Looking back: and a tale of 6 things I learned in 2016

Dear 2016,

What a ride you have taken me on.  

I am still upset with you for the outcome of the US election -- you pulled a fast one there.  You also did a lousy job internationally:  refugees, random terrorist attacks, Syria.   

But you taught me a few things, too, big and small, practical and theoretical.  So I will forgive you. 

Here's what I learned:

1) I land on my feet:  In March of 2016 my world changed when for the first time in 20+ years, I didn't have a full-time job in international humanitarian aid. While this was a change I had wanted, I wondered how I would self-define myself now.  Who was I without this job, without this title? It was all very meta.  I also had a lot of things to figure out - from health insurance to covering my mortgage. It was scary staring into the unknown like that. 

But without trying, a few humanitarian consultancies came my way.  And while they didn't supplant my former salary, they did let me know that I could work in this field if I wanted to.  Ultimately, it was up to me.  

2) Systems, systems, systems:  2016 was my year to build systems.  And it was somewhat successful but not as successful as I had hoped.  I hired a systems consultant who did some of the work but then stopped answering emails altogether.  But a new inventory system for my shop is almost done, I’m starting to get in the swing of things with Asana, our accounting systems have improved, and we have a 2017 budget projection for our little hotel.  (Props to Nick, Eli, Carrie, and Natalie – it takes a village).  But that said, I still don’t have a PNL for my business and I never made it around to tracking my cash with Mint.  Additionally, the lack of systems in a number of other areas is causing hand wringing.  I need to find a way to do better in 2017.

3) Prioritize health:   Oh, cracks are starting to show.  The weight is starting to creep up and my waistline is not what it used to be. I still have sleeping problems but it’s improved somewhat.  My investment in my personal trainer, kickboxing coach Yousuf, is the best thing I have done for my health.  The other things I have found very helpful are Cordycyps Mushrooms to improve my workouts, Chaga Mushrooms to help my immune systems, Onnit Alpha Brain to sharpen my memory and focus, and Great Lakes Collagen for joint health and better skin. I’m also using a free app called Weigh In that I like.  The Insight Timer provides access to meditation on demand and is free.   

4) Ask for help: After researching and interviewing several people, I hired a life coach.  It’s been an investment in myself. She is helping me examine what I really want, aligning my values, helping me think about my legacy and giving me practical things to work on.  She takes her job seriously and she’s affordable. I plan to continue in 2017.  If you are curious or would like to explore hiring a life coach for yourself, please send me an email and I will make an introduction.  She provides a free introductory call. 

I also hired a social impact business mentor.  She is not someone who actually does this for a living but is someone who I admired and had a skill set that I knew would be helpful.  So I reached out to her and asked her if she would consider mentoring me for a fee, and she said yes.  You might consider doing this with someone you admire, too.

5) Mastermind:  It’s been a year of 3 failures and 1 success on the masterminding front.  I tried a free facebook mastermind, which seemed like it had potential but the people were unreliable.  And I tried 2 paid masterminds: 1) led by an arrogant business coach (yay for the money back guarantee); and 2) led by a nice coach but the people in the group had so little business savvy that it was unhelpful.  Finally, I started a mastermind with a group of friends in Marrakech – all creatives.  That has been very helpful – and everyone with one exception, has made great strides in the group, as a result of the mastermind.  I still would like to join a virtual mastermind made up of social impact entrepreneurs.  Let me know if you might be interested. 

6) Listen, Learn, Read:  I continued to love podcasts.  A couple of new ones beyond the ones I mentioned before are: Homecoming; Terrible, Thanks for Asking; and Heavyweight.  I also bought my first online business course. While it is helpful, I am concerned by the overall tone (conservative values, religious references, and used car salesman tendancies) – ie the jury is still out.   My book choices also were less successful.  I think I was the only one who didn’t love The Gold Finch, I Love Dick and Beautiful Ruins, for exp.  I would be so happy to have book recommendations from you, though. 

And so goodbye 2016.  It’s been mostly good.  Yes mostly.  I learned from you.  Yes, I did.  And I won’t soon forget you.  At least…..until 2017.