2015 in Review
My 2015 started with a cold snap in Fort Collins, Colorado. Keith and I had just brought our motorhome to Colorado and we were still settling in, with the heaters all running full blast. The excitement of living in a great town and the prospect of soon finishing not one, but two books I’d had on the back burner for years filled me with hope for the new year.
Like most people, I usually spend time in the new year season to reflect on the year gone by and lay out plans and goals for the new one. And like most people, I often forget about my list of New Year’s Resolutions after a few weeks and then take a look at it in December and go “oops.” I usually hit some of my goals, but I’m not as intentional about it as I should be.
So this year, following a challenge from someone in the awesome online business and travel community I belong to, Location Indie, I not only wrote out my reflections on 2015 and my goals for 2016, I was a lot more detailed than usual and I also shared it with the community. And now, for the first time, I am also going to share it publicly on my blog. I followed the format recommended by Chris Guillebeau over at the Art of Nonconformity blog. If you’d like to conduct your own Annual Review, check out his post HERE. By going public with my New Year’s goals, I am hoping to give myself that little extra push to check in regularly throughout the year to see that I am actually making progress in each area that I want to. Go ahead and check in with me throughout 2016 and ask how it’s going!
Today I’ll share my reflections on what went well and what didn’t go so well in 2015. Next week I’ll post my goals for 2016. Let’s look back on the year coming to a close…
What Went Well This Year?
1. I published my first children’s book.
Stella the Starling came out both in print and on the Kindle. This has been on my “to do” list for about 15 years so it feels good to have it done!
2. I published Live Like a Local in Loja.
I have sold several copies every week since publication, despite it being an extremely niche market and my not doing a lot to promote it. I’ve received tons of enthusiastic feedback from readers and feel very encouraged for launching future books and products as a result. Though it has not earned a tremendous amount of money, it was very good practice for me.
3. I’ve made tremendous progress on Seven Years Running.
This is the story of my childhood as a fugitive that has been in the works to one degree or another for nearly two decades. This year we have written and edited a lot of the book, and I have also learned a lot about the publishing industry and book marketing and have spoken with several well-known experts in the field. We expect to finish writing the manuscript and start working toward publishing it in early 2016.
4. I’ve become much more consistent in writing my blog and weekly letter.
For this, I give thanks to encouragement from an accountability partner and the Location Indie community, plus lots of positive notes from my wonderful readers.
5. I’m a writer!
Thanks to the above four things, this year I’ve begun to solidify my identity as a writer—my dream job.
6. I’ve started digitally publishing a magazine
I’m working with an organization that previously only had a print magazine. I love the magazine and have a real connection to the audience who subscribes to it. The app is built and several back issues plus the current issue will be uploaded soon. (I’ll be announcing more details about this in my weekly letter soon!)
7. I went to WDS!
After wanting to do it for at least three years, I finally made it to the World Domination Summit in Portland. It was awesome and I got to meet several Location Indie community members in person, plus see some really cool people like Chris Guillebeau, Lewis Howes, Derek Sivers, Kid President and Jon Acuff, to name just a few.
8. I’m not alone anymore.
After trying to do everything in my business on my own for the previous couple of years, this year I wised up and began developing connections with others—a very good thing! Most significantly, I’ve joined forces with several other Location Indie community members to create a Mastermind, which I have found very valuable and encouraging. As a result, my business is finally beginning to develop some momentum. Location Indie = big win this year!
8. I can fly anywhere!
I earned a lot of frequent flyer miles this year. I can take on the world!
9. I tagged two new states.
I visited Minnesota and Iowa for the first time. I have now been to all the states represented in yellow:
What Didn’t Go Well?
1. I continue to struggle with self-promotion and becoming more profitable in my online business.
I enjoy creating and writing and planning, but still have not built up a very large audience or income. Were it not for the moral and financial support of my husband, I would be forced to try to build up this business and do all my writing on the side while working at a regular soul-sucking job. In 2016 I need to work on being less shy about what I can offer!
2. I went down a rabbit hole.
I spent some valuable time working toward a job I really didn’t want, hoping to increase my income. Fortunately it didn’t take too long for me to realize my mistake and abandon the idea.
3. I continue to struggle with focus.
I always have multiple projects happening at once and find it difficult to focus on one thing enough to become really successful with it. I’m always coming up with ideas or considering other options or wanting to help other people with their own cool projects, which distracts me from what I am trying to accomplish in the moment. In 2016 I will try to focus on one project at a time and see each through completion as much as possible.
4. Stella didn’t fly.
Although I published Stella the Starling, I did nothing to promote it beyond my immediate circle of friends and it has not done well. I’ve thought about it, but due to my tendency to spread myself too thin (see point #3) I decided it wasn’t a priority. Maybe some other time.
5. I didn’t make it out of the country this year.
Compared to what we usually do, this year we didn’t travel much at all. I must dust off the old passport and do at least one international trip in 2016.
6. I’ve been terrible about keeping in touch with friends and family members.
I used to be really good at this. I don’t call or write to loved ones as much as I used to, and I haven’t seen very many friends in person this year either, since we’ve been living far away from most of them. I feel bad about that, in addition to feeling lonely and isolated. I will make a conscious effort to be a better friend in 2016.
7. I slacked off on my fitness routine.
I did a great job of running and working out consistently all the way until August this year, and then in the move to Kansas I let it slide. From August through December I’ve been pretty sedentary. Time to move my rear end and keep it moving all year!
There you have it—the overview of my year, mostly from the perspective of my business. We moved to North Dakota in early March, then back to Kansas to work on the earthbag house from August to October, and now we’re back in North Dakota again until further notice!
Keep an eye out for next week’s post, where I’ll share my grand plans for 2016.
My husband and I are nomads, having lived in over a dozen U.S. states, plus Mexico, Antarctica, and Ecuador. I write. I recently released the 2nd edition of my 2nd book, "Live Like a Local in Loja," and I'm looking for a publisher for my third book, "Seven Years Running"--the true story of my fugitive childhood.