2022 year in review: Rest, Reconnect, Reset, Refocus.
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2022 had been a tough year for me. After six years of hard work building my business, the pandemic pushed me to my limits. I felt exhaustion, resentfulness, and disappointment.
Partway through the year, something inside me changed. I knew I couldn’t stay in this cycle of monotony forever, so I decided it was time to reset, rediscover my purpose, and renew my focus.
Last week my wife and I joined a 2022 review webinar hosted by my amazing friend and client Emily Gowor, where she guided us through a series of questions to reflect on the year that was and start planning for the year ahead.
We also watched a replay of Ness Lab’s annual review process and went through that.
Both processes were extremely helpful.
In this update, I’ll share my personal reflection, lessons, and insights from my year in review.
Prefer to skip my review and create your own plan for the year ahead? Simply scroll to the section at the bottom titled “Summary of Questions for planning your 2023”.
Here’s what I wrote in my Oct 23 newsletter about the decision to stop everything and give myself some space:
I won’t get into all the details here, but suffice it to say that I went through periods of languishing, burnout, and soul-searching. After grinding for six years, it was time to take a break and rediscover the things that brought me joy.
My wife and I also decided in early June that after being stuck in the same apartment and routine in Sydney for the past two years, it was time for us to move to greener pastures (and lower our cost of living at the same time). Danang, Vietnam, would be our new home.
In less than two weeks, we put our stuff in storage, gave back the keys to our apartment, said bye to friends and family, and booked a one-way ticket out of Sydney.
Since arriving in Danang, I have experienced a rollercoaster of personal growth and failure. I dealt with anxiety, bouts of insomnia, and self-confidence issues. But at the same time, I was also able to get back into a routine of writing, creating content, reading books, and exploring the city.
Slowly but surely, my personal growth started to take shape in new ways –
I stopped working for three months and traveled overseas for the first time in two years to explore and reconnect with good friends. Cindy and I visited Vancouver for a few days and stopped by Seattle for a day. We spent a week in Portland for World Domination Summit, then a few weeks in San Francisco, where we stayed with my former housemate from when I was living in Toronto back in 2009. Reaching out to and having uncomfortable yet honest conversations with trusted friends and mentors, Met with a coach that specializes in helping people overcome insecurity, Completed journaling exercises Invested in courses to develop my digital writing skills, I read dozens of books and blogs, listened to podcasts, and watched Youtube videos on psychology, personal growth, and entrepreneurship.
All the while, I gave myself the space to reassess my goals and rewrite my vision for the future.
Photo was taken in Vancouver, June 2022.
Below are my answers to Emily’s questions and thoughts about where I’m headed next year.
My insights and lessons from 2022
Q1: What Was Your Most Significant Achievement This Year?
Realising that I’ve lost confidence in myself, don’t trust myself at a deep level, and am scared to show up in the world.Moving to Danang, Vietnam with my wife Cindy.Asking for help to address deep wounds.
Q2: What Was Your Greatest Lesson?
2022 was possibly the most financially challenging year for my business. Whilst I had some OK months, most were very lean. Consequently, I felt discouraged and unmotivated. I began to analyze my mental attitude towards money.
I worked with a coach, and he helped me to realize that I don’t just have a money challenge, I have an insecurity challenge. I’ve taken a massive confidence hit and need to (re-)learn how to rebuild it.
The good news is that I’ve done it before, so I’m confident I can do it again.
Q3: What Are You The Most Grateful For?
I’m most grateful for my incredible, inspiring, and supportive wife. Without Cindy by my side, I know I wouldn’t have been able to make it through the ups and downs of 2020. Her love, strength, and courage have given me a foundation to stand on no matter what comes my way.
(Photo was taken at Upside Down house in Vung Tau, July 2022)
I’m also thankful for the following:
Having mentors and coaches who are willing to help me work through personal issues with unconditional love and understanding. All the individuals who have believed in me, supported me, and invested in me over the past few years (and indeed from the beginning). An immense thank you to the loyal clients who had faith in me and my abilities to help them promote their businesses (and even their clients). You know who you are. Your trust is invaluable to me, and I cannot express how much it means.
Bonus: If you were going to sum up 2022 in four words, what would they be?
Summarizing the past year into a few words is a good way to take a big-picture view. When we zoom out, we can identify themes and patterns in our lives, which can help us plan for the year ahead.
For me, my words would be – Rest, Reconnect, Reset, Refocus.
My vision for 2023
Q4: Where Do You Want To Be At The End Of The Year?
In prior years, I used to answer this question with clear-cut objectives like how much money I wanted to make or a physical location where I’d like to be.
After a year of heavy emotions and feeling the weight of not being the ambitious person I’m accustomed to, I want to focus my intention on my emotional and mental state instead.
So at the end of 2023, I want to be in a state where I feel LIGHT + FREE in body, mind, and spirit.
Q5: What Will You Bring To Life In 2023?
A portfolio of creative small bets (projects) that are profitable and sustainable. These projects allow me to share my gifts & purpose with the world.
I recently completed Daniel Vassallo’s “A Portfolio of Small Bets” cohort-style course. An important lesson I have learned is to try and tame uncertainty, decipher what’s worth listening to, take wise risks and create a life that permits me to remain self-employed.
My outlook has shifted due to this, and I am now purposely constructing something that upholds my present and future lifestyle. Something that prioritizes slow growth.
• Hard work → Trial & error
• Focus → Many things at once
• Optimization → 80/20 rule
• Consistency → Intensity
• No distractions → Embrace randomness
• Practice 10,000hrs → 100 small bets
• Efficiency → Slack in the system
• Goals → Stay in the game
— Daniel Vassallo (@dvassallo)
Jun 27, 2022
My idea scenario would be to have a mix of self-employment income, similar to the following:
Forms of self-employment income for developers:
🔴 SaaS: Takes a long time for meaningful returns.
🟢 Info Products: High volatility, unpredictable, potential for extremely high ROI.
🔵 Freelancing: Predictable, stable, choose your own hours.
Mix together for maximum effect!
— Daniel Vassallo (@dvassallo)
May 18, 2020
@alexellisuk My “business plan” has been to do things that maximize the odds that I can stay self-employed. Doing a few things (3 so far) in parallel was part of the strategy. It’s less efficient than focusing one thing, but more likely to get me to a point where I can make it sustainable.
— Daniel Vassallo (@dvassallo)
Feb 9, 2020
I’ll do a proper review of Daniel’s course in an upcoming newsletter.
Q6: What Is Your Top Goal?
Move from surviving to thriving!
I’ve been operating out of survival mode for too long. I want to be in a place where I’m no longer just surviving, but thriving and living my best life.
Q7: How Will You Support Yourself To Achieve It?
I’ve got a few ideas for this to experiment with next year:
Body/wellbeing: run and/or swim weeklyBring on an assistant to help me with my businessParticipate in my regular mastermind group calls and be active in a few supportive communities online (and hopefully locally too)Work with a mentorDaily spiritual practice e.g. mindfulness journalling, meditation, walking in natureWeekly reflection (Ness Lab’s Plus, Minus, Next method looks useful for this)Weekly money practice (like this 30-minute weekly financial self-care routine)
Q8: Who Do You Want To Learn From? What Do You Want To Learn?
I want to learn how to connect with co-creators, supporters, and funders/investors for the projects I’m working on. More important for the vision that my wife and I have for building a tiny house on rented/borrowed land as part of an intentional community.
So the mentors and teachers I’ll be seeking out are those who know how to:
source and acquire land to put a tiny house on through creative partnerships (and without having to purchase the land outright)finance a community-driven projectbuild a resilient and supportive co-living community, and anything else related to the vision we have for our lives.
For us to begin, we must find a landowner who shares our vision and is willing to either rent out part of their property or let us park a tiny house on it in exchange for helping them in some way (looking after their garden and growing produce, marketing their business, or some other way).
Q9: What Impact Would You Love To Make On Humanity?
I want to help Asian immigrants and their kids learn how to break free from living paycheck to paycheck and build multi-generational wealth.
I plan to:
Launch a project to inspire and empower those from similar backgrounds struggling with financial uncertainty and instability. Tap into my network for guidance and resources to further educate myself on building generational wealth. To achieve my goals, I need to expand beyond my current network and actively build it up with immigrants (and children of immigrants) who have achieved financial independence and created multi-generational wealth.Provide online resources, education, and mentorship to empower them on their journey toward wealth stability — something that I wish my parents and I had had when I was younger.
Q10: What Is Your Word For The Year?
To be luminous means to be full of life and to shine brightly. For me, this means shining a light on personal growth, mental health, and what it takes to realize one’s dreams of financial independence and freedom.
BONUS: What do you believe to be your top 3 success strategies?
For me to be successful, I’ll need the following:
A clear vision that’s connected to my purposeCreating regular time and space to move my body and connect with nature and spiritAccountability buddy/team – Co-creating & connecting with fun & inspiring people
Summary of Questions for reviewing your year & planning your 2023
Three questions to debrief the year that has just been.
What Was Your Most Significant Achievement This Year? What Was Your Greatest Lesson? What Are You The Most Grateful For?
BONUS Q: If you were going to sum up 2022 in four words, what would they be?
Seven questions that will support you in planning for 2023:
Where Do You Want To Be At The End Of The Year? What Will You Bring To Life In 2023? What Is Your Top Goal? How Will You Support Yourself To Achieve It? Who Do You Want To Learn From? What Do You Want To Learn? What Impact Would You Love To Make On Humanity? What Is Your Word For The Year?
BONUS Q: What do you believe to be your top 3 success strategies?
Here’s a great tip from Emily when writing down your answers to each question:
Additional suggestions and resources:
You can view all these questions with Emily Gowor’s descriptions and prompts here.You can add visuals (photos, stock images, core desired feelings, etc.) to any of your answers to really bring your vision to life (or go one step further and create a separate vision board using Canva or Pinterest).Want to go deeper with your review and planning for your year ahead? Check out these additional questions. Read Anne-Laure Le Cunff’s 2022 year in review. I admire Anne for skipping the usual listing of accomplishments and opting to share the ebbs and flows of her life instead.
Progressing into 2023 with great anticipation and eagerness.
Over the course of this past year, I slowly started taking back control over how I spent my time—and used it wisely towards things that truly mattered to me.
I’ll work hard to make meaningful changes with my newfound clarity on what matters most. Every small step makes a difference, from reorganizing my priorities to finding healthier ways to manage stress.
Due to this renewed focus and dedication towards creating a better version of myself, 2023 will be my year of personal growth and mental health, underpinned by the word “Luminous.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this personal Year in Review journey. Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and restful end of the year.
Here’s to a transformational 2023! 🎉🎆🥳
PS. – Did you get value from this newsletter? If yes, then please:
Reply to let me know what you found most useful. If you’ve done your own review feel free to share a link if you’ve published it online. I’d love to read it. Forward it to someone else who might find it useful too.Consider supporting my work and becoming a paid subscriber.
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