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2014 Annual Review: A Few (Embarrassingly Personal, Per Usual) Lessons Learned

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Hey everyone, the Annual Review is here!

Note: This is a long post (2,500+ words) and also fairly personal. You have been warned. If you’re new here, be sure to also check out:

OK, let’s get to it! As noted in the process post, I begin the review by focusing on the answers to two questions: What went well this year? and What did not go well?

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What Went Well in 2014

This list includes some of the things I was proud of or that just went well in general this year. In case you get bored with this part, don’t worry—there are plenty of failures and challenges to look forward to in the next section.

  • Aside from issues of anxiety and sadness (I’ll cover this more in due time), I was in good health for most of the year
  • I published The Happiness of Pursuit, my first book since The $100 Startup. The book was a New York Times’ bestseller! (Thanks so much, everyone—you made this happen.)
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  • I had a year of good travels, including a return visit to Sydney (my favorite world city), a solo birthday trip to Bali, a trip to Abu Dhabi, and approximately fifteen other countries (I’ll make a full count during the travel roundup, coming in a few days)
  • I also went on a 40-city tour to meet readers all over the U.S. and Canada in a series of meetups and bookstore events
  • WDS 2014 was another big success. We brought thousands of people to town. We threw the biggest party we’ve ever produced, which is saying a lot. We began a new series of “Academies” that take place on the days before and after official WDS. And if you haven’t seen this 10-minute film about WDS from an attendee’s perspective, check it out. I’m very proud of our team for making this happen
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  • In addition to WDS, we started another global gathering called Pioneer Nation. The inaugural event brought together 300 entrepreneurs and others pursuing independent work of different kinds. It was a ton of work to put together, but when all was said and done, it was a lot of fun to watch unfold
  • I gained more confidence as a speaker, traveling to keynote at more than a dozen conferences, events, and companies
  • I started making wiser choices about spending money to invest in my health and well-being. I finally learned to like green smoothies and green juice (yay). I started taking taxis or Uber to travel around town instead of relying on car-sharing or public transport, frequently saving time and frustration
  • Working with a small (yet mighty) team, I published four new Unconventional Guides: Freelance Writing, Designed to Sell, Get Rich Slowly, and Upgrade Unlocked
  • Having previously expressed that I was frustrated in my declining track record of financial giving, this year I did a better job. I gave more intentionally and frequently to organizations that are doing worthy work
  • I worked with a wonderful design studio to reboot this blog. Since we debuted the new design and format in June, I’ve published posts almost every day. I’m especially psyched about our Profiles series, which highlights readers who are exploring interesting ideas, pursuing big goals, or otherwise living unconventionally. The new format has been great, and I’m looking forward to continuing to refine it in 2015
  • I recently signed a deal for my next book, which I’m really excited about. I’ll be working with a new editor for the first time in four years, and both of us are energized over the concept and outline. (As part of a crazy experiment, this time I’ll actually write an outline before I start writing the manuscript—but more on that another time. And I’ll tell you what the book is about another time, too. First things first.)

A Note Before We Continue

As promised, I’m going to share some real failures and truly difficult things about this year. But first, here’s another confession: when I started the process of writing everything down, I was worried. The heaviness and negative feelings I’m about to describe have been weighing on me so much lately that I had almost convinced myself that the whole year was a bust.

But no! Once I started reviewing my calendar and writing down these highlights, I was amazed to see so many good things crop up that I had totally forgotten about.

It reminded me of one of the core lessons of the Annual Review: we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a single day, but underestimate what we can accomplish in a full year. For that, I’m grateful.

What Did Not Go Well in 2014

OK, no need to run from it—the list of things that did not go well is not short. This list is somewhat abridged, but you’ll probably get the gist.

  • Overall, I experienced a high amount of sadness, anxiety, angst, and inability to focus. For many days in 2014, I felt “on edge” for large parts of the day. I walked around with the constant sense of being distracted or even fearful. These negative emotions and impacts occurred off and on throughout the year, but culminated to an especially loud pitch in the past few months
  • I was constantly in a state of being behind on everything. For years I’ve prided myself on working quickly and over-delivering. But lately, I’ve been late—over and over. I was late in delivering my book manuscript, which caused my publisher to delay publication of the new book from Spring to Fall. I was late in working with several trusted and competent business partners (sorry, guys!). I was even frequently late to appointments, a bad habit I’ve never indulged in before
  • It’s more than just being late: I’ve often felt that I’m letting down everyone who is close to me. My family, my friends, readers, colleagues, and the community I seek to serve… pretty much everyone. It’s not a great feeling
  • The book launch for The Happiness of Pursuit was good but not amazing. Sure, we started well and hit NYT, but overall, the long-term sales for the previous book are much higher
  • Similarly, the Unconventional Guides launches and other business projects were good but not amazing. (The point: we need some amazing around here! Reasonable people might settle for good, but I am not reasonable.)
  • Speaking of books, I stopped reading them. Well, I didn’t stop—but I used to pride myself on reading at least 50 books a year. This year, I probably read 25-30 at most. I worry that this loss of learning relates to a loss of creating, for learning is critical for both personal growth and writing. “If you want to write, read more books” goes the old advice, and it’s good advice. But somehow I got off track with this, too
  • I often failed to appreciate my circumstances. I did not maximize my units of momentary happiness. Sometimes I’d be in a beautiful setting or otherwise be experiencing something very privileged, like flying First Class or staying in a nice hotel, and I’d still feel sad. Then I’d feel guilty for feeling sad, and I started to have the sense that it was all meaningless
  • I did not always provide good leadership for the people who contribute their valuable time and energy to our group projects. In particular, doing two major events (WDS + Pioneer Nation) with largely the same team in a short period of time was a big challenge
  • In the midst of another difficult time in dealing with a family situation that was far away, I received the worst text message of my life while preparing to sign books at an event in California. The confluence of these events, which also happened at the same time I was trying to make a big decision about my future in publishing (when it rains, it pours!) produced the most difficult 60-day period of any recent memory
  • I don’t have many close friendships (and I’m generally comfortable with that), but lately I’ve sensed that the ones I do have are becoming strained or at least somewhat distant
  • Throughout the year, my elderly grandmother became more confused. Two months ago she became suddenly ill and died shortly after being hospitalized (here’s my tribute to her—thanks for all your kind comments)

As I said, this list is somewhat abridged. But I know it’s intense.

Does everything happen for a reason? I certainly don’t think so, though it’s interesting to consider why we might place certain events in the movie of our life.

I also don’t believe that every cloud has a silver lining. There are plenty of “clouds” in our life that are just undesirable and unwelcome. Nevertheless, in reflecting on this list of negatives, I do notice a few positive interactions or by-products.

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For example, I was very sad when my nana passed away, as almost anyone would be. But I was also relieved that she died in relative peace. At the hospital, right before her symptoms were treated with morphine, she said she was “ready to check out.” She was 88 and had lived a wonderful life.

Even though I haven’t always been the most reliable family member, in the months before her death I traveled home twice and had good experiences with her and everyone else who was involved in the situation. If I hadn’t done that, I think I’d feel a lot worse.

In other news, the fact that I had such anxiety and inability to focus led me to recently seek therapy and even medical help for the first time. I’ll tell the whole story about this in an upcoming post, including an unexpected and partial solution I found through the process. But for now, in general I think it’s a good thing that I took this drastic step. I’ve been struggling for a long time, but until the situation became more severe, I continued to attempt to handle everything myself, with only mixed results.

Lastly, because I know I am goal-oriented and always will be, I’m glad that I was still able to do a lot despite all these problems! As mentioned earlier, I had the depressing things in mind as I began this review, so I was almost prepared to say, “Yeah, this year was just terrible through and through.” But again, that wasn’t the case and there were still a lot of highlights.

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It was just a challenging year in general, and most of us tend to accentuate the negative over the positive. I still have a long way to go in this overall exercise, but the Annual Review process has been helpful in reminding me that our lives are multi-faceted and complex.

For years I’ve said I’m a “realistic optimist.” I try not to be naive but I do have hope. I will always have hope.



Lessons from the Journey

I’ve tried to be as honest as possible in compiling the above lists for anyone who cares. There are probably some obvious lessons that run throughout, and as I’ve been processing all of this, here are a few that I take from it.

Gratitude and happiness are not the same thing. When I first started journaling my notes for the review, I made the mistake of saying that I haven’t felt very grateful lately, but this was imprecise.

I can honestly say that while I’ve been sad and anxious, I’ve lived with gratitude more often than not this year, and that feels good. As Jason Mraz said once, you can be successful and still experience melancholy. If I struggle, I can still have a good life—and presumably, you can too. I do have a good life and I will continue to be grateful, regardless of external circumstances or even my own failures.

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That said, I need more units of momentary happiness. One of the scariest things for me was realizing that I have a hard time identifying these moments in my life. When I look back and think of things that made me happy this year, I find them colored by something negative. I don’t know how to change this, but one way or another, I need to take more joy in present surroundings, once again regardless of any perceived negative circumstances.

What doesn’t kill you at first will probably try again. I’m not sure of the origin of this phrase, but I read it recently and immediately related to it. It’s a sad lesson, sure, but presumably a helpful one for some of us. (See also: Stockholm Syndrome.)

I must continue to recognize the cost of doing small things. I recently summarized Greg McKeown’s rule of only saying yes to ideas that are at least 90 out of 100. I’m generally resistant to this sort of philosophy in general, for a lot of reasons. I believe our lives are too complex to reduce to mere machine-like efficiency, and as noted, we can accomplish a lot more in a year than we tend to believe.

But like a lot of aphorisms, perhaps the best answers depend on the context and seasons of our lives. Regardless, I need to be more specific and intentional. Life is too short and the potential for greatness is… far too great to ignore.

Ensure that goals are closely aligned with your overall vision. This probably sounds basic, but anyone else who is goal-oriented and future-minded may need to hear it. At the beginning of this year I chose “Relationships” as the theme, yet I felt sad and even unsuccessful in strengthening the ones that matter most, and also in navigating situations that felt unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

If I want to prioritize commitments to friends and family more, I can’t just wish it to happen as I continue to spend all my best time working on everything else that matters to me. Also, a theme of “Relationships” is far too general. As with any other goal, specificity and a clear definition of success are critical in seeing it through.

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Your Turn (If You’d Like)

Well, this has been a long post—and there’s more to come about several of these points. In the next few posts, I’ll share more detailed lessons from this year, including a full post on Business & Work lessons, a Travel Roundup, and … dun, dun, dun … a detailed post on what’s to come next year. Whoa.

If you’ve read this far, thanks for your indulgence. Some of you have been around for years, and you are the reason I make these posts public. It’s my strongest hope that something I share will be useful to you as you plan your own life and goals.

Speaking of that, how about you? How was your year?

All Annual Review posts this week will be open for reader comments, and you don’t have to write 2,500 words like I just did. Just give us a few highlights in response to these questions:

  • What went well in 2014?
  • What did not go well in 2014?

And remember, if you write a post of your own, link to one of these posts and include the hashtag #AnnualReview. I’ll include as many as possible in a future roundup.

Comments here.

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164 Comments

  • Karen says:

    Thanks for sharing both the ups and the downs of your year. I always appreciate your prospective. I imagine there is quite a bit of stress in living out “The Art of Nonconformity.” Of course, if it was easy everyone would conform to nonconformity!

    Best of luck in 2015!

  • Ann Stanley says:

    I appreciate your honesty. For me depression is a waste of time so it’s good to get it treated. Then get back to the good work of serving the world and enjoying it.

  • Lisa says:

    Glad you made it through. As someone who has battled depression all my life I can tell you one thing that helps get me through is realizing that everything changes. Good times eventually are interrupted by bad, and bad times eventually turn a corner and become good again. Riding out the storms, looking for patches of sunlight til the clouds move away keeps me going.

  • Khaled says:

    Hey Chris, thanks for sharing. Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s encouraging to know that we can have problems and still be successful and make a positive difference in people’s lives. I used to think I had to have myself totally figured out and just bouncingly happy all the time before I could even start to help others. Which was actually really discouraging.

    To a great year!
    K

  • Susannah says:

    Thank you for a great post. I have a strong feeling that 2015 will be a more joyful year for you. I’m really looking forward to the next posts. I’ve talked to my wife about the annual review any gotten her interested in taking the time to sit down, reflect on 2014 and make our plans for next year. We’re small business owners in the field of historic preservation. The past few years have been tough. Too little income, way too many hours working. But we’ve done a lot of great traveling in 2014 as well. I’m looking for more balance and less running to put out fires.

  • Rashida says:

    Hi Chris!

    I’ve been a lurker for years, but I really appreciated this heartfelt and extremely vulnerable post. Two thoughts:

    1. If you have time, pick up a book called “The Mindful Way Through Depression.” It’s not your basic, well-intentioned-but-ultimately-useless self help book. It starts with a well crafted explanation of why we spiral into cycles of negative thought. This passage reminded me of it:

    “Sometimes I’d be in a beautiful setting or otherwise be experiencing something very privileged, like flying First Class or staying in a nice hotel, and I’d still feel sad. Then I’d feel guilty for feeling sad, and I started to have the sense that it was all meaningless.”

    2. I’m concerned about your calling therapy and medical help a “drastic” step. There is already so much stigma surrounding mental health and seeking professional help. I say this not to criticize, but just to bring it to your attention because you are well-liked and admired by many people (myself included!) and I’d hate for you to inadvertently cast a judgmental light on something that can be very helpful.

    Thanks for reading so far, and for the post! Can’t wait to read the next ones!

  • Kathy says:

    Thanks for this post, Chris. I’ve struggled with what you have as well. I’ve thought this year was a washout too but thanks to you, I’ll take a few hours off this week (can’t get anymore time than that) and think on what when well.
    It’s good to get some help to keep on keeping on. We all appreciate you so much!

  • Jaden says:

    I keep a “Spirit” folder in my email client. Any wonderful, touching emails that come from readers or friends go into that folder. Anytime I am feeling a little down, I just scroll through my Spirit folder to replenish feelings of gratitude, love and greatness. 🙂

  • Hi Chris –

    Thanks for sharing your deepest thoughts with us. What a privilege to read another person’s reflection on the year. I had a similar experience as you when doing my end of year reflection last week. The last quarter has been a difficult one for me so I thought, “This year kind of stunk.” But then as I wrote down all of the good things that happened I realized that I actually had a really great year in a lot of ways (especially the first 3 quarters). And one of my highlights was attending Pioneer Nation!

  • Mike Sowden says:

    As someone who has just had an anxiety attack at an airport that threw my travel plans into chaos, this one hit home for me. Really appreciate how candid this is, Chris. Anxiety (the irrational, logic-ignoring kind) is something it seems I’m struggling with, and reading about someone else’s experiences with it, that really helps.

    For me, 2014 was the tail-end of a process of learning what I don’t want to be doing online, and the start of actually doing the stuff I think I’m here to do. That felt good. But it was also messy and stressful and it seems it’s left me a bit mentally weatherbeaten. So now I’m looking after myself and turning my energy towards the work I believe in, and have faith that will pay off.

    Sometimes complicated problems require simple solutions.

  • Ryan says:

    Great post Chris. I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother and all your down-times. But please know that you’re an inspiration to many of us. I particularly appreciated your sharing that you sought help for your anxiety; I think that’s huge. Thanks for your candor and sharing your vulnerabilities so openly.

  • Jeff says:

    Chris,

    I’ve enjoyed your honesty since 2006, but this is the first time your honesty shows a sustained sadness. In my very humble opinion, I think your period of being “on edge” started in Norway (wrapping up a massive, multi-year quest).

    When your recovery is complete, your vision will reveal a New Quest. Only this time, you’ve got us – your ‘army’ of supporters, loyal fans and other leaders.

    The book deals are awesome. WDS is awesome. But you seem to be the guy who lives strongest while surfing a long wave of quest. I hope it’s revealed to you soon.

    All our best,
    -jeff

  • Vince Hayward says:

    THIS is the type of writing and introspection that will take you wherever you want to go. Great read, and an even better inspiration. Thank you!

  • Chris,

    Thank you for leading us, even though sometimes it sucks and it’s hard to enjoy the journey. You’ve made a bigger impact in my life this year than you could ever realize, just by doing all of the work you mentioned.

    Thanks again for *going first,

    Heath

  • Janis says:

    Thanks for sharing your personal journey — and including the lows as well as the highs.

    As a long-time reader and a participant in WDS for the past 2 years, I appreciate how much your work has helped encourage others to lead remarkable lives, and will continue to do so.

    Your work is awesome.

    For 2015, I hope that you will prioritize time for doing things that bring you true joy, whatever that is for you, even if that means giving a little less of yourself to all of the other people that you continue to inspire.

  • Thanks for being so open and honest, as always, Chris. I’ve been reading your annual reviews for 5 years or so, and I almost just read and left, but I realized I have much more to say to you.

    Although I know there is no quick fix to anxiety, melancholy, and depression (I’ve been there), I want to remind you how much impact every project you take on has on real people. And I want to do that by highlighting a couple of your projects that have had the greatest impact on me:

    – You published your first traditionally published book on my birthday in 2010. That book inspired me to write down my vision for my ideal life, quit my job as a management consultant, and start a company.
    – For my birthday in 2011, my girlfriend bought me tickets to WDS 2012. It was the best birthday present I may have ever received. At WDS 2012, I met the people who have become some of my very best friends and mentors in the world. Four of us have run an every other week mastermind group for more than two years. I also met the team I now get to work with. Without having met them there and building those relationships as a result, I wouldn’t get to do the work I love so much today.
    – About the same time, I purchased the Empire Building Kit and it was the only email I checked religiously every day for a year. Through that process, you taught me so much about building an independent business.
    – Thanks to quitting my job and starting my company, I got picked for an internship with Seth Godin in 2013. Without inspiration from your book, I would’ve never been in that position. In a fun twist, we highlighted your work in one of the courses we built. Although we shut the project down, it was another chance to learn from what you teach.
    – After WDS 2013, I made an impossible list or bucket list, or whatever you want to call it. I think Darren Rowse inspired me to do that. One of the items was to speak on the main stage at WDS someday.
    – At WDS 2014, I partially fulfilled my goal by being a part of the team that delivered one of the academies. I haven’t done the things necessary to be a remarkable main stage speaker just yet, but last year was a step in the right direction.
    – Also at WDS 2014, I think I literally cried a few happy tears as I watched you give out remarkable and generous gifts to (happily) stunned attendees who deserved every bit of what you gave away. I have never seen, in person, such an incredible embodiment of paying it forward. It reminded me of the fire I have to serve people and follow your lead in doing so in delightful ways.

    There’s so much more I could add to this list, but my point is really quite simple… The work you do matters. It impacts real people. Even when the launches aren’t rocket ships and the clouds seem a bit heavier on a given day and you don’t feel like you’re delivering on your commitments, no one can take away from the incredible impact you’ve had on thousands and thousands of people.

    I know you’re a goal-oriented guy, as am I, so reflecting on past successes is but a brief period in every year. But this year, I hope you’ll take a few extra minutes to read some of the comments or stories from individuals whose lives you’ve changed in an irrevocably positive way. (And maybe give a quick call to those 5 or 10 people you consider to be your closest friends. Tell them how much they mean to you and that you’d like to invest more energy into those relationships over the coming year. I can imagine that would mean the world to them.)

    Thanks for all you do, Chris. It matters. We need more people like you in the world. I hope 2015 gets off to a great start.

  • Jen Zeman says:

    Wow – a powerful post. First off, I’m proud of you for putting so much of yourself out here (and proud of all that you’ve accomplished this year – quite the feat!). I truly believe that is an important step in moving forward and ultimately in healing. I’ve suffered from clinicall depression for years (since I was 15) and only within the past eight years have I come full circle and can now say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. yes, it meant finally accepting medication was necessary (I resisted for years) as well as therapy (a great therapist will become your beacon of hope). Knowing your personality, you will find peace again, and the clouds will lift. I promise you this.

    I do respectfully disagree with the thought, “What doesn’t kill you at first will probably try again.” Only if you let it. Period. What tried to kill you at first should be a learning lesson – if it comes back to bite you in the ass again it’s because you didn’t bother learning the first time. I know this sound incredibly harsh, but I can’t envision you being someone who would get bit a second time. 🙂 Also, every “failure” is a lesson learned. Once you embrace this, nothing can stop you.

    But anywho, what went well for me in 2014: hubby & I vacationed three times to the islands (a week each), which was a first. And it was fabulous! 🙂 Also, I reconnected with my love of art and I’m now pursuing it as a business.

    What went wrong in 2014: my first venture, South Pacific Bound. tanked. Chalk it up to poor planning and over-eagerness to do something grand. It was a painful, somewhat humiliating failure (also to the tune of $10,000), but I picked myself back up and am carrying on. Having a loving (and very understanding) spouse and a couple good friends made this easier to deal with.

    Wishing you all the best for 2015! May the sun shine on you frequently (even though you’re in Portland :)).

    Peace, love, happiness & harmony always, Jen Zeman

  • Jenny says:

    Although I don’t rejoice in hearing about others’ misfortunes, it was comforting all the same to hear I’m not the only one struggling with being fearful & having that drag my productivity into the gutter. On the one hand, it sucks knowing I’m coasting on past success, just to get thru the present…and yet, there’s a certain gratefulness that I have some previous awesomeness to lean on, because things could really be so much worse otherwise. Hopefully, a fresher smelling 2015 will be the tonic we all need to live with clearer eyes. Thanks for all your hard work, Chris — it was truly great seeing you speak in Seattle!

  • Chris:

    I don’t know if you remember when we met–you were at New Work City, promoting the $100 Startup, and I ended up sitting beside you. I had attended mostly out of curiosity, and my fondness for the space and the people. Long story short, I didn’t realize you were “Chris Guillebeau.” I had a lovely conversation with you, and you casually mentioned at the end of it that you were here to talk about your book. That modesty, and lovely focus, is what made me decide to attend WDS in 2013.

    Your willingness to share your sadness moves me deeply. Thank you for this. Thank you. So many of us deal with depression, and at the same time, look very productive. We are grieving in motion. Please take good good care of yourself. I wish you–and the entire community I now feel a part of–a rich 2015.

  • Caylee says:

    Thanks for sharing such an honest account of your life, Chris! It’s hard to be open and vulnerable to people. Making that move is such an important step towards improving relationships. Don’t know if you’re a Brene Brown fan, but her books called “Daring Greatly” and “The Gifts of Imperfection” were both very influential to my life. Maybe they would be helpful for the things you’re dealing with too.

    In 2014, I’ve experienced self-doubt and also an inability to focus. I get frustrated about all of the things I want to create & do in the future, and I guess I’m emotionally struggling by just being in the beginning stages of my story. That’s brought a lot of pressure & sadness into my life.

    But on the bright side of 2014, I visited Costa Rica again and went on a month-long road trip up the East Coast. I booked upcoming trips to California, New Hampshire, and to Europe. I learned how to play the ukulele & started painting again. I created my website all by myself and have been creating products to launch in the near future. So I guess there has also been a lot of action. I think that life will always be a mix of highs and lows regardless of the year.

    Have a great holiday, Chris!

  • Chris says:

    I’m currently working through my year in review. Definitely not as good as I’d like, but it was one of those years with tons of changes. New job, first time home buying, moving, living with parents for a month and a half in between homes. And still had over 3k in profit for the year. I was targeting $5500 and came short, but I’ll be going for $10,000 in profits next year since I feel like this was an infrastructure year. Now that it’s built, I’m trying to keep moving up. Need to restart the momentum though.

  • Lisa Cole says:

    I’ve just opened and closed the spreadsheet 3 times. It is pretty intimidating stuff for me. I think I might start with baby steps and just choose one goal. It’s good to be intimidated to that level though, it doesn’t happen that often and it has made me think a lot.
    This year business has been good, my reputation as a designer is growing, my garden gave me lots of apples and I didn’t kill my 11 year old :-). Bad things were ill health that meant 2 months off work, a knee that hates it if I run and a general cloud of despondency. It will pass. Now to open that spreadsheet again…..

  • Joy Lowell says:

    Chris,
    I’ve always had a lot of respect for you ever since I first became aware of you, probably about 5 years ago. But what you wrote in this blog post makes me respect you even more. I appreciate your honesty and openness on painful topics.
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with your readers. Over the years, you have made an important difference in my life, and I thank you for that. I truly wish you the best.

  • Jason B says:

    Great post. It seems like a lot of people had an up and down year. I’m currently in the process of writing my annual review. It seems like I had too many ups and downs. At the end of the day they were all lessons though.

  • Polly says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I did make it all the way to the end. I also in the middle went back to your tribute to your Nana. I had missed the post when it first came out. I thought a lot about my grandmother while reading about yours. Although mine didn’t play the same role in my upbringing, she certainly has inspired me in terms of my love of travel.

    2014 was an interesting year for me. I hit the big 6-0 this year, and did tick off one those places on my bucket list. My husband and I did a bike trip in Alaska and then spent another 10 days after doing the entire Alaska railroad, and spending time in Denali National Park. Alaska is an amazing state. Definitely a place I want to go back to. I felt like we barely scratched the surface.

    I made my triathlon comeback after 9 years away from serious racing. I thought I was going to just do two races this year, but ended out doing six. My swimming and biking remained strong for me. My running has suffered from the years neglecting the sport. Next year I hope to improve upon my running.

    What didn’t go so well? I’m still not sure what I want to do when I grow up. I’m still doing a job that has gotten less satisfying over the years. I keep dreaming big, but afraid to jump into uncharted territory. I think I need to read more of your books.

    Thanks for your honesty.

  • Ali Handal says:

    Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us, Chris — you’re a continual inspiration, especially when you reveal your own vulnerability and humanity along with your successes. Thanks for all that you do! 🙂

    One request: I feel moved to whole-heartedly agree with Rashida — your description of therapy and medical help as “radical” steps to take in dealing with persistent depressive thoughts and anxiety saddened me. I know from first-hand experience how life-changing and healing both therapy and medication can be (having dealt with depression for decades), and I’m passionate about de-stigmatizing the whole arena of mental illness and treatment for everyone.

    You’ve inspired me to do my own CG-styled year-end review — I look forward to taking time for that in the next few weeks. One note I already know from the mental health side of things — I had a crazy year, defined by a rare cancer diagnosis and treatment, with a lot of time for contemplation along the way. One of the weirdest realizations I had was that I came away from the experience with a deep sense of peace and more day-to-day joy and gratitude in my life than ever (so much so that I’ve cut my anti-depressant dosage in half!).

    So, hey, Chris, if the therapy doesn’t work out, you can always try *my* way!! …. or maybe not…. 😉

    I wrote a bit about my experience (and where I’m at now), when the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis passed a couple of weeks ago.
    http://alihandal.com/happy-anniversary-cancer-musings-weirdest-year-far/

    Keep on keeping’ on Chris — you’re such an extraordinary person — you’ll find your way through your challenges and come out stronger. Love to you and yours, and Happy (literally) 2015!

  • Thanks for sharing Chris – I was just sitting down to write a December newsletter for my business – and this inspired me to look at the year in review. Wow! What a difference a year makes! B-School, WDS, first paying client, building a website, rebuilding a website from scratch, turning my full-time job into a part-time job so I can build my biz on the side, SCORE coaching, multiple trips to LA (I’m in the YouTube world,) webinars, building a studio…

    I’ll see if I can cram it all into 2500 words… 😉

  • Victoria says:

    Chris, this made me both sad and happy. Sad as I relate to it, but happy because as an outsider I can see how many accomplishments you have still managed to have this year (and that is a big feat).

    Mental hold backs (is that the right term?) are the hardest to work through and many of us deal with them frequently, however to me you are a big inspiration to keep going and stop waiting for a perfect balance. You have so much strength and it makes me smile – i hope 2015 brings you more happiness and friendships!

  • Richard Ruach says:

    Chris, I loved the AONC book, and have heard you speak twice in Nashville. Just my opinion: you are unhappy because you’ve gotten on the hamster wheel of “success,” and gotten completely away from your original (and great!) vision of living your free-spirited life! Brother, drop all this high-powered entrepreneur crap — cash out, if you can sell it to someone better suited tempermentally. I’m a huge fan of the early Chris – the happy you! – and hope you re-discover and embrace him!

  • Crystal Foth says:

    Thank you Chris for so openly sharing your triumphs and less than triumphant moments too. I look up to those that inspire me, like you, and sometimes cloud my vision of these folks as real people too! I appreciate your honest annual review and feel your heart in the words you’ve written.

    I’m very sorry for the loss of your nana and glad you spent the time with her that you did. In the end it’s family that matters the most and our time can only be spent once – we must invest it wisely.

    I don’t feel I moved in the right direction in 2014… or at least as far as I’d like to go. I plan to make better decisions in 2015 and get some results in the areas I wish to change.

    I enjoyed hearing you speak at Vromans in Pasadena this fall and I look forward to beginning the pursuit of a quest of my own this year with my daughter. She’s six and I want to share time with her that will make lifetime memories for us and show her what’s possible.

    Thank you for all you do. WDS has been in the back of my mind, and I really think I need to go!

  • Thank you Chris for being so honest and sharing the ups and downs of your life. I found I could relate to many of the things that you wrote about even though my life is quite different.

  • Thanks to your encouragement, I started a gradual annual review a few weeks ago. Preliminary results have turned into the first Christmas letter (all about my crazy year) I’ve written in years.

    We analytical, adventurous introverts need time to think. Sounds like you didn’t get much of that last year, and I didn’t get any, which felt like a roller-coaster in the dark. I’m already starting to see some light for next year: maybe more focus on missions and travel and less on writing (or less self-pressure on writing), and having the choice not to do everything I usually do.

  • Jenny says:

    Thank you for sharing Chris. I personally love the profile series you created and have read every one. Glad that made it into the things that went well category. I do a similar annual review but mine is written, not digital. I simply recap the year, month by month (referencing journals/photos/calendars/blog posts/social media/etc.) then form a written summary after which I state a few goals/visions for the next year. Then I seal it in an envelope and put it away until the next year when I open it up and read it to see the progress or lack of. Repeat for each year. It’s like a present, a time capsule that way and it’s personal.

  • Laura says:

    Thank you, Chris for sharing your process and for your honesty and sincerity. Always appreciated. !Feliz año nuevo!

  • Humaira says:

    Thank you. So much. For the full context, whole truth. Life is all of it, ups and downs, good with bad. Having a balanced and truthful view at all sides is surprisingly sparse in the online space, and I’m so grateful to you – for doing this annual process for yourself and sharing it aloud with everyone.

    ~ H

  • Ivonne says:

    Hi Chris, I think it’s really brave and nice of you to share all the things you’ve learned. Every year is like a chapter of a book and just like in any good book, it has it’s good and bad things; heroes and protagonists don’t always have it easy to keep on goin on their lives. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, more than teaching us a lesson as well, i think it inspires us to work to achieve great things.

  • Alain says:

    Great post Chris. I was actually under the opposite impression and really thought that 2014 was your best year ever. You did an amazing job with the blog and I loved “The happiness of pursuit”, which inspired me a lot. I can definitely understand that so much work must be draining but hang on, we need you for more amazing stuff in 2015!

    This year was crazy for me as well. I moved from France to California to start my own software business there. It took 6 months to go through the visa and business-building process. Then I sold my house, cars everything to start a new life in California. It was a difficult, winding path to get there but I’m glad I did it. Definitely the best thing of 2014!

    What didn’t work for me was scaling my business. I wanted to recruit people to help me out, which I did to some extent, but most of the time I ended up doing too much stuff myself. I’m too busy and have to work on that in 2015 so that I can enjoy life and the business side of things a little bit more.

  • Thanks Chris for how authentic you are as a human being. I have a deep respect for your journey.

    I had a very good year internally, mentally, emotionally and soul-wise. My economics were sadly lacking. I am not driven to make money so I live as simply as I can. I do have big dreams for spreading consciousness and compassion in the world but no financial resources to make that happen so I am at a point where I have to choose. Focus on generating resources for my big dreams or live simply and dream smaller and use my words and energy in my writing and working with people. I feel drawn to both.

    It feels to me that 2015 is a big year for all of us and our future, that is more on an intuitive level. What I keep learning as I tune inward is that I have (we all have) all we need within.

    From my perspective if I am sad in beautiful places and lively situations then my mind is elsewhere. This moment when I am present to it is full of wonder, beauty and joy. If I am not there in the now then I focus on what I appreciate in the moment and things get lighter and brighter.

    Thanks for being you and be kind to yourself and appreciate the gift you are to the rest of us.

    Joseph

  • What a beautiful post Chris. Your honesty and authenticity is a rare and beautiful thing.

  • Michelle C says:

    I have always enjoyed reading your annual review posts. Thanks to you, Jedd and I have been much more intentional about doing our own annual reviews at the end of every year (blog post coming soon). Thank you for sharing those things that make you vulnerable. Since I look up to you as an entrepreneur, it’s actually encouraging to know that you don’t have it “all together” either. As a high achiever myself, I identify with the emptiness that can sometimes come from focusing too much on Doing at the neglect of Being. Look forward to reading your coming reflections…

  • Pascal says:

    Hey Chris,

    I relate to you in a number of ways. I’m myself very much goal-oriented and future-minded. I think the negative emotions you experience is only part of your (our) personality.

    To be and stay highly motivated and focused, I think you need goals and to stay grounded. You have been doing a terrific job in all these years (in following you since 2009) but the goals you may set yourself now could sound to you inner self as “been there done that”, so its becoming harder to remain highly motivated. Once I have run out of big goals or task to do, I become more focus on the present but that way I know I am not handling this the best and sometime I feel sadness or get bored (in this matter closely related in fact)

    Being also goal-minded and future-minded, it is our natural weakness to tend to forgot about the present and sometime simply miss those units of momentary happiness (that are important to recharge your energy level!). It is of a natural struggle for me to let it go and live the current moment because my actions are often geared at producing an outcome in the future. I have found it is good then to be surrounded (e.g. close friend, partner) with people that are a bit your opposite so it helps you keep your balance.

    I can feel negativity, sadness and frustrations when I feel less in control on how events may unfold and when things are unclear or in limbo. Especially when I know I could I done a better job or take better decision if I was aware of some things out of my control in the first place. Yes there is improvements possible but most of these things is just about learning to accept things the way they are.

    Anyway, I understand the way you feel and just wanted to say you’re not alone.

    Sometime in this life, I would like to take a long retreat in India or Bali to learn meditation and to better learn how to cope with handling these negative emotions.

    Warm regards from Brisbane

  • Sandra says:

    Thank you for your honesty in this post. I am inspired to create a review myself, now that I’ve read your review. I feel very similar to you as I’ve been struggling with sadness and anxiety, even though I improving my micro-business every year. Rolling into my 4th year of freelancing, I often feel incredibly stretched and pushed beyond what I can manage. Currently I’m dealing with a great deal of anxiety, exhaustion and resentment. My husband is frustrated by my level of stress and inability to have moments of happiness as you describe. I feel like I’m constantly letting everyone down and it is very draining.

    I can see how this exercise would help gain perspective. Not everything is terrible and by reviewing all my successes would be a great way to feel better about where I am at. Thank you for sharing so honestly. I will be sure to link to this post when I’ve got my own post up.

    Cheers!

  • Jeremy mills says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been struggling more this year than in a long time, and your idea of an annual review is probably a good idea. Think I’ll do one to help me find the beauty in a somewhat drab year. Best of luck to you in 2015!

  • Angela says:

    I’ve become more convinced with each passing year of adulthood that the time of experiencing a pure, singular emotion, like happiness or joy, are past. Adulthood seems to mix happiness and joy with other tough, complicated emotions, like sadness or grief. I’ve also come to believe that the only silver lining I can count on from any given situation is what I choose to learn from it.

    Your work and friendship have meant the world to me and have encouraged me to do and be better. Hoping that 2015 brings you more lightness and joy!

    P.S. – Congrats on the book deal! 🙂

  • I appreciate you being so honest in your self-assessment. It motivated me to get to work on my own review, so thank you for that.

  • Elly Klein says:

    Thanks for this incredible post, Chris. There’s little I appreciate more than honesty.

    You’re a phenomenal person, and I know for sure that while I want to be successful, I wouldn’t be able to juggle as many balls as you do. World Domination Summit is a spectacular event (I was there this year). I love all the Unconventional Guides you release, and just the ‘Chris Guillebeau’ brand. I know it’s always going to be good.

    I had a looooooooooooooooong struggle with depressing (there are 17 o’s there for 17 years), but managed to get is squared away four years ago. You can read about that here: http://ellyklein.com/robin-williams-suicide. Not saying that I’ll never be down there again, but I certainly hope not – so far, so good.

    Wishing you wonderful holiday break and the happiest of happy New Years.

  • Amina Samy says:

    Hello Chris,

    I’ve been a long-time fan and follower of your words and have read almost everything you’ve put out. I really enjoyed (for lack of better word) your Annual Review this year, particularly how honest and vulnerable it was; it’s not easy to be so forthcoming about hardships especially when they’re on such a personal level. It encouraged me to do the same, and I spent the evening reflecting on my past year. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

    The Good:

    I got to live the dream. After years of hoping to find or create a position in a small company that combined my love for the world, my curiosity in social entrepreneurship and impact, with my itchy feet and creative tendencies, the perfect job fell on my lap. I work with a really spectacular team, doing something remarkably great. I’ve had many possibility-fuelled days and nights where time is irrelevant and the brain and it’s creations keep coming. In a nutshell, it’s Csikszentmihalyi’s flow and it’s the best high in the world.

    I’ve worked on amazing projects- that are creative, unique and impactful in all the right ways.
    I have travelled, and explored more than I have in a long time, and finally feel a little smaller again.
    I uprooted, decluttered and left the comforts of home for the past seven years, embracing uncertainty.
    I’ve learnt to celebrate solitude, and practice gratitude.

    The Bad:

    I’ve learned that dreams aren’t always what they’re cracked up to me. Reality and expectations seem to have a little disconnect at times.

    I’ve learned the downside to working on something that makes you truly happy; when the magic spark is gone, and the culture that made the job so great is gone, the aftermath is unbearable. Having something amazing and losing it, is so much more difficult than having something good or mediocre.

    I have been unhappy, disconnected, uninspired and unwilling to create for the latter part of this year. I haven’t been as strong an asset, or as creative an individual as I would’ve liked during this time. I still struggle with uncertainty.

    I have been terrible company to those I love. I have been distracted and constantly on edge when present; I am self-involved with my own thoughts, and absorbed by the projects I’m working on at the time; I have often taken out my unhappiness and anger on these people. I am lonely and more isolated as a result.

    —-
    Thank you for being honest and encouraging the same. I’d really love to hear more about some of the strategies and coping mechanisms you’ve been using (or will be using) to deal with influx of negative emotions, anxiety, discomfort, distraction and a lack of focus. You’re not alone, not by a far stretch, and anything you can share would be great!

    Much love from Kuwait,
    – A

  • Cheryl says:

    You are more ‘real’ than anyone I think I’ve ever met. Thank you for the work you do…it inspires so many.

  • Rebecca Stafford says:

    Dear Chris,

    First of all – sending warm hugs to you from MiddleEarth.

    My heart broke a little on your behalf while reading your review post.

    I wasn’t particularly surprised at your experiences (while you’ve helped ME immensely over the last six years, I’ve also been concerned at how hard you are on yourself) but I was impressed with your honesty, vulnerability, and courage in expressing them.

    I hope and expect you will inspire others to also shine light on their shadows.

    Speaking of your colleague Brene Brown – my biggie for 2014 was my PhD graduation.

    However, as cool as it is being ‘Dr.’, by far the biggest gift of my PhD was learning to separate my self-worth from my work.

    Getting my head around the fact that I was unconditionally worthy of love and belonging -REGARDLESS OF WHETHER I SUBMITTED MY PHD OR NOT – was what enabled me to reduce my paralyzing anxiety and complete my PhD.
    Ironic huh! Brene was quite right.
    This lesson is having profound effects in all areas of my life.

    Thank-you for opening doors in my mind with your work Chris (and the very best kind of doors too – the ones I didn’t even know were there! 🙂

    Warmest wishes to you
    Rebecca

  • jer sterzinger says:

    Chris, I have been a blog follower for years. Always enjoy the year end review. What went right this year. I got my very first passport stamp…came from China where I and 15 others were part of International Habitat for Humanity where we built a home for a Mr. Yang who is disabled and living on an equivalent of $9.00 a month near Cheng du China. What an emotional trip. I highly suggest doing this. I also was able to get away to Alaska. What didn’t work..my piano skills were not improved, I STILL didnt make it to Portland for the weekend of weekends hosted by you. Last but not least the bathroom scale was not friendly to me …again. Happy New Year Everyone !!!!

  • Andrew Brady says:

    Thanks for pouring your heart out and sharing so vulnerably, Chris. Brene would be proud! 🙂 Looking forward to hearing more and seeing what 2015 has in store!

  • Monica says:

    Almost exactly a year ago, I took a huuuge leap of faith and walked away from a job that was crushing me, even though I didn’t yet have a place to land. I’ve NEVER done that. I’m a bloom-where-you’re-planted person, perhaps to an extreme, and when I look back at my life I see that’s been sometimes a blessing but usually a curse. I found a new job that pays less and has a commute three times longer but which I find much more fulfilling and far less stressful, and I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner to spare myself and my family a couple of difficult years.

    I’ve used my extended commute time to read (finished “War and Peace,” among other things) and reflect and breathe, and I’ve spent many lunch hours roaming downtown Portland and discovering new things and appreciating them.

    I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m giving myself high marks for 2014. It was a pretty good year.

  • Sheralyn says:

    Your annual review posts are my favourite – it’s so much more realistic that blogs that just post all the rah rah everything is awesome stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I like the rah rah stuff too… a LOT, but it’s nice to have some balance sometimes too. 🙂

    Anyhow, as for my review…

    What went well?

    -We quit our jobs to travel indefinitely – major bucket list item checked off right there!
    -Homeschooling is going well too – I was super nervous about doing this, but it’s not as scary an undertaking as I thought it might be.
    -I’m having some success in my experiments with alternative ways to earn a living – we can sustain ourselves for quite some time, highly likely even forever if we leave things as they are, but I like to have a plan B that’s compatible with this new lifestyle… just in case… hence the experiments.
    -the longer we are traveling, the more certain I am that this is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made in our entire lives… hence my determination to come up with a secondary source of funds (the back up plan), so we never, ever have to return to normal life again. It’s one thing if we choose to someday, but I don’t want to NEED to.

    What did not go well?

    I have trouble with this part… I tend to forget about the bad stuff quickly…

    My family didn’t take the news of our leaving well, at all. Honestly, that was the worst part of the year for me.

    Had to stay up all night before we left since the movers showed up about 12 hours late – next time, if I plan on moving to the other side of the planet, I’ll book the movers for a couple days in advance, and stay in a hotel or with family for our last 2 nights in our home town.

    Some medical issues while on the road – we ended up becoming accidental medical tourists… that being said, everything is fine now, so we can’t complain!

  • Hi Chris Interesting read. You got me thinking. Finishing big projects for some is like coming off a high. The adrenaline to get to the finish line. In one year you have completed two massive achievements, as well as keeping the wheels turning [I don’t think that is lost on your audience].
    When goal oriented, the transition is not always smooth sailing and many feel the same. There is always a success/sacrifice to pay. Your 2014 review seems to me wisdom with hind sight and where to next, your thinking out loud. We hear you. Maybe a post on “Transitions”

    Having just finished my first book, when it launched on Amazon, a friend asked me how does it feel to be a published author? Little did he know I felt like scraping my self off the pavement and days feeling like a small boat in heavy sea’s. Needing to recalibrate…”what now” The joy for me is always the beginning not the end.
    I recalled a long time ago my daughter was 3 and her pre school teacher said “she has trouble transitioning from one task to another” just quietly I was thinking chip of the old block.
    Innovative and creative people are “un-conventual”. The highs and lows are a unique processes we put ourselves through. But you know that.
    One tip I can give you is fear is a good antidote, I wonder if it changes our bio chemistry? – maybe a bit of sky diving? Either way, you have many people thinking of you and sending good energy, me included.

    My new project. Is at the very, very beginning and now I’m in the same little boat bobbing around in the night sky, I’m looking up a trillion stars in amazement, where can take it to? A mix of fear and faith. I am in transition again ~re-creating myself and on the move.

    So Dear Chris your a shinning light, rest up. It’s Christmas ~ A new project is just around the corner and your inspiration will fly again…

    Cheers Jenn

  • Karen says:

    Congratulations on your many successes. I really appreciate your intestinal fortitude and honesty in giving an accurate account of your year. Keep trying different things to improve your mood. There is always an opportunity for improvement. I have found that prioritizing spending time with people who make me feel happy is a big help. Also defining what actually success is can be important. I find that making less money and having more time with friends works for me, but to each his own. My main aim this year is to try and stick to my goals after writing them! Best wishes….

  • Fla says:

    Hi Chris, you know what I most love about you is your openness and honesty. I take great inspiration, a seriously courageous young man you are. Perhaps you have some inbuilt armour against other peoples opinions and judgments, or perhaps you’ve really just ‘got it’ that what others think is their stuff. I enjoyed reading your annual review, thanks again for sharing that with us. I’ve completed my own AR (thanks to you) and it the perspective it gave me was invaluable. Supporting you all the way.

  • Irina says:

    Thank you for your openness and honesty Chris! I am amazed and humbled by your ability to share these very personal ups and downs of the past year. Indeed the time taken during the annual review is a great way to take an honest look in the mirror and decide what we want to do about what we see.

    I just picked up your book a few weeks ago and have started my annual review yesterday! For the first time in years, I feel energized at making things happen instead of waiting for them to happen. Thank you for your part in making that a reality for me 🙂

  • Joelle says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve been following your blog on and off at least since 2008. I read your first two books. This is the third year I’ve put together an annual review.

    First, I wanted to say that this post was kind of an ‘aha’ moment for me, as I guess I didn’t really think that other people went through similar spirals of having accomplished so much (i.e. I worked in four countries on three continents this year and still managed to visit my family and see my partner) and yet still felt very down to the extent that it tainted or even rotted out those successes. In the past, I’d always been amazed that you could seemingly be so singular in your purpose and vision about life that it could encompass all life’s various fluidity and contradiction. My personal vision for my life is increasingly full of incompatibilities.

    Which is to say, thank you for being so frank, you have given me hope.

    Your proposed annual review has changed my life in the last few years by giving me the idea to look at my year as a chunk of strategic time rather than always putting one foot in front of the other as though in an endless maze, or a chicken with my head cut off. I (like you) am the kind of person that if I can state a measurable goal (like getting to Turkey, or choosing a better bank) and I give myself a deadline, I nearly always do it. But increasingly, and particularly this year, I have realized that actually most of the things I really want in life are things I don’t know how to accomplish, largely because they are not measurable goals….

    Ironically, I almost made my annual review about relationships this year, just like you did the last… In fact I don’t know what to make my new annual review about, because what it is about is an equation I can’t sum up with a word. Unless that word is wisdom, ha.

    Increasingly, I think I could die happy knowing I adequately pursued the things that could be measured. 😉

  • Susan Arthur says:

    Real life stuff hits us when we least expect it. I’m a fellow life traveler and I am thrilled to pieces to read this honest review of your year. I’d like to share a phrase with you that has helped me tremendously over the years, one that I’m sure you’ve heard before but perhaps never applied it to the positive things in your life. “This too shall pass.” We have good times and times that are less than fun. I’ve learned that no matter what we’re going through, good or not so good, this too shall pass. It’s what, for me, makes life so very interesting.

    I’m a huge fan and although I feel far too old to attend WDS, I’m watching from afar and I’m so excited for the movement you have created. You and your team have ignited excitement in your generation that cannot be stopped. Please, keep up the great work. It’s all about service to others. When you serve others, somehow your own house gets cleaned.

    love, susan

  • Eric says:

    I’ve been a reader of your blog for a few years now. I have to say that it is very refreshing to hear you be so genuine, open and honest with us. I can say without a doubt that this has been my absolute worst year ever too. I’ve always prided myself on being the kind of person who always has his act together, even when things get very tough. People around me called me their rock, an inspiration. This is the first year where that has not been so at all. I broke.

    My family has been starting to recover from the loss of a few loved ones that seem to just keep happening consecutively the last few years. First my mom’s brother died in the hospital, then her other brother died from multiple schlerosis, then her other died in an accident. They were all very successful too. One was an anesthesiologist, another actually worked for NASA believe it or not, and helped engineer the first mars rover, the other owned his own small business. Then my cousin died in a car accident after all that, drunk driver.

    We took each one as they came, but things have really started to come to a head this last year. My mother had lost her job and also got on disability due to multiple schlerosis, the same disease her brother had. Her home recently foreclosed, it was a huge mess dealing with all her stuff. My sister broke from dealing with all the pressure and disappeared for a month without a trace, we thought she was dead for awhile. I just got married the end of the year before. All our problems almost completely tore my family apart and my marriage apart. I became addicted to multiple prescription drugs just to feel peace, and also to force myself to perform at the levels I expected of myself normally. I almost completely destroyed the career I worked hard for years building for myself as a result. I was striving to try my hand at running a small entrepreneurial pursuit and it completely fell flat. I had the goal of wanting to travel to a few foreign countries and realized it will take me a few more years before I am able to visit just one. I felt like I sucked, was a complete loser and was not good at a single thing. I saw everyone around me fall apart or get destroyed and wondered what the point was.

    What I learned from all this though. I learned how to problem solve better. I learned how to work through my family and marital social problems more effectively during times of great adversity. I learned that abusing meds may give you a sense of freedom, but they are actually taking away control of your life, and you will never be happy until you learn to work through whatever it is that’s causing you pain inside. I realized that maybe I haven’t been successful in some areas because I wasn’t really looking inside deep enough and truly playing to my own strengths and passions. I developed a stronger philosophy of how to deal with the rough times in life. Through it all, as painful and awful as it all was, I learned and I grew as a person.

    I am not telling you all this to write a sob story. I am telling you all this in hopes that it inspires in some way. I may have been a little rude to you in my last email indirectly. If I came off that way, I assure you that it was the pain inside me that caused me to act that way, and was no reflection on you whatsoever. I was going to email you all this, but you have always been so genuine and transparent with us readers, that I felt I should return the favor and lay myself bare as well. Sorry this is such a massively long post.

    I used to be a very dedicated practitioner of Japanese martial arts for many years. One thing I learned through all that, and perhaps the most important lesson, is to just keep going no matter what happens. There is an old Japanese saying my instructor used to tell us that went roughly like, “If you find yourself in hell, take a step forward and you’ll find yourself in heaven”. What I took this to mean is that if we persevere, success and happiness could be just around the next corner, no matter how bleak or scary things seem at any present moment.

    Albert Einstein also mentioned something along the lines of that he was able to do remarkable things simply because he stuck with the problem longer than anyone else. I think it’s ok and often inevitable to get tense, anxious and depressed sometimes. They all seem to go together. It’s ok to have a bad year. It forces us to grow and evolve. The Big Lebowski movie said it best though, lol. “Sometimes you eat the bar, sometimes the bar eats you”. 🙂

    I have a really good feeling your blog will grow into something bigger and greater than it already has as a result of everything you’ve been through. I feel it in my gut and I sincerely hope to see you thrive in everything that you do. Keep going Chris, you’re doing great!! 🙂

  • Thanks for such an awesome and honest annual review Chris. Aside from all the amazing things you’ve created, what sticks out to me the most is you, the person, who you are the core. A truly genuine, caring and loving person. It’s evident in words, actions, and all you create. It definitely saddened me to hear about your low points throughout the year and the loss of your grandma. Although I know it’s what you think that matters most, I’m still going to let you know every chance I get that you’re awesome man – you matter, your work matters, and the impact you’ve had on my life matters. It was an absolute pleasure attending my first WDS this year and getting the opportunity to meet you in Boston during your book tour. I can’t wait to see, hear, and read everything you create in 2015. Whatever it is, it’ll be awesome, because you’re awesome.

    You’ve definitely inspired me to write my own #AnnualReview which I have. Thanks for the being who you are and giving me and everyone you come in contact with, hope.

    http://www.thewellnessbucket.com/my-2014-year-in-review-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly/

    Here’s to a happy and healthy new year ahead….. Cheers! 🙂

  • Laura Simms says:

    Hey Chris,

    Just wanted to say thanks for doing what you do, even when the behind the scenes isn’t as you’d like it to be. Your “and here’s what I learned from it” transparency is really helpful. Your blog is one of the things that gave me the courage to start my own business almost 4 years ago. Thanks for all you do.

    Best,
    Laura

  • Dana F. says:

    First, I’ll post my responses to the questions you have posed.
    What went well in 2014 for me? Well, nothing too momentous, but considering some of my prior years, I managed fairly well. You see, I have a history of major depression in the more recent years that required hospitalization at some points. So, for me, I’m glad that I was able to go to work and be on time. I have been able to reduce some of my medications and have not needed ongoing therapy. I’ve kept up with my family and a few close friends and even made one new friend that I cherish. I learned how to crochet and made some items for a family member’s new baby.
    What did not go well? In pursuit of a more interesting life, I went part-time at my job so that I would be free to try out other interests. I started that quest in January and I have come to the realization that more time is not what I need. I dabbled in writing; I did some investigating of other career choices, but nothing stuck or really inspired me to make a big change. I am glad that I tried it though, as I think I needed a brief “time-out”. I have recently accepted a full-time job again starting in 2015 and plan to keep pushing myself to live more fully.
    Chris, I am truly sorry that you have lost your nana recently and that you have experienced anxiety and sadness. Please accept my condolences and well wishes. I did not want to give advice, as I believe such experiences are very personal and as unique as snowflakes, but I know that having a few close friends and family was instrumental in my recovery. I worked hard at getting better and that was crucial, but it was comforting to know that others had my back. So, one hope for you this year is that you will be able to nourish and enjoy your important relationships with friends and/or family and perhaps, even make a new friend. And please, take good care of yourself, even if that means taking a break, changing course, and/or accepting help along the way. Best wishes on your journey.

  • Treavor says:

    *huge hug*

    I admire your courage to put all of the bad out there. Life is not perfect and sh!t will happen. Sometimes you have to take a seat—or dare I say, a vacation—to regain yourself.

    Good job on all that you’ve accomplished this year. You’ve managed to do so much, and I can’t even sit down to write a paragraph. You did really good with what you had.

    Cheers,
    TW

  • Lillian Duggan says:

    Thanks so much for sharing so much of yourself with us, Chris. It’s an act of generosity and I truly appreciate it. You’ve inspired me to delve more deeply into my own annual review, which I hope to embark on soon. Somewhere between wrapping the presents and baking the cookies, perhaps? I do hope that those dark days are behind you and you’re on your way to feeling more and consistent happiness, as you deserve.

  • Kerri Wall says:

    Chris, I’m getting to this late and who know if you’ll even read this or remember me, but I want to tell you that your personal writing is what has always kept me coming to your blog and to your book launches and to purchase your books and to send you a postcard when you did that thing a number of years ago, etc. etc. I don’t give a crap about traveling and I don’t have my own business. What you have to say and what you think and what you have experienced is important. Keep writing this personal stuff, please.

  • 'Nette says:

    Wow, can I ever relate to this. Strummin’ my pain with your fingers, you are. 😀

    I was frankly terrified to put my 2014 down in words, for many of the same reasons you relate. This post gave me the courage to.

    Thanks.

    Fistbumps.

    Hugs.

  • Pete says:

    “That’s good. It gets you started. It gets you going. You feel this connection. You feel you can do it. Then you sit down and write. Or make a play or a movie or anything. You sit down to work and you feel that excitement. That motivation. You start doing the stuff. You’re doing the stuff. And it’s going along and it goes good for a while. And then, eventually…it’s not that fun anymore. It starts to feel like work…Most people in that moment start to feel they’re doing something wrong. ‘This doesn’t feel good. Maybe I should read another book’…People end up with this thing where they’re working, it doesn’t feel right. And the natural thing is to go back and start consuming again. ‘I want to read another story,’ because that feels much better than actually following through with an idea.”
    –Scott Berkun at WDS 2014.

  • Denise says:

    I really appreciate you honesty. I wish there was something I could say to make it all better, but we both know the only way to get through is to go through it…so sending love and light and healing your way.

    My year? It’s been complicated and demanding and stressful and more amazing than I ever could have imagined. I’ve tinkered with this review thing in the past, but think that this will be the year I go all in. Thanks.

  • Nicole says:

    Ditto to what almost everybody else said! This is such an honest, heartfelt post that and hit so close to home, like how I can be in the most amazing place or living an epic experience and not able to live in the moment and appreciate it. This feeling was what got me started on my quest this last year – and the tag line of my website is: “Exploring Mindfulness and Motivation…one meditation at a time”. It sounds kinda goofy and its a mouthful, and it also describes the passion I have to be present – right now – to feel as alive as I know I can!

    One of my highlights of the year was meeting you at the Boston book signing and so pumped up for WDS 2015. We are not separate – thank you for inspiring me and I’m sending these vibes right back at you 😉

  • Larry says:

    Hi Chris –

    You always inspire, but this post in particular inspires with your openness, transparency, and willingness to be vulnerable — Thank you. I had two — maybe it was three? — years running with pretty good efforts toward my annual review, all founded on your approach. But these last two years I have dropped the ball! Looking to change that this year … and wishing you continued success in 2015. Thanks again.

  • Erin Wilson says:

    If you got this much amazing work accomplished when you weren’t feeling well…wow! I’m glad you didn’t skip your annual review. You would have missed the ways you changed the world, and that would have been a real shame.

    Shine on.
    Peace

  • Kerwin says:

    Chris,
    You sound really sad in this post, but very real so that’s good. I can relate.
    Like me, you are good at hiding it all as when I see you I don’t see the turmoil inside,
    Sorry I missed you in Houston, but I was going as you were coming. Hope it went well.

    I like the others feel you’ve accomplished a tremendous amount, so we are proud of you and you should be too. With the good comes the bad.

    I say, my life book is already written, I’m just reading a chapter each day.

    I’ve had my shares of ups and downs in 2014. Death of family members are always interesting, but at 105, my grandaunt had lived more than a full and exciting life. I spent a lot of time with her, so I had zero regrets. Having lost three loved ones in about a one year period, I was prepared. Now I serve more to comfort others than myself. Death is what happens when we live.

    I did get my two main sites redesigned and ready to become.a proper platform in 2015.
    I traveled a lot and got to see many friends and family. So happy about that. I feel like I’ve set the pace for 2015 to be a stellar year.
    I published a book that’s mich needed, but no one bought it, well two people bought it 🙂 now to market it more.

  • Your post was so honest and insightful, a rarity in bloggerland.

    The good news is I started my own blog in November and I am very happy at how well it is doing. It is opening the door to other writing opportunities. My first guest post appears tomorrow and I have been invited to join 2 other blogs. Your line above (hope I’m not misquoting it), “whatever doesn’t kill you will probably come back to try again” could be the tagline on my blog. I write about being a 4 time breast cancer survivor so that line really resonates with me. I wish I would have thought of it first!

    In the bad news department, we went into foreclosure and had to move twice in 6 months. I was recently diagnosed with PTSD which is both good and bad news. The good news is that it is just labelling the symptoms I already had and now they are getting treated. The bad news is – hey, I’ve got PTSD!

    More bad news. My daughter and I were going to attend your book reading in Vancouver but she got sick and we didn’t go. We felt even worse when we heard you gave away free copies of your book. Probably autographed, no doubt.

    There was more, there always is, but here is to hoping 2015 will have more in the good news column than in the bad news column.

  • Julie says:

    Thanks for your honesty! I think sometimes I read about people I view as wildly successful and in my head they become somehow different than regular people. You remind me that people are people and that we all struggle with the same human things. Here’s my year in review post. http://falling-up.com/2014/12/14/the-bucket-list/

  • You are a brave man to not only share this, but to engage in an intentional, annual practice to discover it/admit it yourself. The crap thing about anxiety/depression is that there are two places to hide: 1) hiding from the thing that (irrationally) scares you or makes you sad AND 2) hiding from the work of addressing the anxiety/depression itself.

    No matter how you feel day to day, you’re doing that work, with the additional challenge of doing much of it publicly. The day-to-day experience of it will be up and down, but the long-term trajectory can only point up. [I hope this doesn’t sound presumptuous; just sharing what I’ve learned along the way.]

  • RJ Hallsted says:

    Chris, thank you so much for being open and honest. I’ve had a tough year as well, and it’s extremely refreshing to see someone who is so much more “successful” than me is going through similar things.

    Seriously, thanks. My day is so much better for this.

  • Tom says:

    Chris, I admire you for wearing your heart so openly on your sleeve.

    I can relate to so much of what you’ve put in your post. Particularly the failure sometimes to take in the “units of momentary happiness”, despite my desire to do so.

    Or the sense of anxiety from time to time, despite nothing outwardly being the cause.

    This post has been very timely for me, thank you!

    That said, like you I’m also incredibly proud of this year. I’ve quit my job, travelled, written a book, I’ve launched a new site, and I can look back with a lot of happiness.

    All the best for 2015! Let’s make it a good one!

  • Amanda says:

    Some of the things that went less-than-ideally this year may be related. If you were depressed, it is normal to feel that friendships stagnated. If you were on the road all the time and things weren’t going well, that’s hard on friendships too.

    Thank you for an honest end of year report. So many people only talk about the high points and the wins, and that leaves everyone else wondering what the heck is wrong with their own lives. In the larger picture, if you are still here, you are better off than a lot of people who didn’t make it. I lost a dear friend to breast cancer this year, and I miss her so much. I wish she was here so we could commiserate about the bad stuff and celebrate the good stuff.

  • Nate says:

    Thanks for your honesty man, the only way I know how to find joy (not daily happiness) in life is Jesus. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29:13

  • Chris, I’m sure many of your readers and fans share my view that we cherish your openness and honesty; it’s what creates such incredible resonance with us. Thank you for being willing to unmask and keep it real.

    This has been the most transformational year of life for so many people I know I can’t even begin to count, and for me as well. So, you’re in good company! Maybe it’s all part of a larger transition we’re collectively making, but it certainly hasn’t been comfortable.

    For me, the major “what did not go well” was the end of my 23-year marriage. Yet throughout the mind-bending, identity-warping, heart-rending shift this entails, I had more fun, became closer to my family, made more friends, met more people, had better sex (yep!), enjoyed my social life, traveled, took more risks, and grew my business more than in the previous 5 years combined.

    I can look back with pride that I did learn an important lesson: to savor and relish as many “units of momentary happiness” as possible, because if I hadn’t I don’t think I would have made it through the change. And still, I want MORE. In fact, there is no limit to how much happiness I want going forward.

    Take heart Chris! This is probably a phase. Throughout life we are forged by the fires of change and challenge and ideally we grow as a result. Often it’s uncomfortable. Usually it burns. But we come out shining brighter and standing more resilient than ever.

    Wishing you an amazing (and happier!) 2015.

  • Jukka says:

    The manic man you are, here is my suggestion to boost up your 2015 and beyond: visit the most southern/northern/eastern/western part of those 193 countries. Thats a true travel challenge and will keep you happy for the decades to come

  • Thanks Chris for your honest account of your year. I think life has its ups and downs for everyone but I don’t often hear about them much unless someone goes into a crisis. I find your experiences refreshingly honest and insightful and heartening. I wish you a really wondrous 2015 and hope our paths cross one day.

  • Lovely to read this and know that all the many people who are of have experienced anxiety/sadness are not alone. I’m so sorry to read that you’ve been feeling down though, You achieved so much! It’s inspiring to me and many others and so true that we don’t realise how much we’ve achieved until we do this kind of review.

    I’m not surprised you’re feeling unsettled with everything you’ve been through and the huge responsibilities and pressures you have working alone and leading us. I hope you can find a way to do less and enjoy life more.

    Having also experienced similar problems I’ve found mindfulness and therapy has helped me too. Like you I left it until things got very bad and only wish I’d started earlier. It’s easy to push past problems aside and create busy-ness but the past comes back to bite us unless we deal with it.

    I recently found some stats which showed depression is more common in middle age than at other ages. The reason seemed to be that we have an attitude towards life of “is that all?” in our middle years. But as people get older they look back and think more about how much they did achieve! So their mood goes up.

    So I guess this depression in middle years is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. And the future is definitely bright 🙂

    Looking forward to reading you more in 2015 and continuing to watch you and your blog grow and evolve in a beautiful direction. And sending koala hugs from Australia 🙂 x A

  • Prima says:

    I am based in BENIN in WEST AFRICA. I love your posts. I read them everytime possible. I believe that what you have achieved is enormous. And this is the reason why you seem depressed. Just delegate some parts of it to members of your group and you will find more time to rest and to keep at least some good friends. Take care. Your life is precious.

  • Lina says:

    Thank you for sharing this Chris. You are truly an inspiration in many ways and more so in your honesty. It reminds me of the ups and downs of life and knowing that I can handle most of what comes my way and when I can’t, well, life goes on. You have also inspired me to take a deeper look at my year. Wish you all the best in 2015.

  • Susan Arthur says:

    Just finished up my 2014 Annual Review. Amazing how a one-word resolution can be applied to so many areas of my life. Your annual reviews have really helped me and I thank you for that!!

    http://freezerburned-suddenlysusan.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-year-2014-in-review.html

  • Sonya Lea says:

    Thank you for your candor and open-heartedness. I’m about to publish a memoir in 2015, Wondering Who You Are, in which I get radically honest about my despair when my husband lost his memory and identity in a cancer surgery. I’ve been working away at this book for years, doing the final copy edits right now, so I constantly get to look at who I was in the wake of this trauma. But something happened this year that helped me recharacterize my life. Tom Skerritt’s organization, Red Badge, asked me to develop a pilot program to mentor women soldiers and veterans about writing their stories. I was afraid to go to the first class, because even though I was overly prepared, I didn’t know what stories I would hear from those experiencing combat trauma and military sexual trauma. It turns out that all the work I’ve been doing to become more vulnerable is exactly what I needed to teach this class. Together, we unlocked stories so terrible and difficult, and in the process offered a way out of that solitary, unacknowledged horror. We may even find a way to get these stories into print, stories that have never been told because we cannot bear to hear them. Somehow, what was created by the changes in my relationship, and working with words, gave me the strength to be with people in a more direct manner. Sometimes the aspects that are perceived as negative aren’t, they’re just conditions. It’s how I meet them that brings me peace, and wonder. So much respect for your journey, Sonya

  • Lik says:

    Thank you very much for sharing, Chris! You have been and keep being a big inspiration for me, and I’m very grateful that with this post you let me (and others) to peek on what is in life for you. It became too hard to me to keep up when you switched to everyday posting, but I am glad that there is this checkpoint where I can learn about the most important things.

    I have done my lists yesterday, and I had similar impressions, “the year’s gone bad” at first, because last few months were very difficult in an unexpected way.
    But then – whoa! – I have actually made a shot at my dream and took violin lessons in the first half of the year! I have also been leading a small monthly meetup for several months, as well as increasing my involvement in several groups organized by others. And YES, I managed to come to the WDS for the second time, met new incredible people, spend some in-person time with my online friends, and had an amazing time! 🙂
    What did not go that well is… well, the second half of the year. A lot of fear, anxiety and panic, periods of being unable to do anything. Failure to find a good place to move to on time, and thus spending three months living in a place which I did not like, which was taking my energy away instead of helping me to recover. Failure to complete the PhD project on time, connected with lack of clarity on what I would like to do after it.

    I hope to write things up and publish on my blog as well, but things are going a little but wild at the moment… and I have seen enough evidence that “a good thing shared now is much better than an incredible thing that is never completed.”

    Love from Germany!

  • Dafne says:

    Hey Chris, I actually just visited your page for the first time last week, recommended by Jeff Goins. Signed up to your newsblast and everything.

    And then I went to Chapters in Calgary Alberta and I”m browsing through the recommended books at the front door and there you are. I took a picture of it for you! ha ha

    And bought the book for my friend for xmas. Love the way you’ve formatted the mini stories. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!

  • Aleksei says:

    Dear Chris,

    I’ve been a reader of your books and blog for many years and you have changed my life. I am currently on a 1.5-year RTW long trip around and in no small part this trip was inspired by you.

    Any one of us is a bundle, and often the same qualities that make us exceptional also make our life difficult. That is why it is so easy for me to relate to your feelings of depression and dissatisfaction, although to be honest I am surprised by how intense they were. The reason why I am surprised is the simple awareness of how incredible are your achievements – and it’s enough to read the comments to this post to see tat this realisation is shared by many other people. But emotions are irrational by definition.

    I wish you all the spiritual strength that you may need. Thank you for doing all the things you have done and for being such an impact in my life and in so many other people’s lives.

    Aleksei

    P.S. I’ve also done my annual review here: http://www.alekseitrofimov.eu/annual-review-2014/

  • Jimmy says:

    Thanks, Chris. Always an inspiration and an exciting and humbling time of year. Always good to pick it back up and attack the new year with gusto.

    Here’s my post on the 5 lessons I learned from my 2014 annual review
    http://www.jimmyepperson.com/2014/

    Cheers

    #AnnualReview

  • Deron says:

    Chris,

    I’ve read your reports for at least a few years and have always gained a lot from them but this year’s was especially poignant to me and valuable because it gave me the motivation to write my own and it was enormously helpful. Like you I found much more to be grateful for this year than I’ve thought (especially in this week, when my spirit has dragged some.) Thanks so much!

    #AnnualReview : https://medium.com/@bosorganization/2014-annual-review-2f492fba7d1a

  • Bec says:

    Chris, lately ive been surrounded by a lot of I ingenuine folk who shy away from revealing anything about themselves. Your post was a breath of fresh air- I’m grateful for your honesty. Thanks.

    The downs of my year- getting demoted and not handling it as well as I could. Relationship ups and downs. We’re finding it hard to find a good flow.

    The ups of my year- some great experience at work. I’ve realised it ain’t as hard as it looks. Completing a super online course. It helped me to see this is what I want out of life. Some interesting exploring. Some venturing into running.

  • Debbie DeVoe says:

    Hi Chris,
    I’ll be doing my annual review later today, and I want to thank you for the reminder and continued inspiration for taking this on. I don’t go to the detailed goal-setting level that you do, but setting a theme for the year helps me to stay focused on what I truly want to accomplish. I hope your feeling of being “on edge” continues to abate. Thank you for sharing your experiences so honestly with us. And please know that one of my highlights was WDS. You play an ENORMOUS role in making that event happen each year, and while the exhilaration of it may be fleeting, the knowledge that there is an army of people committed to living unconventional lives is something that stays with me year-round. I wish you success in creating whatever you next want in 2015, including creating and living in the emotional and physical environment you prefer.
    Sending good wishes to you and Jolie. You two make a powerful positive impact on so many lives. With appreciation,
    Debbie

  • Will Long says:

    Thank you, Chris, for writing from within your true self. Having read several of your posts in recent years, I have grown to appreciate deeply your honest way of connecting with others.
    My wife and I are delighted that we chose to visit Vancouver, BC, when we traveled to Oregon and Washington to visit with family members in August. We took the Amtrak Cascades to the city. It was the first time in her 60+ years Sheila had set foot outside the U.S.
    Our experience of Vancouver was richly satisfying. We found refreshing the many beautiful green spaces between homes and high-rise buildings, the variety of ages and ethnicities represented, the great numbers of people enjoying the outdoors along the English Bay Beach and on bicycling and walking paths, and the dog lovers everywhere. When we stopped as we did on occasion to admire a dog, we found that we quickly made a connection with its human companion. As we freely exchanged stories, the rapport deepened.
    Sheila was especially touched at seeing the tear-filled eyes of a middle-aged man sitting alone on a park bench, his canine friend resting in his lap, as he listened and she shared how one of our dogs had been rescued from rising flood waters in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In that moment of mutual vulnerability, our sense of our common humanity was renewed and deepened. We look forward to our next venture beyond U.S. borders.

  • I love your bravery in sharing all of this. You are more superman than almost anyone I know but that doesn’t mean you have to be superhuman. If you could only see the HUGE impact you make on hundreds of thousands of peoples’ lives every day you’d realize that we are all grateful for you.

    I truly hope that 2015 is the year you prioritize YOU, take more time for yourself, friends and family. Slow your travels, be present and celebrate your successes and incorporate more daily meditation into your life – from one Aries to another I think it does us a world of good.

    Always here for you.

    Nat

  • Margaret says:

    Chris,

    I read the Art of Nonconformity a few years back. As I prepared for another move to a new country, I stumbled upon my copy of AONC and read it again. I enjoyed it even more the second time.

    I just recently started reading your blog. Why? I was at a “low” point myself. I found inspiration in your blog, especially the 2014 annual review. I end each year with a similar entry in my journal, but thought that I would make it more public this year.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    All the best,

    M

  • Anne says:

    Thanks for sharing not only the good, but the hard and the bad as well. People look one way from the outside: accomplished, confident, whatever. It’s a gift that you share the fears and insecurities with your readers too.
    In a world that loves winners and runs screaming from those perceived as losers, it’s hard to show something beyond the success. That you do makes you even more of a success. I continue to enjoy following your journey. Inspired too. Keep being the bear.
    Thank you.
    I’ve posted my own #AnnualReview (or at least part of it) over at http://www.yourbrainonpandas.com/31-days-pandas-day-21-annual-review/

  • Chris,

    Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in sharing this. I’m glad the annual review process revealed the positives to you. There is a whole heck of a lot to be proud of and I’m glad you have acknowledged this. That is really important and know that we all appreciate what you do.

    There are quite a few things I’m finding that I relate to as I am currently going through my own review. The rabbit hole of sadness/guilt when I should be appreciating something amazing I’m experiencing, the inability to focus, as well as realizing that there were more positives this year than I thought there would be (accentuating the negative).

    Like others have mentioned previously, mindfulness and meditation could be very beneficial as a proactive measure. I’m finding the clarity is helping me a lot lately. Walking and remembering to smile more also helps me in this regard. 🙂

    You have a tremendous positive impact on us and a great number of people around the world. Take care of yourself and take comfort in knowing that you have built a strong community that has your back.

    Always a supporter.

    Kevin

  • Rudiano says:

    Hey Chris,
    I really admire your candour. I think I’ve said that before! It takes great courage to open up publicly that much. We’re guys. It’s hard for us!
    Sorry to hear about your nana.
    You’re probably overwhelmed with all the well intentioned advice already but I’d recommend you read Brendon Burchard’s The Motivation Manifesto. I found his take very interesting. One of his chapters talks about how to slow down time to actually take these moments of happiness in, be present.
    Maybe you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.
    Anyway.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Jennifer Hooper says:

    Vulnerability kicks ass; it’s what connects us as human beings. Thank you for being authentic and sharing yours.

    Here’s what went well for me in 2014:

    – My relationship. I met a man who was the perfect fit for me. We were genuine with each other. Sometimes we went on adventures; sometimes we sat by the fire. We always held hands. We took comfort in knowing that in THIS relationship we wouldn’t repeat the mistakes from our marriages.

    – My dark, self-loathing, self-abusing teenager blossomed into a lovely, wholehearted, authentic, compassionate human being. My energy on her behalf shifted from fret and worry to joy and pride.

    – I learned to stand tall and say with pride, “I am a writer,” instead of sheepishly mumbling under my breath that I someday HOPED to be a writer.

    – I got past my fear of traveling alone to a foreign country. I have booked airfare and lodging in Costa Rica for February 2015. (A pretty big deal for this Maine girl!)

    – I took a six-week Facebook hiatus. I breathed easier.

    – I learned to say “thank you” with intention and consistency.

    – I learned how to paddle-board. I learned that I like to ride Harleys. I learned that I may wither and die if I keep working at a 9-5 job; I must find a way to be free.

    Here’s what did not go well for me in 2014:

    – My relationship. Things in my life got messy mid-year: teens, ex-husband, a move, a new job, fear. I got quiet. Too quiet, too introspective. I held my tongue, shoving down vulnerable feelings…when I should have spoken up. My chaos was too much for the relationship. My heart got broken.

    – I had to have surgery. It was minor. But…I underestimated the toll it would take on my body: emotionally and physically. I could not exercise for six weeks, and lack of exercise is a major downer to my emotional health.

    – I spent too much time getting sucked into social media. Rather than cope with the world around me, I sometimes let the world pass me by.

    Today. Now. I stand on the edge–in the liminal space between 2014 and 2015–with eyes closed and arms open wide. I inhale deeply and breathe life into the soul work that awaits me. I already feel the joy in my pores for what is speeding toward me. And it’s all good.

    Happy New Year to all.

    <3 Jennifer

  • Aaron says:

    Hi Chris,

    Greetings from a long-time fan in Malaysia!

    What went well in 2014?
    1. I finally launched my blog.
    2. 2 articles I wrote had more than 4K shares.
    3. I worked out 3 times a week for more than 80% of the year.
    4. I paid off some old debts and boosted my emergency savings to about 4 months of expenses.
    5. I consistently left my day job on time.
    6. I made it past the one-year mark with my girlfriend.

    What did not go well in 2014?
    1. I didn’t meet up with enough friends and family.
    2. I had dengue fever and fell sick a few times through the year — so didn’t achieve my strength training targets.
    3. I had to lay off one of my employees because business wasn’t very good.

    Thanks for initiating this annual review.
    Wishing you and all your readers a very blessed 2015.

  • Ian Ong says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your candid and honest sharing. Your annual review has inspired me to do my very first one. I didn’t realize the power of reflecting on the ups and downs of my year till I sat down, mulled over it and committed pen to paper. As a person who has been battling Schizophrenia for more than 10 years I can totally identify with your struggle with negative emotions and anxiety. Writing my review was an emotional roller coaster, but I came away wiser. Here’s a link to my review:
    http://pursuing-joy.com/2014/12/reflections-on-2014/

  • Marion says:

    Chris,

    You are such an inspiration to me! As a fellow writer and traveller, I have learned a lot from you in the past few years and I am thankful for this blog. The Annual Review process is very interesting for many reasons, but this year, more than ever, yours truly resonates with me. I had to deal with depression and loss as well, and I travelled less than I could have, but I am grateful for everything that happened in 2014, as it lead me to be where I am now. As I get ready to move to Cape Town for a few months, I realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by so many amazing people and to read such inspiring blogs regularly. Community is indeed a very important part of life and something I want to focus on for 2015. Thank you for this post, and for the blog, which, by the way, is more and more inspiring since the whole makeover. Keep on with the good work!

    PS. Here’s my VERY personal Annual Review. Different format, but quite a few lessons!
    http://carminelitta.tumblr.com/post/106054259687/on-2014-and-life

  • Tim says:

    What a year, huh?

    My suicide attempt in February was one of the best days of my life. I finally came face to face with the fantasy I had created around myself and began a life-long process of recovery.

    The issue was that I had surrounded myself with the artifacts of success –PhD, political activist, world travel, beautiful wife, house, humanitarian, all before 30. I used drugs and alcohol to fuel 60 hour work days to keep producing at inhuman levels. “People’s lives are at stake!” was my excuse for my self-destructive and selfish behavior. Eventually, the facade cracked.

    Through working my recovery program I have learned that I had crowd-sourced my validation and self-esteem. Deep down I sought people’s adoration rather than their respect. I was performing my life: a human doing rather than a human being.

    My greatest success this year has been slowly building my self-esteem on my terms and doing things for myself because my life is at stake.

  • Jeff says:

    Chris–Jeff (not me) also said this above–I think your melancholy, depression, sadness is because you ended the huge quest (visit every country) without a similar challenge ahead of you. I have seen this happen a number of times in my career, as lawyers who were totally involved in a huge case over a period of years settled, or otherwise resolved the matter. Without another big challenge to deal with, we feel lost.

    So, take some time, look inside & outside, and design a new quest–maybe one you & Jolie undertake together. I bet you get your mojo back.

    I’m in the process of starting a new venture–I’m downshifting to part time in my “day job” as a lawyer to start on a new career as a mediator in a solo practice. It’s a step I’ve thought about for a couple of years, and have done way more thinking about than acting on. This year, though, is the leap–I have recognized the barriers, and just put a cliff in front of me. $100 Start-up, and The Art of Non-Conformity both had a role in getting to “go.” I’ll stop in from time to time to let you know how it goes, and I am a devoted follower of your blog. So, here I go!

  • Andrew says:

    Hello Chris,

    First of all Merry Christmas!
    I hope you find peace over the holidays.

    To be honest, I honestly don’t know much about you aside from the fact that you’re an extremely smart and effective traveller, and that you seem to have a good heart.

    I also don’t make a habit of posting comments on blogs. In fact, this is honestly my first one – I’m an extremely private person.

    But after reading this article, I was compelled to leave a comment.

    Not that long ago was my birthday (let’s just say I’m 40+ :)). And I can honestly say, it was probably the darkest and scariest time of the year for me. While most consider birthdays a time to celebrate, for me, I couldn’t help but feel that it was yet another year wasted. It was admittedly a pity party with a whopping attendance of one – myself.

    I have my own consulting firm and have several good clients and subcontractors that I work with. By all conventional measures, you can consider me successful.

    However, lately, I’ve been overwhelmed with a sense of anxiety and fear, just as you described. I often feel I’m not living up to my commitments. I feel like no matter how much time and effort I put into trying to keep up, I aways fall short of not only their expectations but my own as well. And I feel that I’m in an endless cycle and am asking myself “what’s the point”?

    I don’t have many close friends at the moment (maybe one, if I haven’t managed to mess that up recently as well), I left them behind when I moved many years ago and have since lost touch with them for the most part.

    I’m also at a point in my relationships where things are transition, and that uncertainty I feel is leaving me a little unstable.

    I recognize that I’m at a crossroads in my life, and I need to make some bold decisions to start living the life I want and not the one that has been prescribed to me out of safety, convention, habit or laziness.

    I’m taking a month off in January to travel – far away.
    It’s a self-prescribed treatment for me to disconnect from my current life, and to give myself the chance to explore other possibilities.
    Perhaps I should read your latest book 🙂

    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story.
    You’ve struck a chord in me to the extent that I’ve shared my own (which is totally uncharacteristic of me), and have inspired me to take the steps needed to start turning this ship around.

    I wish you continued success and true happiness in 2015 and beyond.

  • JK Blackwell says:

    Hi Chris,

    Year 2014 has been quite something – a year harder than previous – and I found myself working harder, putting in a lot more effort, taking a lot more time just to get the same results as previous. I can’t help but to think perhaps it’s the year of Horse (if you believe in Chinese horoscope).

    Hope 2015 will be a better year for everyone. Cheers xo

  • Bus Question says:

    First off, sorry for not using my real name! I’m posting anonymously until I quit my job in April ’15 to hike the Appalachian Trail.

    Chris, this was real inspiration. I’m new to your site, but am glad to have seen this post. I’ve never actually used the New Year as an opportunity to take stock of the prior year and set goals for the next. Instead, I’ve always thought that it should be a fluid process, so waiting for year’s end would be shortchanging yourself.

    That being said, after reading your post, I do see the merits of doing this at the same time each year. It’s almost like rebalancing your investments. If you don’t make sure to do it on schedule, then you’ll wake up years down the road with things totally run amok. And, to be honest, I haven’t been great with the all-year ‘fluid’ approach. Thanks for being so candid in yours!

    It took me a while to think about my year, so I’ve missed the cutoff for reader submissions. I’ll include my review as a little bit of personal accountability, though! I’m still working on my goals for 2015.

    http://www.thebusquestion.com/blog/2014/12/26/2014-annual-review

    #AnnualReview

  • Aprille says:

    I’m about to write my own post and just catching up on yours. I have had some great wins this year: I spoke at TEDxRochester and nailed it, exhibited at a Mini Maker Faire, had a 2nd successful Fringe show, I redesigned my site to more clearly demonstrate what I’m doing, I started some awesome endeavors. (Plus more on tap for 2015)

    That said, it felt like half of the year was lost. I had heart rhythm problems that led to most of my time being in bed until June. (Man, imagine if the full year had cranked as much as the second half!) Blog frequency has been bad as I try to draw a line between news and blog. I’m still not making any money and our finances in general suck.

    Looking forward to looking ahead now. Thanks for the frankness – it’s good for us to see you’re human because it helps us realize we aren’t monsters for feeling the same sometimes. Here’s to an awesome 2015 full of new adventures!

  • Hi Chris, thank you so much for this, and all of your wisdom (as usual). I appreciate your honesty, openness, and vulnerability – it is a huge part of why you are so successful, and have so many people who relate to your words and your work.
    I trained for, raised money for, and ran a marathon for my 50th birthday in March, which was a nice accomplishment. But my biggest journey and ultimate goal in 2014 didn’t present itself until later that month when my boyfriend and I decided to move full time from our comfortable home and routine in So. California across the Pacific to Kauai. It took much more work, energy and focus than I ever imagined to make everything happen in order to move (here now, as of two weeks ago!), including giving up other goals like launching a new website, more writing, yoga, etc, etc, etc. But this overarching goal and it’s accomplishment is something I take a lot of pride in, and it is helping to soothe the “what went wrong” failures over the year.
    In previous years (I got out of the habit for the last few years) I used to pick three words to focus on, and strive to manifest them as much as possible in daily life. So getting back to that, in 2015 I plan to focus on: Simplicity, Elegance, and Acceptance.
    Mahalo for all you do. 🙂

  • Interesting to read you blog finally today, Chris, because in some ways it matches up with what I’m going through. You know… life isn’t always “happy,” and it’s not meant to be. It’s horribly unfair. But if we do have gratitude, we get through the lows gracefully, and eventually move back over to the highs.

    In July 2013 my husband learned he had non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I dropped everything I was doing, including a lot of my entrepreneurial aspirations, to focus on him and his care. And on Nov. 10 of this year, he died. It has rocked my world and changed my perspective immensely regarding what is important to me and what isn’t. I’m still a goal-oriented gal… But I think those goals may have changed. I’m going to my year review to plan the years to come… a very important step for me right now, both in grieving and in moving on, and I know it will be a brand-new picture.

    I, too, don’t have a “ton” of friends (or at least I don’t think I do compare to SOME people)… but the ones I do have are QUALITY friends. They have supported me during this very difficult period in my life, and I can only hope to return the favor some day. In doing so, one of my girlfriends has declared 2015 as the “Year of Pat” – sort of like the summer of George Constanza – and the focus will be shifting now to myself. Not that it will be easy… I experience post-tramatic anxiety from my husband’s last weeks (including a cardiac arrest here in my home with me) and grief every day, and while it “gets better,” I sense that it will never go away. I’m a different person now… and my goals for 2015 will reflect that new me… after I’ve taken serious time (this week) to figure out just what that new me wants out of what is left of her life.

    Thank you, Chris, for sharing your highs and lows of last year and helping to remind me to do the same and plan for the future!

  • Susan Hall says:

    Had anyone suggested last January 1 that I would be retired and living in Scranton, Pennsylvania by the end of the year, I would have responded “Wait. What?” Even when I read about the early out retirement offer in my employee email I called three different HR specialists to confirm it. I felt like I had won the lottery. I’m still making New Years resolutions but am cognizant that there is a divine plan, synchronicity… call it what you will… at work which is exponentially better than any plan that I could come up with.

    10:17 PM I’ve made it thru January 1 with my New Years Resolutions intact 🙂

    http://www.susanmhallphotography.com/new-years-resolutions/

  • Hey Chris, what could a brazilian add to all of these comments? Certainly not something very different. But I’ll add my voice anyway: thank you for being brave and sharing what you did. It made me think your whole project is more real and more human. Wishing you lota of happy amd grateful moments in 2015!

  • Kristen says:

    I’m not sure if you read all the comments. Probably not. You’re busy. Still. I wanted to say that I always look forward to your annual reviews. While I haven’t yet made the time to do one for myself (December is just always too crazy for me), I find them inspiring. Perhaps I’ll do a mid-year review or something. Anyway, thank you.

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  • About the “downs” … I went through a very similar (eerily similar) experience back in 2011.

    Realize this, you’re human. Be okay with that Chris. We’re all riding on the same blue speck of dust in a giant stream of light (see “Pale Blue Dot” on YouTube).

    I’m glad you have written what you’ve written on your site, through your books (which I am going to Amazon, and buying all 3 of them again), and through your emails.

    You matter more than you give yourself credit for, Chris. You helped (from my perspective) people realize that they don’t have to live life like they were told. Not many people have the courage to step out and put their thoughts on digital paper like you have.

    In the stream of consciousness that we all comprise, you are a bright beacon that has helped many people “wake up” and take their lives by the reigns … and actually live it, instead of being absorbed into the “spectacle.”

    Breathe deeply my friend, because from my perspective, you’re just getting started. 🙂

  • Mot says:

    I often wondered how you maintained your relationships with so much travel. After reading your blog, I see that it’s difficult. As someone with the travel bug, I know you’re always itching to go, but I hope 2015 gives you lots of time at home to strengthen your relationships with friends and family. Exploring the world is fun and invigorating, but home has many positives as well (and the best beer 😉

  • It’s going to be end of mine day, but before end I am reading this impressive piece of writing to increase my experience.

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