Whew, what a year 2018 was!

The ups, the downs, the wins, the losses and the in betweens.

Just like you, I’ve had my fair share of them all.

From celebrating the fact that my work hours got even lower this year, while our annual profit increased…

All the way to a failed launch that made me want to crawl in a ball and forget I even owned a business…

2018 challenged and changed me for the better.

As a human.
As a wife.
And, of course, as a business owner.

So, what did I learn throughout it all?

A heck of a lot.

However, I’ll keep it to the top seven for the sake of your reading eyes. 🙂

1. When I play safe, I sacrifice my calling.

I started 2018 feeling on FIRE. I made it through a massive business pivot in 2017 and had full clarity on where I was heading, along with how to make it happen.

I don’t know if I ever started a new year with that much confidence before, and it felt good. Really good.

The first planned launch was a mastermind that I was going to run with my biz bestie – bringing both strategy and mindset into the same room for accelerated visibility.

Well, the launch flopped.

Yep, we had the killer offer, we had the applicants, we had the launch content, we had the “omg I’m so ready”… but, in the end, we didn’t have enough confirmed members to create the kind of experience we felt they deserved.

So, we had to make the decision to scrap it.

At the time, I felt like I was punched in the gut.

How could someone “in my position” not have enough people to fill this mastermind?
Do people not really value what I bring to the table?
Is this a sign that an offer like this doesn’t work for someone like me?

Looking back, I can clearly see why that launch flopped.
(Oh hindsight… I see you and your 20/20 ways).

I was playing it safe.

– I agreed to a visibility focus because it was “easy” for me and I knew how to produce fast results vs the bigger picture that I really wanted to be helping women with.

– I collaborated on this offer with my friend because, yes I super lover her, but was also afraid of doing it on my own and failing.

– I could feel that something was off, early on, but I dismissed it as launch nerves because I was nervous if I dug into it, I’d want out and would be letting my friend down.

– In choosing to play it safe, I didn’t just sacrifice the potential earnings from the mastermind but the confidence I started the year with.

I tried to shake it off but a seed of regret was planted in that moment.

I’ve always known I have the power of connecting with women on a deeper level in business and that small group settings allow me to do that.

But, when I was given the opening to do so, I chose the safe path. And I hated that.

In November, I made a decision to do the only thing I could do in order to change the story I created in January…

Follow my gut.

I put together a new six-month 1:1/group experience for a few select women to work personally with myself, and each other, to create true freedom driven success.

I poured my heart into this offer and the transformation I knew I could bring into someone’s business.

I reached out privately and invited women that I knew could be forever changed by this in 2019.

No launch. No bells or whistles.

Simply following exactly what I teach with PreSell and Profit and my own heart.

I needed to show myself that what was meant for me would not pass me.

Last week, I found myself in tears of gratitude looking at the names of the 7 women who joined me for this business transformation experience.

These women are part of the first round of The Collective – a six month 1:1/group experience designed to equip you with everything you need in order to effectively create, launch and/or automate a scalable offer in your business (without compromising your vision or freedom in the process).

It was the easiest non-launch I’ve had in the history of any business I’ve owned or currently own.

Every woman is a dream client that I know will get incredible results.
Every woman has a different gift to bring to the table that will help elevate everyone even more.
Every woman is exactly who I imagined I’d be supporting in this capacity.

THAT is how business should feel.

2. A business that puts you first really is the truest form of freedom.

As you may already know, 2017 was the year that I decided to transition my entire business into one that could run both with or without me there.

This included restructuring everything, making tough decisions that focused on my future vision and no longer being willing to settle on my desire for freedom – both financial and personal.

This year, everything I did was put to the test.

How long could my business really run without me there?

Oh, was I going to find out!

Within a single month this past Spring…

– We had a water pipe burst in our home that caused an insanely expensive and time consuming clean up/repair.

– While heading home from taking a shower at the gym (living without water is not fun btw) I got a ticket for talking into Voxer while driving.

– I was in the middle of a live launch that had to be severely cut down due to all the contractors needing access to me and/or our home during days I would have been live promoting. Which, of course, affected the final numbers of the launch.

– While I was on the way to the beach to take a breather from the craziness in our home, a school bus that was parked along side of me randomly opened the stop sign and smashed my husband’s back car window. (I should also mention he LOVES his car.)

– I made a $5k investment in my business, only to find out that it wasn’t what I expected and I had to navigate getting my money back while trying to be professional and respectful when I was really just tired by that point.

– I got another ticket while driving because I hit play on a podcast, while at a stop sign, and that isn’t allowed. (Guys, my last ticket was back in college and then two in a month? What the heck?)

These may sound like all small things that I’m simply overreacting about but, with everything happening in such a short period of time, my anxiety began to take over.

It just felt like one sick joke after another.

Want to take a guess what’s really hard to focus on when your anxiety is spiraling and life thinks you’d like more thrown at you?

Your business.

In the past, I would have done it anyway.

I would have pushed through like a “good entrepreneur” because I needed the money/wanted to prove myself/had allll clients to serve/didn’t want to let anyone down… and would continuously compromise myself and my health in the process.

However, the changes I made in 2017 where so that I never had a business that would run me again.

So, I took a step back and let the engine run itself.

While I was taking walks while crying my eyes out in frustration….
While we were bucketing water out of the basement….
While I was answering the door for contractors….
While we were trying to make decisions that were between bad or worse…
While I was going to court to fight the tickets….

No one even realized I was gone because my business was still working for me.

I watched as my income continued to increase towards our projections and the systems I had put so much time and heart into last year creating were pumping away.

I watched what freedom driven success looked like in action.

The ability to step away, whenever you need to, and everything could still be ok.

As much as I would have rather it have been for a vacation, I couldn’t help but find gratitude in the fact that my business could not only support me in the best of times but the no so great times as well.

Finally.

After this experience, we began the process of rebranding from The Daydream Achiever to Freedom Driven Success.

3. Know when to fight for others and when to let them go.

I’ve always had the ability to see when someone has that magic “IT” factor.

And when that happens, I instinctively switch into fight mode.

Fighting for their vision, their goals and their needs so that they can get the transformation they’ve been looking for.

In many ways, this is a strength of mine and why the women I work with get the results they do.

I’m not just there to answer a few questions, I’m legit IN IT with them every step of the way.

However, it can also be one of my weaknesses because…

No one can fight for you more than you are willing to fight for yourself.

And, that’s exactly what I was doing. Constantly fighting for people who weren’t willing to fight for themselves.

How so?

Through my “industry standard follow up” process (which is what I convinced myself made me “right”.).

Following up with people over and over again who were clearly fighting more for their limitations than their results.

Hearing over and over again things like “hopefully next time if…” “I wish…” “I’d love to but….” or, heck, not even getting a response at all. #ghostlife

I knew they had insane potential so I continued to follow up in hopes that they would see that they could have it all too. That maybe NOW would be the time they were ready.

I thought I was being of service in meeting them where they were at.

In reality, the “industry standard follow up” was me fighting for them over and over again…. and it was making me emotionally exhausted.

In the Spring, I realized that I wasn’t serving anyone from this place.

I let go of the responsibility I felt of people being in the same spot a year from now. I let go of feeling like I was leaving people behind when I knew I could help them. I let go of wanting anything for someone more than they wanted it for themselves.

So I sent out emails to anyone I felt I was disserving in this follow up process and nicely let them know that this was the end of the road for potentially working together and that I wished them the best.

Keeping up this fight for others was pointless and from there, I set a new rule for follow ups in my business. I let people go.

Once I made this shift, I found that those I began to attract were completely different.

I was attracting the women who were matching my same energy.

If they weren’t joining me at that time, the reasons made complete sense for their vision and we walked away as both friends and cheerleaders for each other.

Or, if they needed time before joining, they shared their timeline and what they were doing in the meantime to get ready/prepared.

These women were natural fighters for themselves that were making decisions from their vision vs their current circumstances. And their results showed it.

This shift that has allowed me to love the sales process more than ever before.

Looking back, I wish I had learned this lesson sooner.

4. I always have the power to create anything I need (with what I have right in front of me).

I’m in a phase of my business I’ve learned from some of the best of the best throughout the years and have worked with all of the mentors I’ve wanted to.

This means that I’m not currently in any new mentor led groups or mastermind settings, like I am used to.

As someone who has never believed that working in a bubble leads to success, I found myself missing the magic that happens when like-minded people are together.

This left me with two choices:

1. Force myself into some type of paid mentorship or offer, when I didn’t have one I felt matched my vision in mind.

2. Look around at what I could make happen with what is available to me in this moment.

I decided to try out option two.

This lead to the creation of THREE different ways to connect with like-minded women who have the same collaboration over competition mentality mindset that I do.

Peer Led Mastermind:
First, it started with a test run of an invite-only peer mastermind group, that would run in 90 day sprints.

This allows us all to commit to 90 days of bi-weekly calls and Slack channel with other business owners who are looking for that same kind of peer support.

After 90 days, you can choose to step out or stay for another round. If someone steps out, the remaining members can suggest someone new to invite and we continue on.

We get out of it what we put into it and together, we talk openly and honestly about what we need support with. Easy peasy!

As of this writing, we just wrapped up the second round and am preparing to go into the third.

Local Meet Ups:
With everything I’ve created being online, I was curious if there were other female entrepreneurs locally. This lead to an intentional focus in 2018 of finding people within my corner of the globe.

As I found women on Instagram that had Connecticut linked as their home location, I reached out and asked if they would be open to connecting. If they said yes, we set up a coffee meetup or lunch.

Within a few months, the tables turned and I started to become a magnet for people in the area. I started getting messages on Instagram from those local who were introducing themselves and people on my email list. Funny how when you set an intention and show up for it, it starts to take off for you. 😉

CEO Days:
As I was planning a day to go through my own business in preparation for the new year, I started to think of how powerful it would be to have a group of women all doing this together in person.

At first, I thought it would be way too much to pull together and no one would be interested. However, since I also knew this was the year for trusting my gut, I decided to put it out there.

I posted online that I was considering having a CEO Day at an AirBnB and if anyone was interested in driving there, to let me know. We’ll simply split the cost of the place and bring along our own food and snacks.

What happened? Three of us got to spend two days together getting to know each other, our businesses, our goals and had an amazing time.

I now know I’ll be setting up more of these in the new year as a fun way to get out of my home!

5. My weaknesses need as much care as my strengths.

Most people will tell you to simply focus on your strengths and to ignore your weaknesses.

On the surface, I get it. However, we don’t live in a surface level world and what’s underneath is actually the most important.

As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, the first half of the year wasn’t all that and a bag a chips for me.

I mean, business was growing and things were still moving but, on the inside, I felt like I was being handed one blow after another in the process.

At times, I just needed to forget about it all and unwind.

However, my definition of unwinding started to get skewed this year.

A drink on date night.
Then a few drinks on date night and some with friends on the weekend.
Then four drinks being the new date night standard.
Then feeling upset when we went places with friends that only served beer because then I couldn’t drink.
Then maybe it would be easier to just have a drink at home to unwind on the weekend. I mean, it’s cheaper.
Then just the one bottle on Friday night at home alone on the deck and normal date night allowance.
Then deciding I can only write good content with a drink so it will help business.

Then, the realization that something wasn’t right.

There’s a thing about self awareness…

Once you develop it, becomes impossible to ignore what you know about yourself.

One thing about me is that I have an addictive personality that has always been extremely vulnerable to anything that can mask pain.

It’s how I got through a majority of my past and part of what I now do a lot of mindset work around to unlearn.

I share this because I know this is also true for many – it simply manifests differently for different people.

It’s a weakness of mine.

And if I ignored it, could you imagine where the rest of this story would have gone?

Exactly.

Instead, I made the choice to care about this weakness by making the decision to no longer consume alcohol.

As of this post, I haven’t had a drink in two months

Part of me wants to justify this by saying “it wasn’t even that bad to be sharing this with you… other people have MUCH bigger stories around drinking that matter more” and then discount myself with “it’s only sixty days… big deal, anyone can do that.”

But, because I believe in sharing the real journey here….

I’m actually really proud of it because that first month was HARD for me, which means that while it may not have been the same as someone else’s experience… it was something I needed to do for myself.

It also showed me that, at any time, I have the ability to change a habit that isn’t serving my highest good.

And there’s nothing to be ashamed of about that.

6. The internet marketing bubble is finally popping.

As many predicted for the past few years, we have finally reached the point where people are over being treated as just a number or a sales figure.

Where online business owners are being given one of two options…

Step up and be a person of service or step out.

People are getting smarter.
Algorithms are getting smarter.

And those that understand and fully embody which one of the above lines is the most important will thrive.

Not because you can create random content faster than the next person, push more offers to your audience, spend more in ads and/or are on more social outlets than anyone in your industry but because…

You believe in putting people first.

This year I watched as the bubble that we’ve all been sitting in (and frustrated by) for far too long, began the process of popping as unethical business owners are being exposed for the wild wild west internet marketing world they helped create.

What does this have to do with my own business?

Everything.

Because as I started to see the much needed shifts that were happening within our industry, I saw this as an opportunity to check in with myself even more.

How am I serving my audience?
Where are my biggest weak spots?
Do I make those I work with feel valued for who they are?
Where do I need to own my own message more?
Am I truly practicing what I preach?

I know I’ll never be perfect but I can always be better – and this year had me asking how I can do so.

This lead to me…

– Retiring three programs that were bringing in passive profits but I no longer felt connected to (thus, wouldn’t truly service my audience)
– Making the decision to set a member capacity for my Achievers Circle membership for more intimacy and connection vs scaling it like other membership sites.
– Reopening an account from a previous business that had been inactive for close to three years. Not because I wanted to bring back the business but felt called to connect with that audience again.
– Having more coffee chats with those on my list than ever before, to hear how I can support them better.
– Rebranded the business to Freedom Driven Success and got louder about what I believe we need as a society in order to help other women see that their vision matters too.

7. Your business goals are great. So are your life goals.

This year, I decided to set more than business goals for myself.

Correction…

I decided to also actually follow through with the goals I set for myself outside of my business.

In the past, I’ve been guilty of always putting my business goals as the main priority throughout the year.

However, this year I wanted to see what would happen if I committed to the others as well.

Some of these goals were…

– Re decorating one room in our home each quarter.
– Planting and actually maintaining flowers in our yard in the Summer.
– Trying one new style of workout each quarter.
– Traveling four times throughout the year with hubby.

Seeing them come to fruition this year not only made me thankful for the time my business now allows me to have but was just fun to experience.

(And yes, I totally made a checklist for these goals too for the pure pleasure of getting to check the box).

I mean, isn’t that why we’re all running a business in the first place…. to support living our lives?

For me, that includes being able to do things, just because you want to.

I found out I love CrossFit (but NOT yoga), I actually can keep flowers alive, we can go to the Red Sox stadium as Yankee fans and still have a good time and gray looks awesome on our living room walls.

This year I’ll be doing this again for sure!

What have you learned in 2018?

If you haven’t already, this is a great time to take a look at your experiences from the past year and give yourself a high-five for everything that brought you to this point.

No matter if it was the sunshine or the storm…

You made it through and are better for it.

Happy 2019!