2016 Annual Review

Well, it has been quite an interesting year, hasn’t it? This is my annual review and audit to reflect back on how things went in 2016. This is now the second time that I’m creating this style of report to check in on how things went throughout the year. If you’re interested in reading the 2015 year-end report, you can do that here. Otherwise, onward! Cover photo by Rita Farmer.

In 2016, I began implementing the ideas and concepts of daily action. This meant taking the big goals that I wanted to accomplish over the course of the year and breaking them down into daily activities that would help get there.

Overall, I would say that the system worked pretty well. The only major problem was inconsistency throughout the year, which you’ll see was my biggest failure in 2015 as well (more on that later).

What Went Well This Year

In order to plan for 2017, I’m going to take a moment to reflect back on what went right and what went wrong in 2016. These accomplishments are no particular order of importance.

YouTube Growth & Filmmaking Career Kickin’ Off

One of the things that rang true at the end of 2015 was my interest in video. In what I would consider one of my biggest successes in 2016, I really dug into filmmaking and video in multiple ways. A big reflection of that is the growth of the Break the Twitch YouTube channel this year, which went from 400 subscribers to over 14,000. I’ve really enjoyed learning about filmmaking and stepping up the quality of my videos over time.

I really owe a lot of that to my friends Mark Mazur, Trent Hilborn, and James Rautmann of A2F Pictures. They have all helped guide my education and provided opportunities to participate and work within the industry.

Traveled An Average of Once Per Month For Year #2

This was our second year of having the Southwest Companion pass, which meant that Amy flew along for free whenever I traveled on Southwest Airlines. It was a heck of a deal! We’re bummed because this travel perk has officially come to an end, so we’ll definitely be jet-setting around less this year.

Visited: Bayahibe (Dominican Republic), Phoenix, Ann Arbor (2x), Los Angeles (2x), Las Vegas,  Portland, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, Omaha, and Madison.

I faced my fear of sharks (although there weren’t any there) by scuba diving in the Dominican Republic. Amy and I adventured into The Valley of Fire outside of Las Vegas and began our nature photography adventure. We hiked Mt. Baldy at Snow Bird resort in Salt Lake City. We went down the slides at The City Museum in St. Louis. I sat in the same room as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting in Omaha. I explored Joshua Tree National Park with my friend Isaac. We visited both of our family’s homes for Christmas. Overall, it was a wonderful year of traveling and we really did take advantage of our companion pass in its final year.

Quit My Full-Time Job To Freelance & Entrepreneur (Is That A Verb?)

It was a difficult decision for me, but I left my full-time job. It was scary to take the leap, but it has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve learned more about myself this year than any year prior, and it has really pushed me to figure out exactly how I want to spend my time and energy. In 2016 I freelanced in social media consulting, filmmaking, editing, and various other areas. I really did get to explore my interests and how to earn income as an entrepreneur/freelancer.

(Finally, at 31 Years Old) Learned To Ask For Help

For some reason, I always preferred failing alone than asking for help. In retrospect, that was incredibly silly. In 2016, I started working with John who has been coaching me through self-employment and my own personal growth this year. He’s an incredible guy and I’ve looked forward to every one of our calls. In addition to that, I hired an incredible person to help me with behind-the-scenes work on Break the Twitch. Her name is Erin and she is an organization, social media, and blogging wizard. Both John and Erin have been invaluable to me in 2016 and I’m pumped continue working with them in 2017.

Started The Battle Against My Eventual Demise via Sugar Addiction

I went completely dessert and sugar-free for several months of 2016. It’s annoying to say this, but I am truly a sugar addict. I’ve never been able to control portions and the only way I’ve figured out how to avoid it is to cut it out completely. I saw the health benefits and even though I’ve fallen off the wagon more than once, it has inspired me to continue the sugar-free lifestyle in 2017.

What Went Wrong This Year

As with anything, there are two sides to every coin. Here’s what I don’t think went particularly well this past year.

Lacked Consistency Throughout The Year

Unfortunately, this was my #1 failure from 2015 and again, sits at the top of 2016. An important aspect of this is that I also know that I am not a robot. I am simply not capable of cranking out work day in and day out. I’ve slowly learned to manage creativity and output, but I still dream of being more consistent in my efforts. I’m taking extra steps to improve this in the next year.

While I bounced in and out of consistency, I didn’t stick with my tracking system as it became buried amongst other things. I know I can do better in 2017.

Struggled With Maintaining and Pursuing The “Big Picture”

Much of what I did with Break the Twitch and my filmmaking pursuits happened on a very short-term basis. I’ve realized that I’m very attracted to short-term, quick-turn projects like daily vlogging. Things generally happened day to day and I put out articles and videos when I felt like it without much planning. I know that can create much better content and be much more consistent with a bigger picture for the future.

Especially now that Break the Twitch is literally my career and livelihood, it must be treated as such.

Maintained A Very “Inbound” Mentality Around Opportunity

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have so many of the opportunities that have come my way in 2016. I don’t feel as though I put in as much work as I’d like to create those opportunities for myself and others. I’d like to have a more outbound approach to doing this, which includes providing opportunities for other people to shine as well.

I had the same issue with much of my friendships and social life this year. I found myself in a complete rut, feeling very isolated several months of the year while working from home. I’m an extrovert and depend heavily on interactions with my friends and family to stay positive and upbeat. My social life was no longer baked into my daily life through a day job and meetings and I didn’t take enough initiative to stay connected in 2016.

What I’m Working On In 2017

Here’s what I’m doing to work on the things that didn’t go very well in 2016.

A Daily Habit Challenge For The Entire Year

My friend Mark and I challenged each other to do two things at least six times per week for the entire year:

  • Write at least 250 words
  • Meditate at least 2 minutes

We’re tracking in a Google Calc sheet and updating the numbers every single day as to how many words we’re writing, etc. These will be my two keystone habits for the entire year. In addition to that I’ll be focusing on:

  • Reading 20 Pages 6x / week
  • Daily Language Practice 6x / week
  • Push-ups (2x sets) 6x / week

In 2016, the system worked well, but the tracking didn’t. So I’ll be using the same concept of daily action that I discussed for 2016.

Long Term Planning for Business & Life

Amy and I are spending more time thinking about what we want to be doing in 2018 and how 2017 is going to lead up and prepare us for that. We’ve imagined what would be nice to have in the future, but we’re making some hard plans on timing and execution that will help us get there by the end of 2018.

I’m a very visual person and it helps for me to be able to use a whiteboard or see a large spread of information and really visualize the time throughout the year. We’ll be working on that timeline to help me maintain a big picture focus going forward.

Focusing on Fostering Relationships and Creating Opportunities

Regardless of what it means, I am where I am now because of opportunities that many of my friends provided for me. I’m so grateful for those chances to grow and help in ways I’m passionate about, but in 2017 I’m going to focus more on inviting others to collaborate and creating those opportunities in addition to (hopefully) having them provided for me.

In the past year of working from home, I’ve realized how incredibly lonely it can be when lots of people aren’t part of the default day. I’m going to take an extra initiative this year to reach out to people I care about and stay connected better. Another goal that is similar to last year, but I aim for constant and continuous improvement.

Finally, my wife Amy has been an absolutely incredible partner and she deserves more thanks than I can possibly give. We navigated the waters of both of us freelancing full-time for several months and we’ve learned to take risks on together. She’s now stepping up to provide stability for us while advancing her own career in digital marketing as I continue to grow Break the Twitch with my work in 2017. I’m going to be focusing more on our relationship and doing what I can to make sure she knows she’s appreciated.

Slowing The F*#$ Down and Reading This Article Quarterly

At the end of 2015 I wrote my first annual review and didn’t revisit it very much throughout the year. I’m adding a quarterly check-in on my calendar this year to revisit this post and stay inspired with my goals for 2017.

In addition to that, I’ve realized that very little satisfaction comes from behind a computer or smartphone screen. I’m focusing on slowing down and enjoying the moment without constant stimulation.


Let’s have a great year!

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