Year in review – what I learned about myself and business in 2014


This is the first year I’m writing a year in review type post.

This could also be called: “My personal reflections on the year that just passed.”

Or equally: “Thoughts in my head” {that I don’t usually share out loud.}


I thought it might be helpful to be able to look back each year at my own thoughts, much like a journal. It often feels therapeutic to write. And I wanted to be a little raw and personal, to lay bare some of my own shortcomings as well as achievements, and share my journey with you. Because I have no doubt that beneath the shiny façade, many people who have taken up the calling (or challenge) to run their own business struggle with the same fears and doubts too.


It’s a bit of a rambling, less focused post.

You just might want to grab your fave beverage before diving in 🙂


 year in review 2015 laptop word tags

Biggest accomplishments in 2014:

  • Personal: distance swimming – up to 2.7km in open water. Especially because I’m not very athletic and only started “really” swimming (as opposed to splashing around and cooling off) in 2013. Even though I failed to complete the annual 2.1km Across the Lake Swim (I really grappled with that) I will try again.



Biggest goals for 2015:

  • Launch 2 online training programs (DIY Website in a Week; and Attract Clients Online & Boost Google Ranking with Blogging and Videos) and leverage my knowledge so it reaches more people in a more affordable way that frees my business from the feast or famine cycle and creates a more automated workflow system.
  • Complete the Across the Lake Swim.
  • Visit our family in the UK for 2 weeks at the end of 2015.



January blues.

Bah humbug. Not about Christmas. About all the hype for the New Year. THIS IS GOING TO BE YOUR YEAR. It feels so contrived. Like getting all dolled up, trying to be the merriest person possible, sloshing back overpriced fruity cocktails and shouting the words to Auld Lang Syne is going to be what makes THIS year different.


Does anyone else feel this way?


Why should everything start in January? Resolutions are so quickly broken. ANY day can be a new start – why do we all wait for Jan 1st?


And what, exactly, is going to make this year so very different than the dozens of years before? The definition of insanity is, after all, repeating the same actions yet expecting a different result.


 Admission: I let fear stop me.

I wanted to launch my first online program in November. (I’m not ready, it still needs work and to promote it) then December (time wasn’t right with holidays. And I clearly needed support, so I bought a course to help create and launch my online product). I even had a launch plan mapped out, and a 3 video series recorded (not good enough… seriously, it’s for a blogging and video course so it has to be amazing, doesn’t it?). I planned to launch early January.


All those pesky gremlins that pop up to self- sabotage, asking incessant belief-limiting questions like:


  • What if I make all this effort and no one buys my program?
  • Is it good enough?
  • Person X did a similar program and it sounds so totally amazing that even I want to buy it. Why would anyone buy my program instead?
  • You’re not an expert. What can you possibly teach people?


Sickness, fear or healing?

From the Christmas onward I simply stopped. Everything. I shut down. I slept a lot and even today I’m still exhausted (even though my eating was healthier than ever and I dropped 14 lbs easily, I was “napping” for hours a day and had no trouble sleeping again at night). I stayed offline and didn’t want to talk to people or go out because I just didn’t want to answer questions about “what are you up to?” or “did you get that project done?” or  try to explain why I felt the way I was feeling.


Even when I changed up my routine – taking a bath, doing meditation or stretching, going for a walk, talking to a friend – that nagging, anxious and exhausted feeling still lingers.


Was this just fear making me procrastinate? Was it depression or seasonal affective disorder? Was it just my body taking the time to heal (the time off the computer meant my shoulder finally feels healed after a nagging neck and shoulder injury from swimming in July).



Am I a quitter?

I know that I CAN follow through – swim training, the book chapter (man, there were agonizingly frustrating times working through the Centre Stage program trying to find my message and coming up with the core story…but I persevered), launching and hosting my own online interview show, even little things like creating a fun free giveaway (12 Favourite Things) from start to finish (fun graphics, researching links, writing blurbs about 12 fab folks, optin page and landing page with the 12 free goodies) all in 8 hours.


But because I am an ideas person and get distracted with the next thing and don’t always follow through, as well as the crippling fear of launching my online training program, makes me feel like a quitter. Like I’m a failure. I’m trying to get over that. Because I know it’s not true. But I don’t quite KNOW it deep inside.


Trying is better than not starting. (This one is still a work in progress.)

You learn something from not only mistakes but simply making things better – iterations they call it. I get that, but I don’t feel committed to it yet. (See “fear” above.)


How many of you bought the original iPhone? What was it like compared to iPhone 6?  Adobe Photoshop past its 10th version with Adobe Creative Suite but I remember using PS 2.5 back in college when I took photography in 1994. There were endless versions and sub-versions before Windows 8 (ok, not so much an improvement, but hopefully they figure it out for windows 9!) You get the picture.


Even big companies make mistakes. I read today that the big American retail giant Target is pulling out of Canada to cut losses  – after buying up the Canadian Zellers stores less than 2 years earlier, then loosing money in the first full year, Target is already calling it quits and pulling out of Canada. At least my own mistakes will probably never cost $5.4 billion.


What if fear DIDN’T stop me?



Listening to my inner voice and working on a healthier lifestyle.

  • Listening to my body and practicing conscious eating is how I shed my first 14lbs in 3 wks. (Though I do think some of the lack of appetite came from fear/anxiety about launching my first online training course.) Moving – mostly walking, stretching and short yoga-type movement sessions while walking tv at this time of year, and swim training at the pool. From May through October outdoor swimming and kayaking.


  • Practicing kinder thoughts and meditating, even if it’s not perfect. Accepting that my body needs what it needs and has its own rhythm. Practicing gratitude. Asking questions. (Thanks to Faith Priestly for guidance on that. Check out her Rhythm Release Receive FB group.)


  • Releasing fear and self-doubt, and practicing gratitude. Letting go of comparison-itis.  (Still a work in progress as I’m trying to be more conscious of this as we begin the new year).



You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. ~ Wayne Gretzky

I saw this quote today – it’s my Google welcome message. I used to be much braver. I followed through. I took chances. I was carefree. I travelled around the world by myself for 7 months. I left the city I grew up in, sold my house, moved west, got jobs without even a resume, settled happily for a while til I felt the need to move further west. I had articles and photos published in a magazine because I didn’t know that submitting and getting published was supposed to be hard. I followed my heart and my gut.


What happened to that person? Is it just a factor of getting older and more cautious? Am I really becoming more like my Mom? Is it because I lost a LOT of money (like many people did in 2009 when the economy tanked) and struggled through our own financial crisis so now I’m afraid of even trying?


Angelique with yellow bandana Australia scrapbook

Me in Australia, feeling free during my solo around-the-world-trip in 2004

My Why – is it big enough?

I still have yet to find my big why, even though I know it helps to achieve clarity and keep focused on goals through to completion. Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk comes to mind about first thinking about your why.


My whys are pretty simple.

  • I want to build up some savings as a buffer. (Practical, but oh so boring. And this goal is also related to something negative – what if something happens to my husband? What if one of us needs time off work for an emergency? What if we need to replace our vehicle?)
  • I want to see my nieces in the UK and bring them here to see a white Christmas or enjoy summer in the Okanagan.
  • I want to travel again – to experience food and cultures, not just a hotel stay.



I’ve never wanted to change the world. I’ve never been passionate about politics or causes. Not that I don’t believe in causes or value them, or wish for peace on earth and hope for a more eco-friendly future…quite the contrary. I’ve simply never been a shouter or a mover and a shaker. But we do try to do our part in little ways. We donate to the food bank, even when we didn’t have a lot to spare. I volunteered to do Help Portrait at Christmas to give cheer to families who couldn’t afford professional portraits but would cherish the family memory. I talk to strangers (and listen when they clearly need a kind soul to simply listen to them).


Side note: I recently picked up Danielle Laporte’s Firestarter Sessions book – from my bookshelf that is, where it lay waiting for quite a while. I love the design of the book. It makes me smile. I like the flow of her words, even though I find them a bit fluffy and woo woo at times. But what made me admit to my whys is Danielle’s advice to OWN IT. Big stuff. Small stuff. Embarrassing quirks. All part of the Youness that makes everyone unique. I’m still feeling like a bit of a fraud reading her book though – AM I the person who burns white hot? AM I the person to forge my own path instead of the safe road? Is it okay to read this book if I’m not? {A LOT of chatter goes on in my head!}


Other than that, we live a simple quiet life…and I’m content with that. I had an epiphany in June and I figured that out when I answered the question: what would your perfect life look like? swimming and kayaking nearly every morning, having friends over for a bbq, and camping and reading at the beach is exactly the way I want to spend my days. Add in occasional road trips, dinners out, movies (I LOVE Netflix but still enjoy the atmosphere of the big screen), a farmers market, an occasional pedicure, or a bottle of wine and I’m a happy bunny.


Plus I get to have the freedom to work from anywhere, including typing blog posts and working on projects while at the beach, camping or at a coffee shop. Life can be pretty darn good.


Why is 6-figures the magic number?

I have never been overly materialistic – I don’t need the newest gadget (I think the forced obsolescence built into technology and even the disposability of cheap clothing is incredibly sad and wasteful) and the only thing I’d want more of in my life is to travel. I value experiences over stuff.


That conflicts with the “make this your 6 figure year this year” mindset that everyone seems to be shouting at this time of year.  I feel somehow “not enough” because my goals are not that lofty.


Our lifestyle is simple. We grow our vegetables in our garden, pick wild blackberries, and volunteer for fruit picking (everything the sunny Okanagan Valley has to offer, from cherries, peaches and apricots in summer to pears, plums and apples in the autumn) with 10% of what we pick going to volunteer pickers and the rest donated to the local food bank.


I simply don’t need more stuff…last year I decluttered… a LOT! And we bought 2 kayaks from the money we got from selling emotionally-laden items that I’d schlepped across the country and paid for storage for nearly a decade. YAY ME!


I’ve never been a big clothes shopper or had a love for designer handbags or wanted a closet full of shoes. Or felt the need to have the biggest movie or music collection. And as I’ve gotten older, I feel even less like hoarding more stuff because well, I had to live through getting rid of all my parent’s stuff that I didn’t even need or like or plan to use, but kept solely through guilt or emotional attachment. {I even threw out old family Christmas ornaments this year, making room for new matching tree decorations. I thanked the old ornaments for binging years of joy and let them go.}


Shiny object syndrome… or What do I want to be when I grow up?

Part of my shiny object syndrome is that I like lots of things and have a variety of interests. Multi-passionate is a term I’ve seen a lot lately. I’m a curious monkey. I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. I like to know how things work. I like people’s stories, even the mundane ones.


Which brings me to the fact that I have tried my hand at many things (admin, call centre, photo lab tech, sales clerk, photographer, waitress, online marketing strategist, show host, teacher, etc)…but I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I don’t have that single-minded clarity that helps drive me to get the results I know I can achieve when I set my mind to things that I enjoy or am passionate about. (Swimming for example).


I thoroughly enjoy teaching (and I’m good at it). I’m tech savvy and find setting up the online mechanisms of business easy but it’s definitely not evergreen material (technology and social media changes at the speed of a mouse-click).  I like deconstructing (back to how things work). I love taking photos and other visual activities (videos, graphics…when I’m inspired). I like helping people and planning (not so much following through…I’m still working on that one…it’s also back to lots of ideas and getting distracted by the next idea).


I did realize this year, after completing the Centre Stage program (which is also how I got to have a chapter in a book published) that while I thought I wanted to move into public speaking, what I really enjoy is teaching… workshops, online training, video tutorials, 1-on-1 coaching, and a big source of pride and joy: teaching an 11 week course twice a year at the local college. For now, I’ve learned that I have no desire to make a living as a keynote speaker.


Until I find that thing that’s my secret sauce, Elizabeth Purvis’ words ring true. Do SOMETHING. Do it for 30 days. Get some momentum and some results.


Then feel how does that resonate? It doesn’t have to be a forever decision, but you just have to make A decision and go with it. Commit fully for 30 days. Test the outcome. Learn from the experience. Getting clarity can take time. All our journeys are different.



In summary:

  • I did have 2 very cool accomplishments to be proud of – open-water distance swimming and becoming a published author. Note to self: look back on the big (and small) accomplishments and celebrate them.
  • Take my own advice – just get it out there. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If your message, or what you’re teaching is important enough and can help people, say it. Then make it better next time if necessary.
  • I am not a quitter. I’m simply more motivated on some projects than others, and those that inspire me, I can follow through to completion, in spite of the fear or the amount of work required.
  • I’m ok with my simple lifestyle. I need to stop comparing myself to other people’s measure of success.
  • Fully commit – to learn something, to launch something, to create something. Pick one thing for 30 days and focus my energy instead of jumping into the next idea or project or half-assing it. Practice “just in time learning”. Buy, watch or learn what it is that I need to take the next step – don’t buy something to put on the shelf or watch it later. Focus. Implement. Commit.
  • Remember that failure is a learning opportunity and that outcomes are rarely as catastrophic as the fear itself.
  • Keep up the changes towards a healthier, more positive lifestyle and mindset with conscious food choices, meditation, gratitude and outdoor activities.



So that’s my rather discombobulated, rambling year in review post.


Even now I feel a tweak of anxiety at pressing the publish button. (The voice that says “It’s so unpolished. Nobody cares. What are you thinking???”)


Anyway, here goes. [Click]





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Bright Spark Media is located in Kelowna, BC. We help small businesses, entrepreneurs and service professionals in the Okanagan Valley and globally online. We offer social media training, customized social media set up, social media strategy and business coaching sessions, as well as commercial or event photography services and web design...everything to help you create an irresistible online presence!


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