Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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2018 In Review

2018 in Review, by Kristi PorterFriends,

Let me start with an apology. I can’t believe it’s been four months since my last update. Well, actually, yes I can.

I’ve thought about updating you so many times, especially as the end of the year came. But, then it went. And so did the New Year. Work has been crazy, my health has been crazy (per usual), and I frankly didn’t have the energy to be on a keyboard unless it was for my job. Not fun, but there it is.

So many thoughts have been piling up in my head, and today, I finally got a burst of energy where I wanted to sit down and tell you about them. Since last year was a blur, and I was pretty infrequent on updates, I figured I’d just start with a year in review post. So, this should at least get you caught up on what’s been happening here. Hopefully, many more posts to come in 2019!

 

TRAVEL

Okay, let’s start with one of my favorite topics. Last year was an incredible year for travel. That was definitely the thing I had going for me, and very probably, one of the reasons I was so tired. 😉

January: To start the year, I once again kicked things off with a business retreat. I love my quarterly business retreats. They keep me grounded, and allow me to regularly set and review goals with fresh perspective. And I always manage to have some fun as well. For this one, I went to a “resort” (I consider that a loose interpretation) in Northeast Georgia, and stopped by the always entertaining Helen, Georgia, on my way home. (<– Please take a look!)

February/March: Early last year, my friend Raechel and I went to England, Scotland, and Ireland! It was a bucket list trip, and it didn’t disappoint. We obviously covered a lot of ground in two weeks, and I can honestly tell you that I’m ready to go back! Three beautiful countries, wonderful people, and yummy food. We had an absolute blast, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity with a good friend and excellent travel buddy.

March: About 10 days after returning from that trip, I was off to San Diego! This was for a work conference, but I I found a petsitting gig through TrustedHousesitters.com that allowed me to spend about nine days there, without paying for a hotel. (My link gets you 20% off!) The 90 Day Year Live event was pretty amazing, and I hope to go back again this fall. But, if you’ve been around here for a while, you already know how much I love attending conferences!

May: In May, I went to hang out with some of my best friends in their hometown of Clarkston, Tennessee. Several of our other friends all met there for a women’s retreat at their church, and while the retreat was nice, I cherished this weekend for the quality time I got to spend with people I don’t see near enough.

June: For the first time, I took a friend on one of my retreats. She’s also a solopreneur, so we worked and played. It was a different experience to bring someone along, but also a good change for me. We went to the picturesque Dahlonega, Georgia, and had a great time.

July: I went with my best friend and her family to Charleston for a couple of days. I hadn’t been to Charleston in a number of years, so it was fun to go again, and even more fun to be with close friends. If you’re in that area in the future, be sure to stop by the only tea plantation in the US, which is quite different than the tea plantation I visited in India, but still a unique experience. And free tea tastings!

October: Having been gone so much during the first half of the year, I stayed put for a couple of months. But, boy, did I get out of town with a bang! I took another bucket list trip with my aforementioned best friend—a cross-country Amtrak adventure! Heather and I started our journey in San Francisco, and made stops in Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago (where she went home), and New York City. It was another trip I’d wanted to do for a long time, and now I am addicted to train travel! I will definitely be getting back on Amtrak in the coming months. (I also did some retreat tasks on the train.)

October: For the second time, I attended Tribe Conference, an event primarily for writers and creative types. My client and friend was there as well, so that made it extra special. I loved my first year, but thought this one was even better. Hope I can make that happen again this fall as well.

December: The end of the year always means my annual trek to Texas. And I was all over the place this year. I connected in Austin, went on to my mom’s house in West Texas, traveled to Lubbock to see my friends from college, drove with mom to my aunt’s house in the Dallas area, and then mom and I took a day trip to Waco to see all things Magnolia. Whew! That all happened in just over a week, and it was extra tiring due to the head cold I picked up on the front end. But it was good to see everyone and celebrate the holidays.

(For more info on how I make a lot of these trips cheap, check out my post on travel hacking.)

 

HEALTH

Let me follow up my favorite section with my least favorite section. As much as I love to travel, and it fills me up in a way almost nothing else does, it’s also very hard on my body. If you’re new to me, I’ve had chronic health issues for almost seven years. It has taken a toll on me in so many ways, and I’m sure others I’m not even aware of.

The super frustrating thing is that I thought 2018 was going to be a real turning point. In late 2017, I started taking this brand new series of supplements that were helping me in a major way. So, 2018 started off awesome from a health perspective. I saw a leap in progress!

Then, after returning from the UK, I was out of these miracle supplements, so I frantically called my naturopath for a refill. Well, turns out that they’d had a terrific effect on people all over the world. Good news, yes, but it kinda caught the manufacturer off-guard, and they ran out. Like, completely ran out of the main supplement!

So, me and these poor other folks not-so-patiently waited for over six months while they had to regrow the herbs and plants that were in this thing. Ugh. So, progress was made, then stalled, and then after the effects of 20+ days of travel in March, I went back to feeling terrible. Like, I had forgotten what it felt like to feel that bad. It was bad. We tried a few other supplements, but nothing worked as well. And it wasn’t until a day or two before I boarded the Amtrak train that I got a refill.

It also takes a couple of cycles (14 days) to work its way into your system. So, basically, I was in holiday mode before I could tell the difference. It was rough, to say the least. And then I huge work project that occupied most of my days and nights at the end of the year, taking up a lot of extra energy. So, all the high hopes I had for 2018’s health report card were dashed.

Prayers said and fingers crossed that 2019 will be a completely different story. That remains to be seen as I picked up that never-ending head cold over the holidays and followed it up with the flu. Sheesh.

Me and Paula Abdul are always two steps forward, two steps back.

 

WORK

Hmmm, where to begin. Last year was a whopper. As Charles Dickens would say, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

We’ll get the bad stuff out of the way first. It was a rough income year. I was past the 18-month mark in my business, but still learning daily. Things I got right, and definitely things I got wrong.

If you recall, MOMENTUM was my word for the year. And it’s always so interesting how things can turn out very differently than you think. I expected (and worked toward) one thing, and ended up with something different.

The biggest issue was that, unlike 2016 and 2017, I didn’t have enough really big contract clients. I love working with my little guys, and they are who I started my business for, but sometimes it takes the big ones to keep things flush. I did a ton of networking last year, which I’m seeing pay off this year, but it can often be a long-term strategy. (Solopreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers, it’s important to nurture those leads on a ongoing basis—even when things are crazy busy. I neglected that aspect for too long, and it came back to bite me.)

Most of my clients are people I know and referrals, but it still takes time for these things to happen. So, lesson learned. (I hope.)

On to the good stuff! I do really love what I do and who I get to do it with. I work with lots of ideal clients on ideal projects, and am so incredibly grateful for that. No dreading weekdays. Plus, it makes those days when I don’t feel like working much easier.

If you need the crash course on my company: Signify provides copywriting and consulting services to cause-focused organizations, like nonprofits and social enterprises. My goal is for them to get noticed and grow through effective marketing and communications. Additionally, I teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to be more generous through easy philanthropy strategies. It’s fun stuff! And work I deeply believe in.

So, a few of the great things that happened with work last year were:

So, as you can see, it was a big year in a lot of ways.

 

PERSONAL

Well, if you’ve read this far, you may be wondering where I had time for anything personal. And, you’d pretty much be right!

Between travel, work, and health, there wasn’t much left. That’s why this is the smallest segment of this update.

I missed events, hanging out with friends, and many other things due to those trade-offs. Honestly, with the health stuff, I spend most evenings and weekends crashed on my couch. It’s just exhausting, and my body has to gear up for another five days of work.

“Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder.” – George Washington, Hamilton 

I’m trying to reach out and be better about maintaining relationships this year. Baby steps.

Isn’t being an entrepreneur glamorous? Sigh. It’s a self-imposed cage at times for sure, but I’m not giving up on a better work-life rhythm. It takes practice.

 

Okay, I think that’s about it! That’s my 2018 in review!

Again, apologies for my delay in updating you. I hope it won’t happen again, but if it does, I just ask for some grace. I’ll be sure to extend it to you as well. 🙂

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My Word for 2018


jungwoo-hong-100345So, how is it possible that it’s mid-February already! I really can’t believe how fast this year is flying by. And I think there are a few reasons for that, in my case.

The first is that I’ve been a busy, little bee. I had already started setting up for 2018 back in November, and then hard-core in December, so January rolled in like a freight train because it was heavily on my mind. The second is because I’ve been working a lot of hours. This is an intense season for a few reasons, but I also know I can’t keep it up forever, and am already starting to slow down due to the normal wear and tear of life.

But all of the above is due to my word for the year. While last year was momentous because it revolved all around building the foundation of my budding business, this year is the direct result. I mean, Signify wasn’t my word for the year for nothing! (That’s the name of my business, FYI.)

I usually start thinking about my word for the year in November. I think that’s a natural point when we start looking toward the future and how to finish our year well. At that point, I kinda knew the feelings I wanted my word to represent, but didn’t have a name for it yet. That came when I started to really pray about those feelings. And during a prayer, I used this one word, and I stopped in my tracks. THAT was my word! It was a beautiful, little revelation.

So, what was this word?

MOMENTUM.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts about my word for the year, you know I like to use verbs. I like the action-oriented words because they symbolize intentionality for me. And so, while MOMENTUM is actually a noun, it implies action. And I kinda dig that.

February marks my 20th month in business. I consider those first six months, which were actually the last six months of 2016, to be my training wheels. Though I by no means have it all figured out (far from it!), that start gave me a chance to just get used to life as an entrepreneur. It was a good start, but difficult—ask any entrepreneur!

So, last year was all about trying to build a foundation. There was still plenty of “new” last year, but I was (slightly) more comfortable with it. The biggest challenge of last year was when I launched my digital presence, including my website, social media, and weekly blog. That took a lot of getting used to because, while important, none of that paid the bills. It was a lot of extra effort outside client work. But it slowly became a little more manageable.

For the first year of my business, I worked almost exclusively with friends. This was an absolute blessing, and the best way to start! I created Signify to support my friends professionally. After all, I was already supporting them personally, so this was a natural extension. But, of course, I needed to grow.

In the latter half of last year, I started getting more word-of-mouth attention, referrals, and more notice online. It started some new trends in my business, and it was exciting.

And now, I’m just a little further down the road, and I want to keep growing. I need to keep getting my name out there, so that more business keeps coming in. This is especially important because I differ from a lot of other people in my industry for two, main reasons: I like working with small businesses and I like working on projects. Most people are busy searching out big companies and getting retainer clients. Now, I’m not fundamentally opposed to either of those things, but it’s just not my absolute preference. But this means I have to do a lot of hustling to make sure work is coming in the door.

So, this year is all about MOMENTUM. I’ve put some good things in place, but need to extend my reach. And I think this word will help me do that.

However, though Signify is obviously a huge part of my life, it’s not the only reason I chose MOMENTUM. There are some personal habits I’d like to encourage as well.

One of those is my health. I’ve talked extensively on this blog about my chronic health issues, and I made a lot of progress last year. Even though being a solopreneur isn’t exactly stress-free, it’s allowed me to work from home full-time, get more rest, and allow my body to heal. So, I think 2018 will be another huge chapter for improving my health, and of course, that spills into all areas of my life.

Another personal reason that comes to mind is that I’ve been working on my morning routine since December. I have always been a night owl. It’s very hard for me to fall asleep before midnight most nights. But, of course, I also need to be productive in the day. And while it’s true that I can now set my own schedule, most of the world operates during certain hours, and it’s to my advantage to follow that. So, even though I don’t set an alarm now unless I have a morning meeting, I also don’t want to sleep too late. That means going to bed at a decent hour and waking up at a decent hour. In an ideal world, this would be 11:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. for me. (I require a lot of sleep, and always have.)

So, I’ve been building a more structured morning routine. Currently, it includes four things that take 20 minutes or so: The 5 Minute Journal, reading Jesus Calling, 10 minutes of meditation via my Calm App, and five minutes of yoga (I YouTube several.). I’ve also just started drinking hot, lemon water to start my day, and am enjoying that too. These are all habits I want to continue improving this year as they set the tone for my days.

There are some other personal and professional reasons as well, but in the interest of keeping this blog post a reasonable length, I’ll leave it at those since they are three, primary reasons.

And here’s my verse for the year:

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20

MOMENTUM. That’s my word for the year. And it’s got me pretty excited.

Have a word for the year? Tell me! I love hearing how people are being more intentional in their lives. 🙂

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Interested in picking your own word for the year, but need some help? Here are some resources that might help:

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My previous words for the year: