One of my favorite things to do at the end of each year is plan my Yearly Theme. It’s becoming a bit of a tradition and I’ve even got my wife in on the action this year. I find it’s better to have a guiding set of principles than a number of promises I may or may not1 complete. 2020 caused many people to change how they do things, and I was no different. that’s why for 2021, my yearly theme is going to be The Year of Opportunity.
Prefer to listen to this? Check out Episode 200 of How I Built It
NOTE: If you need a refresher on what yearly themes are, check out my 2020 write up.
Before we get into what is my most well thought out theme to date, let’s evaluate my 2020 theme.
Evaluating The Year of Depth
Suffice to say, 2020 didn’t go as planned for most of us. When the pandemic hit in March, my wife and I realized with her being a nurse, we’d see no reduction in her hours, and she wouldn’t be working from home. With schools and daycares closing, my daughter would be home, so I’d be losing work days.
Erin’s normal schedule is 3 12-hour shifts, so I decided I’d work 3 of the days she didn’t work and we’d have one day for family. That has continued most of the year except for 3 months from July until October, when my wife was on maternity leave for the birth of our son, Louis.
The reduction in time meant I didn’t do as much reading as I would have liked, I didn’t spend as much time on the business, and I didn’t narrow down my services due to uncertainty in the market.
That said, I did manage a few wins in The Year of Depth. I successfully evaluated tools and services to help me save time. I hired a lot more than expected, due in part to the fact that I was spending about 40% less time working.
I also pumped out a lot of content this year, and continued my path towards establishing myself as a podcasting expert. In fact, I believe I’ve made significant strides in moving from “WordPress developer who podcasts” to “Podcaster who is also a developer.”
Changing to The Year of Consistency
In June, when it was obvious this pandemic wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, I decided to change my yearly theme to better reflect my goals for the remaining part of 2020. I changed it to The Year of Consistency, and decided that whatever I managed to do, I would do it consistently.
This was mostly in the realm of creating content – which was a huge success. I published 3 pieces of content per week: a blog post, a podcast episode, and a YouTube video. Towards the end of the year, I started live streaming consistently. This lead to a new income stream: YouTube monetization. It also increased (significantly) one of my income streams: affiliate income.
But I also put out major projects consistently, including 2 LinkedIn Learning courses, a book, Podcast Liftoff, and more.
I’m not giving myself a grade this year, but I’m generally happy with the way my year went, all things considered.
The Year of Opportunity
The main goal of The Year of Opportunity is to create more, and better, opportunities for myself. I want to be more open-minded, and I don’t want to do things just to do them.
Life presents you with lots of opportunities that you might miss, or where you just say no. I’m a a point in my life where I’d like to slow down, make fewer snap judgments, and be more open-minded.
There are a few reasons why I think this is a perfect theme for 2021. For one, I make lots of connections through in-person events that aren’t happening. I’m generally more open-minded when I meet someone in person because I can get a better read on them. But since most of my opportunities to connect with people are online now, my shields are up more often.
- I’ve always been skeptical when people overhype opportunities (“you can make so much money”)
- I feel like I’ve missed chances by saying no – like have a smaller network or fewer income streams
- I might be become a curmudgeon
While my skepticism has generally served me well, I’m sure I’ve missed opportunities because of it – partnerships with others, conversations I shut down too quickly, or saying no because I thought the other person was just out for themselves and using me in the process.
Striking the Right Balance
I want to strike the right balance between being a skeptic and taking a calculated risk. I won’t just say yes for the sake of saying yes, but I won’t be so quick to say no either. Some examples of this include:
- Being open to more guest pitches
- Doing more guest posts or speaking without being a pain about it
- Connecting with more people on LinkedIn
- Spending money on the right products and services
I also want to try new things, and learn new things – something often tied to my yearly theme – but I want these things to be tied to some opportunity.
Finally, I want to use platforms more judiciously to create opportunities for myself. I want to find the right balance of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I was off Twitter completely around the election and it was freeing, but I also feel like I missed something. The same goes with Facebook. I want to do more than just share photos of my kids.
I feel Instagram is the most prime real estate for me to cultivate opportunities. In 2021, I’ll figure out how.
I don’t have any specific actions in mind but I do have some general categories. I want to create more opportunities to:
- Experience: Say yes to things out of my comfort zone
- Teach: Make more moments teachable moments – for friends, clients, and my kids
- Be in the Moment: Be on my phone less, create opportunities to be less distracted by work
- Grow: specifically in business. Be more open to connections and partnerships
- Provide Better Feedback and Solve Problems: Instead of just pissing and moaning on Twitter
Be More Intentional
Finally, part of this theme is being more intentional. Like I said earlier, sometimes I do things just to do them and sometimes I dismiss things out of hand.
One example is my consistent content. I’m not sure blogging weekly really helped me professionally in any way. Sure, there was good content, but the weekly grind is hard. I think I would have been better served writing more guest posts or putting that time into my newsletter. A weekly YouTube video, on the other hand, was very helpful. So I will take the opportunity to do more of them, and free up that time from blogging every week.
I don’t have specific metrics in mind this year and I think that’s a good thing. If I did, I may as well have resolutions instead. But I’m optimistic about The Year of Opportunity.
I think this guiding principle will help me take what I’ve learned in 2020 and build on it in 2021. And my family, and my business will benefit.
- most likely will not. ?