Reflecting on 2021 and Setting Goals for 2022

December 27, 2021

I write 95% of my blog posts for my audience, for you.

But this goal-setting post is more for me, so I can look back on it each year.

Before I dig into next year’s goals, here’s a review of my goals for 2021.

Looking back at 2021 goals

Here’s what I wrote down a year ago as focus points for 2021.

Have more fun: After a stressful 2020, I wanted to make a conscious effort to seek out joy. One of the ways my husband and I worked together on this was by taking lots of time off in the summer to hang out with our kids, including a three-week road trip around our now-home state of West Virginia. We decided we want to make lots of time off in the summer an annual tradition. 

Help our kids prepare for school and post-COVID reimersion: I’m glad I called this out for myself as something that was worth time and effort; otherwise it would’ve become an invisible goal that took up energy and brain space, especially since we ended up switching schools at the last minute. I feel really proud of how our kids are transitioning and how we’re supporting them.

Launch The Money Guide for Freelance Writers: I managed to ship this ebook, which I wrote with my accountant dad, early in 2021. We promoted it at launch but not much since then (that was a conscious choice to focus on other projects). So far we’ve sold 205 copies. A few sales continue to trickle in each month, mostly from affiliates.

Sell The Write Life: I checked this one off early in the year and completed lingering transition tasks by mid-year. Selling this company after working on it for years was satisfying, and it allowed me to create brain space and energy for building something new.

Explore new ideas: Rather than set myself a goal of starting a new company, I tried to take the pressure off by focusing on the exploration of ideas through writing and connecting with interesting people. This was fun, and it worked: by the time the kids went back to school in September, I was ready to jump into the next phase of my career with They Got Acquired.

Move forward with Retreat & Create: It’s kind of funny how I worded this, because I unintentionally gave myself a lot of flexibility. I did move forward with the retreat; I scheduled two events for 2021, but then I ended up canceling both of them because of pandemic uncertainty, just like I’d canceled the retreat scheduled for 2020.

I’ve set this aside indefinitely now, put off by the logistical lift of planning in-person events when things keep changing. Maybe I’ll come back to it in the future. For now, eliminating this from my 2022 list means I can keep my work focus simple and pour my energy into one project instead of several.

Other things I made happen this year that feel meaningful:

Attended an in-person retreat with Startup Parent’s Wise Women’s Council. This refilled my cup in so many ways.

Made my first angel investments with the support of Hustle Fund’s Angel Squad. I went into this to learn about how to make sound angel investments into early-stage companies, as a way of diversifying our investment portfolio and supporting female founders. But what I most enjoyed about the group is how I connected with lots of new friends in the startup space.

Tons of outdoor time and hiking. I love this life we’ve created whereby we can easily integrate hiking into our workweek. It’s been a great stress reliever during a pandemic year.

Volunteered for an organization I care about. I’ve helped to spearhead a number of trail projects in our town, building new trails and maintaining old ones. I can’t help but think I wouldn’t have had the energy or time for this kind of meaningful work if I had a full-time leadership role; it’s my flexible work that makes this possible.

⌛ Looking back, I’m pleased with how I spent my time in 2021. But I had many moments where I felt, as one of my entrepreneur parent friends says, like a stallion in a box. Wanting to throw myself into my work but feeling held back by the number of focused (read: child-free) hours. 

I’m hoping to get to a place where this feels more satisfying in 2022, partly through having a routine with the kids in school (fingers crossed omicron doesn’t throw this off course) and partly through continuing to lower my own expectations, closing the gap between what my friend Jenny calls perceived capacity vs. actual capacity.

Goals for 2022

Something that worked well for me going into 2021 considering all the uncertainty of a pandemic was setting big-picture goals.

Rather than defining what I’d do and how I’d do it, I outlined only my top-level ambitions. This gave me lots of flexibility to change my approach or even the desired outcome depending on the availability of essential details like childcare.

I’m leaning into that approach even more this year. Here’s what I’m focusing on in 2022.

⭐ Prioritize energy management

We are going into a third calendar year of a pandemic. My youngest kid still isn’t vaccinated. I am tired.

Managing energy has to be my first priority this year. Above all else, that means getting enough rest.

To preserve energy, I’m focusing on: 

  • Minimizing commitments (saying no to opportunities)
  • Keeping my expectations low (focusing on what really matters)
  • Staying relaxed in the face of unexpected challenges

What does success look like for this goal? 

Feeling more energized and less tired, both physically and mentally. I haven’t established a great way to measure this, but simply writing it down as my top goal helps guide me in the right direction.

⭐ Reach profitable with They Got Acquired

My professional goals this year are simple, centered around They Got Acquired.

This is the first year in ages where I don’t have multiple projects, or at least a side project like an ebook or a retreat. The *only* professional project on my plate right now is They Got Acquired.

Milestones we’re aiming for:

  • Launch: in Q1. Our website will launch in the first few weeks of the year, and the podcast will follow soon after. 
  • Monetization: By the end of Q2, I’d like to see us test our monetization hypothesis. This gives us time to regroup and shift focus by the end of the year if we decide to take a different approach.  
  • Revise plan by end of Q2: It seems futile to plan beyond summer when so many things could change based on feedback after launch. Instead, we’ll draft a plan for the second half of the year by the end of Q2.

By the end of the year, I want the brand to bring in enough money to cover expenses and my salary. At some point I’ll do a more in-depth post explaining what these finances look like.

It’s possible we’ll blow far past that goal, but as I mentioned in the first goal re: energy management, I’m keeping expectations low.

⭐ Take care of myself by eating healthy

I think of health in three pillars:

  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Food

I exercised outside a ton this year, mostly hiking, plus plenty of strength training. I feel super fit.

I also prioritized sleep. After years of being sleep-deprived because we were up with our kids, I feel like we’re finally back to a place where my husband and I are getting the rest we need on a regular basis. (Our kids are 4 and 6. Most everything is a phase with kids, but I’m hoping this one will stick.)

Food has been my weak link. My stress eating came out in full force over the last 1.5 years and I have pandemic pounds hanging on. 

For me, exercise is a relatively easy commitment. It requires getting up early, but I get immediate gratification in terms of reducing stress, plus I enjoy getting outside.

Committing to sleep is a little harder, because it means going to bed early and giving up evening time with my husband.

Eating healthy consistently is the hardest, especially now that I’m always working from home.

So I’m dedicating the first three months of the year to counting calories on My Fitness Pal. I’m intentionally setting the process as the goal, instead of the outcome as the goal. Putting in the reps every day here is what will get me to the outcome.

Eating well alongside my already-established fitness and sleep habits will help me feel good, setting me up to accomplish the other goals on this list.

Happy New Year!

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