Ok, so 2016 was an AWESOME year for me.
It was technically my fourth year as an entrepreneur but it was actually the first year I was able to completely work for myself, from home, and without needing to juggle any other side jobs. So I guess you could say 2016 was my first successful year as an entrepreneur.
In addition to business-related stuff, I also made incredible growth in the health and fitness realm, which I could not be more excited about because I've really struggled for a long, long time with this stuff.
I haven't written a "Year in Review" post before, so I figured now would be a good time to start, especially since I've gained so much clarity this past year and I feel like I have some insights to share! 🙂
Let's actually start by rewinding back to the end of 2015...
Where I Was
I was working 7 days a week for 6 different companies (Postmates, Uber, Lyft, Herbalife, DogVacay, Paradise Pet Care) while also trying to run my own design & marketing business (by myself) and maintain this blog (also, by myself.)
Why I Was Unhappy
- Most of my time was spent working for other businesses and helping them grow.
- The work I was doing day in and day out didn't challenge me creatively, which was making me feel both anxious and depressed.
- I knew in my soul that I was meant to do bigger things in life.
- I knew mediocre "service work" was NOT for me.
- I didn't know how long I'd have to hold onto my side jobs.
What I Wanted
- To only work for my business and help my business grow.
- To let go of my side jobs.
- To make enough money from my blog and my design biz to cover my bills every month.
- To be able to work from home (or from where ever I was).
- To have the time freedom to learn and be creative more often.
- To do the kind of work that expanded my mind and really made me think!
- To have the freedom to have more control over my own little world.
- To create more passive income.
- To do my own thing, in my own way, with my own rules and on my own schedule.
- To be a true entrepreneur, to only work for myself and to be a self-made success.
What My Fears Were
- I was afraid to let go of my side jobs. They were my "crutch," helping me feel safe and financially secure. I thought I needed them because how else was I going to make enough money to pay my bills every month? I figured they were just the "price I had to pay" in order to get me to where I wanted to be.
- I wanted to move in with a roommate so I could save myself a few hundred a month, but I was afraid I was going get another borderline "crazy" one and I was going to be forced to move again. I haven't had much luck with some of the past ones and I've had to move multiple times in a year, which hasn't helped my focus, my financials or my stress levels, to say the least.
My Turning Point
In September of 2015, I felt like my side jobs were taking over my life and they were just dragging me along.
I realized something really needed to change because I just didn't want to feel stressed, unhappy and utterly exhausted any more.
So I thought about my situation for a bit and what I could change and that's when a light bulb went off:
Were my side jobs actually dragging me? Or was I letting them drag me?
Was I a victim of this circumstance? Or did I have a choice?
That's when I realized I did have a choice, and I was simply choosing to let my side jobs drag me along.
We all have choices and so I had to take responsibility for the results of whatever I was choosing to do. This also meant I had to take responsibility for the results of whatever I was choosing NOT to do.
Then I realized I could actually let go of them at any time; no one was stopping me.
Well, besides myself.
And that's when I realized I was simply standing in my own way.
I am my own problem, but I am also my own solution.
Since no one was stopping me from making changes, other than myself, the reason I was unhappy was because I wasn't giving myself permission to let go.
So I decided that it was finally time to give myself that permission.
Time to Face my Fears
I started by analyzing a few of my income spreadsheets, to see where I could make adjustments and that's when I realized that most of my income was already coming from my blogs!
So I asked myself, "What the hell was I doing wasting most of my time doing things I hated?!"
That was all I needed to know and I started tapering down my side jobs, one by one, over the last 4 months of 2015.
Out of all of my side jobs, I considered Uber and Lyft to be the most flexible, since I could jump in my car and literally drive any time I wanted. I decided those would become my backups, in case I ever needed to make some quick money down the line.
I also decided to try my hand with a roommate again and so I moved out of my studio apartment and moved in with a girl I found on Craigslist, hoping this one would be better than the last one!
I asked her a lot of questions up front, before I moved in, to try and get a feel of who she was and how she lived because it was of the utmost importance to me that we get along. I didn't want to have to move again anytime soon! Of course, this process hasn't always worked well for me in the past, but if I'm being honest with myself, there were some red flags I felt immediately with some of the people I chose to move in with. I should have trusted my intuition then, but I didn't, and so I had to take responsibility for that and pay the price. This time, I really tried to tune into my intuition and something about this girl just felt right to me, so I went for it!
Once I let go of all that heavy shit that was weighing me down, I really started to fly!
Letting go created this whole new open space for myself to flutter around in. This space allowed me more time freedom to focus on my own thing, which in turn, started creating financial growth, a new-found energy and lots of internal happiness within myself!
Choosing to take a risk and face my fears turned out to better than I had imagined!
Once I had more time in my schedule to work on my own things, I decided to start making some goals I could work towards to keep me motivated.
I made a few random lists of goals at the beginning of 2016, however, I misplaced the lists and didn't actually find them again until the end of the year. Regardless, I must have really wanted these things because even though I didn't have them written down in front of me, I was still able to accomplish most of them!
THE GOALS I MADE FOR MYSELF AT THE BEGINNING OF 2016
What I crossed out = Accomplished.
What I didn't cross out = Not Accomplished.
Make at least $40,000I made over $66,000! That's more than I have ever made in a year in my life. 🙂 And it more than doubled my income from the previous year (and without running around like crazy and juggling what seemed like the whole world.) #winning
Get rid of all side jobs and just focus on my blog and my web design businessI kept telling myself I could drive for Uber or Lyft if I really needed some money, but that day never came and I haven't driven since December 2015!
Build up my business/passive income enough to replace side jobsSee above. I believe my income went up because I stopped trying to juggle a million things and got more focused. And also because I did more of what I was naturally good at.
Add to Whipped Dream - Blog, Pricelist, Portfolio, ResourcesDone.
Make a weekly work schedule for myself and stick to itIn order to have more structure in my days and weeks, I set my client schedule to Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm. I also really focused on setting boundaries, so when clients contacted me on the weekends, they simply did not get a reply until Monday. This didn't seem to work for a few clients of mine, who would often call me (did I also mention how much I hate the phone?) on Friday nights or over the weekend with something they needed from me ASAP. After dealing with a few who threw temper tantrums and bending over backwards to accommodate them, I realized they weren't worth the stress, and so I ended up firing them. If someone doesn't respect my time, my schedule or my work, why would I continue letting them run my life, too? #bye
Start a monthly income reportThis was kind of scary for me because I really did not want to put my income out there to the world, but I saw other bloggers were benefitting from this so I decided to just go for it. I did my first one in August and noticed almost immediately that my blog was getting a lot more traffic and a lot more subscribers. My income reports also started getting featured on other blogs, like Income Reporters, so I definitely think it was worth it!
Track business expenses in a spreadsheetThis helped with my monthly income reports and will also help when tax season comes.
Figure out how to size my blogging images on all social media channels.I got all the size guides from Pinterest and made templates for each in order to make things easier and more streamlined. Not to mention my branding looks a lot more cohesive and professional. 🙂
Make a page of definitions (designer-speak, glossary of designer terms, design terminology, design and marketing terminology.I started this but it needs more work. Maybe more will come in 2017?
Write a page about what passive income isI did that! Here it is: What is Passive Income
Make myself a meal plan & weekly gym scheduleI made myself a flexible meal plan, which meant I could eat whatever I wanted to eat, as long as it fit my macros and I didn't go over my calorie limit (I tracked everything in My Fitness Pal). I set my weekly gym schedule to do 4-5 days of weight training and actually started power lifting in July (which pretty much got me addicted.) I alternated between upper and lower days, which made my workout schedule flexible, just like my diet 🙂 I also played soccer on Monday and Friday nights. Wednesdays and Saturdays were my set rest days. Sticking to all of this really helped me achieve the results I wanted, which was to gain muscle and lose body fat... something I was really struggling with for so many years (entrepreneur life is stressful and unpredictable, if ya didn't know!) Consistency, structure and persistence are the keys to success! For some inspiration on power lifting, check out Meg Squats on YouTube!
- Only eat out on Saturdays & spend $25 max
I don't think I really stuck to this one, but I did start eating out less, especially the last half of the year. Coincidentally, I also seemed to make the most fat loss/muscle gain progress this way.
- Spend $60/week on groceries
I came pretty close to this, but not totally on point. I did spend less on groceries and supplements in general as opposed to what I was spending on stuff before, so at least there's that. 🙂
- Pay off all of my debt by ($40,000) December 2016
I paid off half of it! I'm pretty sure I can get rid of the other half this year! Debt-free here I come!
- Shoutout to everyone who has influenced me or helped me build my business
This is still something I want to do.
- Blog post on what my goals are for this year
That never happened but it's happening this year in this post!
- Add branding/blogging mentorship service on Whipped Dream
I did not do this and I'm not sure yet if this is something I want to offer.
- Walk/ride bike more than drive. spend less on gas
It was hard to do this since I got a boyfriend this past year, who lives 15 min away. If I wasn't dating him, I wouldn't really have a reason to drive anywhere, haha, but I think it's a fair compromise... he's worth it. 🙂 And we go for a lot of walks together, so technically I guess that balances things out!
WHAT I WANT IN GENERAL
I wrote this list a year ago...
- To not have to talk to people on the phone or meet people in person, but still help people online
- To do more creative writing and design work on the computer
- To teach myself how to do online marketing better
- To be able to work anywhere
- To have enough money to live very comfortably: $5,000 month or more
- To write an ebook
- To travel often to anywhere I want to go
- To achieve the best body I’ve ever had
- To live by myself
- To get a sweet lofty apartment with awesome views of the ocean
I've pretty much accomplished most of them, except for #6, #8 and #10, but those are things I'm working on this year! I also probably want to live by myself again at some point but going to have to hold off on that until I pay off all my debt. But then again, I kind of want to just be a nomad and live a minimalist life and travel... I think that will happen after I achieve all of my other goals beforehand.
SOME THINGS I'VE CHANGED THAT HELPED ME SUCCEED IN 2016
- I've started making it a priority to be a bit more selfish
Sounds kind of backwards but this was the mental shift I needed to make in order to change my game. Being selfish simply means loving myself and doing what I need to do for me. I need to help my self first because once I become a better version of myself, I will be better able to help others in the future. Writing about my own personal and business growth on this blog helps me do that, so my priority is to be more selfish with my time in order to keep writing more!
- I've started saying no more often
This ties in with being more selfish. If I drop everything I'm doing to help someone else with their thing, then I suffer and the things on my to-do list don't get done. When I say no to someone who asks for my help, it doesn't mean I'm uncaring or selfish, it just means I care enough about myself and my goals to set boundaries. The guilt in this is something I've been trying to work on, which has been hard, but I have to remember this: How can someone be mad at me for taking care of myself first? If it were the other way around and I got mad at them for doing what they need to do for them, would that be fair? If someone gets mad at me it simply means they don't respect me. They don't care about me and only care about themselves. This is a person I don't need in my life. I can't be everything to everyone. I need to love myself first and do what I need to do for me because in the big picture, that's actually going to help more people. If people don't like that, they can just run along.
- I've stopped doing client work
I see the most growth in both myself and with my financials when I focus more on blogging and working alone on my own things. I have also noticed that I feel the most happy when I don't have clients to stress over. Doing work for them is one thing, but then there's the fact that sometimes I have to chase them down for money, or have to spend the time explaining things to them... it can be a lot of work and work that I don't really like doing. It's also a lot of time spent that I don't actually get paid for, so I'd rather spend my time doing things that I like to do instead of doing things I hate.
- I've started becoming more focused
Focusing on one thing at a time helps me master that thing much quicker. Plus the outcome of it is the result of 100% of my energy instead of say 25%. I wrote this blog post that goes along with this: What Could I Create with a Full Force of Focus and Energy. Focusing on my passions has also been a huge contributor to my success. Last summer my passive income really started to pick up and all of a sudden I was making more than enough to live a very comfortable lifestyle. So I decided to stop taking on client work and took about 6 weeks off; my first real and deserved vacation during my entire entrepreneurship journey. The break felt good; I kinda just floated around doing whatever with no stress and nothing I had to do. But I soon got bored and started craving more. So I started doing more productive things, like reading more about business, blogging and design stuff. Then in August, I decided to get creative and revamp this blog with all the new things I learned. That's when I realized that I was extremely PASSIONATE about learning and creating... it's all I wanted to do and I realized I would do it even if I didn't get paid for it! So I started doing more and more of that over the last half of 2016, and that's when I started to notice that other people were noticing, which meant more people started following me, which meant I was probably producing something that inspired them or helped them learn something. Which helped give me some extra motivation to keep going! 🙂
- I've had more structure in my days and weeks
I've made a weekly schedule for myself and have pretty much stuck to 90% of it this past year. This really has helped keep me in line and gives me deadlines to work towards, in both business and fitness!
MY GOALS FOR 2017
Start my new business idea in January
- Sell digital graphics on Etsy or Creative Market
- Sell custom Whipped Dream clothing and other merchandise on Etsy or Storenvy
Start a Facebook group for Whipped Dream
- Write an eBook
- Create an eCourse
- Create how-to videos for YouTube
- Move into a nicer place that has 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a big kitchen with modern appliances, and is near the water (ocean, bay, lake, doesn't matter)
- Try renting out a room on AirBnB and see if I like it/can make enough money to potentially live rent-free
- Achieve the best body I have ever had
- Do a powerlifting competition
- Pay off all my debt ($19,000 left)
- Make at least $100,000 in a year ($8,000 a month)
I am really excited for this year because I have a feeling it's going to be BIG!
I am so proud of myself for taking charge of my life, facing my fears and having faith in myself that I could figure things out.
The amount of work, time, sleepless nights and persistence it took to get to where I am today has been like non other, but I have to say, without a doubt, it was ALL WORTH IT. I really can't see myself being happy doing anything else so all of this (the good and the bad) really had to happen!
ARE YOU TRYING TO CREATE YOUR OWN THING?
If you are an ambitious woman who's looking to create your own business or blog, feel free to check out the new Whipped Dream!
Whipped Dream used to be my design and marketing business for the past 4 years but I just rebranded it this year and turned it into an brand + business resource specifically for ambitious women. My goal is to empower you to create your own successful business or blog and support you throughout your journey (DIY tutorials + professional creative and tech help if you need some extra support).
I'm going to be building this up over the next year so make sure you subscribe on there so you can stay connected!
A LIST OF BLOG POSTS I WROTE IN 2016
Just in case you wanna do some more reading. 🙂
- Monthly Blogging Income Report – December 2016
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #11
- If You Want to be Successful You Need to be a Quitter
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #10
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #9
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #8
- Monthly Blogging Income Report – November 2016
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #7
- What Could I Create with a Full Force of Focus and Energy?!
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #6
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #5
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #4
- Monthly Blogging Income Report – October 2016
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #3
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #2
- My Weekly Struggles, Goals & Achievements #1
- Why I Don’t Share My Uber Referral Bonus Earnings
- Monthly Blogging Income Report – September 2016
- How to Deal with Haters and Rise Above Their Toxicity
- Monthly Blogging Income Report – August 2016
- The Steps I Took that Helped Me Work Less and Earn More in 2016
- Revamping My Blog: Design Changes & More Focused Content
- How I Finally got Closure from my Narcissistic Roommate
- How I Fired a Bad Client and the Lessons I Learned