Welcome to my 2016 annual review.
Each year, like many of my favorite writers, I review my year by answering three key questions:
- What did I do well?
- What did I not do well?
- What can I improve on next year?
This practice is mostly for me, but it’s my hope it inspires you to conduct your own annual review (in public or otherwise).
Let’s get started.
Part I. What Went Well?
This year was the best year of my life.
I grew in a number of areas, connected with many interesting and inspiring people, and gained more insight in life and business than I ever could have imagined twelve months ago.
Here are a few key areas I tracked…
As of writing (December 15, 2016), I achieved the following for SamuelThomasDavies.com (hereon referred to as ‘my site’):
- 18 new articles published (including the one you’re reading)
- 2,489 new email subscribers
- 156,369 unique visits
- 271,006 pageviews
- My highest open rate: 47.6%
- Current number of email subscribers: 2,890 (this would have been a lot higher but I unsubscribed 1,000+ inactive subscribers this year)
If you’re reading this—you contributed to the above.
I never imagined our community would grow to the number it has. Not because I didn’t believe it was possible (I knew it could be done). Rather, I didn’t believe enough people would want to read my writing.
You’ve proved me wrong…
And I’m grateful.
I read 36 books this year.
Some were life-changing. Others, not so much. But all of them taught me the importance of carving out time for education.
One thing I realized, while writing, was I read more this year than any other year.
Because I wrote down every book I read.
As the old adage goes, “What gets measured gets managed.”
And reading books is no exception.
If you’re planning on reading more next year, make a point of writing down the books you want to read and the book you’ve read.
Doing so will help you read more and read the books you actually want to read.
While it’s hard to name a favorite, the following three books left a memorable impression on me:
I also took copious notes from many of the books I read and published 23 new book summaries which are (and will always be) available for free on my site.
My goal, for 2017, is to read fewer books but to focus more on implementing what make notes on.
As Derek Sivers says, “If more info were the answer we would all be billionaires with perfect abs.”
Through a series of fortunate events, I fell into a new line of work this year:
As a result, I collaborated with a few of my favorite entrepreneurs and learned a ton about direct response marketing, organization, planning, systemization, and more.
While coaching is still a passion of mine, most of my time next year will be focused on helping clients generate more business through written word (Want to talk copywriting or content marketing? Drop me an email).
I also got more serious about bookkeeping and finally hired an accountant (this has already been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made).
If you’re starting a business in 2017, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can do everything on your own. You can’t. As soon as you earn your first dollar—get an accountant.
You won’t regret it.
I traveled to five countries in 2016, including:
- London, United Kingdom (x3)
- Nizhny, Russia
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- San Diego, United States
- Chania, Crete
A personal highlight was flying to San Diego for four days to attend a Frank Kern workshop (Josh, if you reading this, thanks for inviting me). Not just because of the experience itself (although attending was an unforgettable experience), but because of the limiting beliefs I had to overcome to get there.
- “What if it’s not worth it?”
- “Travel to America on my own? What if [INSERT PROBLEM HERE]”
- “What if I miss my connecting flight?”
These were just some of the limiting beliefs holding me back.
What I realized, though, was, our limiting beliefs often surface on the brink of a breakthrough.
Once you overcome them—or at a minimum, consider them to be untrue—there’s opportunity for remarkable growth.
My takeaway for you?
If you have a goal you want to achieve and you’re aware of a limiting belief that’s holding you back, congratulations—you’re on the verge of achieving something truly great.
Here’s what I prescribe to move past it:
Both exercises helped me, tremendously.
And they will help you, too.
Part II. What Didn’t Go Well?
As happy as I was with the progress I made this year, there were a few things I weren’t satisfied with.
My goal, for 2016, was to publish 52 articles on my site.
But when I began writing copy for other clients, I simply didn’t have the time—nor the energy—to write as frequently as I wanted to.
While I’m grateful for the work I have, I think I missed having full creative control (though, admittedly, this has become easier with time).
Writing for our community is immensely rewarding and going months without posting an article or newsletter can affect my mood.
I don’t think writing for myself and my clients has to be mutually exclusive, so I’m going to try and strike a balance next year.
In April, I launched the second iteration of The Habit Masterclass. I completely rebuilt it from the ground up, and while I was happy with the end result and the feedback I received from attendees, I wasn’t satisfied with how the community aspect.
For the Standard and Complete packages, I created a private Facebook group for accountability. What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was not everyone feels comfortable sharing their goals and pain points with others (especially those they don’t know well).
A barren Facebook group with little activity from its members (despite my best efforts to intervene and encourage discussion).
If I decide to relaunch The Habit Masterclass in 2017 (which I probably will), I want to rethink how to manage the community aspect so members feel comfortable sharing their progress.
Writing is a lonely profession.
When you’re not researching, you’re writing. And when you’re not writing, you’re editing.
While I’m grateful to write for a living, spending hours in front of your computer—alone—can take a toll on your wellbeing.
Granted, there are tactics, routines and habits you can put in place to safeguard your health (my favorite being The Five-Minute Journal), but they can easily fall by the wayside when you begin prioritizing your work as more important.
I’m planning on writing more about this in the future as I know it’s a struggle many stay-at-home business owners have.
Part 3: What I Can Improve On Next Year?
As of writing, I haven’t yet mapped out what I want to achieve next year.
Because I’m very on the fence about traditional goal-setting.
On the one hand, I know writing down your goals helps you achieve them (I’ve experienced this first-hand). Many would agree (you might, too) and few studies argue otherwise.
On the other, I don’t think writing down what you want to achieve is enough. What’s more important is building systems to help you get there and identifying the limiting beliefs that prevent you from implementing them.
Nonetheless, I have big plans for 2017. And I can’t wait for you be a part of them.
In closing, I want to thank you for supporting me and my blog this year. Whether that meant reading my weekly newsletter, sharing my articles, reading my book summaries or just recommending me to a friend, I’m eternally grateful for each and every one of you.
I look forward to growing with you all next year.
What was your biggest learning lesson in 2016? Leave a comment below.