2013: My year in review

January 12, 2014

PSSTT! I am backdating this post to January, when it was originally written, but am just now publishing it because…because…well, because I’m apparently an airhead who forgets the difference between the Publish button and the Save Draft button. #doh And then doesn’t even notice her mistake for four long months. #doubledoh
Thanks for reading. :)
Hugs, AS 4-16-14

Phew. Where did the year go?! And don’t we say that every year?

The days go slow, but the years go fast. Couldn’t agree with that more.

Anyway, at the turn of every calendar, being the personal development, goal-setting, geeky gal that I am, I always like to set a few goals for the coming year. But before doing so, I think it helps to take a few moments to review the year prior. What did we accomplish? What surprised us? What goals did we even set for ourselves last January again? And wha? We really did all of that?! It’s a fun process.

I’ll share a few things we’re aiming to accomplish (Book publishing! Vemma growth! New baby!) in 2014 later this month. Today, here are my thoughts on what went well and not so well in the amazing year that was 2013.

What went well in 2013

Writing projects This was the year of pushing for progress on several major writing projects. There were moments I wasn’t sure I would survive, I’ll admit (the month of June, you’re lost to me), but man did I get so much done. I launched two huge full-length ghostwriting book projects for clients at the very beginning of the year. I had never done anything like that before, so the learning curve was high. Overall, though, I’m proud of myself for leaping into it and figuring it out as I went. I made mistakes, big ones.
1) Ask a LOT of questions at the beginning about what you will be writing, or else your bid could be way off.
2) Bid honestly. And don’t be afraid to value your time. Amen.
3) Specifying how many rounds of editing you’re willing to do is a must. Oh my.

I wrapped up one of those projects just as we found out we were expecting our second punkin in late June, basked in the glory of only have one project to focus on for a quick month, then launched another one in August. Seeing that first book listed on Amazon and holding it in my hands, priceless. Even though it didn’t have my name on it (hence the term ghostwriting), it was an enormous personal accomplishment. And a continual motivation. If I could produce that body of work in six months, what else could I do? Especially if it was my own content, or on a subject that I was personally passionate about?

In May, I frantically wrote a rough draft of a children’s book using my iPhone after writing it all in my head while in the shower moments earlier. This fall, I finally did something with that draft, editing it a bajillion times and contacting an author consultant to begin the illustration and self publishing process. The project has progressed, albeit rather slowly, something which is completely my fault, but I’m thrilled and scared to the death at the idea that sometime this spring I might be able to actually hold that book in my hands too. I have learned so much about children’s books that I never realized was even a thing: sizing of the book, font selection, color pallete selection, how to purchase the ISBN’s that all books have, self publishing options (read: tons of them), and how fun it is to request samples from illustrators and actually see interpretations of the character in your head come through your inbox.

Finally, I kept chugging along and writing and sharing here on anniesorensen.com. My little corner of the internet has been around for several years now, and I’m proud that, at the very least, it has succesfully grown and changed and morphed right along with me. It follows my personal journey, both in my writing styles, subject matter, and voice. Thinking about that makes me happy.

Press badge I may or may not have had my very first event pass that said Press on it this past summer.

And for a “I say I’m a writer but really I don’t think I am” type of gal, that was one of those little things that was really just SO FREAKING COOL. The end.

Personal financial accomplishments This year was a big year for Hubz and I personally. We extended an investment in a documentary that we made in mid-2012, kept our two single family home rental properties up and running and cashflow positive, sold our personal home quickly and at a large profit compared to what we purchased it for in 2007, and invested in a new home that we love.

Every year we set personal financial goals. Everything from how much we want to add to this account or invest in that place, to big goals like adding new rental properties or doing business with someone or something new. 2013 started out intending to simply be a year that maintained, and it turned into a year that really looked strong with growth. The year included smarter spending, lots of communication, and strong deposits into our investments. Awesome.

Baby numero dos I would be remiss to include a list of things that went well in 2013 without including our second child! We celebrated our first punkin’s first birthday in early May, and in late June found out we were expecting our second. In a couple months we will have a couple of little girls a couple years apart. And we’re thrilled.

Balance Ugh, do I hate this word. But I accomplished something close to it this summer when I employed a nanny for several hours a week and busted a move on my work in all areas.
I was able to get a ton done, of course, but most importantly got my groove back of balancing mommyhood with Vemma building and coffee drinking and writing. That confidence and contentedness followed me all the way through the fall, even well after the help was no longer available. I learned a lot, too. Namely, it doesn’t take much to make me feel comfortable in my work (#2 job) and my mommyness (#1 job). Just a couple hours a week makes all the difference in the world. Incredibly reassuring. And helpful for making future plans.

Expanded our team The people and experts that surround us – the accountant, banker, mortgage broker, contractor, painter, web developer, marketing expert, publishing expert, etc – we strengthened that team this year, adding a few new people to the roster and strengthening the relationships with those already a part of the team. I know that’s kind of annoyingly general, but it’s a big deal to us. To be able to be in a situation and have those relationships already established to call upon, it makes growing any business, venture, idea, or just life change in general that much more efficient and possible.

Expanded friendships For two homebodies who are often blinded by business goals and house projects, we often have to pathetically force ourselves to get out and focus on friends. But we did this year, including a ton of events with our wild toddler and even a week-long vacay. And it was so worth it. Surround yourself with people that make you better, surround yourself with people that make you happy…and as much as possible, remember that you will closely resemble the lives of the top five people you spend the most time with. We’re blessed with the new friends and even better old friends that were a part of our lives in 2013.
Kept dreaming I have often considered the time I spend writing in my personal journals as worthwhile, but actually sitting down to do it seems self-serving and pure entertainment sometimes. Selfish, even. Dreaming and big-hairy-audacious-goal setting is definitely one of those. Before doing it, it seems not as important as finishing these dishes or calling that plumber before his office closes or responding to those final two emails. But once it’s done, both immediately and long term, its importance is incredibly apparent. And it should have priority. Dreaming is the same way. Amongst it all, we found a few moments this year to dream together, Hubz and I. Future freedoms for our family, growth of our businesses, expanding our residual income streams, future travel, etc. I also kept it up for my personal goals, and I have big things on the horizon of my mind like a personal essay collection, continued personal daily journaling, speaking on stage in front of 5000 screaming Vemma affiliates, commerical real estate, turning my children’s book into a series, etc. All sorts of fun things await us and our family. Can’t wait. Some of these dreams we have expanded on and turned into accountable, measurable goals, others we haven’t yet. But they are there. And I would argue that’s half the battle.

What didn’t go so well in 2013

Lack of consistency here on AS.com This summer, when book project deadlines loomed and I was thrown off kilter with suddenly have a moving, exploring toddler, this ‘lil site got pushed to the backburner. I wish that hadn’t been the case. I write something, somewhere, every day, whether it’s in my journal, punkin’s journal, on my hard drive, for a client, on our personal family blog, or here on AS. While I think it’s more important to simply keep writing versus worrying about where I’m writing, I still wish I would have prioritized keeping up with posts here. This is one of the more formal outlets for my writing, and it pushes me. It’s easy to be casual. It’s harder to be polished and professional. If I can make time to write, I can make time to better spread that writing across all of my outlets.

Silicon Prairie News, wha? I miss my contributions to SPN! That was another outlet that pushed my writing – writing more journalistic, reporting-type pieces. I need to prioritize it again. If they’ll have me. :)

Not. Enough. Books. Okay, I don’t think I could ever read everything in a calendar year that I want to.
How many books would you like to read this year?

Ha. But still, as I’ve mentioned, this was a year for experiencing a ton of new things and teetering this way and that to learn, adjust, and find our own definition of balance. Sitting down with a book, unfortunately, sometimes fell by the wayside. I still covered more than 33 titles, though, so I’ll consider that a win and be realistic with my goal for 2014. Vemma maintenance versus growth Maintaining a six-figure, largely residual-income producing business amongst wifey and mommy and writing and moving and family’ing and traveling and just life in general? That’s a win. A HUGE win. What Vemma has done for my family and our future, the lives of so many of our friends, family, and colleagues, our health and our freedoms is so substantial, I sometimes can’t even begin to wrap my head around it without shrinking into Do I even deserve all of this amazingness? type of thoughts. All of that being said, the company has hit momentum. Seven years to hit $100 million in annual sales ($10 mill + monthly), then $220 million in annual sales barely a year later. Uhh, yeah, ridiculous. There are pieces of the pie – HUGE pieces of the pie – still out there for the taking. Despite the massive growth, Vemma is still a microscopic fish in the ocean of networking, and the potential is limitless. It always has been, but it is even more so now, with huge recent changes to their business model. I don’t like limits. It’s up to me to step up and double, triple, quadruple the piece of our pie. The only way to do that is to help others do it, too. I’m on it.

Treading water with personal interests A year of new experiences and projects brings about a lot of awesomeness, but it also brings quite a bit of Thrown Off Kilterness. Leisure reading, as I’ve mentioned, along with things like consistently working out, focusing at all on one of my favorite hobbies: home decor, and even simple things that I take responsibility for like the dishes and the mail and cooking and housework.

It was an amazing year. On January 1, 2013 we had a 7 month-old infant, a cozy home we loved, and thriving businesses. 365 days later, on December 31, 2013, we had a 19 month-old talking and walking toddler, a new home, and a second pregnancy well into its sixth month. I wrote a full-length book, started new journals, read almost three books a month, and published 33 pieces here on AS.com and dozens more on our family blog. We kept up our two rental properties, continued our documentary investment, traveled as a family and as a couple, kicked off a large home remodel, and happily consumed loads of coffee and wine (well, at least the first half of the year) and meals with friends.

Can’t wait to see what 2014 brings. If anything, I know this for sure: it will be an adventure. Thanks for being there for us!


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