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Annual Reviews

2022 Review: New Beginnings

green plant sprouting at daytime

Note: My year runs from April to March. Each annual review can be found here: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019.

Overall Reflection

2022 is the year I further grew the roots I needed to create a solid foundation for a new chapter in life, new business and new career to firmly take hold.

I feel like I had finally come into my own this year — the person I’m designed to be from birth. The old identities, beliefs and mindsets I tightly clug onto has finally been shed after a 7 year deconditioning and alignment process.

While I still live life with challenges like every other human being, my mental, emotional and spiritual states have remained healthy — I’ve been living in states of peace, calm, joy and lightness.

Observing myself this year has made me realise that all the suffering, difficulties and challenges we face in life no longer has control over me nor have the power to throw me off track.

How I experience the roller coaster of business and life is completely determined by how I choose to perceive it.

The greatest thing about learning to surrender and watch my life like I’m the passenger in a car has reinforced an even greater sense of self assurance, trust and confidence within myself, which ultimately allows me to move through the unpredictable and chaotic world with ease and flow.

I feel really good about being able to finally validate for myself that the higher intelligence and consciousness that exists inside me intuitively knows what’s good and bad for me. This deep ‘knowing’ allows me to fully trust my inner compass as I let it guide me through life.

Highlight of 2022

The moments that brought me the most joy in 2022:

  • creating my spirit animal and coaster out of Perler Beads
  • meal prep and cooking day with my sister — we taught each other dishes our mum taught us individually
  • finally understanding how I’m supposed to take in information and nutrition according to my design
  • finally meeting some online friends in person

Things To Celebrate

WildFit (2nd round) & Improved Nutrition

poached egg with vegetables and tomatoes on blue plate

At the beginning of the year, I knew I needed to increase my energy so I planned to do WildFit in Aug/Sep. However, once I realised the earlier I get my eating right, the better I’ll feel in my body, so I started in May without further procrastination.

Doing WildFit the second time helped me learn more about how different foods affect me, which made me more aware of different symptoms that showed up in my body.

After Week 5 and for a period of time after the program ended, I was not even thinking about sweets, snacks or junk food. My mind was free and it was awesome.

I realised I need to find better ways to integrate what I learned about nutrition with what I know about my human design. So I’ve decided to revisit WildFit every year until I develop my own nutrition systems that’s sustainable and enjoyable for me, since I’m not interested in “diets”.

This year, I noticed the volume of food I can eat in one meal has significantly decreased. I also learned that Advisors/Projectors are supposed to eat less because we don’t have sacral energy like Builders/Generators.

In December, I was reminded again that my design is nocturnal, so in the spirit of experimentation to validate this truth for myself, I allowed myself to eat whatever I felt like eating at night and not judge myself for it.

Growing up, I’ve been conditioned to eat breakfast. I also thought it was healthier to eat bigger meals during the day and smaller meals at night. However, when I really listened to my body, I actually found that I don’t need much food after I wake up. I’ve been getting by perfectly fine sipping on celery juice, smoothies or eating pieces of fruit during the day, and found that I haven’t needed to eat a proper meal until late in the afternoon or at night.

I also thought it was bad to eat 3 hours before bed. But I actually found it harder to sleep when my stomach is completely empty. I noticed I feel better eating something an hour or two before bed. I’m so glad to break out of all the conditioning around health and all the misinformation out there on how to live healthy.

I definitely found it more beneficial to follow what’s actually true for the needs of my body so I can function at my best.

Performance Systems Refined

white printer paper

One of the core performance systems I have that ensures I achieve my important goals in business and life is my review and planning systems. After trying different approaches over the last 7 years, my processes finally started to come together and run easier.

With a deeper understanding of how I best operate, I restructured and redesigned my review and planning systems — I deleted weekly and quarterly reviews, redesigned 2 week review, added monthly review & mid-month check-in and created a new annual review process.

I’m pleased to have stayed consistent with my improved system and it was very rewarding watching my performance improve in the past year.

The other performance system I’ve honed is my mental performance — the ability to focus on what matters, discern and filter what’s important, what’s relevant and what isn’t.

As a knowledge worker and entrepreneur, mental skills are foundational to our success. The more aligned I became, the easier it is for me to filter out the signal from the noise. The ability to discern what I allow into my mind (information, opinions and advice) has become a strength due to the trust I’ve developed with myself.

Understanding my human design meant I was able to create better ways to take in information and learn better. Knowing that I was never designed to study the way we’re taught in school, and why I’ve always struggled my ass off trying to learn like other people was a game changer.

Alignment also meant I got better at saying ‘NO’ to people and work that isn’t right for me — I didn’t waste my energy, time and resources on too much of the wrong things that didn’t move my business and life forward.

The combination of these ‘performance upgrades’ ultimately enabled me to accomplish more than I thought I would this year.

New Financial System

laptop computer on glass-top table

Financials and numbers has never been a strength, which is why 2 years ago I purposely started developing the habit of doing financial reviews every 2 weeks. I knew that as I developed my new business, I was going to need to setup better financial systems to avoid repeating the mistakes I made in the past.

I saw it as an opportunity to develop my skills in an area where I’m weak. I also wanted to better manage, track and analyse money effectively to make better decisions.

While I don’t need to become an accountant, as a business owner, I recognised the importance of knowing how to manage and talk about finances with people that understand numbers.

This year, I learned how to better think about business finances and how to better structure my bank accounts to make financial management easier and less stressful for myself.

I restructured my bank accounts, worked out monthly & annual expenses and allocation percentages. I restructured MoneyWiz, redesigned my financial dashboard and optimised my financial review workflow. I wanted the ability to produce the reports I need with speed and accuracy.

I’m very proud of myself for this. Because of a better financial system, I noticed that I made better decisions this year and was able to remove the dread, stress and worry that I used to feel about finances.

Being a Leader (COO)

woman in black long sleeve shirt holding white ceramic mug

After a coffee meeting in June, the business owner of a video marketing and production start up convinced me to be her COO to oversee marketing and operations.

While I have never held management positions because climbing corporate ladders never appealed to me. When I stepped into the position of a leader, everything felt natural.

As soon as I saw the inside of the business and how things operate, I immediately knew what to do to direct, lead and guide everyone (including the business owner) and streamlined inefficiencies from day 1.

I eliminated multiple bottlenecks that slowed everyone down, and made lots of changes that got the team working better together in the same direction while I designed better systems.

While typical COO and operational stuff like eliminating unnecessary meetings, running effective meetings, creating guidelines, restructuring Asana, designing effective systems and processes comes naturally to me… I found it more fulfilling to guide and develop the team, and empower people to show up as their best selves at work.

New Phone, New Person

iPhone 6+ & 14 Pro

When I bought the iPhone 6+ in 2015, I was “Jenny”. After 7 years of deep self work and deconditioning, I became “Jen” in the process. Because I felt the need to finally upgrade my phone, I bought the iPhone 14 Pro in October as a reward for all the hard work I put into transforming myself.

The difference and function in iPhone 6+ and iPhone 14 Pro is huge. The 14 Pro is basically a different phone all together. The phone is like the physical representation of how much I’ve changed as a human being in 7 years.

The similarities of the iPhone transformation journey and my self development journey feels uncanny over the same timeframe — the phone went through huge improvements and capacity upgrades just like I have.

Verification of My Design & Energy

Since diving into the world of Human Design in 2021 and gaining deeper self understanding, I’ve experimented and validated many things about how I’m naturally designed to operate in life, and how NOT to build my business in ways that depletes my energy.

One of the fundamental laws of being an Advisor/Projector is “learning to wait for recognition and invitation”, so when people recognises me and asks me for help, the opportunities that show up have a much greater chance of being correct for me.

It’s been very interesting observing how people (prospects, clients and potential business partners) have showed up in my life in the past 3 years because I haven’t done any outreach nor selling at all for those people to express their interest in working with me.

In business, we’ve all been conditioned to first figure out “what’s your offer?”, “what problem are you solving?”, “who’s your target audience?”, “what’s your niche?” and on and on…

However, in reality, I’ve learned through validation and experience that that’s not necessarily the best way to go about building a service business.

While my mind has been attempting to answer those pesky questions for 3 years, I’m surprised every time people turn themselves into prospects mid-conversation, and asks me to work with them even though they’re not clear about what I offer since it’s not on my website. I’ve always been honest about the fact that “I’m still figuring it out”.

After hearing words like these fall out of people’s mouths a couple of times…

“I don’t know where you’re going with your business, but I feel like you can help me out… After chatting with you I believe you can help me with what I need. I’m wanting you to help me review my business and offer some advice to make my business easier to run. I firmly believe you can help me achieve what I want.”

“I can see that you’re a strategic thinker. You can see the bigger picture yet you pay attention to the details, are you open to helping me with this project?”

“I want to work with good people, and you’re a good person.”

“I’d love to have a 3rd eye on my business and you have a fabulous systems thinking mind along with the principles you bring. I need someone to take me out of my business and help me work on the business in a different way to how I’ve been thinking about it cus I just love the way you think.”

I started to believe that my energy is my marketing, and I’ve come to trust my energy way more than what my mind is telling me “what I should do” to build my business.

Human beings are creatures that sense each other’s energy. We instinctively know when we work with the right people, everything in business becomes much easier and more efficient.

It’s super validating to see that the deep self work I committed to since 2015 to align myself back to my true self is starting to pay off.

I’ve proven to myself that when I wait for recognition and invitation, people who want & need my help will ask me. No pushing, convincing, persuading required. Alignment is insanely beneficial on so many levels.

It’s also feels amazing to not waste my energy, time and resources chasing down business like we’ve all been conditioned to do as entrepreneurs/business owners. The old paradigms of how business is done is not only friggin’ exhausting, but ineffective and inefficient.

My experience of creating and building my new business is literally night and day compared to how I used to build businesses in the past.

Launched Website V3.0

assorted-color abstract painting

Ever since V2.0 was created in Dec 2020 (my least favourite version), I attempted to create V3.0 twice without success for 2 years. Even though I hunkered down and wrote tens of thousands of words, I was never satisfied with my core brand messaging.

I was lucky enough to get my 2nd attempt reviewed by my mentors. While it was painful watching my work torn apart by 2 brilliant writers, it was what I needed to create better work. That experience showed me the stark difference in skills between 20+ years of writing experience versus my 7 years, and how much I can still improve.

Websites evolve with core ideas and direction.

From 2020 to 2023, my ideas and direction evolved from Writing → Marketing → Branding → Productivity & Performance → Business Operations → Business Consulting

Different business ideas meant different rounds of marketing development work, which included market research, creating Value Proposition Canvases, empathy maps and writing marathons.

After pivoting 5 times, everything finally clicked once I let go of the conditioning that overshadowed my mind — I let go of what I was taught about business and marketing, and how businesses “should” be built online.

All marketing experts (including my former self) will tell you that you have to niche, and that was the story I kept telling myself.

However, niching and attempting to package myself into a neat little box was precisely my problem. It’s the reason why I struggled my ass off to create V3.0 for 2 damn years.

Every time I niche, I feel like I’m cutting my arms and legs off because I know I have so much more to offer clients than just 1 narrow thing since I can see what they need to improve the way they’re building their businesses.

I’ve known for years that I have the unique Advisor/Projector ability to see the forest from the trees, inefficiencies, as well as seeing past ‘surface level problems’.

Once I stopped listening to my brainwashed digital marketing mind and listened to what actually feels right to me, my messaging started coming together and I’ve been able to create V3.0 with relative ease and flow.

I’m proud that my website is not only just an expression of my true self but it’s also the scaffoldings of a world I’m excited to build because it’s a true representation of the work I want to be doing in my consulting practice.

What I’m Grateful For

  • My landlord/housemate reduced my rent again to help me out with expenses
  • Some client work that gave me some income
  • Spent more time with family
  • Lucas shared more insights with me about being an Advisor/Projector
  • Continuing to be inspired by world class athletes performing at the highest levels of their craft and having the good fortune to watch NBA games on cable TV
  • Never getting bored discovering music and learning new pieces on the piano
  • My parents for being my parents, my family for being my family
  • Desire to be travelling again, I have not been in the mood for travel since 2017

What Surprised Me

While I was away on the road trip with my family in September, this thought surfaced in my mind:

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have a team work on stuff for me while I’m away?”

When I came back to the business game in late 2020, I wanted to keep life and business simple. At the time, I only just wanted to work by myself. While there’s a part of me that wanted a one person business, there’s another part of me that would enjoy the challenge of building a company and leading a team.

I am selfishly intrigued by this question:

“Who do I need to become to build and operate an exceptional company that generates $10 million in revenue?”

There’s a part of me that wants to meet that version of Jen in the future, because the whole point of forging my own path in life is to keep expanding, growing and challenging myself in every way possible.

However, this “new thought” isn’t making me hustle & grind like the idiot I used to be — fuelled by blind ambition to prove I’m worthy of achieving my goals. I’m not leaning towards one side nor the other.

Rather than making mental decisions like I’ve always done, I’m gonna let my inner compass guide me down the path that’s meant for me.

Life is way more enjoyable, surprising and fun when I just enjoy the ride, and stop forcing “external results” from the mind.

I’ll have to wait and see which part of me wins in the next 25-30 years.

Things To Improve

Balance Alone Time & People Time

This year I was able to better see the conundrum that comes with having the 2/4 public profile (1 of 12 profiles in human design).

While I know that I’m a hermit, and I enjoy spending time alone… I also enjoy connecting and building relationships with people because I’m a relationships person. However, spending too much time with people can quickly deplete my energy even if it brings me joy.

This is a balance I have to learn to create in my life in order to satisfy the 2 opposing parts of myself, and to also ensure I don’t end up in ‘recovery mode’ too much.

Patience with Ideation

Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience

This year I learned that I needed to be patient with my ideas, and wait for them to percolate and form before I attempt to materialise them in my external world.

While I did a shit ton of work behind the scenes for 2 years to create website V3.0, I realised that good ideas takes time to develop. Looking back, when I forced myself to produce work for the sake of producing something, the work isn’t usually good.

Once I was aware that I was mentally forcing stuff to happen, I let go of the mental pressure and allowed life to take its course. When ideas came to me, I let them percolate and form in my mind until I felt they were ready to come out.

When I finally let go of my mind… the core ideas, the brand messaging and even imagery that I’ve had fuzzy feelings about, finally connected with clarity.

This is why the work I produced for V3.0 was orders of magnitude better than V2.0. It’s also the reason why I was able to redesign, recreate and rebuild my website from scratch and complete it in 10 weeks.

This is how I’ll be creating and materialising things in my world going forward — with patience, at the pace of nature.

Lessons Learned

People Not Who They Say They Are

woman covering face with white mask

If you’ve been working in the online business/digital marketing space as long as I have, it’s easy to find people who are great at self promotion. Sometimes they are the same people who excel at presenting themselves in public a certain way.

This was a lesson I was reminded of again this year. In hindsight, when I agreed to work as COO, I got caught up in the excitement when the business owner expressed her desire to work with me. My first mistake was not using my decision making strategy correctly.

Because the business owner was introduced to me by a mutual friend, I gave this person the benefit of the doubt and ignored my initial impression/feeling while justifying the opportunity with my mind (which was mistake number 2).

3 weeks into the COO gig, things started feeling off to me. It took me a few more weeks to realise that the business owner I was working with was not who they say they are.

While I was grateful to work as a leader, it’s always disappointing to find out that some people are just too busy wearing masks and painting themselves as someone else.

Working with People with Unrealistic Expectations

woman in white dress wearing green fairy wings

This year I learned that even those who appear to be seasoned entrepreneurs can still have unrealistic expectations when it comes to building a brand new business from scratch.

After only 6 weeks working as COO, the business owner told me she didn’t feel like she needed to be involved in her own start up anymore even though the business still operated in the Survival Level.

I realised that the real reason I was convinced to become the COO was so that the business owner can palm everything off to someone and expect the business to succeed without allowing the time and effort required to learn about the team, the customers and the many products and services.

I learned that some people live in fairyland, and just don’t have the patience and willingness to do the work required to build a business from scratch, while expecting miracles to happen without time and effort. What they really want is the fame, the status and the accolades on the other side of hard work.

Designed To Guide, Not Designed To Do

Projector Aura

While I’ve known that I’m designed to advise and guide people, this year, I learned that I’m really not designed to be “C Level” anything, and I’m definitely not designed to work inside other people’s businesses.

My energy just doesn’t work well when I’m stuck inside other people’s creations. I only get frustrated when I find myself reacting to other people’s chaos and inefficiencies, and I don’t like “getting caught” inside the energy of a group dynamic.

I’ve validated the fact that I don’t perform at my best and do my best work when I’m inside someone else’s business. All it does is it leads me to more irritation when my energy and time is wasted by others fire fighting the urgent, instead of doing important work that actually moves the needle.

As a result of using my energy incorrectly working as COO, I had to spend an entire week just to recover my energy from that experience.

The COO experience validated that I’m designed to guide and direct energy from the outside — to help people think better, to focus on the right things, to ask better questions, to problem solve challenges and to improve businesses and lives with sound advice.

This is why I’ve come to the conclusion that my True North Business is a consulting practice.

With hindsight and tons of personal growth, now I can clearly see why the marketing agency I built in the past (and many other business models I’ve tried) were the wrong businesses for me to build.

With the level of self understanding that I have now, I finally get why I always felt like I was pushing shit up the hill because I was using my energy incorrectly. My body continued to suffer from the consequences in the form of many health problems, until I learned to self correct and align with my true self.

Better Chose Music To Learn

tilt selective photograph of music notes

Once I understood that my mind is not designed to take in information in a focused way (e.g. studying and reading), I found that I was learning music faster by following HD Piano than from reading scores like I was trained to do as a pianist. Reading in general has always been difficult for me, and I finally know why!

I found that if I’m not familiar with the piece I chose to learn, my motivation during practice wanes, and it takes me longer to get the piece right.

Having this insight about myself changed the way I chose the pieces I want to learn. If it doesn’t resonate with me immediately or if I haven’t grown to like it, then I don’t commit to learning it.

Because I’m a “finisher”, I had to learn to not feel bad about abandoning a piece half way through or feel obligated to finish what I start especially if it starts to strain my body (fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and back) too much.

Passion Doesn’t Need To Become Work

woman playing Yamaha piano

This is the biggest insight I learned about myself this year. Coming to the realisation that music doesn’t have to become my “work” lifted huge weight off my shoulders.

I had clug onto the idea of “doing something with music” growing up, since music was the only thing I could see myself doing.

When music came back in my life in 2018 (after losing touch for 15 years), I was over the moon that I was finally able to “do something” with it again. So I immediately bought all the gear I needed to setup my studio and mentally prepared myself to work my way back.

However, after observing myself for 5 years and with the understanding of my human design, I finally understood the role of music in my life.

I realised that the reason why I play the piano is because I truly enjoy the experience since I connect with it. It’s not because I have the desire to perform nor because I feel the need/desire to write.

I’m finally able to stop holding onto my dream of becoming a songwriter again (I’ve already accomplished that in my 20s and decided that is enough for me). I finally let go of my desire to turn my life long passion into a career, and stopped pushing myself to “do something” with music.

It can remain as an activity I love doing for pure enjoyment, connection and bliss. I don’t need music to become my “work”, because I already feel satisfied and fulfilled by the variety of work I get to do in my business.

Recap 2022 Intentions

Develop shutdown/evening routine — stop eating by 8pm, read for 10mins, be in bed by 11pm

Nope — My design is nocturnal so I decided to experiment and validate this for myself.

Visit Judy & the kids every 1-2 months

Done — I spent as much time as I could with them this year. It’s harder to do in the future now that we don’t live in the same city anymore.

Improve physical energy and overall health

Done — I completed WildFit for the second time and walked more until it tapered off again in November. I haven’t incorporated lunges and squats properly into my life yet.

Create coaching & consulting offerings

In progress — This was not easy because I was still pivoting and evolving my ideas. I realised I couldn’t do it until I’ve done the work to launch website V3.0. The typical way of creating offers just didn’t resonate with me.

Build my world online (Website V3.0)

Done — Manifesto, MPPS and all standard web pages have been written and published.

Develop and practice content creation skills

Done — I got better at thinking through narrative arcs, framing and structure. These are writing tools I will continue to hone in order to produce better content.

Develop and practice writing skills

Done — While I didn’t publish much in 2022, I did write a lot as I attempted to create the content I wanted for website V3.0. I did get better at stopping myself from editing when writing shitty first drafts.

Develop and practice PKM skills

Nope — I never carved out time to complete Obsidian Flight School

Develop and practice prioritisation and decision making skills

Done — Staying consistent with my review and planning systems meant I was able to practice my ability to prioritise tasks and projects. I also got better at asking myself questions, and watched myself get better at accomplishing important projects and goals that moved my business and life forward.

Continue to build network & deepen relationships

In progress — Relationship building and maintaining my network are activities I upkeep. The frequency I stay in touch with people varies with my energy. I realised it’s overkill to be revisiting my CRM every quarter.

Practice piano 3 days in a row per week, learn more challenging pieces

Done — While I still only dedicate 3 hrs/week to practice, I managed to learn 13 new pieces I can play by heart in 2022:

2023 Intentions

  • Reduce headache & period symptoms.
  • Continue experimenting with being nocturnal.
  • Deepen human design knowledge and skills.
  • Develop and hone writing & content creation skills.
  • Process and let go of old emotions.
  • More meaningful conversations with people and deepen existing relationships.
  • Build on and expand my online world.
  • Start paying off debts.
  • Improve piano skills.
  • More adventures and enjoyment, more fun with family.

Because I’ve dedicated 7 years to developing the capacity and skills to become a better human and a better leader, I am more confident about helping others to create the change they want to see in themselves as well as their businesses as a consultant and coach.

2023 is about visibility. Now that I have core systems and habits setup for myself, I can dedicate more time and energy to become more visible through my content, and attract more people into my world to create more relationships and opportunities.

I’m Jen Kuo — operational efficiency consultant, systems thinker, writer. But really, I’m a multi-passionate creator.

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