Howdy and welcome to my annual end-of-year reflection on business and life. I write these for the purpose of:
- Taking time to think through the past year’s activities
- To help future me remember what I did
- To help me think through plans for the new year
This is an exercise primarily for myself, but I post these publicly with hopes that someone else might find it interesting and/or helpful. If you’d care to read past annual reviews, here they are:
What happened to the 2019 review?
You may (or may not have) noticed that 2019 is absent from that list. That post is still sitting in “draft” mode — I didn’t have it in me last year to complete it. But I’ll recap the personal aspects here, for posterity.
Jan 2019 – July 2019
I went 100% digital nomad. Officially homeless by choice, I packed up my 4Runner and left Texas in January for a “grand adventure.” Here are some quick stats:
- Drove most of the West coast, bottom to top. (I *highly* recommend this — gorgeous and varied views all along the coastline)
- Travelled to 12 states, and two countries outside of the US (Canada, Mexico)
- Slept in 57 different beds
- Camped 20+ times
- Visited 20+ friends/families in the locations I visited
- Had my body in 4 states concurrently
- Rescued a dog
- Attended BeachPress
- Got a tattoo of Texas (in case I turned up lost, people would know where to return me to…)
- Finalized divorce
- Visited six National Parks: Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Olympic, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton
- “Assisted” in birthing an alpaca at CottonCreek Farms
- Jumped out of an airplane
- Attended Rhodium Retreat
August 2019 – December 2019
My adventures came to a grinding halt after a Bird scooter accident that left me with a broken arm and a broken leg at the knee joint. Unable to care for myself in even the most basic elements of daily life, I moved in with my parents.
Since then I’ve worn a cast, had two knee surgeries, progressed from wheel chair to walker to crutches, and had six months of physical therapy.— carrie dils (@cdils) August 18, 2020
I’ve paid over $20k in dr bills and still have over $100k in medical debt that I’m negotiating with the hospital.
They generously and lovingly cared for me until I was able to regain my independence. Not quite ready to adventure full-time again, I moved back to Fort Worth, TX in December 2019, to be close to my support network of friends and continue my journey to physical health.
After almost a year of nomadic living (and injury recovery in an unlikely location), I’m once again a resident of Ft. Worth, TX.— carrie dils (@cdils) December 2, 2019
Of all the unexpected guests, a chicken walked up on my front porch to welcome me home. pic.twitter.com/4KyMrwtXtq
Aside from the accident, notable activities for the back half of 2019 included:
- Attending WordCamp US in St Louis, MO (I was an organizer and, with a couple of other amazing folks, oversaw programming/speakers/schedule)
- Traveling to Seattle, WA to see one of my favorite artists (Brandi Carlile) perform. Unfortunately the show was cancelled due to her illness, but it still felt amazing to travel again and be with friends.
I. Can’t. Stop. Watching. This. https://t.co/rt6e1h7eHS— carrie dils (@cdils) November 4, 2019
In a nutshell…
That’s my (mostly) personal recap of 2019. Maybe this provides some context of why I didn’t have the energy to post a 2019 review last year.
I could add more about work, but let’s move on to 2020.
2020: A new year, full of
No one could have predicted what a bizarre year 2020 was.
Considering that my 2018 and 2019 were emotional, physical, and geographical rollercoasters, 2020 has been blessedly uneventful by comparison.
Thanks to a career that’s had me working remotely for 20 years, COVID didn’t really impact my work routine. The big differences were:
- stopped traveling for work and conferences (good grief, I miss seeing my WordPress family in person) and
- recording my courses in a home studio* versus recording in professional sound booths at the LinkedIN Learning campus in Carpinteria, CA
* I use the words “home studio” very loosely. It was more of a blanket draped over my microphone and desk.
Despite worries that work might dry up due to COVID, I still found opportunity. I actually saw a 10% increase in gross income over 2019, although that’s not a surprise as my 2019 accident cost me three months of work.
I’ve invested years in building alternative revenue streams (i.e. selling courses, affiliating, etc.) so that when the inevitable “feast/famine” of self-employment happens (or Bird scooter accident), my business can still hum along.
That’s not a brag, but an affirmation that the fabled ant was no dummy when it came to planning for winter…
When the lease on my house was up in June 2020, I left the comfy nest of Fort Worth to do a little more adventuring. For the first time in my 45 years, I’m now a resident of another state (CA).
I’ve had at least two friends relocate from CA to TX this year and I know there are a lot of Californians migrating to Texas. I’ve been told plenty that my TX->CA relocation is doing_it_wrong(), but those people don’t live within walking distance to the beach. 😉
Speaking of the beach, I truly credit that with keeping me sane in 2020. Like the rest of you (I’m guessing), my in-person interactions dwindled drastically due to COVID. Having a beautiful space outdoors to retreat to went a long way in compensating for my lacking social life.
Moving into 2021
There are some semi-shelved side projects I’d like to push forward in 2021:
- Finish writing Real World Freelancing, a getting started guide for budding freelancers. I started that project in 2016 with my friend Diane Kinney. Our “real worlds” came crashing in and the book stalled out at ~70% completion. If for no other reason than the accomplishment of writing and publishing a book, I’d like to wrap up this project. Maybe it’ll even help someone. 🙂
- Reboot The Fearless Freelancer®. In 2017, I launched five freelancing courses. After the initial launch, I failed to maintain any sort of marketing efforts. In 2020, I moved business articles off of this site and over to The Fearless Freelancer’s blog in an attempt to increase organic search traffic (prior to that, 95% of .content was gated — read un-indexable). I also ported all content in to the WordPress block editor (leave a comment if you care to hear my reasons why – ha!). In 2021, I want to revisit my lead magnets and email automations and set a marketing plan in motion that’s self-sustaining. For years on this site I’ve talked about my goal of generating income that’s not tied to the number of hours I work. This is one of those efforts that I think has potential, but just needs a bit more elbow grease.
- Revisit OfficeHours.FM podcast. Starting back in 2014, I published 160+ episodes covering topics about WordPress and running a business. I love podcasting, but stopped broadcasting after five seasons (2018) due to a combination of burnout and a plain ole lack of energy. I’ve been chatting with my friend Karim Marucchi about re-launching the show in 2021. Stay tuned to the @officehoursfm Twitter handle if you’re interested.
In addition to “side hustles,” I look forward to creating more courses about WordPress and front-end web development on LinkedIN Learning. I also look forward to partnering with others in the WordPress community to create educational content and technical training (ping me if you need help in this department).
Outside of WordPress, I’d like to start volunteering some of my time. Ideally that would take shape as in-person volunteering or mentorship vs something requiring me to sit in front of a computer, but COVID will determine how quickly it’s possible to (safely) return to in-person activities.
After a couple of years of being consumed with my own life, I’m thankful to finally have some energy to invest in others. We shall see!