Annual Review 2021

January 13, 2022

January 13, 2022

Introduction

Welcome to my Annual Review.

For the past three years, I've spent time in December and January reflecting on the past year and envisioning what I want the upcoming year to look like. I've found this to be not only an enriching activity, but also a fun one.

Whereas setting goals and resolutions for the new year keeps me thinking about what I don't have yet, this Annual Review provides a chance to be grateful for all the things that have already happened.

There are many ways to do this, but what you'll find here is a simple formula.

It has four main parts: (1) a review of what went well last year, (2) what did not go well, (3) what I want to focus on next year, and (4) other highlights from the past year I want to remember.

I've published this in the spirit of sharing openly online, in the hopes it might inspire others to a similar reflection. It's long, so feel free to skim. I hope you enjoy the read!


Our wedding day! <3


WHAT WENT WELL

(+) RELATIONSHIPS

Engaged & Married — this was easily the highlight of my year. They say the biggest decisions in your life are where you live, what you do for work, and who you marry. I feel so lucky to have married Claire, and I know she is someone who will enrich my life, help me grow, and make every day better along way. 

Family — whilst last year this was a lowlight in my Annual Review, it was definitely a gem for this year. We spent almost a month in Florida with my mom in February, where we also visited my grandparents. Then we went to NYC & Minnesota in August, getting to meet my nephew August for the first time, and seeing my niece Maeve growing up. We also welcomed a new niece, Athena, on Claire's side of the family, and were so lucky to have Claire's mom visit us in London after almost 2 years of not seeing her due to lockdowns. It certainly feels like we’ve made some special memories with family this year.

Friends —  this was a year of deepening connections to friends and community in London. From dinner parties to long walks, to weekend getaways and a friend trip abroad, there are a lot of memories I’m grateful for this year. The bittersweet truth is that the impetus of our move helped catalyze me to invest more time with friends, and now we are leaving. But I know these are friendships that will last a lifetime. Plus, we're back in London in just 6 months, and won't be far while we're living in Lisbon in the fall.

Enjoying Lake Minnetonka back home with my brother, sister, and niece!


+ MOVING

This year, we're embarking on a big adventure, leaving London and moving to Austin and Lisbon (a separate post on this is forthcoming!). Last year, this was just the seedling of an idea. Across the past 12 months, this has been a huge project and honestly, a massive growth opportunity. It has forced both Claire and I to push beyond our comfort zones, develop our communication together, and deal with many obstacles—and we haven't event left London yet! We're so excited to open ourselves up to a huge adventure. We leave in less than 3 weeks, here we go!

The home we’re renting in Austin starting in March, a cute 1930's bungalow!

WORK

Business Growth — I shared a long reflection earlier this year on my first year in business, and it’s really taken off since then. Overall, it’s been a huge year for the company. We’ve doubled our revenue, developed a new financial system (and mindset!) with Profit First (thanks Michael for the inspo!), hired an amazing teammate named Anna to support the growth, and Claire is joining full-time starting in February to take us to the next era!

IRL Workshops — following on from the point above, I was finally able to get back to teaching live workshops in person , and this was and make magic. From working with Klarna on team offsites in Berlin and Stockholm to a project with L'Oréal in Cannes, it has been a joy to travel and actually meet clients face-to-face again. While the shift to virtual learning has been massively helpful for my business overall,I still love being with people in-person.

*IRL = In Real Life for those wondering ;)

Launching YouTube — Claire and I made a big effort and poured a lot of energy into starting up a YouTube channel. Despite the difficulties maintaining consistency, we still made 10 videos for the channel, plus Claire made these amazing personal videos for us:

Special credit to the Relationship Meetings video too - it brought us a lot of joy and satisfaction to hear about all of our friends who watched it and then started doing relationship meetings themselves!


(+) HEALTHY LIVING

Yoga — I became a certified yoga teacher back in 2019, but this year was the first time I had a regular studio class, and it was a special part of the year. Yoga has given me so much, and it’s rewarding to share that with others. Also, we finally started going back to studios to practice, which took us a while post-COVID, and that has been amazing.

Mobility — I’ve made “mobility” a goal in 2019 and 2020, but didn’t really accomplish much. This year, I decided to invest in this seriously. I started doing private lessons with an awesome coach in London named Alex Nino and I’ve seen big improvements so far.

Tennis — I love tennis and grew up playing a lot, but I had never found a good rhythm in London until this year. I discovered a small, local community-run club with some great players, and played a lot more tennis this year. A huge bonus was getting Claire into the sport. She has picked it up so quickly, and I’m excited to play more together in our sunnier, warmer 2022 climates.

Spent a lot of time upside-down this year


(+) TRAVEL & TRIPS

While travel was still difficult due to COVID, I still feel very privileged and lucky looking back at the year’s adventures.

St. Augustine & Naples — Claire and I spent a month in Florida in February soaking up the sun. Seeing my mom’s new home and visiting my grandparents for the first time in St. Augustine was great. It was also a huge mental health boost for Claire and I after the winter lockdown in London.

The Lost Woods — as we left the Spring ‘21 lockdown, our community of friends organized a themed weekend event where we camped in our friend’s massive backyard garden, cooked a huge communal dinner, sat by the bonfire, and enjoyed great company. 

Gdansk — I was gifted a surprise trip for two by my Google team when I left in February 2020, but didn’t get the chance to redeem it until this year. Claire and I ended up going to Gdansk, Poland and had an absolute blast. Beautiful architecture, brightly colored buildings, delicious food (pierogies!) and our first weekend trip to Europe in so long. 

York — Claire was finally able to take me up to York where she attended university. We stayed with one of her best friends and enjoyed the historical city center, long walks in the countryside, and the company of their humongous Great Dane!

Woodstock Manor — in the fall, our friends got together and rented a massive estate in the English countryside and we spent the weekend there, cooking huge meals, playing lawn games, and having all of the fun. These big group events are such a highlight each year, and I'm so thankful for friends that put together such spectacular gathering.

Lisbon — our friends organized an incredible NYE celebration across 4 days in Lisbon. We reflected on the past year, envisioned and planned the coming year, and celebrated with food, sunshine, surfing, and lots of pastel de nata.

Leaving Lisbon feeling excited to return!


WHAT DID NOT GO WELL

(-) OVERSCHEDULED

I definitely put myself through the wringer for a select few months this year. Even though I preach the gospel of sustainable working and effective time & energy management, I said yes to too many opportunities and found myself overly busy and fatigued at times.

(-) WRITING

One of my main creative outlets is writing, and I didn’t spend much time at all in this space in the second half of the year. As business ramped up, I allowed my routine to slip. I stopped sending my weekly newsletter, and have published very little online since the summer.

(-) COVID

Yeah, COVID sucked. Although it felt like the virus was less of a burden than in 2020, it still caused us a lot of stress and grief. Claire and I both caught it in December, which canceled plans for my brother to visit us in London over Christmas. Plus, the Omicron wave has added a ton of additional uncertainty with friends and family, and it's been mentally and emotionally exhausting. 

Lastly, we lost a relative to COVID. This is the first person I’ve known personally that has passed from it, and it’s been hard on our family. Thinking of you, Jane <3

What I Want to Focus More On

(*) CLAIRE & CONNOR

A big focus will be my relationship with Claire. We have a lot going on this year, from moving countries, to starting up working together again, to hosting a “FamilyMoon” trip to celebrate our wedding. I know there’s lots of fun awaiting us, but also lots of challenges inherent in such a big transition.

We want to be proactive about building and working on our relationship, so we’ve decided to invest in doing couples’ therapy together this year! We feel really good in our relationship right now, so why do therapy? 

To us, it’s a proactive, positive investment in each other. Like any couple, we have our challenges, and we want to get ahead of these things and work on them. We both feel like personal therapy has been hugely beneficial to us, and I’m excited to start this journey as a couple.

(*) EXPLORATION + WORKING WITH PURPOSE

We are trying out some big lifestyle shifts this year, moving to the US and Portugal. At the same time, we are trying to grow a business. I want to make sure that I really invest in and explore Austin and Lisbon and don’t get too wrapped up in work. 

When you run your own business, the amount of work is endless. By bringing more purpose and intention to what I really want to accomplish, I can let go of all the other less important stuff, which will allow for space for exploration, adventure, and making new connections.

(*) QUIET & REFLECTION

One of the best decisions I made this year was to go on a 3-day “digital detox” at an Unplugged cabin (run by my good friend Hector!). Turning off tech, opening up a journal, and spending days thinking, taking long walks, and disconnecting was so nourishing. I want to make a more regular retreat part of my 2022 schedule, hopefully something at least one per quarter.

(*) BUSINESS

I’m going to write up a proper review of the business in March/April, which will have much more detail, but these are some high-level areas I’m thinking about:

Course — since starting out, I've mainly been teaching live workshops and using 3rd-party content (e.g. Make Time, Search Inside Yourself, etc.). This year, I'm planning to launch my own online course. I can't wait to share it with you all.

Training Trainers — this year I plan to start training other trainers to help me deliver work, especially with Make Time. The demand has reached a point where I can’t do it myself, so I want to invest in others to help grow the impact we can make.

Brand — with Claire coming on board, and the company turning 2 in March, it’s time to invest in the new era. We want to finalize a name and create a brand around the business. Stay tuned!

(*) HEALTH

I feel really good about my physical, mental, and emotional health in general right now, so I don’t have specific goals formulated yet. 

On the physical side, I want to keep working on mobility, especially mastering handstands. I also want to make a routine in Austin and Lisbon of going to gyms, yoga studios, and doing fitness within a community. It was oddly hard to get back to this after the lockdown breaks, but I love it.

On the mental/emotional side, I want to keep working on breathwork. I’ve experimented with a lot of breath practices this year, and find it valuable and enriching. I’m looking to explore and build this practice further, especially with the help of my mate Stu from Breathpod.

(*) MY WORDS FOR THE YEAR

In past years, I’ve chosen one word to bring into the year, but this year I’m experimenting with a small collection:

PATIENCE // ACCEPTANCE // EMPATHY // SURRENDER

In many ways, they are interrelated and connected, but each has their own significance and meaning to me.

My Unplugged cabin. 3 days of a much-needed digital detox.


Other Highlights

Tough Cookie: Mixed Mental Arts — I underwent an incredible mental resilience training earlier this year, and love it. I’m now starting teacher training for this program, and am pumped to share it.

Wimbledon & US Open — Claire and I lived a tennis dream this year. We caught the semis at Wimbledon, and the first day of the US Open. Both were incredible amounts of fun.

Learning Ritual with Ron — my friend Ronald and I started a weekly session on Saturday mornings to study and learn mental models. It was a fun ritual and something I want to reinvent in 2022.

UK Residence — after five years living in London, I became eligible for permanent residence. I passed the Life in the UK test and now have my ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ (ILR) in the UK!

Building a Second Brain — I took an online course on ‘personal knowledge management’ with an online educator named Tiago Forte. Over 1,000 students joined, and we learned how to better manage information in the digital world. Nerd alert, but loved it.

Thanksgiving (Friendsgiving) — we’ve been fortunate that a couple friends (Hey J! Hey Graham & Christina!) have brought us together to celebrate Thanksgiving in London each year. It’s a highlight every year, and I want to make sure we keep it alive in 2022…in Lisbon?!

The London fam celebrating Thanksgiving

Thanks for reading.

If you've made it to the end, thank you! I'd love to hear if you were inspired to do your own annual review, or if you took away anything useful or valuable.

Say hey on Twitter or shoot me an email.

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