When I started this blog, one thing that I knew I wanted to do at the end of each year (or in this case at the beginning of a new one) is to conduct an Annual Review and share it publicly.
I'm excited to share with you, my very first annual review, highlighting my successes as well as my failures in 2015 and my plans for 2016.
You may be asking yourself, why do a public review when you can just as simply do this privately?
Well, I have two reasons.
First, if I'm going to work on discarding my own anxiety and leading this community to do the same, I have to be willing to share my ups and downs with you. I think this annual review process helps me to practice being brave.
Second, I'm hoping that in sharing with you some of my plans for this year, you'll help hold me accountable. So often we make promises, set goals, make resolutions that we don't keep. At least, I know I have in the past, but I don't want to be a part of that crowd anymore.
So here's it goes...
I'm going to answer 3 main questions:
What went well in 2015
What didn't go well in 2015
What am I working toward in 2016
What Went Well in 2015
- 5 Years of Marriage!!!
This past August, Nekia and I celebrated 5 wonderful years of marriage together. She has been such a blessing to me and makes me a much better person.
I'm so thankful to have found her. She's the love of my life and I'm looking forward to standing beside her for the rest of time.
- The Trip of a Lifetime
So the first week of September, Nekia and I along with my mom and dad flew out to California for 4 days of rest, relaxation, and golf. The trip was a dream come true for dad and I'm so happy to have played a part in making it happen.
- Getting Started
The launch of my blog was actually a week late. I had originally wanted to launch on May 26th, but I wasn't ready. Honestly, I was dragging my feet because I wasn't sure if I was actually going to go through with it or not.
So, I delayed a week, but I'm happy that I decided to go for it.
My very first blog post was an introduction to the blog and a little background on my story.
Overall, I'm excited to have my voice "out there" even if it's scary. I still often wonder what I can bring to the table that hasn't already been said or done, but I keep relying on my life stories to anchor my writing.
- A Guest Post
On the same day as the official launch, an article I had written for my own blog was accepted as a guest post to The Change Blog.
It was a story about failing a career aptitude test and the roller coaster of emotions that followed that failure. You can read it here.
It's still one of my favorite posts to date.
Getting this guest post gave me a real boost of confidence that I belonged here and that my writing was actually decent enough to matter.
Special thanks to Peter Clemens for giving me a chance.
- Email Subscribers
So, I set up an email list which has grown slowly but steadily since day one.
I'm so grateful to every single subscriber for allowing me to send you emails on a mostly weekly basis.
- Meeting Other Bloggers
One of the best things that happened last year for this blog was meeting other bloggers. I've met some great people who are doing some amazing work. I hope you'll check them out:
Glory Begin - Allison Conway was an inspiration to me well before I decided to start blogging. Her writing has continued to inspire and encourage me. Allison is an awesome writer and poet. She also has her own Podcast and Videos.
Here's one of my favorite posts from Allison: Empty Threads: Self-Doubt and Arrogance in Art
The Worry Games- The Author of this blog, Lisa Scott is amazing. When I need a pick me up because my anxiety is kicking my butt, I go here. If you've been reading for a while, you know I've linked to her blog in a previous post. She's taught me through her writing that not only can you recover from anxiety, but that it can be turned into a strength.
Here's one of my favorite posts from Lisa: Anxiety Disorders: We Aren't Crazy, We're Punch-Drunk
Salvaging Hope- Tim Whiteman is the author of this blog and he has such a great way of sharing his story. He writes such inspiring, yet challenging posts to help you on your life journey. I also love the spiritual undertones in his writing. You can really tell that his faith is an important part of his life.
Here's one of my favorite posts from Tim: 22 Ways to Feel Better Now
We Are All Scared- I love it when I run into another guy who's writing about anxiety. Josh Huber, the author of this blog, has such a unique voice. He has a way of getting his point across so that it always resonates with you. Josh has also shared some great resources with me personally that have been very important on my own journey to discard anxiety.
Here's one of my favorite posts from Josh: How Facebook Impacts Self-Esteem - A Farewell Letter
- Blog of the Month
It was such an honor to share my story with the community there. I wrote a very special post about the beginning of the blog and some things that I haven't shared anywhere else. You can check out that article here: December Blog of the Month - Discarded Anxiety.
What Didn't Go Well in 2015
- New Blogger Delusions
I'll admit it. I imagined that as soon as I published my blog, readers would magically find me, leave a ton of comments on my posts, and share everything I write on social media.
I was completely wrong.
In the beginning, I published mostly to family and a few other readers who found me through my guest post. For the most part, my traffic was very low. There were days when nobody would even come to my website and comments were really hard to come by.
While this sucked, I was reminded of an important lesson, that success is never overnight.
- Keeping a Schedule
One of the bloggers that I look up to is James Clear. When he started in 2012, he decided to write a post every Tuesday and Thursday.
I loved his commitment to showing up and adapted my initial blogging schedule from his. I told myself, "I'll write a new post every Tuesday."
I figured, one post a week would be an easy enough start and that, once I got the hang of things, I could increase this rate.
This didn't go as planned.
I think I've only hit this goal a couple of times since starting and even had several weeks where I didn't publish anything at all.
I honestly underestimated the amount of time it took me to put together a post I was happy with. I also underestimated my ability to write consistently. I learned that it's much harder than I thought.
- Blogging vs Everything Else
One struggle I had last year was the balancing act between working on my blog and all my other commitments.
My heart is really into building this blog and helping people, but the fact is, I also have other responsibilities outside of this blog. I have a day job, a wife, and family as well as my own personal interests in movies, traveling, and self-improvement.
Unfortunately, I found myself putting things off so I could write or design this blog.
I ended up stealing time from other areas of my life and, while nothing terrible happened because of this, I feel I wasn't the best person I could have been away from my blog. This is something I definitely want to correct this year.
- Shying away from Guest Posting
As successful as my first guest blog post was, I haven't done any since.
I had set out a plan to guest post regularly, but I kept shying away from those opportunities.
The truth is, I was worried that if I gave away my best stories, there would not be a reason for you to come to this website.
I know, it's ridiculous, but that's honestly where my mind was. I definitely feel like I missed out on some great connections as a result.
- Growing The Community
My goal from June 2, 2015 to December 31, 2015 was to grow the community of readers for this blog and measure that growth by the number of readers who joined my email list.
In full disclosure, I thought I could easily grow the community to 500 people in 6 months by simply publishing good stuff each week.
Even though I knew better, I was thinking "if I build it, they will come."
As it turned out, I got 55 email subscribers during that time period, a little more than 10% of my goal. While this is pretty disappointing, I know I can do better in this area and am looking forward to doing the work this year.
- Creating a Resources Page
I think one of the biggest mistakes I made in 2015 was not publishing a Resources page on my site.
My goal when I started out, and still my goal today, is for Discarded Anxiety to not only be a great blog, but to also be a place where you can come and find the things you need to discard your anxiety. I wanted you to know that you could find what you needed right here.
I started working on this page, but kept feeling like it wasn't good enough or it wasn't ready and would then not work on it for months at a time. I let fear and anxiety get in the way of me serving you.
This year, I'm going to do better.
What I'm Working Toward in 2016
- Greater Consistency in Writing
My commitment this year is to publish a new blog post every Wednesday.
In order to do this, I'm going to implement a new system for writing. Instead of writing when I can find the time, I'll set aside 2 hours on Mondays and Tuesdays to write. I'm sure my writing will spill over into other days, but Mondays and Tuesdays will be my specific writing days.
- A Resources Page
By January 31st, I'll publish a resources page for you.
You'll be able to access it from any page on the website and it will have all kinds of things there to help you discard your anxiety.
I don't want to give too much information away right now, but I'm really excited about this and will be sharing more about it soon.
- Growing the Community
This year, I plan to grow the community with 20 new email subscribers a month.
I'll do this by sharing my blog with everyone I can as well as providing some special bonuses for readers who are interested in being a part of this community.
Hopefully, you will share this blog with your friends and family too, that way you can help with this goal.
Would you be willing to do that?
- Guest Posting
This year, I plan to write a minimum of 6 guest posts.
I've curated a list of blogs sites that accept guest posts and will be reaching out to each of them throughout the year to explore guest posting opportunities.
If you own a blog or know of a blog that accepts guest posts in the areas of overcoming anxiety and/or personal development and think I'd be a good fit, please let me know.
I've already shared how much I hated reading as a young man and how I've come to develop a true love for it now.
This year, while I have some books I definitely want to read, I'm more concerned with being consistent.
So, instead of setting a certain number of books to read, I simply want to read 20 pages a day for at least 5 days a week. At that pace, I'll be able to read over 20 books of average length.
In 2015, my wife and I were blessed to travel to Chicago, Las Vegas, San Fransisco, Monterey, Cincinnati, and New York.
This year, we want to spend some time in Europe and get down to the Caribbean. We don't have anything scheduled right now, but I've been keeping an eye out for good deals and as soon as one comes along that works for us, we will pack our bags.
- Discard More Anxiety
The entire point of this blog is to learn how to manage, decrease, and discard anxiety. Last year, I pushed myself into new challenges and opportunities that helped me grow as a person.
This year, I plan to do more of the same by sharing my stories, teaching you what I'm learning, admitting my failures, learning from my mistakes, and doing the things that scare me.
Concluding the Review
2015 was an amazing year. I accomplished a lot and failed a bit. But along the way, I've discovered things about myself that I didn't yet know. That is what gets me excited to see what 2016 has to offer.
Whether you've been a reader since June 2nd or this is your first time here, I just want you to know that I'm so grateful for you.
Next Action Steps
Looking back on 2015, what's one thing that went well, one thing that didn't go well, and one thing you're working toward for 2016? Share your responses in the comments.
Also, feel free to do your own annual review. Click here to learn how to conduct your own review.