I typically do my annual review in private, during my birthday month in March each year. I don’t do them at the end of the calendar year like everyone else, because March is more meaningful to me.
This means my Annual Reviews are April — March, which makes me one quarter behind the norm. Now that I have a website, I thought I’d share my annual review. Hope you’ll learn something from it as well.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates
I plan on publishing my Annual Reviews for 2015 to 2018. The last 5 years were some of the toughest years of my life — where I experienced suicidal depression.
Our greatest learnings in life come from all the shit we go through. The lessons we learn become our greatest teachers to help us grow and become the person we know we can be.
I believe everything negative that happened in my life is FOR me, not TO me. They are valuable lessons I feel that’s worth sharing.
2019 Goal Review
Main Goal: Start a business in alignment with me
I grew tired of starting, building and pivoting in business alone, and wanted guidance and support. In the beginning of 2019, I was looking for help — I wanted someone to pull my business vision together in a way that makes sense for me.
What I really wanted was alignment, so I ended up investing in a 12-month Business Mentorship Program mistakenly thinking that having a business coach for a year was going to solve my misalignment issue.
At the time, I was trying to build a business in the Health space because I managed to turn my own health around, and also helped a friend lose 15kg in 10 weeks as his health coach.
Top 3 Goals:
- Generate revenue
- Become good at selling
- Improve coaching skills
Things To Celebrate
Relationship With Parents
My relationship with my parents finally started to improve. It has been strained for a long time because I never felt accepted and understood.
Being around them is like I was trapped in a big tangled mess of mixed emotions and energy. It’s a mix of love for them, yet at the same time dealing with all the Asian cultural beliefs, behaviours and energy I despise that doesn’t align with me.
The tension came from our different world views, and how I wanted to be treated. We have different beliefs about work, career, marriage, relationships… pretty much all the major areas of life.
For years, I felt trapped and suffocated. Their energy was overbearing, always trying to dictate where my life should go, what I should do. All I wanted was for them to leave me alone so I can figure things out for myself, do my own thing and find my own path in life without being criticised and judged.
Because I struggled with words all my life, I never knew how to express how I really felt. So when things get heated, I’d just ignore them, not engage and get the hell away.
I finally puckered up the courage to tell them how I really felt in February and the weight from years of tension finally dropped from my chest and my shoulders.
Really glad our strained relationship is finally in repair and moving to a better place.
I continued to struggle to get clarity with my niche and offers for the new business I wanted to build.
I was told my body and nervous system was in freeze when I reached out to my healer friend at the end of March. It’s the reason why I felt stuck and couldn’t move forward in my new business, because I couldn’t get clarity for it.
I experienced a lot of confusion. I had no idea what I really wanted to build and work towards. It was frustrating to say the least.
I ended up having a chart reading and body work sessions with my friend in early April when she was in town. The takeaway was I needed to learn to really listen to my body. Because that’s where the truth and intuition sits, not the mind.
I learned that listening to my body was the real key to success in life.
After feeling very unproductive, frustrated and stuck in March and April… I finally came to terms with getting a job instead. I worked through the shame, the feeling of failure (yet again), and the negative emotions associated with working for someone else.
I hated the idea of feeling “boxed in” again, doing work I don’t care about and putting up with people I don’t like just to pay the bills. Getting a job was not going to fulfil me.
But I realised, doing “fulfilling work” was not the point because I didn’t even know what that is. I just needed something to do, so I can take myself out of my head and stop overthinking and spiralling downwards.
I had to coach myself and turn my mindset around.
I went from:
- “When am I gonna catch a fucking break?!”
- “I hate job hunting! I hate writing cover letters and updating my resume!”
- “I don’t even know what the hell I’m looking for.”
- “Ok… this is not forever. It’s just temporary.”
- “This doesn’t define you.”
- “Who cares what people think?”
I decided to pull myself out of the 12-month Business Mentorship Program 2 months in, because I finally realised I was not ready to be building a new business, no matter how much my mind wants me to.
So I completely tossed business to the side, kicked it to the kerb.
The idea of building a successful business consumed my life like a disease since 2010.
I was done thinking about it, learning it and wanted to stop my mind from taking over my life.
I needed to free my mind so I stopped learning everything related to business.
I gave myself space, and promised myself to not build anything until I have absolute clarity and alignment.
I had no idea how long it was going to take for me to find clarity and alignment with myself. But because I understood the importance of it, I was willing to commit all the time I need.
The “length of time” was not important.
What’s important was that I learned to trust myself and trust that my life will work itself out.
The only way to do that was to dedicate my time and energy to practice listening to my body, meeting its needs, and observing its changes.
Looking back, this is the single best thing I did for myself — because it’s the inner work required for something better to emerge.
On 24th June, I started a low stress, boring, temp job in business support that was close to home.
I was being strategic, and purposely got an easy/boring job without any major responsibilities because I didn’t want any extra pressure and stress on my body, and didn’t want to use my brain.
The job was to solely serve these specific purposes:
- Pay the bills
- Help me pass time while I practice being patient and wait for clarity and alignment to emerge
- Give me the mental space to focus on my body and health
The 6-week temp assignment turned into a 9 month gig. The annoying thing was because I didn’t know when the job was going to end, I had to keep job hunting.
I ended up building relationships with a couple of recruiters during that period. A job opportunity opened up, where I landed a serendipitous meeting with the owner of a digital marketing agency in early February 2020… a job that ticked all my boxes.
The temp job finished just before COVID lockdown in March 2020.
Motion Sickness Healed!
Even though I had already dramatically improved my health in 2018, I became stressed, paralysed and overwhelmed again overthinking my new business. I started downward spiralling in my head and ended up in lots of physical pain.
Since discovering the Medical Medium through my sister and hearing about her health improvements, I decided to follow Anthony William’s advice and started drinking celery juice on 31st July, then added in Heavy Metals Detox Smoothie on 25th Aug.
It was a new health routine I wanted to learn to adopt and integrate into my life. So I invested in a juicer and a blender, and got used to the process of juicing and making smoothies every morning.
After following the new routine for 2 months straight, I discovered that I healed one of the chronic conditions I had since I was a child — motion sickness and dizziness.
I was never able to sit in the back seat of the car without getting sick. I couldn’t read or even look down at the floor when I’m commuting or travelling.
I hated all forms of transportation (cars, trains, buses, planes, ferries, boats). Getting on any kind of transport meant anxiety because I never knew when I would start feeling nauseous.
Travelling for me has always been a shitty experience.
Nothing I’ve tried in the past (doctors, nutritionists, diets, health programs, health coaches, Eastern and Western medicine) has helped me heal from this life-long chronic disease.
In August 2019, I realised I could finally sit in the back row of the bus without feeling anxious, getting sick nor feeling queasy! This was huge for me!!!
It’s amazing to find the correct health information I can trust, that actually gave me the results I longed for.
Over the year, my cooking skills improved, my confidence in the kitchen improved and my health improved.
It was possible because I had a steady income that allowed me to invest in the tools, food and supplements I needed for my body, and the time I needed to practice and hone my kitchen skills.
What I’m Grateful For
- Despite our disagreements, my parents are always there for me
- Turning my own mindset around and reframing all the negative associations and emotions I had about jobs and working for someone else
- Temp job to pay the bills
- Space and time to focus on improving my health
- Healing my lifelong chronic health issues — motion sickness
- My own bathroom (housemate finally moved out)
- No rental increase
Things To Improve
At the beginning of 2019, I thought it was my year to start a new business. Oh how bloody wrong was I!
When I was renewing domain names I owned in March 2019, I discovered that JenKuo.com finally became available. It had some weird Asian site on it the last time I checked.
I had been checking the availability of JenKuo.com for 2 years before the opportunity finally came for me to own it, so I mistakenly took it as a “sign from the universe” that 2019 was my time to build a new business… 🤦🏻♀️
That’s what happens when you listen to your mind instead of your body — your mind will always rationalise your decisions, which causes you to make the wrong decisions for you and lead you down the wrong path.
Because I realised too late that it was not the right time for me to be building a business, I felt like a loser pulling out of the Business Mentorship Program and was super annoyed at myself about that decision.
2019 reminded me yet again why ‘inner work’ always takes top priority, because it’s the foundation to everything else in life.
Once I put everything into perspective, and actually did the work to prioritise myself, my health (mental, physical, emotional) and my relationships before my career, things started shifting for me in early 2020.
The new keyboard I bought stopped working, so I had to take it in for warranty repairs at the end of March 2019.
This broke the practice streak I built up throughout 2018.
The repair took longer than expected cus they had to send it to Melbourne to get it fixed.
As a result, piano practice slipped off my daily routine in 2019 as I ended up dedicating the majority of my time and effort to my health and the inner work I needed to do.
Main Lessons Learned
Practiced Patience & Gratitude
I started out the year feeling flustered, frustrated and stressed. I reacted badly to my dwindling bank account and went into ‘panic mode’, where my mind came up with a bunch of random, short term business ideas.
Panic and stress was the wrong energy to start a new business, yet it was unconscious to me.
2 months into the Business Mentorship Program, it finally dawned on me that all I was doing was repeating my pattern of how I originally went into business back in 2010.
The reason I went into business in the first place was because I hated my job and the company I worked for.
I saw business as “my way out” — my prison break.
I was miserable. I wanted to run away from my shitty life… as far away as possible.
That was the energy I brought into “my business career” from Day 1.
I finally understood why I had no clarity around where I was going in life. Because all I wanted to do was escape my current situation, I wanted to run away. So I thought money was what I needed to get out of my shitty corporate job, and get my parents off my back.
So all the decisions I made in business was for the purpose of making money.
Because I had no self awareness, and no clarity about where I’m going… I’d either end up hating what I’d built or get fed up with the work because I didn’t enjoy the process. So I kept pivoting in business because none of it felt right.
The work always felt hard, and for years it felt like I was always pushing a boulder up the hill.
I had anxiety about everything I did in business, because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and I questioned everything.
I had no confidence, I didn’t trust my decisions, so I did everything by sheer willpower. I’d just will my way into everything — pushing myself hard to achieve goals by “brute force”.
I built businesses for the sake of avoiding getting another job. Because I had so much negative emotions built up around jobs that didn’t fulfil me and the fact that I just didn’t fit in the corporate world.
In April 2019, I finally recognised my negative pattern and the energy I was perpetually stuck in, and understood why I struggled my ass off in business.
It was a real “face palm” moment — a big revelation. 🤦🏻♀️
As soon as I pulled out of the Mentorship Program, I did 3 important things for myself:
- I put business aside.
- I put my ambitions aside.
- I put my “achiever” mindset and attitude aside.
I practiced being ok with NOT striving for anything. I practiced being ok with having nothing, and doing nothing.
I stripped away the “go-getter” part of my identity — my desire to achieve, my desire to learn, my desire to ‘do more’ and ‘have more’, and purposely made my life very simple.
I got back to the basics. The fundamentals.
I practiced “being and feeling” (feminine energy) instead of “thinking and doing” (masculine energy).
I focused on getting good at the mundane things in life. The basic stuff — grocery shopping (buying the right food), preparing food, cooking, meal prepping, eating well, cleaning, enjoying the simple things without the “hustle”.
I practiced being grateful for all the basic essentials I had — As long as I could pay the bills, have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, a clean and tidy living environment, clothes to wear, access to healthy food, and the ability to move my body, I was happy.
I wanted to master the fundamentals — The foundational habits and disciplines that make up a peaceful, healthy life with joy — nutrition, movement, gratitude, mindfulness, compassion, patience, understanding, being present, and enjoying the process.
I needed to master myself.
I wanted to make sure the fundamental life skills and habits were established and ingrained in me before I got myself back to focusing on my career and the business world.
Because I know from experience that the fundamentals are the first things that get overlooked and forgotten once responsibilities and work start piling on from starting a business venture.
I needed to ensure those habits grew some roots, firmly take hold and become a part of me so that I don’t have to exert extra energy to consciously think about them.
I practiced not needing nor wanting anything, and started seeing everything that’s not an essential part of my simple life as “cherry on top”.
Developed Trust in Myself
Because I learned how little I actually need to live a comfortable life with the basic essentials… I was able to start trusting myself based on what I need versus what I want.
I trusted that when something changes within me, I will know — the fact that I will feel different when I come to know the type of work I want to do.
So allowing myself to do what I needed to do for the rest of the year helped develop trust in myself.
As I worked at the temp job, I didn’t overthink when I continued to job hunt and I also didn’t over-analyse jobs that came up as I come across them. Because deep down I knew the only right job for me is the one I create and design for myself when the time comes.
I mentally prepared myself to live this way until I have clarity and alignment, because they take time to emerge. It’s not something you can rush.
I just needed to learn to respect and trust my own timing in life.
Choosing to “Go Slow”
When I finally started to feel in alignment in March 2020, I opened myself up to the idea of eventually building a business…
As excited as I was about this new change in my energy, I decided to do things differently this time around.
I wanted to trust my own intuition instead, and integrate everything I learned from past mistakes. Instead of listening to popular business advice and the voices in my head.
My immediate thought was:
Go turtle speed. Don’t rush. Take your time, and do it your way.
The popular words you hear all the time in business is “grow fast”, “scale”, “hustle”, “growth hack” etc. All the pressures to “chase constant growth and profits” lead to bad decision making for the long term.
Another problem is that most businesses adopt the “finite game” mindset and use language like “being number 1” or “beat the competition”.
Business is not a finite game, it’s an infinite game.
For me, adopting the finite mindset in business is dangerous and not the kind of energy I want to associate myself with.
If I want to get myself back into business, then my only intention is to perpetuate it — To stay in business for as long as possible, so I can keep playing the game with as little stress, pressure and chaos because I want to enjoy the process of playing.
“Finite players play to beat the players around them… infinite players play to be better than themselves.” — Simon Sinek
The metric I want to be the most concerned about is whether I am getting better day after day relative to where I am.
This means continuing to improve my skills, deliver better experiences for people I interact with, create better products, solve tougher problems, spend more time in my ‘flow zone’, and do what I’m best at, etc.
I want to build and grow slow and steady. I want stability and sustainability. I want my life to be calm, low stress, and enjoyable.
I chose to slow down in order to speed up.
There’s a reason why the tortoise wins the race, not the hare. So I chose to be the tortoise. 🐢
Focus Less on “Goals”
While practicing to wait patiently, trust my intuition, listen to my body, let go of my mind and the rationalisations it constantly tries to make… I eventually let go of my focus on goals, metrics and numbers.
I realised that achieving goals doesn’t really give you the sense of fulfilment most people think it does. The feeling of achievement is always short lived.
I learned it’s better to enjoy the process, and the journey instead of focusing on the destination.
My goals for 2019 were:
- Start a business in alignment with me
- Generate revenue — I had some stupid number attached to it
- Become good at selling
- Improve coaching skills
I didn’t achieve ANY of my goals… and to be honest, for the first time I didn’t actually care and I didn’t feel bad about it.
I got something way better than achieving my goals. I finally felt aligned with myself. And it’s something I couldn’t have planned for.
I’ve also stopped giving myself timeframes to accomplish certain things, and removed the unnecessary pressure from myself.
Instead of focusing on goals, I now focus on intentions and projects. And just making sure I take steps towards it.
Intentions for 2020
Show Up, Connect & Serve
- Create honest, soul-level work
- Show up as myself
- Connect with people, make new friends
First 3 Months of 2020 (April to June)
What I have accomplished:
- Build a personal brand website — launched on 1st May
- Start a newsletter — first subscriber on 21st April, first newsletter sent 19th May
- Start writing — new blog section launched on 3rd July with 2 new long form articles
Next 9 Months (July 2020 to March 2021)
My intentions for the next 9 months:
1. Publish consistently — become a prolific writer
- Build habit to write 1,000 words per day — started 1st July
- Publish a weekly newsletter
- Publish 1 article per week
- Write a book
2. Launch an offer(s) to generate revenue and get business off the ground.
3. Create great experiences for my tribe and customers.
4. Relearn and implement SEO to get more free traffic.
5. Continue to refine my PKM system and improve my content creation workflow.
I came across this video below… It spoke to me so much that I wanted to share it with you.
I feel like I just reached the peak of the mountain, yet at the same time I also arrived at the foot of another mountain.
That is the joy of life. We’re always learning and climbing mountains.
Thank you for coming along this journey with me.
|I’m Jen Kuo — A creator, writer, marketing consultant, systems designer, musician and personal growth enthusiast.|