2015 Annual Review: Lessons Learned

Annual reviews are always hard for me to share publicly. I don't know why; it's not like I'm leading a secret life or anything. So this year, I'm meeting that challenge head-on and sharing my annual review with you in hopes that my story will help yours in some way.

Looking Back at 2015

If I had to pick one word to sum up 2015, it would be "learning." Because I spent the entire year learning some hard lessons. That's a nice way of saying the year kicked my ass. There were ups and there were definitely downs. 

What Went Well

The most important thing that went well in 2015 was that I gained clarity about my work. After feeling disconnected from my company, Learnwise, I decided to rethink my trajectory. I wasn't enjoying the clients I worked with or the types of courses I built. Luckily, I took to heart something that Philip Morgan told me and thought long and hard about the people I wanted to serve. This is the thing that motivated me to launch Zen Courses and serve you.

Of course, another thing that went well was that I actually went through with the idea for Zen Courses and launched it. I also took Corbett Barr's advice and created a podcastThe Zen Courses Show. Both of these forced me to go beyond my comfort zone and have allowed me to connect with amazing people like yourself.

I'm proud to say I published a post every Monday here on the blog, with the exception of three scheduled breaks. I've also published The Zen Courses Show every Wednesday, since it launched on September 30. This may seem like a small thing, but before starting ZC, I've always had a hard time writing consistently. I'd get bored or just let other things take a priority. But not this time. 

Financially, it was a huge year. I bought an apartment, a car, and paid off my student loans (!!!). Other than my mortgage, I'm officially debt free. And that feels damn good! None of this would be possible without the hustle it took to launch and run a successful business, saving 30% of my income and putting freedom before things.

Lastly, there's the travel. I didn't get to travel as much this year because of the aforementioned purchases, but I did get to take some cool trips. I went to Europe for an impromptu Valentine's Day trip with my partner. We went to Brussels, Bruges and Amsterdam, climbed Belfry and ate lots of Belgian waffles and chocolate. Oh, and I visited Montreal, which had been on my to-go list for a long while. It was amazing! I got to put my long-dormant French to the test and I'm proud to say that I can order a tuna sandwich and ask where the restroom is en français.

What Didn't Go So Well 

This is the hard part, but here goes. The main thing that didn't go well this year was running my company, Learnwise. I stopped enjoying it. Naively, I thought if I hired someone and challenged myself to grow the company further, things would turn around. They didn't. And I ended up having to lay off an employee, which was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I had anxiety about it for weeks. 

We also totally bombed a project. It was the first and only time it happened, but that didn't make it feel any better. It sucked and we damaged some long-standing relationships. The bad thing is that I had a gut feeling this project was not right for us in the beginning, but ignored it.

With The Zen Courses Show, I royally botched the audio for a couple episodes. They say if you look back and aren't embarrassed about your early work, then you waited too long to launch. So I guess, I launched on time because I definitely hide my head when I listen to those early episodes. Still, I chalk it up to learning.

On the health front, both of my parents dealt with some major health issues. I'm grateful that they pulled through. Still, it is SCARY watching your parents get older. I don't like it one bit!

I also had my own health scare, which resulted in a trip to the emergency room. Know what costochondritis is? I didn't either. But it feels like you're having a heart attack.

Lastly, remember that apartment I said I bought? Well, I paid too much money for it. Since it was our first time buying real estate, we made some mistakes. And our agent didn't catch them. Looking back, I don't regret buying (I love being a homeowner), but I would definitely make different choices. Also, even though I bought a car, I still prefer cycling around Chicago.

Lessons Learned

With all that happened, here are the lessons I learned in 2015:

  • If you have a gut feeling, go with it. Waiting only makes it worse.

  • Listen to your body.

  • Just start. Done is better than perfect.

  • Podcasting is so much fun!

  • Laying off someone and transitioning your business is not so much fun. Be kind and quick.

  • Anyone who is getting a commission off your purchase, is not working in your interest.

  • If you buy a house on the outskirts of the city, you will have to buy a car...even if you don't like cars.

  • Travel in the direction of your fears.

Stay tuned to learn about what's coming in 2016. If you want a sneak peak, listen to The Zen Courses Show Episode 015.

Thanks for reading.

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