Hello, 2020. 🙂 The roaring 20’s are here to stay (for at least another ten years), and I for one am here for it. 2019 was a rougher year in the books for us, so I’m happy to start fresh in a year AND decade. The 2010’s were packed with SO MANY BIG THINGS (graduations! engagement! marriage! baby! NICU! near-death experiences! deaths! Coming Up Roses!), and it’s crazy actually typing all of that out to think of how insanely different life looked a decade ago. Really, it was completely different. In basically every sense. I wanted to take today to just think + reflect on it all.
It’s important to acknowledge + accept where we’ve been before we can plan where we’re going, so that’s what we’re doing now. Besides reflecting on my own 2o19, I wanted to share a few questions that I ask myself in doing my own “annual review” of sorts, so that you can do an annual review on your own to evaluate your year as holistically + comprehensively as possible.
I do my annual review similarly to a good brain dump: first, just get it all out there. No analysis or deep dive yet – just pen to paper.
- NICU + 6 months feeding tube – Obviously the NICU was life-changing for us, but a whole other can o’ warms was being at home but with an NG feeding tube.
- Olivia’s first beach trip – Girlfriend loveloveLOVED the beach! Safe to say we’ve got a little fish on our hands. She was the fastest (+ only) nugget crawling out to the shoreline. I think she would’ve crawled right into the ocean if we had let her!
- Biggest + best year for my business – And for that I am SO grateful.
- Attended my first “real” personal development conference – Which was life-changing in so many ways!
- Made smart investments in our personal life – Having a baby in the house made us take a long, hard look at our budget, and it made us re-evaluate the phrase “it takes a village” and embrace it without pride standing in the way. I’ve been totally open about everything there as it’s come; we made the decision to hire a housecleaner for a deep clean once a month, as well as a nanny for two days a week at home so that I can have a few totally dedicated work days to plan my business around.
- Lost a handful of lukewarm relationships and replaced with true standouts – Having a baby ALSO made us re-evaluate the people in our lives, for better or worse. We cut ties with anyone who was toxic, or to anyone who didn’t have mutual respect and love for us. Instead, we focused our attention on all of the incredible people in our lives who treat us the way we want to be treated and vice versa!
- Pumpkin’s death + Moose’s death – This was a tough, sad end to 2019, but it happened. Two of our three fur babies died – one right before Christmas and one right after. It was a hard hit to our little family since J + I had had them for years together, but it’s good consolation knowing they’re in kitty heaven together now.
SO, after some general reflections, I like to break down a few different categories for a more comprehensive “annual review” and ask myself a few different questions to assess what I think went well, as well as what went not-so-well or where there’s room for improvement moving forward (since we all ALWAYS have room to grow!).
Quickly on CUR first – I mentioned above it was my best year to date, but I don’t just mean that monetarily. One of my biggest goals for 2019 had been to expand beyond the blog. That meant expanding into other content categories (like the podcast!), as well as growing my team (adding Katie!) and connecting with the actual human beings that read CUR in the first place (YOU!), and I can proudly check off all of those boxes! I’ll take a hot sec to toot my own horn here (because that’s important in ANY sort of review – the negatives + positives alike!).
- Another trip with Disney – the DREAM TEAM
- Made my first real hire for CUR – and she’s MY dream team!
- Threw a fun Blogger Closet Sale where we donated over $1,000 to a local cat rescue shelter and I got to meet so many of you IRL
- Was nominated for InfluenceHer of the Year
- I WROTE A BOOK. COMING 2020.
- Hugged one of my idols – THE Rachel Hollis!
- Gave CUR a major facelift
- Partnered with some of my DREAM brands: Olay, Walmart, Barefoot Wines, Amazon + so many more.
- Launched the THRIVE podcast!
I didn’t hit some of the “growth” goals or milestones I had set for myself, but if there’s anything I’ve learned in my going-on-seven years of blogging, it’s that all of those milestone numbers are totally arbitrary, truly. They’re vanity metrics that can become an obsession if you’re not careful, and they don’t inherently lead to more of anything really. They can lead to more money, sure – but only if you actually know how to negotiate well and demonstrate your own value (which not everyone can do – that can be a hard, learned skill!).
SO. There are about six sortof “categories” that I go through in doing a personal annual review. Personal victories, personal shortcomings, and then faith, career, finances, + relationships. Cheers to the ol’ annual review together; let’s do the damn thing.
Mama Needs Some Wine sweatshirt (15% off with code ERICA15)
What were my personal victories?
- Grew through giving myself grace
- Learned patience in the process with Olivia’s feeding tube
- J + I built our relationship a LOT because it was an “us against the world” feeling for much of the year, really. From Liv’s medical complications to other family drama and unexpected losses, we were constantly reminded of our need for together, and our need for God to be at the center of us together.
What were my personal shortcomings?
- I wasn’t as self-aware of personal growth – felt more forced into growth and couldn’t really process it well in the moment
- My discipline was hit or miss. I can be the most focused, most productive person on the planet – or…I can aptly justify why spending Olivia’s nap time watching YouTube beauty gurus and eating nachos is good for my “mental health.”
- Tidiness. Granted, the second a kid is thrown into the mix – it’s time to give yourself grace on the organizational front for a hot sec. BUT, I found myself using that as an excuse at times to keep it that way, since in my head it would just be going back to chaos once the OG found order she could destroy. 😉
Faith check: Where am I at in my personal relationship with God? How is my prayer life? Am I living more for God’s will or my own? Am I open to change if it by in His plan?
This one is challenging for me to answer personally because I feel like we’re all ALWAYS in need of growth here. This year was full of tests of faithfulness, I think. Especially after the NICU, which was a huge test of faith in and of itself, it was an even FURTHER test of faith to have half of the year be full of feeding tube drama and medical unknowns. I’m proud to look back and know that I never lost my faith through all of it. It was tested, and it was tested HARD. But I think ultimately it grew my faith in God’s faithfulness and strength in knowing that no matter what I or my family go through in life, we’ll be OK.
What helped most for me, I think, was a constant prayer for faithfulness, strength, and obedience to God’s will being done in my life. I always pray to trust God’s timing and God’s plan, and for discernment to understand when something is, in fact, the will of God in action.
On the job, what did I do exceptionally well? What were my notable accomplishments? Where do I have room to improve or grow? If my coworkers were to assess me objectively, what would they say?
I did mine a bit above in reflecting on CUR, so hopefully these questions can help walk you through your own thought process in your own work!
Where do I stand financially?
We’re big budget people over here, in case ya haven’t figured that out yet. 😉 J + I have come SO FREAKING FAR in our planning together, mostly thanks to him since he’s an Excel wizard. But we’ve got ~plans~ for anything + everything and feel pretty set and confident in our financial future together since we’re doing all possible things to now to prepare for later.
CUR posts that might help…
- Budgeting for the Short Term
- Mastering a Long Term Budget
- Spring Cleaning your finances
- Essential Money Questions to ask your Partner
- 25 Money Tips from Millionaires
- 9 tips for completing a No-Spend Challenge
- What’s an Emergency Fund? + How much should be in yours!
- How we knew we were ready to Buy a House
- 10+Tips to Not go Broke during the Holidays
- 401K benefits: Tips to Make you Retire a Millionaire
What are the relationship statuses in my life? Are there any one-sided relationships? Which relationships or friendships need more TLC moving forward? What are the love languages of those closest to me, and are we speaking each other’s effectively?
Like I said, 2019 was big for our family in terms of the relationships we keep (or don’t). J + I are mutually not about one-sided relationships, or relationships that bring more hurt than help in our lives. We cut ties with a few folks who weren’t able, willing, and/or ready to meet us where we’re at, and it’s been a really clarifying feeling for both of our mental healths to know that we made hard decisions to put our own family first.
Here I also recommend looking through your phone or friends list to see who you’ve spent the most time talking to – as well as anyone who might need a little more TLC from ya! They say you become most like the 5 people you surround yourself with most, so choose carefully. 😉 In doing this, I could see who I’m in contact with most frequently, but I also jotted down a list of girlfriends who I haven’t gotten to connect with as often as I’d like who I’m intentionally reaching out to more and making plans with in 2020. AND, if you haven’t already, note everyone’s love languages! Especially for the busy gal, this is key; it helps you make the most of the time you do have together by really being intentional about how you communicate. So, for the girlfriend across the country, if you’re trying to choose between sending a handwritten card, a gift with her favorite chocolates, or scheduling a FaceTime – which is most in line with her love language? Do that option!
Have you done your own Annual Review yet?
I hope this was a helpful walk-through of how I do my annual review if not, and that it helps you do your own before diving into goal-setting next! (Stay tuned for that tomorrow- it’s a goody!)