The Year in Review 2016

Another year is (almost) one for the history books. And history will have a lot to say about 2016…

Sometime between my birthday (October) and the end of the calendar year, I start doing my year in review. (Sometimes I even remember to publish them.) The year in review started as the personal offshoot to the dreaded day job “annual review process” – the report card you filled out so your boss could decide raises and promotions or give you “counseling on your opportunity areas.” (Fancy talk for telling you what behaviors to fix.) Some of my favorite mentors and bloggers I follow also do a year end review. I’ve borrowed inspiration from Chris Guillebeau, Michael Hyatt’s Lifescore tool and many others. This year, I’ve especially liked Marie Forleo’s approach to reviewing the year. She asks three questions:

  • What did I do create or experience this year that I am proud of?
  • What mistakes did I make that taught me something? What lessons did I learn that I can leverage?
  • What am I willing to let go of?

With those questions in mind, here’s my 2016 year in review.

What did I do create or experience this year that I am proud of?

The Professional Storyteller came to play this year. Whether it was working with private clients, talking story on podcasts or working as an actor, I am proud of the work that I’ve done and the relationships that I’ve developed as a result.

The visible work: podcasts such as Entrepreneur on Fire, Say Yes and Theater of the Courtroom allowed me to share my story and advice with so many new people. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to be invited into these communities. On the acting side, you may have heard me this year on commercials like Yoplait or Fantastic Sams. Some of you who live outside the US might have heard me as the English VO for a romantic comedy telenovela called “Fallen Over Love” (the English title). Or, as many of you kindly (and excitedly) shared, you may have seen my face pop up on “This is Us” (and a few other things). On stage, I just wrapped up a very cool theater project with the Rogue Artist Ensemble/East West Players. And I collaborated on my first album! Finally, I’m proud of being able to perform as the lead in one of my favorite musicals, Once on this Island. Playing Ti Moune was a dream come true for me.

The invisible work: helping private clients understand their brand, and define & get to know their audiences. This was also the year of the Office Hours, in which entrepreneurs and creative artists of all stripes joined me for 1-on-1 sessions to discuss branding, getting and staying organized in their business and project management. I’m proudest of my 1-on-1 coaching students, who are growing in their skills week over week. Some of my favorite memories are witnessing their “A-ha!” moments.

Behind the scenes: I also recommitted to my own learning, by signing up for VO and acting classes offered through SAG-AFTRA, working with a business coach, and enrolling in courses to improve my own productivity and well being. 2016 was also the year I achieved two running goals: to run/walk 1,000 miles and to run across the Golden Gate Bridge (in San Francisco). And because philanthropy is very important to me, I’m proud of crossing the $10K mark in funds raised for cancer research.

What mistakes did I make that taught me something? What lessons did I learn that I can leverage?

I didn’t say NO enough. As an improviser, I’ve been taught to Yes, And. The “good little Asian girl” I once was still has some people-pleasing tendencies that don’t always serve me (or my business) well.  Sometimes in order to say YES, you need to say NO first. A few examples of my fails are below.

– Firing non-ideal clients. Over the summer I took on a coaching client despite my better judgement. (Mistake #1) Over the course of our time together, the red flags started early and kept coming. My favorite red flag: multiple calls at 7 a.m. – very clearly outside of my stated office hours – until she managed to override my phone’s “Do not Disturb” function. She was convinced that we had a meeting at that time, even though my scheduling software does not allow for 7 a.m. meetings. I should have let her go then, but I allowed her to continue. (Mistake #2). We eventually parted ways, but not before more energy was wasted – instead of coaching her, I spent most of my time and effort managing her and providing customer service.  The opportunity cost: a piece of my sanity and time I could have invested in courting and coaching a client who was a better fit.  Lesson Learned:  Listen to your instincts when it comes to client/coach fit. Action Plan: Review my description of the “ideal client” and revise my process to ensure that new clients are qualified more carefully.

– Speaking up for myself. I “won” a month of coaching from a running coach. I was excited to win a prize (says the girl who “never wins anything”) and get a different POV on running from a coach who seemed to have a lot of experience and enthusiasm. (And let’s be honest: it’s really intriguing to hear that it’s possible to 20% off your best marathon time by taking a different approach.) But once we actually started working together, the tone of our conversations changed. Enthusiasm came across as brusque and rude via text. Requests to make adjustments to the schedule or the workouts were met with stony “suck it up” responses. I had to fire him twice. The first time, I asked for a call so I could at least check in and make sure I wasn’t misreading his tone before letting him go. His texted response: “Why do you need a call? Just do the work.” The second time, right after that response, I ended up sending an e-mail to terminate the contract. I hated doing that but I was proud of myself for speaking up and asking to be treated with respect. (His response to my e-mail only confirmed that I had made the right decision.) Lesson Learned: Sometimes “free” things come with strings attached. When something isn’t working, speak up. Action Plan: There’s not really an action plan, so much as an awareness plan. This incident reminded me to address situations where I’m feeling confronted head-on, rather than “sucking it up” and letting it go.

Ignoring my self care. Every once in a while my calendar would get overloaded. And after doing two shows back to back, I got sick after each show – the combination of being among a group of actors who were also battling colds, lack of sleep and lots of adrenaline. After giving up caffeine last year, I cheated a few times and had some. While it allowed me to stay up late and get work done, boy did it mess up my sleep habits. Which just made the problem worse and started the sleepless/exhaustion cycle all over again. Not good. Lesson learned: This girl needs good sleep and regular exercise. When I don’t get it, it compromises my health and my ability to focus.  Action Plan: First, give myself enough recovery time to actually recover. And then, revisit Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning and re-implement his SAVERS ritual to get back on track. 

What am I willing to let go of?

  • Excess stuff. I moved this year, and not everything I brought fits into my new space. I realized that extra stuff doesn’t just clutter up my space, it clutters my thinking. I’ve already started boxing up things to take to Goodwill, but I’d like to simplify even further. (Like digitizing my remaining paper and getting my digital files in order.)
  • Not feeling prepared. They say luck is where opportunity meets preparation. When it comes to my business and my creative work, this means continuing to invest in my education and building relationships. And if 2016 was the year that we lost so many of our pop and political icons, it reminded me that 1) life is short and 2) we need to be prepared for… whatever. Regarding the “whatever,” I’ve signed up for reminders from “Get Your Shit Together” to make sure that my affairs are organized and up to date.

In closing…

If 2016 was centered on creating FLOW, 2017 is focused on CONVERGENCE.  Integrating all the lessons and skills gained over the past few years to create new experiences and continue to grow and learn.

Now that you’ve read my year in review, I’d love to hear yours too! How would you answer Marie’s questions? Post in the comments.

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