2016 Review: What Worked, What Didn’t Work, and What’s Next!

In Freelance & Business, Life by BriaLeave a Comment

Over the last month and a half I’ve had a lot of conversations with fellow creative entrepreneurs, and the general consensus is that 2016 was a doozy. Whether professional or personal, the struggle was REAL, and collectively, we had a hard year. It would be easy to stay stuck (and trust me, for a while I did), but we’re halfway into January 2017 now, and I’ve already experienced more flow, passion, and movement than I’ve had since August. The reason for this huge shift? Intentional reflection on the past year (and taking aligned action with what I’ve learned through this practice).

Today I’m giving you an all access pass into the yearly ritual I’m using to celebrate what worked well in my business, learn from what didn’t work, and commit to what I need to do to have more success and fulfilment in the year ahead. (SPOILER ALERT – you can use my questionnaire here!)


1. Setting up accountability systems.
As much as I’d love to be the person who crosses off all her to-do list items before noon (You know who you are!), I’ve come to learn that I absolutely NEED accountability to get things done. It’s just the way I am, and rather than fighting it – spending all my energy trying to self-motivate only to end up frustrated – I started experimenting with different forms of accountability. While I don’t have a perfect system, here are a few strategies & tools that have worked well for me:

  • Keeping a bullet journal to organize my months, weeks, and days while tracking my progress.
  • Enlisting my dad to be my daily accountability partner, checking in first thing in the morning, at lunch, and at the end of the day.
  • Limiting my to-do list to 3 items per day, and choosing a focus project for each week.

2. Prioritizing my health over hustle.
2016 brought a lot of health issues to the forefront for me. As much as I wanted to “make things happen” I knew that I couldn’t show up and serve my audience the way I wanted to without taking my health seriously. In July I invested in working with a Holistic Nutritionist, and it was the best decision I made all year. I’m able to move forward with my goals in 2017 with a stronger, healthier foundation, and much more aware of what I need physically and emotionally to perform with ease, energy, and joy.

3. Practicing vulnerability.
I am such a huge fan of vulnerability because it allows for greater connection with each other. Being vulnerable, showing and sharing my humanness, my struggles, and my deepest fears both online and in my relationships has only brought more love and energy into my life and work. This openness and honesty has brought forth new and deeper friendships, more aligned opportunities, and greater fulfillment while really deepening my sense of purpose.  I’ll have more please!

“The more vulnerable we can be, the happier we can be.”


1. Saying yes to projects and opportunities that don’t fully align with my big vision.
In 2016 I took on a few projects that fell easily into my skillset (and services I had been happy to offer in the past) but didn’t fall under the umbrella of things I want to be known for. The result? Not only did I experience major stress, anxiety, imposter syndrome, frustration, and procrastination that left me feeling physically, creatively, and mentally burnt out, I didn’t make good progress in the areas I DO want to be known for. I learned (the hard way) that taking on work simply because it’s something I can do and am good at – and someone wants to pay me for it – is a way that I avoid doing the work I desperately want to be doing but have been scared to do because it’s SO close to my heart. Funny thing is, the work I was scared of is the work I am BEST at. It means I am 100% in my zone of genius, bringing value to the table because of exactly who I am. And doing anything else? Well that’s just playing small.

2. Isolating myself.
When I get overwhelmed by what’s on my plate, or my brain starts spiralling into limiting beliefs and fear-based stories, I tend to hide away in isolation. I’ll avoid hanging out with friends, try to push through my to-do list with little to no progress (and feel mega guilty that I haven’t checked more off the list), and wait until I’ve had a meltdown before reaching out for help. I know now how important connection is for not only my mental wellbeing, but my productivity as well. In 2016 I tried to “go it alone” in my business, attempting to rely solely on my own willpower to make things happen and do the work. But the truth is, we all need support in one area or another, and it is not noble (or smart business) to do everything on our own.

3. Letting boundaries and routines drop in periods of stress.
Oh boy is this something I struggled with big time. I experience time and again how maintaining routines and boundaries bring me greater success, piece of mind, and overall fulfillment, but they’ve always been the first to go when I’ve got a lot on my plate (or I’m just feeling blah). For example, in 2016 I pulled 3 all nighters – something I swore I’d NEVER do again after going through serious burnout in my first business. I also put my to-do list and the aforementioned “wrong fit” projects ahead of the health & fitness routines I’d established, going weeks and weeks at a time without taking a yoga class (my only form of exercise).

Phew. It’s not easy reviewing all the ways you didn’t lead yourself well. BUT, by reflecting on these not so good parts, we really get a chance to learn more about who we are, and to make choices that better serve us – and it turn our communities and relationships – moving forward.

Here’s what I’m excited to focus my attention on in 2017:

1. Deepening and strengthening my daily routine with more yoga, gratitude, and bullet journaling.
2. Learning from, connecting to, and giving and receiving support from a mastermind of wonderfully talented, entrepreneurial women. This was a huge financial investment for me (the biggest and most terrifying I’ve ever made) but the return has already been game-changing.
3. Stepping into more leadership – of myself and my Digital Darlings community – and really owning my gifts as an Intuitive Brand Strategist.
4. Bringing my new program, Magnetic Brand Academy, and more training and mentorship offerings into the world! I’m super passionate about helping creative entrepreneurs get clear and confident around the unique value they bring to the table as individuals and brands, so they can communicate it with the right people, elevate their influence and income, and ultimately feel more fulfilled in their businesses.
5. Travelling. I spent the first week of January in Mexico, and so far, I’ll be headed to Bali in April and London in December. I’m excited to see what other opportunities manifest themselves in this category…
6. Becoming an auntie for the first time!
7. Creating some pretty amazing freebies for my Digital Darlings love-letter subscribers.
8. Cultivating an intimate digital community for creative entrepreneurs where I can facilitate meaningful, vulnerable conversation around the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, provide valuable tips and mentorship, and foster a collaborative environment of support and encouragement for the group. (This will likely be on Facebook, and I can’t WAIT to show up for you on FB live!)
9. Taking intentional, aligned action.
10. Incorporating way more FUN into my work on a daily basis. Working less from a place of “have to do” and more from a place of “fun to do.”


BONUS: I’m not sure if I’m making a commitment to this yet, but I’ve been feeling a super strong call to write a book around Magnetic Branding. So, if that happens, you heard it here first!

Want to do your own 2016 review?

I’ve created a fun little questionnaire-style worksheet you can fill in, easy peasy. (And, by sharing it with me, you’ll have that all-important accountability piece right away.)

Let’s make 2017 your best year yet! Click here to access your review worksheet.

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