I typically do my annual review (in private) around my birthday 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 Review is April 2019 – March 2020, which makes me one quarter ‘behind’ the norm. I’m documenting this for myself now that I have a website. I hope you can learn something from it as well.
I plan on documenting and publishing my Annual Reviews for 2015-2018. The last 5 years were some of the toughest years of my life, where I was forced to examine every aspect of it. Our greatest learnings come from all the shit we have to go through, where our life lessons become our greatest teachers to help us grow and lead us to where we want to go. I believe everything negative that has happened in my life is FOR me, not TO me. I have so much gratitude for the peace, deep happiness and alignment I have now because of all the lessons I learned.
Review of My 2019 Goals
Main Goal: Start a business in alignment with me.
I grew tired of starting, building and pivoting in business alone. I wanted guidance and support. I wanted someone to help me pull my business vision together in a way that makes sense for me. So, I borrowed money from my parents and invested in a 12-month Business Mentorship Program.
I started 2019 wanting to build a business in the Health space because of the great results I achieved in 2018 by turning my own health around, while also helping a friend lose 15kg as his coach.
Top 3 Goals:
- Generate revenue
- Become good at selling
- Improve coaching skills
Things To Celebrate
Housemate moved out in March 2019, which meant I finally have the bathroom all to myself. No more sharing bathrooms! Now it’s just me and Terry (owner) in the house. This means more space for my things, especially in the kitchen.
Terry originally wanted to get a cleaner which I didn’t feel was necessary. I negotiated a deal with him to allow me to use the garage without a rental increase in exchange for a big kitchen spring clean. He is happy the kitchen is clean, I am happy I have a lock up garage to park my car. Win-win.
Relationships — 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 felt like I was trapped in a big tangled ball of mixed emotions and energy. It’s a mix of love for them, but at the same time all the Asian cultural beliefs and behaviours they adopt that doesn’t align with my own.
The tension was mainly due to our differences (in basically most things). How I wanted to be treated (a grown adult) VS. how they treated me (a child). Our different beliefs about work, career, marriage, relationships, and the way we see the world.
For years, I felt trapped and suffocated. The energy I felt from them was overbearing and I didn’t like it. All I wanted was for them to leave me alone so I can do my own thing and find my own path in life.
I never felt like they trusted me or believed in me to find my own path in life, so tension just kept building over time.
Because I’ve always struggled with words, I never knew how to express myself openly and honestly, and tell them how I really felt. I was never able to talk to them (or anyone for that matter) — it’s been a personal struggle.
I finally puckered up the courage to talk to them in February 2019 and felt the weight finally lift off my chest and my shoulders.
I am so glad our strained relationship has finally move to a better place. And I’m proud of myself to say everything I needed to say.
Inner Work — Personal Growth
I continued to struggle to get clarity with my niche and offers for the new business I wanted to build.
At the end of March, I reached out to my healer friend and was told my body and nervous system was in freeze. It’s the reason why I felt stuck and couldn’t move forward in my new business, because I simply didn’t have clarity and vision.
I experienced a lot of confusion. I had no idea what I really wanted to build and work towards.
In early April, I had a chart reading and did body work sessions with my friend. The takeaway was I needed to learn to really listen to my body.
After feeling very unproductive, frustrated and stuck in March and April… I finally came to terms with the idea of getting a job. I had to work through the shame, the feeling of failure (yet again), and the negative emotions associated with the idea of working for someone else.
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 had to coach myself and turn my mindset around.
2 months into the 12-month Business Mentorship Program… I decided to defer and pulled myself out of the program in May.
I completely tossed business to the side.
I didn’t want to think about it anymore, I stopped learning everything related to business. I wanted nothing to do with it and gave myself space. I told myself to not build anything until I have absolute clarity and alignment.
So I dedicate time to myself, practiced and learned to listen to my body, practiced meeting its needs, and finally understood the importance of it after a full year of practice.
I had no idea how long it was going to take for me to find clarity and alignment. I prepared to give myself space for at least 2-3 years.
The “length of time” was not important. What’s important was I trusted that I was going to eventually find my way.
Looking back, this is the best thing I did for myself. Give myself the time and space that I needed so something better can emerge.
On 24th June, I started a low stress, boring, temp job in business support that was close to home. The job was to serve these specific purposes:
- Pay the bills
- Help me pass time while I practiced being patient in order to get clarity and alignment around my vision for my career and business
- Give me the mental space to focus on my health and build good habits
The 6-week temp assignment turned into a 9 month gig. They kept renewing my contract a month or two at a time. It was very annoying because I still had to keep job hunting while working the temp job.
Because I kept in touch with recruiters over 9 months, I ended up building good relationships with some of them.
The contract finally finished on 13th March 2020, just before COVID lockdown.
In late January 2020, I started getting the feeling that it was “time for a change”. Then, in early February 2020, I had a serendipitous meeting with the owner of a digital marketing agency (through one of the recruiters), and landed a job that ticked all my boxes in March 2020 — literally the day after my birthday.
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 physical pain.
Since discovering the Medical Medium through my sister and hearing about her improvements to her health, I 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. I invested in a juicer and a blender, and got used to the process of juicing and making smoothies everyday.
In August 2019, I discovered I could finally sit in the back row of the bus on my way to work, and didn’t feel anxious or get sick and queasy! This was huge for me!!!
I was never able to sit in the back seat of the car without getting sick. I couldn’t read or even look down on my phone when I’m commuting or travelling. Travelling for me has always been a shitty experience.
I hated all forms of transport (cars, trains, buses, planes, ferries, boats). Getting on any kind of transport means anxiety because I never knew when I was going to start feeling nauseous.
Nothing I’ve tried in the past (doctors, nutritionists, diets, health programs, health coaches, Eastern and Western medicine) has helped me heal from life-long chronic dizziness and motion sickness.
It’s so good knowing I finally have the right information to follow to keep healing my body and improve my health.
Over the past year, my cooking skills improved, my confidence in the kitchen improved and my health improved even more because I had a steady income that allowed me to invest in the tools, food and supplements I needed for my body.
Things To Improve
I thought 2019 was my year to start building a new business. Oh how bloody wrong was I!
When I was renewing domain names I owned in March 2019, I discovered JenKuo.com became available (it had some weird Asian site on it the last time I checked). So I took it as a “sign from the universe” that 2019 was my year to start building a new business. 🤦🏻♀️
I felt like a loser pulling out of the 12-month Business Mentorship Program and was super annoyed at myself that I wasted a lot of money, because it was not the right time for me to be building anything.
The whole experience in 2019 reminded me again why ‘inner work’ and self mastery is a priority over my work and career, because it’s the foundation to everything else in life. I wanted to get my foundations right.
By the way, I shared how I first became aware of this perspective in 2015 on this page.
My physical body, emotions, relationships and time all come before my career. Once I put everything into perspective (again), and gained confidence in those areas… things started shifting for me in early 2020.
At the end of March 2019, I had to take my new keyboard in for warranty repairs because the Grand Piano sound stopped working and affected a bunch of other sounds.
This meant I had to break the piano practice streak I built up throughout 2018 and early 2019. The repair took about a month cus they had to ship it to another city to fix it.
As a result, piano practice slipped off my radar in 2019 as I ended up dedicating the majority of my time and effort to my body, 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. Watching my bank account dwindle switched my brain to ‘panic mode’, and I came up with a bunch of random, short term business ideas.
Panic and stress was the wrong energy to start a new business, yet unconsciously it was what I carried around for the longest time.
2 months into Mentorship, 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 opportunities as “my way out” — my prison break.
I was miserable at the time. I hated pretty much everything about the job. I hated the culture, working with people I don’t get along with, wearing business clothes I hated wearing, wasting time commuting 3 hours to work everyday, no opportunity to learn new things…
My life sucked. I felt trapped.
I was bored, unfulfilled and depressed. I still remember, every time I got up from my cubicle and walked over to the window on the 31st floor, all I wanted to do was jump out.
I wanted to run away… as far away as possible from my shitty life.
That was the energy I brought into business from Day 1. I hustled my ass off, and worked around the clock. I learned anything and everything I could about how to make money online. I just wanted to make enough money to be able to quit my job.
I finally understood why I was never able to see past one year beyond what I was building because I had no clarity of vision. Everything was for short term gain, and I kept pivoting because none of it felt right.
I would either end up hating what I’d built or get sick of the work because I don’t enjoy the process. The work always felt hard, and I felt boxed in. I had anxiety about everything I did in business, because I was full of self doubt 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. All by “brute force”, and by pushing myself hard to “achieve goals”.
I built businesses for the sake of building a business to avoid getting another job. I had so much negative emotions tied around the idea of jobs because of my experience.
In April 2019, I had finally recognised the pattern and the energy I was perpetually stuck in, and understood why I struggled my ass off in business since 2010.
It was a real “face palm” moment. Probably one of the biggest revelations I had in business.
As soon as I pulled out of Mentorship, 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 (masculine energy) — 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.
I practiced “being and feeling” (feminine energy) instead of “doing and thinking” (masculine energy).
I focused on getting good at the mundane things in life. The basic stuff — grocery shopping, preparing food, cooking, 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 can 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 good, peaceful, joyous life — nutrition, movement, gratitude, mindfulness, compassion, patience, understanding, being present, and enjoying the process.
In hindsight, I needed to master myself.
I wanted to make sure those fundamental life skills and habits were established and ingrained in me before I go back to the business world. Because I know from experience that the fundamentals can so easily be overlooked or forgotten once responsibilities start piling on from business, and from other areas of life.
I needed to ensure those habits grew some roots and firmly take hold in my being so they become a part of me, and that I don’t overlook them again.
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 realised how content I became with how little I actually need to live a good life… I was then able to start trusting that I will eventually find my way and I will know what kind of work I really want to do.
I trusted that “I will know” when something within me changes. I trusted that I will feel different when the time comes.
So for the rest of the year, I continued to show up to the temp job, do what I needed to do, didn’t overthink as I continued to job hunt and didn’t over-analyse “Which job is the right one for me?” because deep down I knew the only right job for me is the one I create for myself.
I mentally prepared myself to live this way for at least another 2-3 years, until I have clarity and alignment. I knew it takes time to emerge. It’s not something you can rush. I just had to learn to respect and trust that life happens in my own timing.
Choosing to “Go Slow”
When I finally felt in alignment in March 2020, I knew I was ready to build a new business… it was going to be my True North Business. The universe was finally calling.
As excited as I was about this new change in energy, I decided to do things differently this time around, and not listen to popular business advice.
I wanted to trust my own intuition instead, and carry over everything I learned in the past year.
My immediate thought was “Go turtle speed. Don’t rush. Take your time, and do it your way.”
The popular advice you hear all the time in business is “grow fast”, “scale”, “hustle”, “growth hack everything”. Entrepreneurs want to do everything fast.
Another problem with the business world is it has adopted the finite mindset language — ‘beat the competition’, ‘capture market share’, ‘win at all costs’ — but business is not a finite game.
For me, that’s the wrong mindset to play the game of business. It has the wrong energy I don’t want to associate with.
I’m playing the infinite game. My only goal is to perpetuate the game. To stay in business for as long as possible, so I can keep playing with as little stress and chaos as possible.
“Finite players play to beat the players around them … infinite players play to be better than themselves.” — Simon Sinek
I decided to only compete with myself. The mindset of self-improvement — getting better day after day relative to where I am — is the most important metric.
Self-improvement means improving my skills, delivering better experiences for my customers, creating better products, continuously solving tougher problems, spending more of my time in my ‘flow zone’, and doing what I’m best at, etc.
I want to build and grow slowly. I want stability and sustainability. I want my business operations to be calm, low stress, and enjoyable.
I’m choosing to slow down in order to speed up.
I think it’s better (smarter) to be the tortoise, not the hare.
Less Focus on “Goals”
In the spirit of doing things differently, and not listening to popular business advice… I decided to not focus on “numbers” and “goals”.
I realised achieving “goals” and “hitting certain numbers” don’t really give you the sense of fulfilment people think it does. The feeling of achievement is always short lived.
I learned it’s better to enjoy the process, and the journey.
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 hit ANY of my goals I set out to do… and to be honest, I didn’t care that I didn’t hit my goals.
Because I got something way better! I got clarity and alignment.
Life always has a way to throw things at you that you couldn’t have planned for.
I’ve also stopped doing 12-Month Planning for business — meaning giving myself “certain timeframes” to accomplish certain things.
I took the pressure off myself and stopped feeling like I needed to do them in order to be successful. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to know the direction you’re going.
But once you figure out where you want to go, you just need to start taking steps towards it. That’s all I’ve done since March 2020… and I feel like I’ve already accomplished more in my first 3 months of 2020, than what I’ve previously done in business in an entire year.
Instead of focusing on goals, I now focus on intentions and projects.
Intentions for 2020-2021
Show Up, Connect & Serve
- Create honest, soul-level work
- Create connection, community and culture
First 3 Months of 2020 (April to June):
What I have already accomplished:
- Build a personal brand website — launched on 1st May
- Start a newsletter — first subscriber on 21st April, first newsletter sent 19th May
- Start a blog — new blog section launched on 3rd July with 2 new posts
Next 9 Months (July 2020 to March 2021):
What my intentions are 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.
Thank you for coming along this journey with me.