As the year draws to a close, and I write another (2019) annual review, I am reminded of a few things.

One: It's the end of the decade! A decade that saw 30-something Lise make major life changes not once, but several times over the course of those 10 years.

Two: It's been seven years since I quit my job and went full-time as an entrepreneur. And if you believe in the 7-year cycle phenomenon (it's also the end of my next 7-year life cycle), then you'll be on the edge of your seat with what I'm about to share… 

“You can't connect the dots looking forward. Only looking back.” ~ Steve Jobs

But before we dive into all of this, I want to make sure that you're doing an annual review for yourself. Before you can move forward and set your goals for 2020, you have to review the year that was. 

Failure to do some type of annual review or reflection often results in a lack of focus and direction (something I experienced back in 2015) that can leave you with thoughts like: “What the heck did I achieve this year?” or “I have no idea what I want. I have no dreams. No goals. No aspirations. What is wrong with me?”

So to help you stop beating yourself up, just go and grab my Annual Review Template by clicking on the image below!

2019 annual review template

This annual review is going to be a little different from previous years. This is because I want to also share some key takeaways from the decade and share the ebb and flows that have occurred.

Life has not been all sunshine and rainbows for me, despite what you might perceive. 

I am an open person, but I also tend to withdraw and deal with issues internally rather than share them with the world. I am not a “look at me and how I deal with my problems… aren't I amazing” kinda gal 😉 

I prefer to deal with issues and move on rather than share all the nitty-gritty details… but for 2020, I plan to share more about the struggles and how I overcome them in case it inspires and helps you to do the same.

So let's dive in.

2019 Annual Review + Decade Reflection

“At forty-two, you may begin to have doubts about your life. These doubts are not negative. They are based on the growth gained in the interim years between thirty-five and forty-two. This creates an ability to question whether you wish to maintain your life as it is or whether new changes are imminent. Doubt can be positive if it is leading you to be suspect of something in your life that is not good for you.” (Source:

Oh boy. That statement above sums up how I'm feeling right now, particularly the bolded part.

It's been brewing for this entire year, but this last quarter, doubt and uncertainty about my life, my business and what I really want have been ringing loudly in my head.

My usual journaling practice hasn't been helping, which has led to a lot of frustration.

I've mind mapped several times and just when I land on a decision, a few days later, doubt creeps in and I change my mind and outline a different path.

For those of you that know me, you know this is not like me at all. 

I make decisions easily. 

I take action once I've decided on a direction.

So saying it's a little frustrating to be in this phase is more than an understatement!

More on that in a little bit.

2010s Decade Reflection + Takeaways

Honestly, it doesn't feel like the end of the decade to me at all. 

Remember 1999? That felt like the end of a decade! 

We had no idea if computers were going to work and if the world was going to fall apart when the clock ticked over into the year 2000. #y2k

But 2019 coming to an end? 

It just feels like another typical year-end… but it's not.

So when I sat down and looked back over the past 10 years, here's what I stuck out to me:

2010 was the year I felt the most alive and free. I had not long been back from living in Canada and decided to move to Brisbane, Australia where my sister lives. I had a ton of fun in 2010! No major commitments, no life pressure to be, do, have all the things. I was simply living my life and loving it.

2011 was the year I realized that I no longer wanted to work for someone else. I started my first side hustle in August 2011 and I also met my husband in October 2011. This was the year that major life changes started to formulate.

2012 was the year I quit my job and went full-time as a freelance writer. It was also the year I got engaged! It was a big year of life changes.

2013 was the year we realized that we wouldn't be able to pay for our wedding unless we made drastic changes to our lifestyle. So we sold everything and moved to Thailand for 3+ months to pay for our wedding…

Our 2014 Wedding2014 was the year I married the love of my life. It was also the year we moved back to New Zealand so my husband could pursue his project management career. 2014 was also the year I wrote and published my first book and realized how much I loved to write… but not for others.

2015 was the year I fired my last freelance client and decided I wanted to write full-time.

2016 is the year I went full-time as an author and truly felt like I had found my calling. It was also the year that I did the Arbonne 30-day Detox and lost 10kgs (22 pounds) and then another 5kgs the second time I did it later in the year. It was the first time I felt great from the inside out since my 20s.

2017 is when I started my coaching business and when the first signs of the 7-year cycle started to be felt (although I didn't know it at the time).

2018 is when I joined Self-Publishing School as a consulting author coach and started working with students all over the world to help them experience the same thrill I did when I published my first book.

2019 is when I published my 30th book and spoke on stage in front of 300+ people! It's also when I decided to create a membership site that completely flopped…

What a decade!

2019 Annual Review BreakdownHere's what I learned from the past 10 years:

#1: Change is inevitable. While I might have started a year off great, the end of that same year could look very different. 

This is what I experienced in 2015. I started that year off so well. I was writing a book a month while maintaining the five freelance retainer clients I had.

By the middle of 2015, I was making $4k+ per month just from my books!

But by the end of 2015, I was feeling tired and burnt out. Which is why I stopped freelancing and went full-time as an author in 2016.

#2: I'm in charge. Of my attitude. Of my choices. Of the action (or inaction) I choose to take. 

The more I have leaned into this knowing, the more I grow and see success.

The less I lean into this and instead focus on lack, negative thoughts, and inaction is when I experience the same in my life.

Awareness is key. We truly are in charge of where our lives go. And I know that sounds so cliche… 

… but you know what, it doesn't make it any less true. 

The more we take a negative view on everything, the more of that we receive.

Hence the saying, “You get back what you give.” (this song by Kiwi artist, Stan Walker, uses this line so well!)

#3: Crappy things happen to lovely people. It's not a personal attack. It's just life. 

This was a lesson I had to learn in early 2018 when my aunty passed away from cancer.

It threw me for a loop. It was unexpected. And when unexpected things happen, it can be a struggle to cope.

And that's ok. I learned that it's ok to take time out if you need it.

This is one of the great things about having your own business. You can take a moment to just breathe, catch your breath and decide next steps. 

#4: Always filter big business decisions through your own vision and goals. 

I learned this the hard way this year (2019). 

I made a change in direction that later turned out to not be the best option for what I actually want out of my business and the life I want to live (aka starting a membership site!).

That's a $9,000 USD mistake that I have to bear because that investment is a 12-month investment. In other words, I'm still paying it off.

Part of this mistake ties into the 7-year cycle and energy I'm feeling, but I really wish I'd realized that at the time!

I choose to listen to someone else and follow their plan. Instead of taking their plan and filtering it through what I want and crafting my own plan that reflects the nuances that make up my business.

It's not a complete waste of money because I am using the coaching and course materials… but I already had access to similar teachings from a friend's mastermind I'm part of.

Bottom line — you should always take a moment to make these types of decisions. Review against your own vision and goals and do a gut check. 

I got caught up in the hype and magical promises that didn't take into account my specific business setup or direction I was heading.

I'm still smarting from this one!

But hey, we all make mistakes right? I'm not perfect and even after being in business for myself for 7 years, I can still make mistakes… 

#5: I'm responsible for my own happiness. I have always believed and lived this. And it's evident based on all the changes that took place over the past decade.

I follow my dreams and take action on things that make me happy. I don't expect anyone else to do that for me.

That doesn't mean I expect people to not consider my happiness when they make decisions (aka my hubby) but I don't expect anyone to make me happy.

This is empowering. It ties back in to point #2. I'm in charge of my life… in conjunction with the Universe of course.

The biggest difference between 2010 Lise and 2019 Lise?

2019 Lise is more confident, doesn't take crap from anyone and sticks up for what she believes she deserves.

I like this Lise!

The Empowered Lab Membership

My 2019 Annual Review – The Breakdown

The two guiding questions I use when doing my annual review are:

“What worked really well this year?”

“What didn't work so well this year?”

I then filter that by month and by quarter.

I used Amber McCue's Fresh Start 2020 Workbook + Planner to conduct my annual review this year. 

I have used this workbook and Amber's planathon for the past 5 years.

I'm a huge fan of it and love the questions asked.

I also follow a 90-day plan. I have done it for the past 4+ years now.

Maya blue 90X Goal Planner imageI use both a digital plan and my 90x Goal Planner to stay on top of all the things.

So “What worked really well this year?”

Similar to last year, I continued to have Mondays to work on and in my business. This still works extremely well. 

I used to dread Mondays so when I quit my job back in 2012, I was determined to never ‘work' on a Monday again.

So I don't.

I also continued to work with an amazing VA, who makes my life a whole lot easier!

I also invested in myself, took time off and constantly reviewed my 90-day plan.

Here's the breakdown per quarter:


  • Productivity Course (Ultimate Bundles) launch
  • Side Hustle Workbook outlined & designed
  • Affiliate Marketing/Content Marketing Plan

RESULT: All achieved!


  • Side Hustle Workbook (launched)
  • Book business reviewed and tweaked as needed
  • Deep dive email marketing plan

RESULT: All achieved!


  • Launch evergreen funnel for membership site
  • Launch 30th book
  • Run Giveaway for email list

RESULT: Two of three successfully achieved


  • Launch Pinterest funnel for Hustle HQ membership
  • Get 2,000 leads through evergreen funnel per month (affiliate promos)
  • Add 1500 email subscribers

RESULT: All achieved!

The two important numbers to my business:

  • Income Earned as at 27/12/2019 = $141,188.00 AUD
  • Email List as at 27/12/2019 = 8,941

Here's my goal card from the beginning of 2019:

2019 Goals


You'll note that I missed my two main goals… my financial goal and my email list goal.

Am I worried about that?


I celebrate that my income and email list are where they are. This is such a massive achievement that I would be remiss to not celebrate.

I always shoot for the moon! 

Because even if I fall short, I fall on the stars…

“What didn't work so well this year?”

To be honest, the first part of 2019 went pretty well, it was the second half that thing started to feel different for me.

But some of the recurring things that don't work well for me include context switching (where I waste time because I switch between tasks in the same time block vs. focusing on similar tasks), spending my early hours on coaching vs. creating, and constantly changing direction and creating things from scratch that should already in place.

I found myself constantly chasing my tail in the latter half of 2019.

A large part of this was because I started the membership site and was following someone else's plan for my business.

It also came down to feeling lost and directionless… part of that 7-year cycle thing rearing its head…

What's Next?

As I sit here listening to Your One Word by Evan Carmichael (you should definitely grab this for your Q1 read!), I'm excited about what I've got coming up.

I'll be sharing more about my one word in an email to my tribe, so watch out for that soon.

I feel more major life changes are coming, particularly as we move back to the Gold Coast, Australia in April!

My business is about to take another directional change too. Because, as you'll have seen throughout the past decade, I have not stayed the same. Neither will you have.

So why would your business stay the same too? 

I continue to review, reflect and change direction as needed. 

Having an online business allows me to do this with a fair amount of ease.

Here's my goal card for 2020:

2019 Annual Review and 2020 Goals

And here's a screenshot of my Q1 90-day plan:

2020 plans

As I see out the end of 2019, the one thought that continues to ring loudly in my mind is this:

“Create every day.”

I wish you a safe and prosperous 2020.

Go after your dreams like you have nothing to lose.

Because you don't.

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!

    16 replies to "2019 Annual Review + Decade Takeaways"

    • Sharyn

      As always Lise, you are an inspiration.

    • Oludolapo Balogun

      Wow! Thank you for sharing this.

    • Karen

      Great article, Lise, I love it! I had a very very similar experience where I followed someone else’s idea/vision without having a proper consultation with my own purpose first and wasted quite a bit of time. But when I realized my mistake a few months ago it was a lesson well-learned 🙂

      I look forward to doing my review!

      • Lise Cartwright

        Thanks Karen. I definitely got caught up in the other person’s ideas and let myself get swept up in it… it took me a good 4 months to realize the mistake 🙁 But hey, I will never make that mistake again! Enjoy your own review process.

    • Marie

      I learned more from this then all those “success stories” that people publish. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. Inspirational and educational!

    • Genevieve

      I am so glad you shared this. I think I made the same mistake that you did. I have been beating myself up for it for a few months so have spent the last few months releasing that and letting things go. Definitely going to grab your annual review template!

      • Lise Cartwright

        Thanks Genevieve. I was so annoyed at myself too, once I realized the mistake I’d made. But it’s not life and death and as long as I learn from it, it’s not wasted… just wish I hadn’t spent $9k to learn the lesson, lol!

    • Patrick

      This really helped and so different reviewing the past first ! Thanks Lise

    • Bron

      Thanks, Lise. You really are an inspiration. You empower others when you share your ups and downs, along with lessons learnt. I hope I can continue to work with you throughout 2020.

      • Lise Cartwright

        Thanks Bron. I appreciate you saying that 🙂 I’m certain we’ll get to continue working together! Happy New Year!

    • Kim Mooney

      Thank you so much for sharing your life story. Honest and inspiring, two beautiful things! Best wishes for 2020 and your goals!!

      • Lise Cartwright

        You’re so welcome Kim. I wish you all the best for 2020 too!

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