My Annual Review: 2011 Wrap-Up + Plans for 2012

Napali Coast, from the Kalalau Trail in Kauai

What an amazing and ridiculously awesome year.

The biggest deal for me: I spent the whole year traveling.

No home. No regular anything. Just me and a backpack – and I didn’t spend a fortune (not that I had one to begin with).

Part of me can’t believe it happened, and another part sees that it wasn’t all that difficult. Just one day at a time. One foot in front of the other. The answers weren’t always there, and I just kept plugging away, and here we are – 2011 in the bag.

The year was structured a bit differently than I had originally planned… and so it goes.

Not bad at all.

I see 2011 as the year where I thought, “is this going to work? Will I really be able to travel for the entire year and live like this?” 

Now that I’ve seen it does work, and that I enjoy it (!), it’s time to dig my heels in, roll up my sleeves, and kick all this awesomeness into a higher gear – it’s time to get some work done!


This is the third year I’ve conducted an Annual Review (read the 2010 wrap-up here). I find it quite helpful to take stock of the last year (all the successes and challenges), to assess where I am, and to see what I’d like to create down the road.

If you’re looking to conduct your own, start with these two questions:

  • What went well this year?
  • What did not go well?

(I’ve borrowed this concept from Chris Guillebeau – you can read in detail his process here.)


Crater Lake, from Day 1 of the Amazing PacNW Road Trip


How did 2011 go?


The High Highs

I wrote, created, and published. (I “shipped.”)

I  traveled, nonstop. :-)

  • No “home” or regular residence this year (a definite goal fulfilled = no rent!)
  • 10 States: Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, California
  • 10 Major Cities: Manhattan, Chicago, Vancouver (BC), San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Mammoth
  • 8 National Parks: Crater Lake, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, Mt. Ranier, Mt. St. Helens, Joshua Tree, Yosemite
  • Lots of Travel Hacking: $5 flights across the country, $0 for first-class on Amtrak, thousands of frequent flyer points used and earned
  • Paid for lodging only 20 times (less than $250)

I fell in love… with nature.

  • My Epic Road trip (my “vacation”): 3200 miles in 14 days, 7 National Parks and Monuments, 40+ miles of hiking, paper maps, camping, and hundreds of memories (Lessons Learned: Part I and Part II)
  • Totally surprised at how much I loved getting up early and hiking!

I faced fear.

I asked and received.

I practiced and practiced.

  • 365 days of meditation
  • Focused daily on exercise, nutrition, gratitude and positivity – even tried my hand at CrossFit
  • Integrated a Morning Creativity Practice as my first hour in the day
  • I even began sharing all the stats

Other highlights:

  • Hung out with my heroes: people that inspire me and teach me more about how I want to live my life. Thanks to traveling, WDS and Finding Joe for giving me the opportunity to connect with Jacob,  SeanJenny, Tyler, Emilie, Joel, Steve, NateBrian and Alexandra.
  • Got my Cooking Game ON – I went from ruining chicken to creating fabulous meals and experimenting with fantastic results!
  • Wrote a post that went “viral” – the truth is, I knew what I was doing (using a proven formula) – thrilled it resonated with many – and it was still lots of work!! :-)
  • Being there for my family – at the end of the year, we lost a member of our family. It was absolutely challenging and emotional, and I’m grateful that I was with them. I’m thankful my “schedule” allows me to be where I want.


10 brave souls from that day


The High Lows


Outside of donating blood a couple times, I did not make this a priority. I didn’t sign-up anywhere to help out, not even for a day. It’s not like I was a total Scrooge all year (did plenty of things for free and helped out many people), but I would really like to get involved, whether it’s serving a meal, working with kids, or playing with puppies.


It may have been a productive year, but certainly not lucrative. I learned plenty about working online, and I definitely got by financially (sometimes, just barely). It’s time for me to really look at how I can bring value to the world, and then give it everything I got!

Impulse Buying

On the whole, I’m actually pretty good with this. There were a few times this year, though, that I spent money on digital products that I have yet to read. This spending mostly comes from me thinking I “need to have it” to succeed. Then, I’m hit with information overload, and it gathers proverbial dust. I’m looking to be much more careful in what I commit to, especially when it comes to guides or other electronic books! (My Kindle is filling up quickly, and that’s with all the free books available!)

Abandoned Projects

After 72 sonnets, I’m on a “lengthy intermission” from the Sonnet Challenge. This project never took off the way I had hoped, and that is partly due to me – I continue to involve myself in so many ideas that I haven’t been able to truly devote myself to just one.

While it was really fun and I think helpful, I also put my Awesomeness Embodiment coaching on hold, as I felt there was a lack of clarity in terms of why I was offering it. I’m grateful for the connections I made through it, and I feel there was value – it just didn’t feel like this was “my assignment” from the Universe right now.

After a few different incarnations of it, I also let the Positive Habit Challenge slide to the back burner. I haven’t given up all hope on this, and I believe in the project. Just seeing when and how it makes sense to bring it back around.

This Site

I still feel like there’s a lack of clarity for me with what I’m doing on this site. I’ve never really felt “in the flow” with writing; it takes me a while and lots of concentration – not one of my natural skills. I do enjoy it and appreciate improving, which I know I have, but I’m not sure what I’m doing here. Do I want to create just a journal, a record of my life, accountability for my goals, or do I want to help others through informative articles? I feel like my medium is definitely more in-person, or at least on video, so I’m thinking I may spend more time on those pursuits (see below).

Funny (or maybe not so…) – when I look back at what troubled me in 2010, I see some of the same issues in 2011:

  • Anxiety over relationships (dating and personal)
  • Doing too much, energy scattered all over the place (yup, totally…)
  • Financial independence and freedom (covered above)

I do think I’ve gotten much better in these areas – it’s important to know that they may not ever disappear; it’s to see how I can maintain a sense of well-being as I encounter these challenges.


look what I made!


What’s in store for 2012?

This is going to be the Year of Falling Down. No, . Or .

What I mean is that I need to start taking bigger risks, to really step into what it is that I want to do and create, even with no idea how it’s all going to happen!

What I do know:

I will keep traveling. I love it, am not tired of it, and excited to keep going. Plans include more stops around the US, including the East Coast states, then the Southeast and Southwest, visiting as many National Parks as I can, before going to Portland in July for WDS 2012! After that, not sure (possible road trip to Alaska, maybe somewhere overseas)….

I will meet awesome people. While I could have stayed in hostels or hotels, I much prefer “houseguesting” – hanging out with cool people, sharing information, and seeing how I can be of service while I’m there! (Look for a new website from me on this – very excited about this one!)

So I’m already pretty comfortable with traveling and meeting, so what’s the BIG STRETCH GOAL for me in 2012?



See, I get really fired up talking about, well… lots of stuff – but specifically, I love talking about how to set ourselves up for really kick-ass days every day when we have practices that support, energize, maintain, and inspire us!

(It’s kinda what I focus on as I’m traveling and always in different environments!)

As much as I enjoy, and am comfortable with, talking casually or spontaneously about this, it’s very different for me to think about this as a business, and finding ways to really create value for others.

And yet, I know I need to do this. I know I need to try it out and see what happens. It kicks up too much energy in me to just keep thinking of it as “something I’d like to do someday….”

You know what, though? I may just fail.

I may fall flat on my face trying to get this off the ground. It may not work. I may hate it.

This is important for me: I really try to avoid situations like this (where I can fail) at all costs. It’s even more important that I take something on that I really care about that may not work!

I’m reminded of Jenny Blake’s question: “How would you feel one year from now if you haven’t made any changes to your life?”


Now with everything else I want to do, I’m sure my life will look different in January 2013, but what if I’ve avoided this speaking project for an entire year, and not done any work on it?

No, I won’t feel like Fonzie. It will not be cool.

Believe me, I’ve heard all the advice:

  • that we learn more from our failures than our successes
  • that the people who are most successful also have the most failures
  • to find an amazing idea you often have to suffer through many that are horrible

So I get it! Now I need to JUST DO IT!

What it really comes down to for me is confidence. I need to trust in myself that I could actually make this happen, people need this information, and that I can be successful with it.

If I end up abandoning the speaking, it’s because I’ll know it’s not right for me – because I gave it a shot!


my brother and I amongst Vancouver flowers


Main Goal for 2012:

Get the Speaking/Workshop/Seminar stuff underway!

To Do:

Write up outlines, and contact potential groups: I’m thinking business travelers, students (graduating high school and college, studying abroad), digital nomads and entrepreneurs, and artists, writers and musicians.

Know any? :-)

This is priority #1.


Side Projects and other Creative Production Goals for 2012:

  • Classes – I talked above about “Impulse Buying” – instead of grabbing a bunch of things I’m “in-the-moment” interested in, I’d like to dive deeper into these topics:
    • Tai Chi – the entire form
    • Meditation and Spirituality – find other methods out there, see what else I like, and what helps deepen my calm; really into Marianne Williamson’s talks these days
    • Cooking – let’s get this party really going!
  • BigIdeasTV
    • Summarizing my favorite lessons from what I’m learning (whether it’s in books, online, or in classes)
    • No schedule yet, but I did think about putting out 100 2-3 minute videos this year
    • This is a total FUN pursuit – I get so amped up when I’m learning, I thought this would be a cool way to share the wisdom!
    • Check out the FIRST video I posted about laughably small goals
  • Healthy Living Guides
    • Publishing 4 more guides: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago
    • Marketing these guides!!
    • Writing 10-20 articles on “Healthy Traveling” to drive traffic (and more importantly, share good info!)
    • Perhaps also arranging teleseminar or speaking events around these guides, too
  • en*theos
    • I’m still working with them on the Academy and Radio and loving the team!
    • I have thoughts on developing a TA (teacher’s assistant) radio show/podcast
  • Financial World
    • I’d like to earn $3000 per month – that will allow me financial freedom, and a comfortable existence
    • I’m also determined to start making monthly contributions to my Roth IRA, and be able to save money for short-term savings goals


rollin' with my homey Jacob in Portlandia


Theme for this year:

(in addition to Falling Down)

Year of Focus and Follow-Through: It’s time to be clear with what is most important to me right now and work diligently and accordingly.

Not only do I need to be strategic where I place my energy, but also when.

I’ve suffered from “wanting-to-do-it-all-now-itis” and that’s gotten me half-finished and abandoned projects.

It’ll be important to PLAN out when I’m going to work on certain projects, and trust that it’s OK I’m putting certain things off until later in the year. Of course, a healthy dose of flexibility with it all will be helpful!

For example, I see January as a month to devote to the Healthy Living Guides: revamping the website, getting the word out to groups, and seeing what I can do with this!

The Speaking is still a big priority, and I will get to it – at the right point this year!


Well that’s my Annual Review! Thrilled I took the time to do this – I always learn so much in the process, and always walk away feeling excited!


How was last year for you, and what’s on your plate in 2012?


I’d love to hear your answer + any other comments you have below.

Until next time,


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