2018 Year in Review + PowerSheets Goal Reflections

The companion Bloom & Grow Show podcast episode for this blog post is available for your listening pleasure here.


Did you know right now is the magic time between Christmas and the New Year?

The kind where you seem to lose the idea of what day it is and are just soaking in the rest. There’s a lingering feeling of something new and exciting on the horizon.

But before we get there, we need to look back in order to make a plan forward…

For me, I’m looking back on 2018 with such love and gratitude. My word for 2018 was JOY and I felt so much of it this year. There is so much power in choosing a word of the year! It is like a little guiding light for you.

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I’ve done a lot of self-work over the last year and my reflection back holds so much depth than it would have in the past.

Usually I am so eager to jump into the new year and on to bigger and better things, but this year, I’m savoring these memories. Honoring them, if you will.

It was fun, busy, colorful, tiring, restful even among the chaos -- just full of so much growth and JOY. There were hard times but so many sweet times!

There’s always this talk about “highlight reels” on social media. As I spent time on this blog post for a recap of 2018 highlights, and I’m struck at how much joy is in the memories of the photos I’ve selected. These memories are sandwiched in between tears, frustrations, tantrums and meltdowns, but that is what makes them all the more beautiful.

How joy can rise to the surface. 💕

My friend Cathy Olson shared with me recently that your brain never remembers a memory the same way each time you recall it, and that usually it’s better than what actually happened. That your brain processes the memory differently based on the knowledge and experience it has now vs it did when the memory was made. Fascinating, right?

Based on what I know now, let all our highlights in our memory be as good as they are so we have the intention to keep living this life as bright and beautiful as 2018 has been.

Here’s a recap of highlights from this year:


January

I kicked off January with a girl’s weekend in Seattle. I had won plane tickets on Alaska Airlines that expired the first week of January.

The only destination Alaska flies from Nashville was to Seattle, so I called up my girlfriends who I know would be down for a trip at a moments notice and off we went.

We masterminded and had lots of business chats, but when I look back at the weekend as a whole I’m just grateful for the adventures with these ladies...we’ve been through so much life even though we live in completely different states. My goofy weird self can just giggle (and dance and sing). It’s good to be around people who let your light shine.

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January was also my first launch of Flourish 5-Day Marketing Plan workshop online and I was floored at the response, with hundreds of women enrolling in the online workshop. (spoiler alert: Flourish will be back in January 2019!)

To be honest, this was just the response I needed — it gave me the confidence boost I was needing to know that other women wanted and craved this information for their business.

This boost helped set me on the path for creating other new programs in 2018. Long held dreams for programs in my business were finally coming to fruition this year.

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As a bonus, I’m releasing from the Flourish vault the interviews from 2018 from now until mid-January when we start Flourish for 2019. Have a listen on The Bloom & Grow Show podcast!

I had so much fun teaching this live online workshop even with a snowstorm (in Nashville, this is anything more than 1“) that cancelled school for the week and our house getting hit with the flu. (This is a trend you’ll start to notice…)

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February

I traveled to my business coach, Amber Lilyestrom’s mastermind retreat in Orlando. My work with Amber this year has been one filled with a lot of mindset work. She has the talent to constantly challenge me on my strategic thinking and instead teach me to rely on my intuition and what’s best for me. The best part of our work together is her helping me to trust myself and as she calls it, come home to who I really am.

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I look back at that particular retreat experience, and it reminds me that sometimes you end up getting on planes not really knowing why or having a true need, but trusting that you’re supposed to be there.

It revealed itself in the form of soul-worker Karen Kenney. I had the chance to meet her previously, but a lot of words and work done that weekend have stayed with me, for which I am grateful.

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During this month I also started garden dreaming and playing in my Joyful Garden Planner. Spending time on this creative project always makes me feel whole. I love the photographs, the gluing and pasting, and little creative accents that remind me of my former scrapbook days.

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Pssst…you can get your own Joyful Garden Planner for 30% off now through December 31, 2018!

My journaling practice also kicked up into higher gear. I enjoyed slower mornings and more intentional time before my work started for the day. Journaling was a big win for me in 2018.

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I also started training for a half marathon (spoiler alert: my training only lasted about six weeks before I gave up…). The lipstick on my teeth in this photo should have been an early indication I wasn’t going to be successful in this endeavor. ;) This is the third time I’ve tried training for a half marathon, and I’m starting to think maybe this dream isn’t for me.

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March

We publicly shared that I would be stepping down from the Cultivate What Matters team as Marketing Director. The full transition didn’t happen for a couple of months and was bittersweet, but I know was the right decision. As someone who loves to work and has put her career and business pursuits ahead of her family for more than a decade, I heard God’s calling for a different pace and path.

After 2.5 years, it was time to devote more time to my family’s needs at home -- mostly getting extra time with this little monkey before she is off to kindergarten.

I continue to serve the team in a consulting role, which I am so grateful for.

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In March, we travelled internationally with the kids for the first time and had an amazing spring break at the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We loved our experience and the bonus perk of butler level service thanks to my hard work in my business.

I have always loved setting vacation goals in my business. Think on how you can bless you/your family with a trip courtesy of your business this year!

Our kids still ask us when we’re going back because they had such a great time (and all the pizza and ice cream!). I’m with them and would love to go back sometime in 2019.

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My mini-me and I wore Lilly Pulitzer every chance we could!

I also paddleboarded for the first time and my heart soared when I stood up for the first time on the caribbean sea! I came home from this trip rested, tan, even more blonde(!), and assured that this time with family was exactly what we all needed.

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I had two more trips (back to back) in March! First to speak at Making Things Happen conference in Chapel Hill, NC and then on to Orlando to join my friend Cathy at my first Funnel Hackers Live.

Funnel Hackers Live was a marketing strategy lover’s paradise. It was at this event that inspired me to scale my business further. It also planted the seed of creating a stronger tribe for this community, and the creation of the Sweet Life Sisterhood.

While in Orlando, we snuck in a trip to Disney World - not once but twice - which restored my faith in Disney. Let’s be real -- experiencing the park without toddler meltdowns and peak time of year is not a lot of fun. This was totally the opposite of that!

I look back at Spring as a point in the year when I really started to break out of the shell of my former self. I was laughing, living, dancing, and feeling more joy than ever before.

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This month I also joined Arbonne as an Independent Consultant (after using and loving the products for months) and got ready for my first 30-day Healthy Living challenge.

I also planted 3 more peonies for the peony patch bringing the grand total to around 24 peony plants. Officially #crazyplantlady

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April

My first Arbonne 30-day Healthy Living Challenge was a success! I felt amazing and loved my results (close to 10lbs and a whole dress size, not to mention the energy). I can’t wait to do another challenge this January. You can join me, too!

I traveled to Pensacola, Florida to speak at the Creative Founders Conference. This was my third time speaking at this conference over the last 5 years. A fun fact, I was an attendee at the very first conference when it was known as Stationery Academy.

I had a wonderful time teaching and sharing alongside friends and other speakers Maghon Taylor and Shunta Grant.

While in the adorable downtown Pensacola district, I was able to do a photoshoot with Anna Filly. These photos are some of my favorite to date thanks to the colorful walls around town!

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At the end of this month, we had our first camping trip of the season to Davy Crockett State Park! This would kick off a crazy camping season that was a lot of work (packing and unpacking the camper) but hold so many fun memories.


May

I hosted my 10th Inspired Retreat experience! As always, I aim to get better and better at what we do, and this time was no different! This retreat we had an official initiation ceremony for the Sweet Life Sisterhood, which was full of giggles and floral crowns.

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The peonies bloomed in the backyard and Kayla and I were the happiest bunch around the week they were all in full bloom!

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The garden and other plants around the house began to really grow and thrive as well.

With summer break, it was time to bring on all the outdoor adventures! We headed to Defeated Creek which is one of our favorite camping spots because of the lakefront sites and beach.

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June

Summer was in high gear and I found myself doing things on my summer bucket list that I had always longed for. There were balloon fights in the backyard and long days spent in the garden.

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This was before the hard stuff kicked in.

This same month, my husband had an intense back surgery, and literally on the way home from the hospital, I get the call that Kayla has a severe poison ivy allergic reaction. The cherry on top? The stomach flu then made its rounds through the house.

All around the same time I hosted a free Summer Social Soiree Challenge.

Because this is mompreneur life at its finest. No better time to host 800+ women in a challenge when your home is falling apart in the background…

After we made it through the plague, I decided that I didn’t have enough fun going on and then ventured to take the kids camping ALONE and IN A TENT for FOUR DAYS.

My husband was still not recovered enough and I didn’t want our camping spot at Fall Creek Falls State Park to go to waste. Taking the trailer myself wasn’t a good idea no matter how much I thought I could wing it.

I decided to be bold and be the mama my kids will tell their kids about. Hopefully they won’t remember Day 3 when I had lost my living mind and was ready to fold my cards. My husband called my bluff and I survived one more final day in the wilderness out of pure proof that I AM STRONG.

The secret to this: plan as many activities as you can to make it all move along much faster.

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The cherry on top to this highlight? I come down with the stomach flu within hours of arriving back home. Praise God that didn’t happen on the camping trip.

In June we also welcomed in a few more dozen new women to the Flourish workshop! The mid-year point was a great refresher for many to create a marketing plan for the second half of the year.

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Later in the month, I received word that my Dad had several serious health issues and the very next day I hopped on a plane to surprise him for his birthday and Father’s Day.

The week in Las Vegas was a good visit and a nice change from always having the kids with me. We ate lots of Mexican food and played bingo. It reminded me of my younger years and I will always be grateful for this week with family.

I finished up the month with recording the intro and first episode of The Bloom & Grow Show podcast.

It is hard getting over the hump of the first recording, but once I did it, I truly embraced the ‘done is better than perfect’ motto.

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My podcast is anything but perfectly polished. For me, it was of greater importance to be as authentic to how I naturally sound — which means I mispronounce some things and you hear noises in the background thanks to my dog Tucker and the UPS man — from time to time.

One fact you should also know: I rarely go back and listen to any of my episodes after I record them. My heart for delivering content via this channel is to be short, sweet and to the point. Which also happens to be my production plan. It helps me get things done without getting critical or caught up in my head, which is a plus for me!



July

This month was filled with many weekends (3!) of camping trips. From the Smoky Mountains to places close to home, we went tubing, swam in all the lakes and rivers, ate all the ice creams and snow cones we could handle, and ended up with some pretty amazing tans!

The garden also put on its big summer color show.

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I picked up this cute little coral number for my suitcase to Savannah, Georgia to speak at the Stream Communications Dream Retreat.

Yes, I loved this dress so much it deserved its own highlight.

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My girl Maghon Taylor came along for the ride and we had a wonderful girls weekend living it up in this adorable southern city!


August

The kids went back to school wrapping up a summer where I felt like I gave it my all when it came to family coming before my business. This intentional time spent with them gave way to all the continued thriving in the second half of the year in my business.

In this month, my husband and I travelled up to New England. We spent some time in Boston and Portland, Maine before I headed to Portsmouth, NH for a mastermind retreat.

A bonus to my time in Portland, I was able to have an in-person working session with Nicole Boucher, my Director of Operations, who has worked alongside me (virtually) for two years now. It was so fun to be in her hometown!

It was an easy work session with views from our Airbnb like this:

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I love, love, love New England in the summertime. We made a vow to return again for a longer trip.

I left my mastermind retreat in Portsmouth with a refreshed heart and mind for the work I’d been called to do. I also came home with some pretty new crystals and a rock with a special little reminder on it. It was perfect timing because in this season I had found myself in my usual overthinking ways, not making much room for the dance parties.

September

This month I got my groove back. Both figuratively and literally.

Before hosting my 12th Inspired Retreat, Maghon flew to town early and we attended a cardio concert with our favorite YouTube star and dancer, the Fitness Marshall.

My favorite dance? You can watch it here.

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September’s Inspired Retreat found me, in a word, content.

Even a return attendee commented at how present I was, soaking up every moment, compared to previous experiences where I was a little busy bee. I can say without hesitation our event is a well-oiled production and even hurricanes can’t bring us down (this Fall was our SECOND hurricane experience).

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At this retreat, I unveiled The Sweet Life Sisterhood manifesto in its final form, and our initiation ceremony was lovely and heartfelt (with of course, a few giggles).

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I had introduced the Inspired Coterie Mastermind in the weeks leading up to the retreat and I was so excited to start the journey with these high-level, committed women.

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I loved having my full team at this Inspired Retreat sharing their expertise in breakout sessions. While it’s true they are contractors and work with other clients, the truly are committed to the AH team, the work I am inspired to lead, and serving our community (YOU!) well.

They also are willing to dress up in AH brand colors without even asking, which is a major bonus.

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October

The Bloom & Grow Show Podcast officially launched and received a warm welcome! We are already up to 3,000+ downloads which blows my mind.

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We spent my birthday weekend at…you guessed it, a campground. I loved the sunrise views from our campsite which was a gift in itself. Sunrises are just pure magic to me these days.

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The Inspired Coterie Mastermind coaching calls and program officially kicked off! This program was something that had been on my heart to do for YEARS and I’m so happy how it all came together in alignment this month. The women in this group are launching products, programs, podcasts, books and other big things!

I’m so excited to support them with marketing strategy and business coaching while also providing a private community and sisterhood for them. Interested in joining the 20+ women in the mastermind? Apply here.

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I traveled to Las Vegas with the kids for Fall Break so they could hang with their cousins and grandparents while I attended my 20 year high school reunion. I LOVED my high school years and this was the first reunion I attended. I loved seeing old friends and dancing until the wee hours of the morning to 90s hip hop.

We wrapped up this month with final camping trip of the season which included our first REAL hike (3 miles roundtrip!) as a family. I gave thanks for this adventure and all the big kid adventures to come!

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Also, my beloved dahlias bloomed in the garden and I gave thanks for the finale of a lovely growing season.

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November + December

This month and December is a bit of a blur. The holidays can do that to you.

I decorated the house for the holidays on November 1, my earliest time ever. Which made me feel way ahead of the game.

The whole season I was pinching myself at my ability to get things done. You see, for 15+ years this last quarter of the year is the busiest season at work and I longed for a time when I could do all the things I wanted to do at home without feeling stressed to cram it all in.

Even with this ‘extra time’ I still managed to send out our holiday cards late. HA! We skipped an official family photo session this year and opted for a casual one in the backyard on Thanksgiving Day. You could say this summed up how easygoing I was this year.

During this season, we released the Sweet & Savvy Social Bundle.

It was the first time I had released anything for the Black Friday holiday, and while it did okay, I learned that most of my audience was shopping for personal gifts, not necessarily business ones. It was a good experiment all in all, which is one of my big takeaways from my time in December with Melyssa Griffin at Amber Lilyestrom’s In(her) Circle Mastermind Retreat.

Let all the strategies you do be an experiment and not to tie your worth to the outcomes.

While in California, I went through another transformation.

One with just a lot of excitement, energy, and a knowing from God that I was on the right path. You can listen to some of my key takeaways on this Bloom & Grow Show podcast episode.

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In this season, I brought on my long-time friend (we’ve known each other for 10 years from our mutual work in the Nashville wedding industry) Kristin Kaplan as an Integrator to the AH team. This was my last puzzle piece on the team (for now) in scaling the AH business to get ready for 2019 and so I could focus on program content, the mastermind program, and new projects.

We had a planning day in December where we made a sales revenue plan for 2019 and went month by month to set goals, content, and launches.

Naturally, I used some of my own tools to get this work done. My business goal-setting workbook and my Flourish marketing plan workbook were so helpful in this planning session.

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Which brings us here to the year end!

As I’ve started work on setting goals in my PowerSheets for 2019, I wanted to do a quick reflection on progress of my 2018 goals.


2018 Goals Reflection + PROGRESS

  • Transform my body and health to the best it can be

    There was progress made here. I learned what worked (Arbonne nutrition products) and didn’t work (Keto) when it came to food. I found myself enjoying Barre class and yoga at home. I get a lot of energy from being outside and am already looking forward to hikes by our house in the spring. Was there a giant transformation and the best that it can be? No. I now know I had a lot of soul/self/mindset work to do first before I could tackle this goal with intensity in 2019.

  • Transition + thrive in my new role as a mama first (and work at home mama second)
    If there was one goal that I can confidently say I tackled, it was this one. Did I feel confident before I jumped into it in March? Heck no. I felt the fear and did it anyway (hello 4-day solo camping trip). There’s still more work here to do in 2019, but the transition is complete.

  • Rejuvinate + organize our family lifestyle, our home, our living spaces

    Some progress here. I moved my desk furniture around in my office where I faced the window and backyard and it has definitely helped inspire my work and productivity. However, as my husband asked me just this week, “is the office ever going to be done?” I still have plenty of things that need purging and organizing. This is a common theme throughout the house. Placing more emphasis on this goal in 2019.

  • Intentionally make time for new adventures, self care, rest, and creating.

    Lots of progress here! We went on SO MANY adventures as a family and I said yes to a lot of new ones for my business. I learned a lot of new self care practices and creative pursuits. Lots of time spent journaling. My paint by number I started earlier in the year is about complete. I took some self-development classes and learned a lot about mindfulness. I can’t wait expand my learnings more in the new year.

  • Practice financial peace in personal + business finances.

    This goal ebb and flowed. Some months we were really good about using EveryDollar for budgeting, other months we completely forgot it. We had so many large expenses with medical bills (for both family and our dog) that it put a damper on our mood in this area. In my business, I more than doubled our revenue from the year previous, but my expenses were higher than I would like as I prepared for scaling the business. I feel really strongly about this goal and have an intention to make this a priority in 2019.

  • Flourish + delight in my faith walk.

    I feel good about this goal. “Delight” is something that definitely comes to mind when I look back at my spiritual growth this year. I incorporated meditation and more prayer journaling into my daily activities and I feel really satisfied in this area. We didn’t attend church regularly with all of our activities, but I didn’t feel regretful or bound to it. Our church recently started broadcasting over YouTube in addition to a podcast, so I catch sermons as I’m out and about. They are offering a weekday service in the new year which I’m excited for us to try.

  • Fulfill the long-held dreams and goals of my business.

    SO much progress here! Between the launch of the mastermind program and the podcast, to the free challenges we offered, to the manifesto creation and the Sweet Life Sisterhood, I loved all the progress we made in serving women to create thriving businesses and joy-filled lives! Somehow I did it all by putting my family first and fitting my business into my life rather than my life into my business. Goals and numbers were smashed and I’m excited to continue the work and momentum in 2019.

  • Read 24 books that support my goals.

    Loved the progress here! I read close to 18 books with lots of fiction, non-fiction, business, and faith all mixed in. I’ll be adding this back as a goal for 2019 under the category of self-care.


Next week I’ll be sharing my 2019 goals for both personal + business as well as my word of the year! In the mean time, here are some great resources to do your own reflection and goal setting work:

Amber HousleyComment