Welcome to my 2016 annual review! 2016 has been quite the eye-opener, both for my business and myself personally.

Wow, 2016 has been quite a ride. We started the year living in Brisbane, Australia and are finishing the year living in Auckland, New Zealand.

There is a LOT that went down in 2016 for me, my business and my personal life. And while I’m super excited for 2017, I wanted to take a moment to pause and bask in all that I’ve achieved in 2016.

2016 Annual Review

I was able to do this in late November thanks to Amber McCure’s Fresh Start Guide and Planathon. This is held every year and takes you through five days of review and planning for the year ahead.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the questions I answered:

What did you accomplish in 2016 that you are proud of?

  • I was able to keep my business going, even with the stressful changes that happened
  • We moved countries and I refocused my business
  • Rebranded to Hustle & Groove
  • Embraced working with author's
  • Learned to listen to my hubby more 😉

What worked really well in 2016?

  • Keeping a written calendar, both on the wall and in diary format
  • Being accountable to others (that's you guys!)
  • Having clear direction and deadlines = FOCUS!

What did you love most about your business in 2016?

  • Teaching - I enjoyed doing videos, workshops, and webinars where I wasn't selling a thing
  • Creating - I felt best when I was writing and creating content I'm passionate about

There are a lot more questions covered, but these showcase the main achievements and areas I’m grateful for in my business.

Before we jump into the rest of this blog post, I wanted to take a moment to say how blessed and thankful I am to have you on this journey with me.

I read every email and comment I receive, whether on social media or on the blog. I appreciate you taking the time to do this, as it makes me feel like I’m helping you in some small way.

So thank you, amazing, beautiful person — you have made a difference in this woman’s world 🙂

2016 Annual Review - Thank you!

7 Lessons Learned in 2016

I’m also going to share with you a few of the lessons I’ve learned from this year. I always like to reflect, to take the time to review my business, to see where I excelled and where things didn’t go so well.

2016 Annual Review: Only look back to see how far you've come!

I’m a true believer in always learning, so the rest of this post is just as helpful to me as it is to you!2016 Annual Review Lessons Learned

#1: Failing to plan is planning to fail

Gosh, I really wish I hadn’t learned this lesson the hard way! And it’s so not like me, you know?

Anyone that know’s me, knows that I’m hyper organized. I drive my hubby nuts with how organized I am, to the point where I get carried away and start organizing him!

So to me, it was a bit of a slap in the face when I realised how much I had failed to plan for 2016.

I believe it was in part due to the fact that there was so much stuff going on in our personal lives… we were moving back to Australia after our failed attempt at trying to immigrate to Canada (although this is still on the cards) and my head just wasn’t in the right space it needed to be.

Instead, I started 2016 simply reacting rather than responding and I had no plan in place for my content, how I was going to earn money and what direction I wanted to go with my blog.

Yes, I did rebrand Hustle and Groove, but that wasn’t planned at all! That was a very last minute decision that took 6 weeks to implement. I’m glad I did it, but it would have gone a lot smoother had I planned it!

Read: How to Run Your Own ‘Planathon’

Lesson: No matter how simple it is, you should always have a plan in place at the beginning of each year for your business, otherwise you won't grow and you'll wonder why you're doing what you're doing!

#2: Small, focused time is better than hours of unfocused work

In the first half of 2016, I lacked a lot of direction and that lead to many hours of ‘busy’ work with not a lot of results.

I felt like I was doing a lot, but nothing seemed to be happening. One morning I realised I had forgotten one of the most important things I’d done in 2015… using focused blocks of time.

In The Productive Person (a book you should read!) James and Chandler share a number of different plans for how you can map out your day. I modified one of their plans to suit me and it included 3 blocks of focused work time.

For some reason, I forgot all about this in early 2106, and my productivity levels suffered for it.

Lesson: Choose blocks of focused work time so that you know when you're meant to be working. Use apps like Focus@Will to help set the tone and keep you on track. The Pomodoro method is another option.

#3: Travel and working don’t always ‘work’

I know. I’m so sorry to dispel the myth that you can travel with a laptop and actually work effectively while you’re sipping pina colado’s by the pool. It doesn’t always work, particularly if you don’t have any structure or plan in place.

I’m starting to see a theme here, are you? Remember #1? Failing to plan is planning to fail? Yep…

We did a lot of little trips in the first half of 2016 and then we moved from Australia to New Zealand in July.

This last move was the most disruptive. I had lost my way and really struggled to figure things out and try and keep on top of what I needed to be doing.

I lacked focus and direction and it showed. You would have noticed this in my weekly emails to you as well. I had hit struggle town big time!

What I’ve since learned is that if I’m planning to travel and want to do any kind of work while travelling, I need to have a solid plan in place to do this.

Without this, you’ll find yourself barely opening your laptop, and feeling guilty for not being on top of things.

Not exactly conducive to having fun on your travels!

Lesson: Plan out your work schedule and figure out how you'll fit it in with your travels. Plan ahead and schedule as much stuff as you can so you're not having to work while you're travelling. Make sure you let those who are travelling with you know if you're going to need to work too — there's nothing worse than having your travel companions pissed at you because you're checking emails!

#4: The best-laid plans can still go awry

Boy, don’t I know it! When we moved back to Australia from our failed Canadian immigration attempt back in October 2015, the plan was to build our businesses as quickly as possible so that my husband wouldn’t have to go back to work.

Well, that didn’t really work out. Even though we had good intentions, it was too much change too quickly and we both were drowning.

Coupled with the fact that we were trying to meet financial obligations like rent, power etc — it was a doomed plan.

Once we accepted that we’d made a mistake, we were able to pivot and make decisions quickly… which resulted in our move to New Zealand and my husband taking on a full-time job.

You might be thinking to yourself, “hang on a minute Lise, you’ve been working for yourself for nearly 4 years, aren’t you earning enough?”

And that’s a fair question.

My answer to that is yes, I replaced my full-time income but we live in a part of the world where the cost of living is incredibly high, so we definitely need two incomes to survive (or I need to seriously up my business game!).

Here’s a snapshot of what it costs to live in Australia/New Zealand:

  • 2-bedroom apartment (not a house): $2,600 per month
  • Power & hot water: $200 per month
  • High-speed internet: $100 per month
  • Food: $1,000 per month
  • Fuel for car: $200 per month

Yes, both these countries are beautiful and we LOVE living here, but it comes at a price.

We have done a few stints in Thailand, where the cost of living is so low that we can live like Kings, but our families are this side of the world and we’re planning to start a family in the near future…

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be giving birth in a Thai hospital!

Lesson: While you can plan till the cows come home, know that sometimes, those plans need to change. Your ability to be flexible and pivot will ensure your success.

#5: Being flexible is key to not going insane!

I have always prided myself on being able to go with the flow, but there were times in 2016 where I really struggled with this.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve recognized in myself that there are certain situations and conditions that I’m not overly flexible on. And that pains me to say that, I can tell you!

And it’s those very areas that cause me the most amount of headaches until I sit back, relax and go with the flow.

The minute I do that, things run a lot more smoothly and I’m less stressed. It’s a constant challenge for me to be aware of this.

So while I might appear to be ‘happy-go-lucky’ know that that is something I work hard at achieving!

Lesson: Learn to be aware of your roadblocks and ease them by being flexible and going with the flow.

#6: Self-care is more important than you think

This is a lesson I continue to learn as each year passes, but in 2016, it really hit home.

I’ve never had more migraines and cold sores than I did in 2016. In fact, I just had a migraine last night and a cold sore last week!

Guess what? The only person that is going to look after you is YOU! Not even your spouse can really take care of you because at some point, you have to take responsibility for the food you eat, the amount of water you drink, and the amount of sleep you’re getting.

That’s all you, my friend.

[Tweet “Guess what? The only person that is going to look after you is YOU!”]

And I know it’s hard. Particularly as an entrepreneur… we tend to burn the candle at both ends, but that’s only sustainable for a short period of time. And if you’re like me, you’re body will quickly tell you when you need to ease up by dropping a nasty migraine or cold sore in your lap!

So for 2017, I’m incorporating a lot more self-care practices into my daily routine, so that I’m feeling good and I’m in tip-top shape for getting pregnant!

Lesson: Do at least one thing every day that is all about you. Exercise, eat good foods, get a massage, manicure, pedicure, facial... whatever it is, just do it. Self-care is important, and you know it!

#7: Going back to basics (or what you’re good at) ALWAYS works

As I finished up the Fresh Start Guide and Planathon, I had a major a-ha moment.

Writing more books and writing, in particular, is what I’m good at, yet in 2016, I didn’t write one new book!

Compare that with 2015, where I wrote 17+ books and I was left wondering what the heck was I thinking for 2016?

As we’ve already surmised, I didn’t plan 2016 very well, so it’s no surprise at all that the book side of my business suffered significantly during this past year.

So what’s my major goal for 2017?

Write 10 best selling books!

I love writing and the process of writing a book brings out my creative juices, so it only made sense that this is what I should focus on for 2017.

And you can bet I’ve already got the first three book ideas mapped out! I’ve got my organising wand out and I’m in flow!

Lesson: If you're struggling in your business and feel like you're not sure what you're doing or where you should be going, go back to basics. Look at what you're good at and what you love doing... focus on that!

I want to leave you with a parting question (and my answer) from the Fresh Start Guide:

What have you learned in 2016 Lise?

I’ve learned that what I enjoy doing is what the majority of my business should be focused on and that to focus, I need a step-by-step plan to follow, with clear action steps and deadlines, otherwise I flounder and feel unsuccessful.

2016 was a year full of change but also a year where I had some of my biggest “a-ha” moments. I became a better wife and figured out what I want more of in 2017.

My focus and words for 2017 are: FREEDOM & HARMONY.

As 2016 comes to a close, I encourage you to do your own 2016 annual review and then, to look forward to 2017 and figure out where your business is going, so you don’t have a year like I just had!

And if you need a bit of help, check out the 5-Day Challenge to Rid Overwhelm and Get Refocused!

Join the 5-Day Challenge now

Lise Cartwright
Lise Cartwright

Founder of Hustle & Groove and your creative business strategist. If you want to get notified of new posts just like the ones you see here, then make sure you join the awesome H & G community — Join Now!

    7 replies to "My 2016 Annual Review + 7 Lessons Learned"

    • Great information Lisa, the truth is always worthy of hearing. Even when you don’t want to hear it… Thanks

      Rev. Floyd

    • Rev. Floyd

      Hello Lisa, I made an earlier comment from my Kindle that I don’t see here now that I’m on my computer and I want to clarify my comment.

      I upped my college schedule to a full-time college class this semester so my website has been neglected and my planning hasn’t been all that, well I haven’t done any planning at all I’ve just been doing things off-the-cuff one day at a time in my website has gone neglected along with its viewers.

      Planning out your business is one of the most important things you can do even though it can go awry, but that’s why businesses never set in stone. You must be flexible, if you’re not you’re bound to fail or have to start all over again – from the beginning!

      • Lise Cartwright

        Thanks so much for your comments Rev. Floyd, they’ve both shown up now. And I understand, sometimes things fall by the way, and that’s ok, as long as you recognize that this has happened and then chart a course forward. 2016 was one of my worst years both personally and professionally, and I accept that and I’ve made peace with that. I’ve learned what I can do differently. Thanks so much for sharing your comments too 🙂 Take care, Lise

    • Lisa

      Great post Lisa! Planning one’s time is essential whether it’s authorship or some personal goal. I get so much more done when I plan.

      I wondered what happened to you! Lol So many moves will mess up the best laid plans.
      Sorry to hear your attempt at immigration into Canada failed. My husband and I moved here in 2005, and we became citizens in 2011. We had to jump through a lot of hoops, but it was definitely worth it. I’ve lived all over the world, but am glad to call myself Canadian now 🙂

      I look forward to your new books this coming year. I plan on getting my first few published this year!

      Happy New Year from another named Lisa.

      • Lise Cartwright

        Hi Lisa, thanks so much for your kind words! Canada is still on the cards, it’s just going to take longer… we’re older now (39) which counts against us, but we’re determined to at least give it a try. Good luck with your own books, self-publishing is one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    • Marg

      Hi Lisa,

      Loved your post this week. I need to create an income stream NOW!

      I’m floundering! Too many ideas and no system in place to make any of them a reality.

      You mentioned you had a system for writing books. Could you elaborate?

      • Lise Cartwright

        Hi Marg, I can definitely relate! That was me back in 2011 before I decided to just pick something and see it through and for me, that was freelance writing. In terms of a system for writing books, I’ve written about this before here: https://hustleandgroove.com/how-to-publish-kindle-book (there are three parts to the blog post) – that should help!

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