It’s that time of year again where a year is ending and a new one is about to begin. Before we look forward to a fresh start in 2014, let’s take time to look back at 2013.
Why should we do an annual review?
We need to know what worked and what didn’t work this year. We need to make sure we do more of the right things next year. We also need to make sure we’re moving in the right direction and not backwards.
How can we make 2014 much better than 2013 if we don’t stop and give ourselves an annual checkup?
Chris Guillebeau asks himself:
- What went well this year?
- What didn’t go well this year?
This is a great place to start. Two simple questions that will get us thinking. If we need help jogging our memory, take a look at photos, blog posts, our journal, our Instagram feed, Facebook status updates, or anything that will help us remember what we did this year.
Think about what wins we had. It could be small or big. It’s very easy to forget about those, but it’s important to remember the wins. We get to see what we achieved and it gives us confidence to go for bigger wins.
Your Year in Review Worksheet
If you want to go more in depth in your year in review, I’ve created a free worksheet that has questions to help you review your year and plan for the next. By filling it out, you will learn a lot about yourself.
Download it, print it out and find a quiet time to complete it. Don’t rush through it. These questions will really make you think. Be honest with your answers. These are just for yourself.
If you find it that you don’t have much to write down, then next year make sure you consciously do more. It could be because you’re in your comfort zone too much. Make it a goal for next year to be stretch yourself and take more risks.
If you’ve never done a year in review, try it this year. You’ll learn more about yourself. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Don’t just fill this out and put it away. I encourage you to put it in a place where you can access it and refer back to it throughout the year. Because you need to remember the parts of your life you said you needed to eliminate or improve.
Download the worksheet now (right click to save)
My Year in Review
This will be the third time I’ve done a year in review.
I had never done one before 2011. Before I would just made a mental note of what I wanted to accomplish in the new year. 100% of the time I never achieved what I wanted.
Since I’ve been doing it, it’s helped me take a moment and appreciate what I’ve accomplished. It also helps me to count my chips and see how I’ve been doing. If I didn’t earn that many chips, I try and figure why.
I like to look back and reflect, and help me get started in the right direction the next year.
What went well in 2013
I’m going to first mention travel because it was definitely the highlight of my year. Thanks to collecting points and miles from credit card bonuses, and taking advantage of a limited time offer, I booked an amazing itinerary. We went to Sydney for two week and Hong Kong for two weeks.
We flew from Taipei, but didn’t go the direct route to Sydney nor to Hong Kong.
We flew to Beijing, Singapore, Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and back to Taipei. Mostly in first class, some in business class, and once in economy.
I didn’t mind taking the long way one bit because we got to take more flights and more time in the premium cabins.
One flight we got to fly in Singapore’s A380 suites, which was a dream of mine since I first read about it 6 years ago. I never knew if I would be able to afford the outrageous price to experience it, but got a chance this year thanks to redeeming my miles.
I wrote a longer post about our travels so read more about it there. If you want to know exactly how I booked it and start collecting miles and points for your dream vacation, read this post.
World Domination Summit
I’ve been following this conference for two years. I almost went the first and second year. Each time I’d read people’s recap and how amazing it was. I regretted not going both years.
This year I told myself I would finally go and stop wishing I would go.
I’m so glad I went. It’s a really well run conference, and had amazing speakers (which you can watch the replays for free. Well worth it). The best part were the people that attended. I’m looking forward to going next year!
Became a Udemy instructor
I created App Academy to help people learn to develop and outsource an iPhone/iPad app. It was a course I really wanted to do because of all the questions I get about developing an app.
After creating the videos, it took a lot of time to set up the website, upload all videos, and setup a way to handle payments. Had a first group of eager students join.
Then I learned about Udemy, which is a website where you can teach or join a course on just about any topic.
I liked the idea of getting more eyes on my course. I could get free traffic from people browsing or searching on their website. I had been a Udemy customer so I liked how the courses were set up.
So I moved my whole course to Udemy. It was much easier to setup. They host your content, handle all the payments, and every month they send your earnings. They do take a cut of each sale, so that is the tradeoff.
As an option, I had the choice to have Udemy promote my course. Sometimes at a deep discount. Some instructors don’t like this because they don’t want their $99 or $199 course suddenly be available for only $10 for a limited time.
I didn’t mind because I just wanted people in the course and get them to start making an app.
Since my course went live on Udemy in April till December, I’ve earned $3,766. That is with zero marketing on my part. It’s all from Udemy traffic and promotions. I could have earned more if I had done more marketing on my own and reached out to other instructors to promote each other’s courses. I’m still pleased with it.
There are Udemy instructors who have made five and six figures from their courses!
If your goal in 2014 is to create a course, there’s Udemy and other similar websites that make it easier for you to do.
If you have questions about creating a course on Udemy, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer it.
Made iPhone and iPad games
This was a goal I really wanted to do in 2012, but didn’t even begin. Finally this year, I stopped thinking about it and took action.
Games are a huge market, very competitive, but that’s where the majority of the money and users are.
I didn’t have to make original games though. Outsourcing game development is more expensive than a non-game app. What I did was re-skin games. That is buying a license to a game and changing the name of the game and all graphical elements. So it looks like a different game.
It’s a lower cost way to get apps made and the turnaround is quicker.
My first game was Ladybug on the Run. It’s a simple game, but I was excited to call it my own.
Since then I’ve created 28 paid and free games (you can see some here). Some have done well, while others haven’t. That’s part of the business of making games. I just focus on creating more versions of the games that have done well for me.
I’m having fun doing it and plan on doing many more in 2014.
Get Busy Living in 30
This is a course that I felt passionate about because I wanted to help people get unstuck, do more, and be excited about life again. I wanted to take everything I learned and used to turn my life around and put it into a course.
I tried to figure out the best way to deliver that information. I did a survey and majority of readers said emails would be the best way. With a book or video course, it’s easy to forget about it after that initial excitement. With daily emails, it’s a reminder for you and much more convenient.
I’m proud of this course because it’s had a huge impact in some people’s lives. I’ve gotten to really know some people in the course and am so excited to hear how they are doing one year after they finished the course.
If you want to make 2014 your best year yet, I’d love to have you a part of the course! Join today.
What didn’t go well
The not so fun part, but an important part so I can’t ignore it.
As someone who loves to travel, I didn’t do as much as I would have liked. Yes I did get to go to Taipei, Sydney, Hong Kong, Las Vegas for New Media Expo, and Portland for World Domination Summit, but I went the rest of year not getting on a plane at all.
I’m going to put travel back as a priority and travel more in 2014.
I wrote this last year so I have no one to blame but myself. I have a good excuse for not writing as much this time. It’s because the last five months of the year, I’ve been a lot more hands on and doing the re-skins of games myself. It takes up time, but saving me money.
I haven’t written as much as I would have loved. I got emails from people asking me where I’ve been because it went many weeks between articles.
In 2014, I’m making writing a priority. I’m not waiting till then to begin. I’ve been journaling more, doing more free writing in the mornings, and trying to do at least 750 words a day.
Didn’t start a podcast
I went to New Media Expo in January and listened to the overwhelming benefits of podcasting. I left wanting to start one. Not too long after, I hired designer on Elance and got a logo made.
Still I didn’t do anything for my podcast. I kept putting it off and didn’t feel like I was ready, though it’s something I badly want to do.
The resistance was getting the better of me. I had the normal doubts whether or not I’d do a good job. I don’t want a podcast that sucks. I think that’s what’s been holding me back.
I saw others start their podcast and thought that should be me as well.
The good news is that I plan on launching The Get Busy Living Podcast in January. I’m saying it now. No matter what. No more excuses for me. So far I have five episodes done. They are all solo shows, but plan on doing interviews as well.
I’m really excited to be doing a lot of podcasting in 2014. Stay tuned!
Other things that didn’t go so well
- I still get easily distracted. All of the work I do requires my computer, and we all know how distracting being on a computer can be. Even writing this post, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve stopped to do something else.
- Being an entrepreneur and working from home is great, but also tough to know when to take a break. I always feel like there’s something I could be doing. It never ends. I’m not a good husband if I’m always on the computer doing something.
Still a good year
Overall, I still have lots to be thankful for. I’m still alive. I’m healthy. My family is all healthy. I’m doing what I enjoy and excited about 2014. I believe 2014 is going to be my best year yet. I’m going to make it that way.
Finally, I’m thankful for each of you for being a part of this great community!
What about you? What went well and what didn’t in 2013?
Feel free to share your own lessons or comments with other readers.
Photo by Michael Gil
Yogi Allen says
i think i’m going to start doing an annual review. the last two years have been extremely challenging i’m looking forward to progressing more in 2014! Wishing you a healthy and happy 2014! Look forward to your podcast!
Benny Hsu says
Give it a try Yogi. Honestly it doesn’t hurt to try and only good things can come out of doing an annual review. Happy new year to you as well and check here to know when the podcast comes out!
Lorraine Marie Reguly says
I have thought about becoming a Udemy instructor, too, and loved that you shared this experience here, Benny. Thanks.
Benny Hsu says
If you are serious about it, send me an email and be happy to answer questions about it.
Lorraine Marie Reguly says
I will. Thank you, Benny.
Janell Casey says
Haven’t done podcast too… Let me know how it works then 😀
Freedom Jackson says
This is excellent thanks for sharing man, I keep hearing more and more good things about udemy
Courtney Johnston says
I’m making writing a priority in 2014, too, Benny!
Benny Hsu says
Great to hear! I know for me it needs to be a daily habit so I’ll do it without having to think about it.
Nick Loper says
Looking forward to the Get Busy Living podcast! Happy New Year! Are you in Vegas next weekend for NMX?
Benny Hsu says
Thanks Nick! Looking forward to a new medium. I looked at flights to Vegas a couple weeks ago but way too expensive. Guess that’s what I get for procrastinating. You going?
Nick Loper says
Yep, first time to the show. Looking forward to it!
Benny Hsu says
You’ll have fun, meet lots of people, and it’s in Vegas! 🙂
Sam Dogen says
Welcome back Benny! Glad you’re going to still blog on occasion. I enjoyed your Airbus post! My review post is coming out on Wednesday. Anything can still happen tomorrow!
Benny Hsu says
Good point! Look forward to reading yours Sam.
Chris Stott says
Great work Benny. All the best for 2014, looking forward to the podcast!
Benny Hsu says
Hey Chris! Hope you’re doing well and happy new year to you!
Andrew Connell says
Nice travel hacking story… holy crap I need to look into that. And starting up a podcast! Fantastic! Can’t wait to listen in! BTW, I’ve learned a few tricks with producing the podcast (not all have been applied to mine yet) & would love to sync to share tips & techniques since we’re both local! Happy New Year!
Mark Insight says
Think it has been a year since I followed your blog. Wanted to stop by and see how things are going.
I remember Neil Patel talking about how he was inconsistent for one month when it came to posting. He lost about half his traffic and it took him another 3 months to get it back.
I’ve seen other bloggers hire someone to write for 3 months while they do another project. Just a thought.
Hope 2014 is awesome for ya!