2014 Annual Review: Looking Forward to 2015 (Dun, dun, dun…)


And… the Annual Review continues! Today’s post is all about the future.

You’re welcome to share your lessons too, and—new bonus!—we’ll award a $100 Powell’s gift card to the person who leaves the best comment by the end of the week, as determined by our cats and biased judges.

Right after Christmas, I’ll also share a roundup post consisting of lessons and observations from many of you. Remember: include a link to any AONC Annual Review post, along with the hashtag #AnnualReview. We’ll feature as many different perspectives as possible.

Previous Posts


Where to begin? Oh wait—I know exactly where to begin.

As I told the story in several posts, it was a long year with many ups and downs. And so it should be, though for once I might prefer a few less extremes.

Lots of other people have written in to say that their year was tough, too. Hey everyone—you’re not alone! And if you had a great year, that’s fine too. Take the win and celebrate, for life is good either way.

As I’ve spent more than twenty hours this week thinking about what I want my life to be like next year, I thought it would probably be most appropriate to begin with an overall vision.

First, That “Bigger Picture” Thing

If you struggle with something negative, perhaps it’s worthwhile to consider its opposite. In my case, as I mentioned in the first post, I’ve been struggling with a number of negative feelings, some of them undoubtedly related to one another and others more likely distinct.

The opposite of defeated is victorious.

The opposite of fear is love.

The opposite of dread is anticipation or confidence.

The opposite of anxiety is calm.

A while back I wrote a post called The Goal, which was all about working hard while being in harmony with other aspects of your life. Reading it now, a couple of years later, it still seems appropriate. Here’s a brief passage:

    To wake in the morning full of life and energy, awaiting the day with anticipation and purpose.

    To step out into the world ready to accomplish a significant task.

    To engage and initiate instead of merely responding. To take the active choice that you will make something happen.

    To maintain harmony and goodwill in relationships. To follow Shakespeare’s adage: love all, trust a few, and do wrong to no one.

    To focus on contribution and engagement instead of withdrawal into yourself. (Tip: When you aren’t sure what to do next, find a small way to help someone.)

    To pursue productive, meaningful work. To spend most of your time doing something that you and others find meaningful.

    To accept that everything you create will likely be flawed in some way, but to create anyway.


Values and Daily Practice

I won’t be sharing all my goals this year, because some of them are fairly personal and not necessarily relevant to every reader of the blog. So on that point I’ll just say: watch this space.

Oh, and I’ll also share a few specific values I’m embracing, which I’ve tried to place in a central position of all my goals this year, even those that are more specifically career-oriented.

These values are giving, gratitude, space, and focus.

Giving and gratitude may sound similar, but they aren’t quite the same thing. As I mentioned in the first lessons learned post, you can be grateful regardless of any external circumstances. To take an extreme example, Viktor Frankl learned to find meaning in a WWII concentration camp. If he can do it, you can and I can too.

But giving is a bit different. Giving requires a positive action and response—you have to choose to not just be thankful, but also helpful. You can’t just withdraw into a shell and keep to yourself. Sometimes you might even need to ask yourself, “Do I want to be right or do I want to be free?”

The way I think of it, by selecting giving as a core value, it may help when faced with any tough decisions that come up.

Space is about freeing up my world a bit to more clearly spend time on what matters, and to (selectively) be open to new opportunities.

Focus is about doing a good job for the few areas I’ve chosen to excel. I’ll explain more about what those are in a moment.

Also, this year I have a more clearly defined practice: a return to much more daily writing, both for the blog and for the new book I’ll be writing.

Values: Giving, Gratitude, Space, Focus
Practice: Daily Writing

These may not sound super ground-breaking, but for me they represent a clear shift. In the past week I’ve turned down five speaking invitations. I’ve cleared entire weeks from my 2015 calendar. I’ve been talking to colleagues about how they can be more responsible for some of the projects we’ve co-created (in return for greater compensation or other benefit to them, of course). I really, really want to do this well.


But Oh Hey, There Are Also Some Goals!

Make no mistake. I’m not going to become a monk or start playing golf. I will continue to be a voice in the wilderness of “do one thing” crying out for meaningful work, for crafting our lives around endeavors that matter and improve other people’s lives.

You don’t have to do only one thing, you don’t have to choose a niche, you don’t have to meditate for two hours every morning—try espresso instead.

No, I’m just saying that I want to be less tightly-scheduled so that I have more space to do things I believe in, and to ensure I can be consistent with the values and practice I’ve selected.

And yes, I do have some career goals. A few of them include:

  • Write and edit a 75,000+ word book manuscript I can be proud of
  • Write, edit, and publish at least 500 (!) posts on the blog, including at least 100 profiles of people in the community
  • Host at least 2,500 people for our flagship events, WDS & Pioneer Nation

In fact, before I go further, I should emphasize these points: book, blog, gatherings. These are three things I do somewhat well, at least relatively so. Writing a book requires an ongoing focus that is different from other kinds of writing. You can’t just “crush out” a book, at least not a good one with a proper narrative and arc. You have to allow more time than you initially expect.

Producing events falls in the same category. To properly organize and host a gathering with hundreds or thousands of people, it takes an incredible amount of time. Once “event mode” kicks in, it’s very hard to work on anything else, even when it’s literally weeks before the event actually arrives. Much of the work is front-loaded, or at least it should be if you want it to be successful and valuable.

So those things will take a lot of time and focus, and I’m okay with that. I’ll be pretty careful about other stuff. As of right now there are just a few other locked-and-loaded commitments on the calendar for the first half of the year. These include:

  • The publication of our latest Unconventional Guide (this isn’t a new project; it’s been in the works for nearly a year—and it will be good!)
  • Another CreativeLIVE broadcast series, this time an extended one that will require several days of in-studio filming later in the spring
  • A month-long bootcamp to help people create digital products (time commitment for me: about a week to create and present the content)
  • As mentioned in the travel roundup, a return to Australia, at least one Round-the-World trip, and re-qualifying for status with my favorite airline + hotel chains (but also as mentioned, travel will support my life and work, not the other way around)

As with the values and daily practice, perhaps this doesn’t sound like much on the surface. Where’s the 50-city tour? Where are the 30 new countries? The 5 new businesses?

Well, as I said, I’m not completely “slowing down”—but I do want to improve. So that’s the goal, one day at a time.


Community (AKA: You.)

No discussion of goals, whether personal or career, would be complete without mentioning the whole point of them: you. For years I’ve felt that we are tapping less than 10% of the worth and collective experiences of everyone who cares or participates in the blog, the events, the business, or anything I do.

So I’m committing, as I’ve done before, to continue to do everything I can to find ways to serve the community, as well as enable the community to help one another.


Final Thoughts — and What About You?

Every year when I conduct the Annual Review, a funny thing happens: there’s a settling or realignment in the public side of AONC. Inevitably, a lot of people unsubscribe as they don’t find this process to be their cup of tea. Sorry! This year in particular, I wanted to be comprehensive and as honest as possible.

As best as I can tell, though, others draw closer, others join the ranks, and in general it helps to orient me and anyone else who cares for what will be happening over the next year.

This should be a lesson for you, too: don’t try to serve “everyone,” and do everything you can to find your true north. Not everyone may understand, but the right people will.

OK, how about you? What are you looking forward to in 2015?

Comments here.


Images: 1, 2, 3,

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  • Susan Arthur says:

    500 blog posts! I’m excited about that!

    Me? This year my focus is on Creating. Reading, writing and photographing. Making time for each of these and edging out the things that stand in my way for creating will be on the front burner. I’m a big fan of making “don’t do” lists and feel it’s time to revisit that task.

    As always, I’m excited when I read about your good works. Service to others will always keep you on the beam.

    Love, Susan

  • Joel Oleson says:

    Long time listener, first time caller…

    I’m where you were a few years ago. I’m on a quest to see and experience the world. I’ve got a family of five and a job that allows me to travel and have amazing experiences along the way. I’m trying to hit 10 new countries a year to hit my goal of all UN countries and keep my wife and family before I’m 50. Balance in family life, work, faith and travel… Is my goal and key to everything. I’ll be reading your new posts and blogging myself. Hope to meet you someday and share travel stories. I’ve knocked down South America, Europe and most of Middle East and Asia… Now just trying to hack away at massive Africa while having incredible adventures. Ebola is keeping me out of some for now, but Mali, Niger and Mauritania should be pretty wild in a few weeks. A friend was also commenting… Who takes their kids to Haiti for mid winter break? I hope that doesn’t backfire, but becomes instructional and a moment my kids treasure and remember like they remember Egypt.


  • bryan danger says:

    We have just finished our 2nd #AnnualReview and are amazed once again how much this process keeps us on point. It provides a great reminder as to the entire year of events, wins, losses and lessons- and it gives us the perfect foundation for setting goals next year.

    I had forgotten completely what I wrote last year in terms of what we hoped 2014 would bring, and after finishing this year’a review we can say that goal was a huge success!!

  • Erika says:

    I just went through your annual review stuff and I want to say thank you for being so open and honest about your year. I do have to say that in one of your posts, you said you were moderately successful and I was thinking — whoa! This guy thinks he is MODERATELY successful? You don’t give yourself enough credit at all! Celebrate your awesomeness because it’s more than moderate. You do great things and I think you should acknowledge that! At least, I am right now! 🙂

    Have you ever heard of The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte? It’s this concept that when we set goals, we tend to do them backwards… We focus on an external result to make us feel a certain way, when it may be better to start with the feeling first. How do you want to feel?

    It may be a good read, especially after reading how this year has been for you. Maybe it’s not about metrics like hitting 1000 words, but feeling alive when you write 🙂 Either way, I hope you find the peace and happiness you are looking for in 2015!

  • Scott Meyer says:

    Personally and for our business we use Chris’ formula to look at the year ahead. This year we are looking at doubling our revenue, maintaining our content creation and improving our team training so we can hit these goals. Here’s the details that will keep us on track! Thanks Chris!

  • brooklynchick says:

    “To focus on contribution and engagement instead of withdrawal into yourself. (Tip: When you aren’t sure what to do next, find a small way to help someone.)”

    SUCH a good tip.

  • Merry says:

    Lately I have been thinking about creativity: actively seeking new influences, ways of thinking, sources of inspiration and new creative models. I am going searching for those artists that ooze creativity, to rummage through their studios, snoop in their journals, to grab bits of their motivations, just to jumpstart my creativity and yours.
    I want to cultivate ideas, to inspire ideas, to exchange ideas with you.
    Wanna join the hunt?

  • David Greene says:

    Next month I am launching a blog for a narrow vertical that I serve. I have been emailing articles once a week for the past year and have another 40 articles already in the hopper. I don’t want thousands to subscribe. The blog will not be an income stream for the first year or the second. It might never be, other than to connect and expose my approach to my business to people I want to connect with, and do business with.

    I am also tapping into my creative side. I am taking a cartooning class with the goal to do my own illustrations for the blog and the website. I haven’t drawn in 30 years, but I am enjoying that journey as well. My goal is to have fun with it and grow in different areas of my life.

  • Jodi Crane says:

    I’m looking forward to the fact that 2015 isn’t 2014. To turning 45 which I figure is the halfway point of my life. I’m tired of playing small as Tara Sophia Mohr says, so I plan to do BIG things in 2015. Things with meaning, impact, fun, and of service.

  • Yael Grauer says:

    Here’s my painfully transparent and somewhat longwinded annual review!

  • Kevin Bates says:

    love everyone? do I have to LOVE the guys who killed 132 schoolchildren in Pakistan?

    how about Boko Harum who kidnapped all the schoolgirls in order to make them sex slaves?

    you can choose to sing Kumbaya & pretend there are not evil people in the world, but it is not reality.

    in short, get real..

  • Michelle says:

    PS in advance- I like cats! 🙂

    You hit the nail on the head with similar things I was facing this year.

    To borrow from Oprah, two days ago I had a semi-aha moment and the following quote (no idea who said it first or where it’s from) kept reverberating in my head: “The world opens up when you do”.

    I discovered in the middle of a writer’s group session that I’ve kept myself closed off from almost everyone around me for the past, oh, 6-8 months. You want to talk about negativity, well I’ve been radiating it for some time, and it’s kept me stuck inside myself and unaware of any real opportunity for advancement. The negativity affected my work, my relationships, and my worldview. I’ve spent the last year wondering where did I go wrong? When is it going to happen for me? Why this, and why that?

    And then it hit me: I’ve been looking outside of myself for gratification, verification, worthiness, love, etc. Meaning, I started to believe that a new job, or new location, or new house would solve my general sense of malaise and unhappiness. But we are all travelers here, and we all know that baggage comes with you no matter where you go.

    My goal for 2015 is open myself back up. It’s not the world or the job that is bringing me down, it’s me. I have to work on me. I have to continue to put forth myself best self that will ultimately lead to my best work.

    I want to continue writing. I want to publish one of my personal essays in a magazine. I want to translate a French novel. Somewhere down the line I convinced myself that I needed a special translation degree or a job in a French publishing agency in order to do this. Not so. I love the language and French literature, so why not just do it for me and for fun?

    I want to be a better wife- a much better listener, for starters- and a better friend to my dear ones. I also need to learn the power of no. I overextended myself this year. When I overextend myself, no one is getting the best part of me. They get frazzled and half-hearted me. This serves no one, especially me.

    And like you, Chris, I need to work on my focus. This goes hand-in-hand with overextending myself. I’m a chronic dabbler, but it gets me nowhere. It’s time to zero in on what’s important, and let the rest go.

    That’s it for now! I will end with my travel with for 2015: Ireland or Malta this coming year and more regional traveling.

    Thanks for sharing your stories, and for letting me share.

  • Alexandra C. MacArthur says:

    I agree with Erika that you’re a bit too hard on yourself, but I guess that’s why you’re so successful.

    My 1st goal for this year is to continue cutting out activities that are distracting me from my goals. I went on a Facebook hiatus this year and it made me so happy that it inspired me to use the site less. As a result, I’ve been getting a lot more done.

    My 2nd goal, is to do creative work that I’m compelled to do vs. work I think that I have to do. My greatest challenge this year was acknowledging to myself that the field I’d been putting all my eggs in for the last 5 years was not working out for me. And my need to follow through with this area of expertise was cutting me off from the things I really wanted to do. I’ve found that when you do things you’re compelled to do, focus is an inevitable by-product. Which is why I think your goal of making space for the things you really care about is important.

    My 3rd goal, is not to worry about trying to market or package something I’m doing until I have given it time to breath and become what it wants to be. I think finding that special place where you’re making something you wanna make and creating something people want to consume takes time and requires a lot of experimentation.

    My 4th goal, is destroy all barriers of entry. This includes teaching myself skills that I’ve always wanted to learn and that will increase my chances of getting work I’ve always wanted to do. Specially, I’m referring to design.

    I know these goals were vague, but I guess I’m still in a licking my wounds phase of life. Not exactly sure what this next year will bring, but excited to find out.

  • Pete says:

    My annual review looking forward to 2015; it’s quite simple really: To put myself first.

    In 2014 I repeated a mistake and this time see its origin more clearly. It’s not easy (at least not for me) to put oneself first, when you want, or feel you need to help others, or when you believe life is a series of collaborative events.

    I learned, that I can do more good, when I aim and work towards placing myself in a stronger position, whereby I do not need to feel I need someone (and I am speaking in terms of having a productive life, not romance) which I usually feel, in spite of my providing valuable resources.

  • Suzanne says:

    My goals for 2015 are nothing short of things I had never imagined… my partner was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in July of this year. We have since began our domestic partnership (with 4 teen children between the two of us), and are embarking on this journey together. Living, with cancer ~ as opposed to the alternatives. I want to: love more, stress less, give more, take less, find joy in the small moments and let go of what no longer matters. I want to wake up each morning with gratitude in my heart, presence in my soul and a smile on my face. I want to embrace this journey place in our lives for what it is and do it with a level of integrity and grace.

    Thank you, Chris, for the space to voice my desire as well creating the space for me to retreat to.

  • sonja says:

    I am looking forward to being of service. I read an article and came upon this quote that stopped me so short I almost fell out of my chair: “How can I know so little about myself when all I do is think about me constantly?” This hit home like Excalibur stabbing me in the heart. I wanted to cry. I wrote a few days ago about doing my first review and setting up a direction for my life in 2015. Scary but I am actually going to do it this year. What I know is that I want out of my head and into my heart. What I know is that I can do that! Thank you for sharing your life with me over the years. Cheers!

  • Caroline says:

    This Annual Review is a first try for me. I am not completely done yet but I can see 2015 is going to be a big year and probably the one I am most scared of and excited about ever!

    This will be the year we move back Home. After 3 years living “abroad” (Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver) we are going back to Montreal. I really don’t know how I feel about that yet.
    But before, we will hit the road one last time for a 3 months around the world dream trip. This is huge because it’s been a dream of mine forever.

    Besides those 2 major events in my life, some side-goals I have is writing, photography and practicing yoga on a regular basis.

    Thank you for introducing me to this review, it really sounds fun 🙂

  • Luke says:

    Some audacious goals Chris, but I wouldn’t expect anything less. 2015 I’m looking forward to moving into a new place, continuing my career, and finally getting a side-project off the ground.

    I’d also like to do more speaking and improve my writing/blog presence.

    Enjoy the break 🙂

  • Karen Talavera says:

    Wow, can’t believe I’m already on my 6th annual review, modeled largely on yours (thank you).

    In addition to a look back at what worked/didn’t work each year, my look-forward process starts as a visioning and intention-setting exercise for key areas of my life (areas similar as what you pick for your goal-setting). I find this incredibly effective at capturing and staying connected to the ESSENCE and FEELING of what I want to manifest. After “painting a picture” of how I want the year to look (I actually use PowerPoint to create it all), I get down to specific quantifiable goals in each area.

    Every year I pick a key word/theme and three supporting words that sum up how I want to be throughout the year and what I want to accomplish. My theme for 2015 is Go For Gold; the supporting words (actually 4 for next year) are: Initiate, Courage & Risk, and Open-Hearted. I also pick a “signature image” which exemplifies the key word/theme, and make it my cell phone or computer screen-saver image/wall paper as a constant reminder. (Try this if you haven’t before – it’s an incredibly potent re-enforcer).

    I love your emphasis on Focus for 2015 and plan to incorporate that further into my values.

    Here’s to an exceptional new year for everyone!

  • Surendra Sahu says:

    I want to complete the novel I have stared.


  • Surendra Sahu says:

    Will complete my novel.

  • Surendra Sahu says:

    Complete novel.

  • Kathryn Hardage says:

    I look forward to putting my Music Teacher Training Manual together so that lots more pre-schoolers can experience my Music Reading Readiness method. It is such a marvelous energy to see them catch on to special symbols and create their own original musical patterns for different instrument each month. Thanks for all your encouragement for the entrepreneur community.

  • Kathryn Hardage says:

    I look forward to completing my music teacher training manual so that lots more pre-schoolers can experience music reading readiness symbols to create their own original musical patterns on several different instruments. Thanks also, for your consistent encouragement for the entrepreneurs.

  • Delores says:

    The cats say Hi!

    I am just starting my annual review. This year I started a new job which is a job share so I am now job free until next August. A huge change in perspective. What do I want to do with that time? Well, many happy things for me including travel but also that nagging question of what I want to do for others. Looking at a family partnership in heating that will help people lower their fuel costs and repair costs with more efficient systems. Looking at some charity knitting. Continuing the effort to wipe out lawns in favor of edible plants. What else? Who knows; let’s see what the universe provides and asks.

  • peacefulones.blogspot says:

    It’s always a joy to read your commitment to good living and service. Enjoy the end of this year – and hope you have a blessed Christmas with those you love. With great anticipation for doors God will open for you and for the rest of us … peace and joy to you.

  • Chris Lilja says:

    After spending twelve of my short twenty-eight years in retail, I decided in mid-January 2014 that I had enough and needed to make a major life change. For years I had been at the top of my game in the sales and leadership field I had responsibility for only to build somebody else’s bonus and help others achieve their dreams only to have my own fall by the wayside. Spending nearly half my life working my tail off for somebody else (managers, superiors, etc.) with little to no time or energy left to work on my own personal and financial development finally came come an end. I woke one cold and snowy Chicago morning about to get ready to do what I did every day, but this day was different. As I looked out the window, I said to myself, “I am not doing this any longer, and will never go back to “work” again” This was a very powerful moment for me as I knew from that moment on, my life would be forever changed. I stuck by my decision and never looked back, knowing my decision was the right one and no body was going to stand in my way or stop me from living my life the way I wanted, on my terms, not theirs. I realized in the coming days and after picking up “The Art of Non-Conformity” very shortly after that I did not have to live my life the way people expected me to. This book truly changed not only my outlook on life but the way I lived it. I spent the next eight months working on the things I had no time or energy to work on prior to my departure from retail. I had a few business ideas that were always churning in my head but was unable to put any focus, time, and dedication into. I cashed out some stocks and savings that I had built up over the years in order to pay my bills, and put into starting an art business that I had always wanted to. My financial priorities had shifted from having the latest and greatest to focusing on building a more experienced and rich life. Another few months went by and I was presented with the opportunity to follow my girlfriend and her dreams to sunny Florida. Moving my entire life and everything I knew, without a “job” across the country was one of the most significant events of my young life. Having to fit everything I owned into a small two-door hatchback to move across the country was an amazing experience. I was now forced to declutter and purge out all of the unnecessary possessions and junk from my life. Being able to now fit everything I owned into my small car and then packed into a small closet was very freeing. How refreshing it was seeing how much “stuff” I had accumulated and held on to and being able to remove it from my life completely! Being removed from the life I had know and the life I was now living was very eye opening. This allowed me to re-align and focus on what was important to me, and how I defined success. Nearly a year now after quitting my job and reinventing my life I couldn’t be happier and in a better position. I now have time and energy to focus on myself, family, experiences, opportunities, etc. that I never had time for before and would never had time for had I continued down the road I was on. I learned I am the master of my own destiny and was not going to have my life dictated by others and how I was “expected” to live. The only way for me to have the future I always dreamed of was to create it and make it the present. Chris, thank you so much for your work and inspiration, The Art of Non-Conformity and The $100 Startup have literally changed my life and allowed me to life the life I’ve always wanted.

  • Elaine says:

    I am looking forward to righting the mistake I made last year (2013).

    I took a full-time job with a long-time client–MAINLY because they offered me medical. Had I known that the Affordable Care Act was going through, I wouldn’t have taken the job. It’s boring and I have discovered that my inner child is a serial entrepreneur. I understand it and identify with it.

    So, I’m looking forward to getting my first company back on track and being EXCITED about the next steps and not bored out of my mind.

    Lesson learned? Keep up with the news a HECK of a lot better.

    Happy and Merry, everybody!

  • Fla says:

    I receive much inspiration from your posts Chris, Thank You! About two years ago I bought your book, 100$ startup. This year, 2014 I finally launched my own ‘thing’. It’s been a step by step process to build it, but it’s working out and gives me reams of joy, energy and aliveness. With gratitute to you for your boundless courage and openness. I aspire. I wish you the inner contentment and peace you much deserve to accompany your valuable contribution to so many of us.

  • Sonia says:

    I too have struggled with the same issues – being uncharacteristically disorganized, behind, late. The feeling of being unable to catch up is horrible. My father also died suddenly. It was actually a relief to see I wasn’t alone in this. I’m also late doing my annual review (and late readingon the yearly annual review posts).

    So 2014 has been rough for a lot of people, you and me included. Knowing that somehow made me feel instantly better. I feel a renewed sense of resolve. My 2014-2015 annual review will get done. I need it more than if I had had a splendid year. That’s my main take away today.

    One year of running behind is bad enough, I sure as hell don’t want two.

  • Sheryl Brake says:

    They say to commit to something is to put it in writing. Well, here goes.

    2014 was the year of change, albeit a difficult one. Over the last 18 months something inside of me was telling me there was more to life. Sure, I am a partner at a CPA firm, make good money, travel, and accomplished all the goals my generation set out to achieve – the big fancy house, the nice car, etc. I have a wonderful husband and two grown daughters and life was good, right? WRONG! Something has been missing in my life and I felt a big empty hole in my heart and my life. What is missing is ME! After nearly 30 years of going through the motions of being a CPA, I will leave my position as a partner in a mid-tier accounting firm in May. My conformity to what has been expected of me, or at least what I thought was expected of me, will come to an end.

    My goals for 2015 include starting my own consulting practice where I can focus on and work one on one with a handful of clients at any given time, instead of managing a book of 200 clients and a bunch of whiny staff that don’t get it on so many levels. I will be free to give of my time to others on my terms, my schedule and reap the rewards of doing so both emotionally (this has been missing for me) and financially too.

    I will focus on pursuing my lifelong passion/desire to become a watercolor artist, by expressing myself creatively everyday, painting and drawing on a routine, but not forced, basis and building a website to publish my art.

    I will not allow myself to be frozen by fear of failure and my left-brained logical self. I will go forth with the attitude that I will look at each task (in consulting and in my art) as an opportunity to grow and learn and finally become ME!!!

    I have spent much of the past 18 months on this journey and have come to the realization that you can’t really plan this stuff, that you need to be “open” in order to let good things come to you and that you need let things be a little messy and let life unfold before you. I see liberation in my future and that excites me!

    2015 will be about passion, exploration and discovery, but most importantly finding ME!

    Looking forward to filling out the annual review template. Thanks Chris for all that you do and for establishing a place for all of us nonconformists or want to be’s to go! There is comfort in knowing that I am not alone on this journey!

    Here is to a great 2015!!!

  • Heath Padgett says:

    I’ve spent the last week or so working through my 2014 Review and 2015 Goals and I feel good about the direction. However, I’m trying to come up with a solution for how I can create actionable items from the year goals per each week. I was wondering if anyone has had success with this in the past and can share a doc template or layout? I was thinking I could just add in each goal (finance, marriage, travel, etc) in the top of an excel doc, with each year goal underneath, and create some form of action list each week to work off of.

    Does anyone else do something similar? Would love to hear feedback or ideas. Thank you!


  • Cynthia Morris says:

    I adore your annual review process, Chris. I find a lot of value in hearing the behind the scenes stuff you so generously share.

    My focus for 2015 will be product creation, both for my company Original Impulse and my new venture, Cynthia Morris Art. I have specific and exciting plans for both and look forward to juggling two major branches of my work.

    One thing that’s very fun for me is looking back over the previous year and seeing what I didn’t plan or anticipate. It’s usually a lot of good boons, and some dark personal stuff too.

    I traveled for 12 weeks and at least half of that was unplanned at the onset of the year. Many other professional wins came to me that I couldn’t have scripted. The boons show me that I am not 100% in charge of the goodness in my life. That I don’t have to orchestrate every damn thing.

    I share this because of your intention to leave space. To leave space for even more great things than you can imagine to show up in your life.

    Thank you for acknowledging that writing a book isn’t something you just crank out. It’s deep soul work and takes a different kind of focus and attention. I am eager to hear about your next book; I have loved every one of the ones you’ve written and enjoy recommending them.

    I am proud and honored to be part of your community. I respect your honesty and know that you are doing all the right things to find health and happiness on a daily basis. I really appreciate your candor about the state of your emotional life. That kind of honesty is rare. That you opened up so much is a true gift to all of us.

    Enjoy the rest of your year and thank you for all you are and for all you do. All hail the annual review!

  • Cathy says:

    I don’t have any set goals because a “journey” starting unfolding in mid October and it will continue at least for another year – so around November 2015 it will be at point where I should know how to follow through from then on…

  • L. A. Silberman says:

    Cutting the ties with a past that no longer fits, in a new city with new, more personal goals.

  • Peter says:

    I survived 2014, but I can’t really say it goes in the ‘win’ column. I’m planning 2015 loosely, but I’m determined to make it so much better than this one. Thanks for such an honest, open, and inspiring blog, Chris, and to the rest of you that share stuff here, in posts and comments, because it’s all useful and instructional.

  • Kanako says:

    I always enjoy your posts, but I’m very very looking forward to reading this future plan post.

    I’ll put my bigger picture of 2015 on my blog in a while, but I think I can summarize it as “resetting directions”. In 2014, my life was on the “lose” side. I have a huge list of things which didn’t go well in this year, and it was painful process to look for the win side of my life. I think it’s a sign that I’m thinking too narrow or looking at somewhere else. I need to reassess what I want and need and this process will take for a while. After that, I may write blogs more (but probably not like 500 posts!), or I may focus on other topics.

    Thanks again for your posts. They are great head-up for me.

  • Martin says:

    Hi Chris.

    Your Annual Reviews inspired me to write my own last year and again this year. And this year I had a reader tell me that I inspired them to write their own.

    It’s all about the ripples 🙂

    Here’s to a blistering 2015


  • Bec Susan Gill says:

    Chris, Your annual reviews are always so inspiring – especially because they help me to connect your human experiences as a creator to my own, and encourage me to see my life in a more broader brush snapshot. Thanks so much for being the catalyst for so many people to think strategically about their aspirations.

    Here’s my #AnnualReview:

  • Karen Barlow says:

    I’m one of those “followers” who hasn’t been too engaged in the past. I’ve never thought of myself as more than a slightly potential entrepreneur, so much of your content didn’t connect with me – but something (the non-conformity and travel aspects, I suspect) kept me vaguely interested and stopped me from unsubscribing. Just finished The Happiness of Pursuit and LOVED. IT. Quit my job and am heading to Australia on a one-way ticket at the end of January, without a real plan or even a goal in mind, except to see new things and meet new people on several continents, as long as the funds last. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience – as well as using your platform to share others’ – and doing it with an almost palpable passion. I’m fascinated by people who can be “successful” and not lose (or hide) their humanity in the process. Hope our paths cross one day. Best wishes!

  • Julie says:

    My main two areas of focus this year are going to be building my business and helping my son move out on his own. Both are huge projects!move

  • Kristen Wilder says:

    In 2015, many people are saying that they’re going to focus on themselves and make them happy but I feel that’s not the way to go. I mean it’s great to make yourself happy but it’s not all about you. So one of my goals is to try and spread happiness to others because everyone deserves it no matter who they are. Happiness is the key to life so if I can spread this joy around, maybe others will catch on and this world will become better. Another goal of mine is to stop focusing so much on my problems/be thankful for what I have. There’s other people in the world who have it worse than I do and I should open my eyes and be thankful for what I have. Some people don’t even have a roof over their head but I have a warm bed in a big house waiting for me everyday and that’s something I should be extremely grateful for.

  • Dana F says:

    In short, I am looking forward to cultivating a sense of abundance in 2015. I don’t yet have a solid plan as to how I am going to do this, but I have some thoughts percolating. I have come to understand that fear and a feeling of scarcity have, generally, ruled my life recently. What does this mean? Well, I avoid doing things that I might enjoy for fear that the experience won’t live up to my expectations. Even though I currently have enough money, I haven’t given much to charity because I am afraid I won’t have enough money at some point in the future. I am dissatisfied with my life despite having someone in my life who loves me, a good job, a sturdy roof over my head and enough food to sustain me. I have a feeling that if I gave of myself more freely, I would come to see how much I have to offer and thus, feel more satisfied with my current circumstances. This does not yet mention the benefit others might see because of these efforts. I do hope that a positive impact would occur in multiple lives. Hopefully, the impact to myself will simply be a change in outlook and maybe some wonderful experiences worthy of writing about next year. Best wishes to you all.

  • Shelly Watson says:

    I’m so glad to have discovered your work this year! Annual Review has been great. The biggest takeaway for me moving into 2015 is to do the thing that you’re GREAT at! That single sentiment is now my road map for deciding which projects to pick up and run with and which to leave behind. Thank you for sharing your heart, soul, love, and life with us. Your life and work are inspiring!

  • Aprille says:

    I’m still working on formalizing this, but part of 2015 is putting in place ideas set in motion in 2014. My Fringe show audience wanted more opportunities to hear stories – so I am doing more shows and introducing a radio program in the spring. I will be working more seriously on targeted efforts with youth and local businesses – including story/craft integration programs. I will be writing more of my own content and potentially compiling gathered stories into a published work.

    Very tactic-centric at the moment. I’ve given some thought to my “3 words” – which I think can play the role of values, regular writing and working out will be practices, and the above feed goals.

  • Matteo Cassese says:

    Thanks for sharing your process and 2014 results and thoughts. It’s a precious gift to be able to peek at somebody else’s methods, ideas and outlooks. I’ve been inspired by your words and shared my 2014 review in this post:

  • Cristina Moura Rebelo says:

    #AnnualReview is very importante to me. Makes a lot of sense and helps me become a better person, professional, friend… My latest blog post is precisely about this subject and although it is in portuguese I’ll resume it here a little bit: my most importante new year resolution is to make the difference wherever I am. 1st by paying attention to people’s needs and doing everything possible to meet them; 2nd by disregarding shame or fear of failure when I’m certain of something I just have to do; 3rd by looking everyday for opportunities for blessing someone – helping and elderly with the grocery shop or listening to someone who just needs to talk or whatever needed – as long as I can do it.
    this is a journey… and I’ll take it step by step, slowly but firmly showing there is a better world out there if we just keep indiference away!

  • Jeff Goins says:

    Looking forward to the launch of my new book, The Art of Work. In many ways, it feels like the book I should’ve written three years ago but couldn’t. Now is the right time, and I’m excited for the world to see it. If that thing launches well, everything else that happens in 2015 is gravy. 🙂

  • Tracy says:

    Inspired in part by Chris, this year I quit my first professional job and took a part-time job so that I’ll have more time to dedicate to my personal creative work (writing) – so this year’s personal review was my opportunity to not only check in on what’s gone well and what hasn’t, but also to design a life that suits my ideals. I wrote up my life design process on my blog:

    Surprisingly (or perhaps not, given I’m a regular reader), my process has turned out much like Chris’ this year – establishing priorities (like his values), and a focus on habits / process goals (like his practice).

    Thanks for the inspiration Chris!

  • Mari Louise says:

    Hi Chris!

    Thank you for sharing. Look forward to following you this year and aim to attend the next WDS 🙂

    Your review inspired me to consciously reflect on the past year and appreciate my growth, as well as plant some seeds for this year.

    I’ve never been very motivated by metric goals, they seem to have the opposite effect on me. I’ve set intentions and focus areas for 2015 and feel very happy about that!

    Key words for the coming year for me are stillness, boldness, space, expansive experiments, community and love.

    Hugs & love,

  • Michael says:

    I’ve just finished reading every single comment. There’s so much inspiration here.

    2 short questions:

    1) Anybody ever tried the annual quarterly review with a personal advisory board, like 2-3 ppl?

    2) I’d love 2 have an advisory board and would find i most profitable if its someone new in my life -we should create a network of personal advisors, anybody interessted?

    lets create sth. great together 🙂

    Thanks 4 sharing ur stories!


  • Bus Question says:

    Hey Chris! I love these posts. I don’t think I would’ve gone through the process on my own.

    Sorry for not giving my real name, but I’m posting anonymously until I quit my job in April (which, coincidentally, is one of my goals for 2015!)

    My biggest goal for the coming year is to hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirety. I’m taking a big risk by leaving my job mid-career with nothing locked in for the other side, but hiking the AT is something that I don’t want to wait another 35 years (I’m 30) to do. I really can’t wait.

    At the same time, looking at a departure date of just under 16 weeks, I’m finding myself wishing I had more time to get life and all its obligations in order. I’m torn in both directions.

    Here’s my list, which includes 7 more goals! #annualreview

  • Ted says:

    What am I looking forward to the most in 2015?

    2014 was certainly a journey to discover more about myself, and the good news is I have discovered more about myself than ever before. It was a weird year because I didn’t do the majority of my work in a field or for a purpose that I’m truly proud of or excited about – in fact, I was not chosen for a job I consider my dream job – but when I did your first exercise to recap the year that was, I wrote down more in the “what went well” column than the other.

    As I set my goals for 2015, one of my ongoing purposes will be to take action every time I consume information. In the instance of reading a blog post (like this one), I plan to write in the comments, or reply to someone else’s comment, or contact the author. I want there to be an action every time. Over the last 12 months, I’ve not always taken action and I feel like I can accelerate my ideas and dreams by doing so. Plus, I love connecting with people.

    Thank you for having this community.

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  • Paula says:

    This year, 2015, I choose to embrace life more. Last year was full of challenges that brought with them the realization that change is needed for me to have successful relationships and move forward. I believe this year will be GREAT; in fact, one of the best years ever. “Keep peace in your soul. Strive to be happy”

  • Rahman @ Iran Tours says:

    Blogging is one part of all I do. It actually reflects what my career is focused on. My resolution for my blog in 2015 is very simple – serve my audience better. I’ve decided to get this done through some better user experience.

    This time that I’ve set more simple goals for my blog, it seems that I’m pretty in good shape and already achieving some of those goals. You can read them here:

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