Well, friends, it is that time of the year again. Time to share my 2018 Annual Review with you.
I do this review at the end of each year, as a note to self.
More than that, this process allows me to look back on the previous year, celebrate my wins, evaluate what didn’t work and hold myself accountable.
I hope that you’ll find my stories, my challenges, and learnings useful.
Like my last year’s review, my 2018 Annual Review will answer three questions.
- What went well this year?
- What didn’t go so well this year?
- What am I working toward?
You’re welcome to use this format for your own Annual Review.
My 2018 Annual Review
What went well.
A good start. 2018 started on a good note. After being busy with client work and staying focused on my agency, and prepping for a new journey for the first 9 months of 2017, I took some time to think and create. A marketing predictions piece that I wrote was converted to a small book, and launched by LinkedIn at CMS Asia in the presence of several hundred top marketers in the industry. This work ended up being featured by publications like Exchange4media and many more.
Here is a nifty video that LinkedIn made based on this.
Learning (Knowledge and Skills). I learned a ton about content marketing, mostly in a B2B context. Also after a lifetime of using Google slides became good at powerpoint. It was more a professional necessity than a choice.
Communication, video calls specifically. I did more professional video calls in 2018 than my entire work life combined. Seeing yourself so much on screen forces you to create a different relationship with your face. And I found peace with it. It became a part of my life. This also means no more video calls in 2019 🙂
I also made videos. Lots of them. In addition to shooting long form videos with CXOs for my digital show, I also completed a 66-day streak of creating daily videos. I made videos in office, escalators, car parks, while moving from point A to B, in hotel lobbies, the lobby of my home, sitting on a couch, standing in a gallery, in a Starbucks well past midnight, in airport waiting area. I did it until back to back travel took over. Anyways it was fun and has set me up for the point when I’ll restart with a better plan.
Travel. I am not someone who is excited by travel. That said, I ended up travelling to the US, Singapore, Hong Kong, and China. Explored cuisines and places. Did my bit of clubbing and dancing but more than that I enjoyed roaming in the streets at 1 or 2 in the night and chatting with strangers in random street side cafes. Losing a laptop at San Francisco airport was no fun though – writing this as a note to self to be careful next time.
New doors opened. I worked with new teams, top executives and made interesting friends across the world. As a result of these opportunities and connections, I ended up advising and training management teams from brands like Microsoft, Vodafone, and IBM. Also led large public workshops for teams from leading enterprise teams across different cities.
Punctuality. After failing at this for a long time, I made it work. Of hundreds of meeting I did this past year, I was late for maybe 2 or 3. And, for all the others, I was early. What made it work was – not going for back to back meetings, some background prep, reliance on calendars; and most importantly understanding that if you are not early then you are late.
Relationships. I spent time with family and was with close friends when it mattered. There is room to grow here but not so much to keep it in ‘what didn’t go well’.
Strength and Mind-body hacking. I felt stronger than ever. At the beginning of the year through winter and towards the end of this year, I took cold water baths every single day. Did crazy experiments like taking cold water baths at midnight in California winters; and 7-day water fast later in the year where I only had water for a week. I ran experiments with natural food for mental sharpness and realized that it worked, and experimented with going sugar-free, caffeine-free and going on higher caffeine at different times. Let me know in comments if you are interested in reading more about this.
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What didn’t go well?
Agency growth. Since I started my agency I wanted to create a system driven business with less than usual reliance on individuals including myself, and rare emergencies. We reached a point in 2017 where I was confident of my colleagues servicing the existing business well. After taking up new bigger engagements, I wanted to create a system for growth but could not do it, mostly for reasons out of my control. So, it was status quo there.
Knowledge and Skills. I gained new knowledge and skills but most of my learning was uni-dimensional, something that can help me be successful in one sphere and not others. (I want to do a Warren Buffet here. Let’s see).
Procrastination. This devil stared in my face multiple times. There were times when I did something about it but there were a lot of times when I lost the battle. I realized this is one part of my life I need to be on top of. Whenever I overcame this challenge, it was driven by understanding that pain first and pleasure later strategy works and breaking anything you want to do in micro tasks makes it simple enough for execution.
Fitness. On and off, I did a lot. I walked long distances, did push-ups, went to learn with a Yoga guru. It was ok, but not consistent the way I’d want it.
Meditation. I was mostly regular. But did not stick to my daily 30 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes before sleeping routine. There were days when I did longer – 1 hour and more. But this was a short streak. This is not a big reason for concern though because I have done it long enough now that it is easy to come back to scale whenever I want.
Wasted Time. I ended up wasting a couple of months in the name of chilling and relaxing. Maybe I overdid it. I am not angry about it but I could have avoided it.
Big Mistake. I made a horrible mistake related to the well being of someone I love a lot. Thankfully she came out safe and alive. But there could have been dire consequences. Lesson learned for life to not hurry ever and keep personal safety for self, loved ones and anyone else paramount. This is the most I can share here. Posting it as a lesson for myself.
What am I working toward?
Being more efficient. This involves winning over procrastination. Being consistent with things and habits that matter. It also involves internalizing that life is short but days are long. So, my focus will be to do it right in a day, and weeks, months and years will take care of itself.
Ship more. I wrote in my 2017 review that I wanted to write more and add to my body of work. I wrote but did not publish enough. I want to change it in 2019.
Create more than I consume. This is the only way to be a maker. And, I am committed to doing it. I also plan to leverage my existing body of work.
Connect. Reach out to people I admire. I did not do this enough in 2018. Good news is that I already started now I just need to continue.
Leverage. I did not take up all opportunities that came by may, some of them big. I need to change this. I was and am fine with saying no to big speaking gigs because that wasn’t my focus, and it will not likely be in 2019. But I want to take up opportunities for leadership at scale.
Communication. Hone all aspects of it by identifying micro-skills that make it.
Relationships. Be there for those who matter. Do right by more people.
New projects. Take up and start new projects. Not all at once but one by one. Watch this space to see what is coming up 🙂
Giving Back. Help people through my work but also help people one on one whenever I can. Give more than I take. I am already on my way in my own little way. Do it in a scalable. Publishing content is one of the ways to do it in a scalable way. Take people along on the journey. Do more community-driven projects. I have done this in past but this year I want to do it on a bigger scale.
I am sure there was more. Some of it what I missed and don’t recall now and bits I didn’t want to share, though I have shared the most.
I am thankful for all the opportunities that came my way, for all smiles, helping hands, and unconditional love. Also, my apologies if I did wrong by anyone. I am human like you and I make mistakes at times. But I try to get better as the days pass by.
On that note, wish you a solid 2019!
I plan to publish more often in the new year. Is there anything that you’ll want to learn/want me to write about? Let me know in comments 🙂
1. Thanks to Chris Brogan who inspired me to come up with annual themes and Chris Guillebeau for inspiring me to do an Annual Review each year.