We all have our ups and our downs, and strengths and weaknesses.
When you’re working for yourself, both can be painfully obvious and noticeable due to the fact there’s nowhere to shift the blame.
I don’t write a blog post for a month, that’s no ones fault but my own. However, if I do a big product launch and make thousands of dollars in a day, well I’m also the one that gets to revel in the success.
Last year I wrote a series of posts about the things I totally sucked at and the things that I knocked out of the park in 2011. It was a good exercise for me to boil down the best and worst aspects of my life and business into a short list – so that I can improve on it for next year.
As you’re reading about the successes and failures of my life, think about how your year went. What did you rock at? Where did you fall flat?
Make your own list and the expand on each item, and make an action plan for how you’re going to do better next year.
That’s what I’ll be doing, because as you’ll see, long term planning wasn’t exactly a strong point for me this year, and I left a lot on the table because of it
So let’s just jump into it and first look at 5 things I totally rocked at with my life and business in 2012.
Thing I Rocked at #1: Helping Others
The whole purpose of Location 180 these days is to help others learn how to live more fulfilling, happier lives. I’ve chosen to do that by the power of entrepreneurship and building a business.
Inside Location Rebel this year, we’ve had over a dozen members quit their jobs after building successful online businesses. Many of them have gone on to travel, and spend much more time with their families.
You have no idea how good it makes me feel to know that I’ve had even a small impact on that.
Each day my inbox is overflowing with questions that I take a lot of pride in my responses to. I try and respond to as many people as I can, and it’s been humbling to see the rise on emails telling me that they’ve made major changes for the better, in part because of the things I’m teaching.
Thing I Rocked at #2: Creating Stories
“I want to live a life worth writing about.”
That’s one of the stated goals I have for myself. This year I’ve smoked Cohibas in Cuba, ridden a camel in Petra, attended a NYC Fashion Week runway show, lived in a Mayan compound for a week, won big bucks in both Vegas and Macau, and attended Asia’s largest product sourcing festival - to say I’ve created some amazing stories is a total understatement.
THIS is what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I have no plans on slowing down.
Thing I Rocked at #3: Business Growth
You’ll see later on that I didn’t grow my business as much as I know I could have. That being said, I’ve grown it around 35% since the year prior. Most companies would kill for that.
I’ve opened up new income streams with Hacking the High Life and my consulting business (that you’ll hear more about in the new year). I’ve expanded internationally, as I’m now partnered with the guys over at The Elevator Life to import beer into Southern China (more on that soon as well).
So while revenue was definitely up over the year prior, it’s the areas I’ve expanded into and the planning I’ve done that has me feeling really good about where things are going next year.
Thing I Rocked at #4: Engagement
I try and build a relationship with as many people who are interested in this stuff as possible. I respond to emails, I meet people on my travels, and I do everything I can to prove that I’m a real person just like you are. I’m not one of those big gurus who seems untouchable, or someone who is so successful that you can’t relate to them.
I’m a regular guy who made some big changes.
When I was going through those changes I was fortunate to have a couple people who were living out my dream that would engage with me on a regular basis – I try and do the same for all the people who are sitting the exact same place I was a couple years ago, and I’ve done a really good job with it this year.
Thing I Rocked at #5: Balance
The last couple years I struggled to find the right balance with work and life. Time spent at home vs time spent away. Time spent working vs time spent with the people I love.
This is extremely difficult when you’re working as a solopreneur. There’s always work you could, and probably should be doing.
That never goes away.
However this year I did a better job at managing that. I was able to put the computer down when it was time to spend time with family and friends.
Aside from getting a little antsy at the end of the year, I found a good balance between being home in Portland and traveling.
Now this next year, I need to expand on the balance by being more effective with time management and really being as productive as possible when I’m in work mode.
Thing I Sucked at #1: Discipline
For all of the things I rocked at, there’s a TON of improvement that I could make. The vast majority of my struggles all come back to one key thing – discipline.
For various reasons I’ve had a difficult time with it this year, and it’s something I think about constantly. Disappointing considering 2012 was supposed to be “The Year of Discipline” – yeah, that didn’t really happen.
It’s not that I don’t put in the time, but rather I don’t always make the most of the time I do put in.
Call it entrepreneurs ADD, easily distractible, or whatever else you want – I’m frankly amazed I’ve gotten as much done as I have this year.
This will probably be a common theme (in various forms) this next year, because this is absolutely the difference between making it and not making it.
I have just enough discipline to be successful, but right now, not enough to catapult things to the next level. This is the #1 change that needs to be made, and pretty much everything else I’ve sucked at this year is a variation on this.
Thing I Sucked at #2: Waking Up Early
*Phone ringing at 6:15 on the dot*
Me: Hello (Still totally asleep)
Clay: Rise and shine sunshine!
Me: Ok, I’m up, I’m up.
Clay: I’m heading to the gym now, get up, and have a good day!
Me: Will do
*Stumbles out of bed*
This was just one of many different strategies designed to get me out of bed early. I’m most productive from whenever I wake up to 11am. So naturally, the earlier I wake up, the more productive I usually become.
My buddy Clay wakes up early every day to head to the gym, so I had him start calling me every morning at 6:15. It actually worked for about a week, until I took my trip to Colorado – about 14 days shy of building the habit.
Getting up early is one of the easiest ways I could improve my discipline, but it was pretty hit and miss this past year.
Thing I Sucked at #3: Creating and Sticking to a Plan
Generally speaking when I have a plan, I’m much more organized. I know exactly what I need to work on, and get more done in the process.
However, there are some larger, more elaborate plans that never quite got fully fleshed out – and projects never quite got off the ground because of it.
It’s because of this I’ve been trying to be extra diligent about how I approach the new year. I want to come in with a plan and execute on it, rather than just tossing stuff up as it comes to mind.
Thing I Sucked at #4: Executing on Small Details
Last week I talked about how the 80/20 principle is one of the primary reasons I didn’t grow my revenue as much as I know I could have.
I’m really good at having an idea, getting something 80% of the way there, and then moving onto something else. I’m at the point now where it’s the extra 20% that’s the difference between something that’s ok, and a roaring success.
Thing I Sucked at #5: Meeting People While in Portland
I joke that I know entrepreneurs from all over the world, but surprisingly few in my home town.
I really want to get more involved in the startup scene here, so I’ve slowly been making some contacts and trying to setup meetings with other people doing cool stuff in the city.
It’s easy to be in social mode when you’re traveling, and then fall back into routine and work mode when you’re back home.
Moving Into the New Year
Much of what I’ve been doing in the latter half of this year has been putting the building blocks in place to make some big moves in 2013.
To summarize, I was actually happy to see how this post panned out. While I struggled with discipline and productivity I really excelled at the things that I’ve always said matter most: stories, lifestyle, and relationships .
My business grew by around 35% this year. If that keeps up in a few years I’ll have more money than I could ever need. Right now, I live like a millionaire. I do what I want, when I want, with people I want to do it with – and that’s been the ultimate goal all along.
So in 2013 I’ll be working really hard on things like personal discipline and executing on the details, however as long as I keep the fundamentals of what Location 180 is built on intact, there’s not a doubt in my mind that I’ll continue to grow and thrive into the new year.