My 2015 in Review: Distractions, Health, and Focusing on Scale

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My 2015 in Review

Hey everyone! 🙂 We’ve now reached the end of the year — how has your year been? Are you looking forward to 2016?

Initially I was thinking of not writing a 2015 year-end review (and possibly stop my public year-end reviews), as I wasn’t sure if anyone even followed my reviews. But a PE reader, Jessica Gonzalez, recently sent in a comment saying that she is looking forward to reading my 2015 review, which surprised me as I hadn’t mentioned anything about writing a year-end review on PE this year. The only way someone would know would be if he/she is a long-time reader who followed my past reviews, so thanks, Jessica! 🙂 If writing this would matter to even one person, then yes, I’ll continue to write my annual reviews on PE, at least for this year. 🙂

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Overall, I’d say this year has been a year of distractions and health concerns. But first, let me start with the positives.

2015: Positive Highlights

My first major milestone this year is actually a financial one. During the start of the year, I set a personal goal to hit six-figures in my business revenue (I stopped announcing monetary goals since 2014 because I feel money is the result of giving value, and since this result is not always immediate, it then becomes pointless to give it a yearly deadline). I’m happy to say that I’ve achieved this goal this year. I haven’t done my final accounting as the year isn’t over yet as of this writing, but based on current figures, my annual revenue is up by at least 40%, and my profit, 50%. This is despite retiring 2 of my lucrative product lines, Blogging Success Program and The Passive Income System, as I didn’t feel they fit with my long-term vision for PE.

To me that’s great, as that means more cash reserves for future plans, be it hiring help, buying new equipment, or perhaps migration. This achievement is actually long overdue as the income I was earning was quite “low” considering PE’s reach or the value I’ve been giving, largely because I’m not sales-driven as much as I’m value-driven. I had originally set this monetary target as a personal challenge, both as a coach and business owner. I felt that in order for me to effectively coach other business owners to achieve business excellence, I needed to first achieve this as a personal milestone. I’m glad to have now done so. 🙂

Now that I’ve realized this goal, I plan to return to big-picture goals like content creation and course building. This may well cause a dip in my income next year since I won’t be focused on short-term gains, but I believe that as long as my big-picture focus is right (to give value and help others), everything will sort itself out.

My second positive highlight is seeing more clients and course participants through their transformations. With my focus on income building, I’ve also been spending much time on courses and coaching. With this, I’ve witnessed many major transformations in my coachees this year. Just to name a few,

  1. a course participant who, after procrastinating on weight loss for over 10 years, has lost 7.5kg (16.5lbs) in 2 months
  2. a client who, in just 3 months, started a new book project, wrote all her book content, secured a publishing deal, and is publishing her new book next year — and she is a first-time author!
  3. a client who discovered her passion and is working on switching careers to an entirely different field;
  4. a client who, after many years of being troubled by a negative past, has finally let it go and is now living as her true authentic self;
  5. a course participant who, in just 3 months, started her business to help girls with needs and has swiftly built her blog with a budding readership despite her day job and family commitments; and
  6. a course participant who, after 11 years of procrastinating on her self-healing, has achieved all-round transformations in her career, health, and family relationships, plus has 2 job interviews waiting for her!

To me, their amazing transformation is merely a taste of what’s to come in the years, decades ahead. And I look forward to seeing more great changes ahead. 🙂

My third highlight is my PA (personal assistant). After being overwhelmed with work for a while, I finally hired a PA in March. Now, I’ve actually been hiring help since 2011 by way of contractors and a VA agency. While helpful, I found outsourcing tiring after a while as I had to continually brief and re-brief people every time there was a new task, since outsourcing is transient by nature. I soon realized that what I really needed was a single-point of contact, a PA who would support me in a series of tasks while competent enough to pick up new skills and grow as my business expands.

In comes my assistant, Lina. She is actually a long-time reader of PE and has been following my work since 2012. In fact, the whole process that led me to hire her was really serendipitous — she was contacting me for advice one fine day (on an unrelated matter), and after some exchanges, I saw an opportunity to hire her. Lina had been helping me pro bono in some PE stuff up till then and I was really impressed by her work ethic. I knew she would be a great aid. Subsequently, I set up a simple work arrangement between us and she has been such an amazing help. Come next year, I’ll be having her on part time to take on more tasks, and I’m excited about that. 🙂

2015: The Downs

Along with the ups, there have been downs. On the personal front, this year has been fraught with health sagas. I had a record number of hospital/clinic visits this year, either for my mom, dad, or myself (but more for my parents than me). These were not “positive” visits like visiting the hospital in preparation for a baby, but “negative” visits where you follow up on symptoms/ailments that may turn out to be serious issues — and has actually turned out to be so in some cases. My mom, in particular, has been diagnosed with several health problems. Both my parents also had to go through a surgery this year (my dad broke his collarbone at work which I mentioned in this post). While everything is fine for now, next year will see even more treatment visits, more follow ups, and possibly uncovering of new issues, which I see as a natural part of old age.

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The second “down” point I’ve experienced this year is overwhelm from all the connections I’ve built over the years of running my blog. I wrote about this in my 2014 review (under the part on distractions and Dunbar’s number), and was dismayed to see that I’ve been fighting the same thing this year. The truth is that during the past 2 years, I’ve begun to feel like my life isn’t my life, and that as long as I’m alive and awake, I’ll always be expected to read, tend to others’ requests, emails, messages, questions, comments, etc. (I’m not talking about coaching emails which are part of my work). A part of me feels obligated to tend to these due to my life purpose; another part, afraid of disappointing others if I don’t reciprocate. This has unfortunately led to much unhappiness and misery as I no longer have my own life or time to work on my own Q2 goals, including the mental space to write new content. This is something I wish to change as of 2016.

The third thing really isn’t a “down” point as much as it’s an issue to be addressed. Now that PE is entering its 8th year, it’s no longer just a blog or coaching business, but an online business with multiple arms and layers of complexities. This has caused me to be pulled in different directions with different responsibilities. No longer am I just the coach or writer — I’m also the CTO, CEO, COO, editor, producer, marketer, coder, administrator, designer, and content creator. Coupled with the fact that the web landscape isn’t static (no business landscape is) and there are more changes than ever with the huge influx of web entrants in the past 5 years, these have kept my hands full with background operations and plans on how to keep PE relevant and at top quality, many of which are not visible to the blog reader.

While most business owners will start to hire people and set up teams at this point, I’m not sure if this is a business model that I aspire to have. Ultimately, my passion is to help the world, not to manage people and deal with turnover/recruitment/managerial issues so that I can help the world. Most importantly, I believe it is possible for me to scale up my operations with a very lean setup (i.e., with myself and 1–3 assistants), without having to hire a big team of people. More on this in my plans for 2016.

Last but not least, the death of my cat, Nancy, was a saddening event. Even though Nancy has passed away for more than 11 months, I continue to miss him from time to time. His death — along with several other events this year — made me realize that often times, the death of someone really causes the most pain to the living, not the person who died. This made me realize that much of our pain regarding the dead is often a reflection of our own pain about what we feel we’re missing as well as our own views regarding life and death, vs. something that reflects the true nature of death. Death, at the end of the day, is a natural part of life (just like illness), and when we stop resisting it, we can then start to live more fully and in the present.

My Plan for 2016: Returning to Scale

As 2016 approaches, my direction is clear:

  1. Return to scale-based work. This means focusing on content creation, course building, and anything to do with building PE as a platform.
  2. Remove anything that requires or demands 1-1 attention, so that I have the mental energy and time to focus on the scale-based stuff.
  3. Prioritize my own needs and health (including being there for my loved ones). This year, I realized that I have sacrificed much of my health in trying to be there for everyone and anyone, and I can’t do this anymore now that I’m in my 30s. In a way I’m glad to realize this when I’m 31, and not when I’m 40 or 50. Hopefully my past self-neglecting actions (like sleeping late) haven’t created too much damage on my health.

With these 3 guidelines,

  1. I plan to return to creating more content. Because I believe in quality over quantity, and every article (and video) takes me a lot of time to write (and produce), I think one article or video every week would be a nice target.
  2. I won’t be doing 1-1 coaching anymore, at least not in terms of individual coaching packages. I’ve removed my 1-1 coaching page since June and I’m wrapping up the last of my 1-1 coaching engagements in the next month, after which I won’t take on anymore clients.

    Why remove 1-1 coaching? For years I was flicking between having 1-1 coaching and not having 1-1 coaching, and each time I would justify reopening for new clients by increasing my rates (to commensurate the opportunity cost involved). Yet, I’ve come to realize that at the scale I operate my business, it’s difficult for me to continue 1-1 coaching without raising my fee to an exorbitant level. The reality is that 1-1 coaching comes with a very high level of customization, tailoring, and follow-up, and when a client signs up for my coaching, they aren’t just paying for my time — they are paying for results, transformation, and dedicated support. Hence, whenever I opened myself up to 1-1 coaching, I wound up devoting a lot of my personal time and energy into each client’s case, time that would get taken away from say, running a new course where I could help 30 people simultaneously, or writing an article that could benefit 10,000 people in a week. Ultimately I really enjoy working with people be it on a 1-1 or group level, but if I stay true to my bigger mission of helping everyone in their growth, it’s clear that I need to return to group-, scale-based mediums to help others and remove the 1-1 channels.

    This doesn’t mean an end to all things 1-1 though, as I may integrate 1-1 coaching into my live courses as add-on tiers. Meaning, a limited availability, 1-1 coaching tier where live course participants could pay an add-on fee for 1-1 calls that would build on the live course experience — similar to what I did for Soulmate Journey and Anti-Procrastination in 2015. This could work as it’d add synergy to my live courses, as opposed to standalone 1-1 engagements which stood independently from my projects.

  3. With the distancing from 1-1 coaching, I’ll be focusing on course building. For 2016, I plan to build a new, self-administered members portal for my current courses — and along with that, upgrading my existing video courses (this upgrading will be a 2-year long project though, since I have a handful of courses). Ultimately I wish to move away from live course, and for me to do so, I need to create a very comprehensive and immersive course experience that anyone can easily follow through without my teaching live. This is something I’ll be working on in 2016, starting with Anti-Procrastination.
  4. On the business front, I’ll be adopting new systems and processes that’ll help me manage PE more effectively. In the past month I’ve registered a new newsletter service and bought a comprehensive list-building plugin that I’ll be implementing in 2016. If all goes well, they should make it easier for me to analyze and improve on my list building methods.
  5. Last but not least, I’ll be safeguarding my personal priorities and space. As the internet becomes increasingly noisy and cluttered, and as I become connected with more people by way of my blog, I no longer have the time or energy to deal with individual communications without being mentally exhausted in the process. What I really need is a “gatekeeper,” someone to help me screen and separate the wheat from the chaff, as I regain my focus on the things that matter. This is where my assistant comes in. This year, I’ve already been having Lina manage my emails, social media accounts, and messages, and this has helped me free up mental space to focus on other things. Next year I plan to have her be more involved in PE’s operations as we explore the areas she can add the most value, and this is going to help me in points #1, #3, and #4 above.

In short, 2015 has been a personal year of realignment and regrouping, and for 2016, I hope to get back to increasing reach and creating more great content through articles, videos, and courses, and supporting all of you in your life’s journey. 🙂

How About You?

How about you? How has your 2015 been? What are your goals and plans for 2016? I recommend you to spend 30 minutes to reflect on your year and write your plans for the new year — it’ll be worth it, I promise. 🙂

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Check out these posts as you do your year-end review and set your resolutions:

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