Belly Dance Collection

This year I’m writing my first Annual Review, which will give me a chance to take stock of what went well and what could have gone better, while also giving me a moment to enjoy the progress I’ve made over the past 12 months.

But it’s not just about looking back. A good Annual Review is also about looking toward the future and thinking about how the life I’m living now is building toward a bigger mission. Basically, my Annual Review forces me to look at my actions over the past 12 months and ask, “Are my choices helping me live the life I want to live?”

And most importantly, the annual review is a personal process. It’s not about comparing how much or how little you did to someone else. It’s about your life, your actions, and what you want to do for yourself. In other words, keep your eyes on your own paper.

There are 3 questions that I’m going to answer in my Annual Review (feel free to use these for your own annual review if you want). After writing inconsistently for years, this was the year when I finally turned it around. I wrote a new article every Monday and Thursday in 2013. (I only missed one day all year, which happened when I was sick with food poisoning while traveling through Italy). My first article was published on November 12, 2012. I’m proud to say that since that time I have published 114 articles on and received 686,937 unique visitors. Best of all, 40,637 people have joined my free weekly newsletter. (Thank You!)

Travel. I visited 5 countries and 10 states this year. Internationally, I traveled to Austria, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and the United States. Within the USA, I visited California, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. Overall, I’m happy with the amount of travel in my life, but next year I plan to schedule more trips specifically for photography.

Lifting. I’m slowly getting into better shape. In the beginning of the year, I was still relatively weak and out of shape, so I spent the first five months focusing on bodyweight exercises to build a foundation. Starting in late May, I went back to the gym and I haven’t missed a workout since. Again, I started with easy weights and slowly worked my way up each week. Rather than worrying about specific numbers, I was much better this year about committing to the process of training and getting better each week. I’m planning to share more details about my workouts during 2014. my entire life. This year, I made big strides toward becoming more process-oriented and focusing on the system rather than the goal. This was a major shift for me and the wonderful thing is that I’m enjoying the process more than ever and the results are still there.

Basically, I didn’t do it. I have readers emailing me each week asking when my book is coming out. I have friends telling me every month that I need to launch a product. Maybe it’s my own fears or mental barriers holding me back, but I haven’t done it yet. I want to do it. I plan to do it. I just haven’t executed. My writing every Monday and Thursday will always be free, but you can also expect multiple books and products in 2014. Again, I know I should delegate more tasks in my business, but I have delayed doing this for a long time. Last week, I finally stepped up and hired someone to handle a few tasks. Hopefully that will go well and I’ll grow as a manager and leader over the next year. Building a team of people who believe in the mission is something I want to become better at in 2014. Thankfully, I see most of my family and friends in-person multiple times each year. But when we are far apart, my friends do a much better job of staying in touch with me than I do of staying in touch with them. I rarely call people first and often wait too long before calling them back. I’m thinking of how I can schedule calls with friends and family into my calendar on a weekly basis in 2014. (My main worry is that my family and friends will think that it’s too “business-like” to schedule calls with the people you are close to personally.) I’m not sure that I got better as a photographer this year. Mostly, it comes down to this: I didn’t take enough photos. The only way to get better at the craft is to do the craft, and I spent too much time doing other things. I’d like to fix this in 2014 by scheduling a handful of photography trips, which will be 4 to 10 days in length and specifically dedicated to taking photos. You can be sure that some photo essays will be coming your way.