • I will become involved with a big brother-like community in the Denver area, aiming to mentor and be a part of something bigger than myself. To help a youngster or many youngsters with a start at life that wasn’t as simple as mine. They deserve that opportunity, and they should have a friend.
  • I will continue with cycling and push myself to hit a few more bucket list rides. I’ll also race cyclocross again next fall. Not to get caught up in the competition with others, but to compete with myself and add variety to my season. I will also ride bikes with my parents every month this summer in an effort to get them out and exploring new areas of their ‘hood.
  • I’ll be focusing heavily on my business, and on employees that are setting down some roots; those sincerely focused and interested in helping us grow. I know we’re capable, and this will be a big year, period. Being a present and fair leader is important to me.
  • I will battle through writing a book that’s been sitting in my head for three years; a book—my story—about facing and coming through a marital affair. This is undoubtedly a huge task, but it needs to happen, and I’m both nervous and excited to see where it goes.
  • I will continue to lean into my partner, even when it’s hard, and even when I don’t want to in the moment. I’ll remain transparent and honest with her. I will help her build up her own business and be her high five in triumph and shoulder to cry on after disappointment.

I’m choosing to make 2016 the year of Growing Roots.

In business, a determination to flourish beyond where we are at the moment, beginning with team members that fit; something that is a very difficult task.

In relationship, continuing to move forward with someone that is so obviously dedicated to me, and to us, that it’s humbling.

Personally, with friends, hobbies, and giving back—making sure I don’t take myself too seriously, while leaning in with positivity.

Making a record matters

I may not talk about the annual review very much, but it absoutely shapes my general perspective and goals for a calendar year. I was surprised to see how many times I would dig up my previous year’s post to read and re-read it throughout the year.

How am I doing? Let me get real with myself and my life for a moment.

To me, the annual review isn’t about critiquing every hour of your day, but more about setting course with macro observations, challenges, and goals. It forces you to cut the crap and get real with yourself.

Where are you failing yourself?

Where are you failing your family and friends?

Where are you holding stress, worry, concern, weight…?

We all know the world is a crazy, sad, painful, beautiful, amazing place. Self-checking and throttling the brakes here and there is the least we can do to offer up the best version of ourselves to the rest of the humans walking on the same ground as us.

When midnight hits tonight, think not about a reset button, but think instead about the fresh opportunity you have to begin transforming your life and your outlook into something you already know you want it to be. You’re already thinking about it right now.

This is an opportunity.

Make decisions to better your own situation, and the situation of those around you, because you’re already yearning to make it all happen.


Photo: Coastal vibes via bike in Oceanside, Oregon

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