I’ve always been a big believer in the power of a year.
While we always joke about how fast it goes, there’s also SO much that happens. And, if you pay attention closely enough, you’ll see just how much each year has its part in transforming you into who you are today.
This is why I take this time each year to write a blog that takes a look at the year, as a way to encapsulate this time in life and allow others to learn from the hits and misses I’ve experienced.
If you want to see an example of how much business is a constant evolution, you can click any of these years to see it in action: 2020 Year in Review, 2019 Year in Review, 2018 Year in Review, 2017 Year in Review,
This year, I asked my business to work for me in ways I never imagined I would.
And it stepped up to the challenge in ways that have me ending the year in deep gratitude, amazement and conviction in what we do here at Freedom Driven Success.
To kick things off, here’s a quick run down of some of the “greatest hits” of 2021.
On the business side:
- We completely restructured and grew our team, which has me ending the year feeling so incredibly good and supported!
- I tracked my time for the ENTIRE YEAR to see where I could improve and/or delgrate more (fun fact, we now know I average 30 hours a week in the business).
- I was able to host the retreat for The Collective, in person, for both rounds this year! Of course, with different protocols in place but… we did it!
- We updated Clients to Courses® and 90 Days to Influential in order to provide a better experience and the latest in marketing courses in today’s market… with even more goodness on the way for Clients to Courses® in 2022!
- Tested something new with launching by utilizing our low ticket offer (Pre Sell and Profit) to lead into Clients to Courses® instead of a free challenge or webinar… and LOVED it!
- Supported two rounds of clients inside the The Collective experience shifts in their business that leave me both in tears of joy and rave style jump up and down celebration!
- Our biz bestie group chat got to get together in-person to chat all things business, life and charcuterie boards!
- Invested in an offer that overpromised and underdelivered in a way that only solidified how different what we do here at FDS is!
- Go to be on some amazing podcasts like The Art of Online Business Podcast, Savvy Social Podcast, Onya Mic Podcast and Feminist Visionaries!
- The Profit with Courses Private Audio Training was created!
On the personal side:
- This was the year of “the easy resolution” and this year’s was to use the 1 Second Everyday app to capture the small moments in the everyday, and I did it EVERY DAY!
- I went back to therapy for the first half of 2021 to work on myself.
- We sold the home we had been in for the past decade and big time upgraded to one that’s not only PERFECT for us but also 1.5 miles from the beach!
- Part of that buying and selling process had us living in a hotel for a month and a half which was… an experience. 😉
- At the age of 37, I got tickets to the VMAs! Yes, the MTV Video Music Awards! Thanks to all my fellow elder millennials who came “with” me, via Instagram Stories!
- I watched in excitement as the anti-mlm movement gained more momentum than ever and helped me and others continue to unpack all the fuckery we experienced in the past (and connected with some amazing people as a result!)
- 2020 was the year of learning makeup. 2021 was the year of learning how to dress when you’re not sure if you’re young or old and your body is deciding what size it wants to be. Rent the Runway and fashion shows on Instagram Stories for the win!
- I signed up to be a co-author in the Rising Sisterhood book series for next year! Sharing my personal story has been a big dream of mine and I’m excited to step into it more!
Here’s a few screen shots of the 1 Second Everyday app I’ve been using all year to capture the big and little moments in each day. On New Year’s Eve, all of these will turn into a video flashing through each day of 2021!
1. Answering “what’s the worst that can happen” can have more power than “what’s the best that can happen.”
This is one of those “how I used to approach things and how I approach things now are pretty different” situations.
There used to be a sign in my office that said “what’s the best that could happen?” It was a reminder for myself to think and dream bigger and I used it in times of doubt to try and get me into action.
However, I began realizing that it felt like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound. Sure, it could get me to take action in that moment but it was fleeting. I never addressed the actual doubts and fears happening which meant that they would simply show up in a different way.
A few years ago, I started experimenting with allowing my mind to go ahead and get out everything I was worried about.
“You launch this offer and it doesn’t sell. Ok, then what? You don’t generate new income. Then what?”
I would keep going until 1) I either started laughing because I realized that my fears were actually pretty silly and/or irrelevant or 2) I brought myself all the way to living in a box on the street. But a fun decorated box, of course. 😜
I started to find that doing this served me a hell of a lot more than just focusing on the best case scenario because my fears and doubts were no longer being shoved into a corner of positivity.
They were given a voice and that voice made it so they lost control over me.
I then began using this as one of the many exercises I take my own 1:1 clients and students through to get to the root of what’s really holding them back from taking action.
What does that have to do with this year?
Because, back in 2015, when I experienced the most difficult moment in my business (trigger warning: talk of suicidal ideation, depression and anxiety) I became fearful of growing a business the way I had previously.
Anything past a certain mark was dangerous in my mind and would put me right back to crawling under my desk in a pool of tears, only to force myself to get it together and show up on Zoom with a smile on my face because my business needed me there. There was no time for a break OR a break down.
To get over this fear, I planned for the worst that could happen.
In January of this year, I had to use that plan for the first time when I got a call that my dad’s COVID symptoms had gotten so bad that he was brought to the hospital. Once there, they found out that he also had pneumonia and diabetes that was never diagnosed and/or treated before…. and we needed to prepare for the worst.
Hi, I’m Jessica and I’m a daddy’s girl, through and through.
Which meant my entire heart and world shattered when I got the news.
The worst had happened and, because of that previous fear and doubt, all I had to do was two things (that took less than ten minutes) to fully step out of the business, without hurting it.
I didn’t have to fake that I was ok. I didn’t have to try and work in between phone calls with updates. I had the ability to feel and cry and do whatever nothingness I wanted.
What would have happened if my business was only built around the best case scenario and I had to force myself to show up during this time?
I don’t want to know.
Thinking about the worst is not only great for a true mindset shift but practical.
Important update: Within the span of days, my dad went from dire to being able to come home and recover. He continues to have lingering issues from COVID that hopefully will alleviate in time and is now managing his diabetes with insulin and nutrition. Here’s a photo from when we moved into our new house and him and my sister drove here to help us move in!
2. You can’t teach critical thinking.
This one piece of advice shifted everything about the way I approach hiring and the team on hand, and I have Amy Edge to thank for it.
Early this year, I worked as the Marketing Consultant behind Amanda Berlin’s Pitch School Live event. This event was virtual but, since the space had already been rented in pre-COVID times, she still utilized the space for her end of the event.
I volunteered to drive to the event space for each day in case her team needed any additional help during the live event. However, I walked away feeling like I was the one who got the help I needed.
You see, as I was there, I watched how her team came together to not only run a seamless event but how proactive they were along the way. Decisions were being made while Amanda was live in a session, actions were being taken to support her that she didn’t even know about and I was just standing there in awe.
“I don’t have this kind of support.”
I always teach my clients about the concept of finding positive proof and the moment I saw how things were running with her team and how it allowed her to just show up in her glory, I immediately knew that there was something out of alignment with mine.
So, just like I do anytime I am in a situation like this, I asked questions.
This led me to a conversation with Amanda’s OBM, Amy Edge. I told her about how I had to make all the decisions, how heavy it felt and how I wanted what they had.
She explained how the VA she works with wasn’t in the online space before working with her and how she’s learned all the tools and such we use on the job because all of that can be taught.
“I always hear of people having this experience! I just don’t get HOW though.”
And that’s when she said it…
“You can’t teach critical thinking.”
People either have it or they don’t. Those who have it are going to be proactive in searching out the answers, looking into resources, bringing new ideas to the table, etc.
It was like a light bulb went off for me at that moment.
I have a personality that’s quick to find where I am dropping the ball/in the wrong. And while I don’t think that’s a bad thing, because it’s how I continue to learn and grow, it can also be my weakness.
I knew how to bring amazing humans onto the team. I didn’t know how to ensure they were also critical thinkers that could support the level of growth the business was on now.
In came… Allie Stewart.
3. If the foundation has a crack in it, your primary job is to do whatever it takes to fix it before building further.
You know what happens when you realize something isn’t right with your business?
If you’re like me, you obsess over it.
This meant that I talked it out in peer masterminds and chats, tried to explain it to my husband and using this time to really explore what was feeling heavy vs light so that I could make the best decision possible moving forward.
It became clear that, no matter what was going to happen with the team, I am best when I’m left to create and connect so I needed a right hand woman who could help with the day to day of business. All the little things that add up to big time chunks.
And because I wanted to get this issue solved YESTERDAY and am an extreme quickstart, I went to Instagram, searched OBM/Online Business Manager, brought up every profile on my laptop, read through every site and booked eight discovery calls with those I was interested in, within the next week.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I do NOT suggest doing this with this kind of position and it’s against all advice you’ll see out there for a reason. However, I’m that person who will always follow my gut in moments like this so I went with it.
On the first day of my self-imposed “interview tour” I talked to Allie Stewart.
If you follow my stories on Instagram, you saw this magical partnership play out.
If not, I’ll give you the cliff notes version…
I instantly knew she was THE person I was looking for and was struggling with if I should continue interviews. Our values, our commitments to a people first way of business, our humor… all of it.
I took one more interview the next day before realizing it was a complete waste of time and offering her the position.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I also do NOT suggest doing this with this kind of position. There’s a reason you do more interviews because there could be someone better but… again, my gut was screaming at me.
She hit the ground running, from day one.
Within the first month, she confirmed why things were feeling so heavy for me and, within the span of a few months, we completely changed the team.
This meant going from 4 to 7 people supporting the business, with a majority of those seven being brand new.
This also meant I was both outsourcing and paying out more than I ever have. Both, which can bounce between relieving and scary as a CEO.
Allie straight up #challengeaccepted it all and I watched as she onboarded, trained and provided ongoing support for our new team members (all while talking me off a few ledges) in complete astonishment.
Not only was she managing the day to day so that I could get into the right role again, we brought in incredible people who have made me sit in tears more times than I care to admit.
The way everyone works together, shares their ideas, asks questions about why we were doing things a certain way, connects on a personal level as well as business, offers to take on additional parts of a project….
The thing that felt the heaviest for me in business in January, turned into the lightest part by December.
To Allie, Kelsey, Shelby, Jen, Jackie, who all joined the team in the middle of one of the most transformative years… thank you.
For being you.
For believing in our mission.
For allowing me to be messy.
For showing up.
For it all.
Since I don’t have a pic of us all together… we’ll go with what my face looked like until you magical humans came into my life… 😁
4. The more ME I am, the more I make. The more I make, the more impact I can have.
After everything we navigated as a society in 2020, I knew I needed to update our 90 Days to Influential program (including lessons on redefining influence for yourself and the responsibility of influence that we all need to understand) before getting into the meat of the content.
Since I was going to be redoing the program, from scratch, I decided to do a pop-up group for those who wanted to go through the program together, as it’s being created.
This would both keep me on track with deadlines but also allow another connection point with my audience as the only way to be in a group with me is Clients to Courses® or The Collective.
As I was creating the content around how to stand out in the online space, I began reflecting back to my own business and how it has grown over the years.
Guess what was the most consistent over the past nine years?
The times I’ve struggled the most is when I’ve tried to be like someone else.
The times business has felt the easiest and shown the biggest results is when I’ve doubled (and sometimes tripled) down on who exactly who I am.
The woman who refuses to wake up early to be “successful.”
The woman who uses humor to cope with life, including my own my anxiety.
The woman whose values are not up for debate.
This revelation turned into the mantra of not just the program but for myself throughout 2021.
Whenever I second guess content I create.
Whenever I wonder if something is going to be “too much.”
Whenever I question if I shared a part of me no one cares about.
Whenever I think people will judge me for an opinion.
I remember this one fact.
The more ME I am, the more I make. The more I make, the more impact I can have.
Then hit submit.
It’s been freeing and liberating in ways I can’t even explain. Not just for me but for the students we support who I am witnessing embracing the same concept for themselves.
5. It can be uncomfortable getting exactly what you’ve always wanted.
This year I’ve found myself saying a lot of the below…
“There’s no new offers coming up, we’re just making what we already have better.”
“The only thing we’re focused on is the marketing of the current offers.”
“I don’t have to live launch so I don’t.”
“My only goal is refining and scaling what we have and not breaking shit because I randomly got bored.”
Business is all one big experiment and, for some time, a lot of the experimentation is with the offers themselves. This means that you’re in the creation stage quite a bit and typically working more as a result.
Even though I LOVEEEE and excel at creation, it’s time intensive and I would always go into it knowing that the work I was doing today was setting myself up for future success. I believed it fully.
This year I became my future self.
We no longer have new offers to create or on the horizon to create. We have proven results from everything that exists. We have the systems and team to support them all.
It feels both great and weird.
Business has gotten to the stage of simplicity I’ve wanted (in fact, we’re simplifying it even further in 2022!) and it feels so weird to talk to others who are rattling off the 3284738 NEW things they’re doing and I’m over here like “just refining and scaling what is here.”
Part of me defaults to old thinking of the fact that I “should” be doing more, in an effort to prove something. That I deserve this? That I’m not lazy?
It’s a very interesting spot to be in and it reminds me so much of when clients of mine get their first evergreen sales and want to immediately rush over to their inbox to DO something to justify the sale.
“This is why we created this, so you could sell and serve without being there. The work has already been done… enjoy!”
I’ve found myself repeating that same thing to myself this year, where, instead of creating anything new the focus was on improving/upgrading the experience, content and/or marketing of the existing offers.
And we’re going into 2022 continuing to do exactly that.
Focusing on the proven offers, with experimentation focused on the marketing efforts of those offers.
6. Your driving force doesn’t belong only behind the scenes.
When I started my very first online business in 2012, we were barely getting by financially.
In fact, I remember setting my first goal as “even if I just made $30 a month, it would help cover the gas bill” because even $30 was going to be a HUGE help.
Needless to say, I’ve come a very long way.
So has my relationship with money and thoughts about money.
To the point where it doesn’t drive me like it once did.
Thankfully, this is something a previous mentor warned me about.
If you are someone who has struggled financially for a majority of your life, it’s common for money to drive you in the beginning of business because you want the feeling of no longer having to question how much is in the account, if you can swipe the card at the grocery store, etc.
But once you cross the threshold of going from being on a consistent financial rollercoaster to being consistently supported by money… things change.
You need to find a different way to set and be motivated by goals in your business or else you will find yourself stagnant.
A few years ago, I found what new driving motivation was but I kept it private because:
1) I worried people would think I had some performative savior complex
2) I knew it didn’t fit with all the online space sharing of “look at my $20k! $70k! $100k month! You can do it too!” approaches that people love.
Note: If revenue based marketing is your style, no shade. I know it shows others what’s possible and all that goodness. I’m simply saying it doesn’t feel good for me and the work I do. Also, I listen to a lot of true crime and don’t want to get held for ransom LOL – kidding, not kidding.
This is the year I publicly shared my driving force behind our revenue goals at Freedom Driven Success and why I need to pay attention to it.
Forget just earning six-figures, I want us to be at a place where the company can give six-figures. For me, that’s the ultimate success flex and how we can make a massive ripple effect of change.
That there is more than enough money flowing through the business that it can not only be invested to earn more (which also matters in business) but also given to those who are on the front lines of much needed work in this world.
Just like businesses need money to stay in business. People and organizations need money to live, function and/or grow.
You can see the top three organizations we currently support here.
Whenever I randomly mentioned this to friends of mine, I would see their eyes light up. They got it and they got why it meant something to me.
This year, the public got to see it too.
And guess what? It struck a (good) cord with a lot of you too.
Funny how most of the things you fear never come to pass, huh? Our minds sure are interesting!
7. You’ve always been more than a strategist. It’s ok to own it.
Ever since the first round of The Collective, back in 2019, it was apparent that while my strategic brain can plan out, customize, simplify and help clients navigate the intricacies of scaling a business online…
What I actually do is so much deeper than that.
When the first testimonials began coming in saying how The Collective didn’t just change people’s businesses but their lives… I honestly didn’t know what to do with it.
I was so used to the “I did _____ and achieved ______!” type of testimonials and, while that was still happening, it was surrounded with things that were much more meaningful than simply a dollar amount.
I was watching people completely change the way they do business while also restoring and/or completing broken relationships, solidifying boundaries, going to therapy for the first time, removing the shame around debt and paying off tens of thousands of it along the way, honoring their mental health and physical health for the first time in years…
All followed with mutual tears of gratitude at the end of the six-months to the connections, transformation, confidence and lightness created.
Here’s the thing… I’ve always run business this way.
Except, I used to think it was my weakness.
That people don’t want to talk about anything outside of strategy with me. That it wasn’t my place to ask what’s the real reason they aren’t doing something. That it isn’t “scalable” to fully customize every plan to that person, their capacity, their lifestyle and their personality vs. just the goal they brought to the table.
This year, I realized it’s why people join The Collective for multiple rounds and/or re-sign as a 1:1 client.
The deep connections, care and consideration for not just the business but the person behind the business and how the two influence each other has been my ultimate strength this entire time and why people get the results they do.
This year, I stopped trying to downplay it and chose to own it.
I care “too much.”
I give “too much.”
I talk about “too much.”
…. And it works.
My clients are happy.
The rest of the online space can mind their own business (literally).
Ohhhhh so much goodness that I’m beyond excited to share with you!
But since this blog is already 32984230948320 words long, I’ll just say…
- I hope you were able to pull some lessons for yourself away from hearing mine in 2021.
- Thank you for being on the journey with me. Weather we’ve been connected for a few days or for reays, know that I mean it when I say I appreciate it.
- Come hang with me on Instagram for the latest! It’s where I love to hang out and connect with you. 💗
BRING IT 2022! 🎉
P.S. Made it all the way to the end? You get the special surprise of my most used gif of 2021….
What I sent to every friend when I had to put on my big girl pants and make ANOTHER big decision 🤪