Annual Review for 2021 – From Stress to Alignment

There is something about the end of the year which makes me retreat and want to reflect.
2021 marks the end of my first full year in business, and what a year it’s been.
Yesterday, a coach told me, “but I’ll never be able to charge that much for coaching”. So I decided to document my trip in order to demonstrate that I was also there. Just one year ago, I had only a few clients and little confidence in myself.
Every week in my group programme for new coaches, we use the method in this blog post to assess our progress. It’s been a game-changer for us. You may feel you’ve accomplished little at the end of the week, and this easy technique can help you recognise all the amazing milestones you’ve already achieved.
If it is helpful to you, adopt the basic principles outlined in this article to assist you track all your outstanding progress.
The following are the three main questions that I ask myself every week and yearly at my review:
· What am I proud of?
· What could be even better and what did I learn?
· What are my priorities for next week (or year if it’s an annual review)?
On 1 January 2021 I set myself these three intentions (essentially there were exactly what I didn’t feel at the time):
· I want to be a success so I can support lots of people and make a massive difference
· I want the freedom to do what I want to do
· I want to feel ease and flow
After a really tough 2020 income-wise, I wanted to end 2021 having made the same amount of money as I did in my HR job. I remember thinking it wasn’t at all feasible but I made 18% more. The financial side of business brought up a lot of anxiety for me so I avoided looking at the finances until very recently when I implemented the profit first system which involves weekly tracking.
This is not to say that I haven’t spent a lot in my business and on the self-development needed to be a successful business owner. Even reading back that line is shocking as when someone asked me this year ‘what does a successful business owner look like?’ I saw a middle-aged man! Completely unconsciously of course – I had no idea I thought that though my upbringing was very much like this. Just shows you can bust through those beliefs.
For my first full year in business, to have met my previous income feels like a monumental win when in mid-2020 when I quit my part-time admin job I heard that you can’t make money from coaching. I set out to prove that you can make money by building a wonderful business and making a huge impact on others’ lives. I took massive action outside my comfort zone, tried lots of different things, and invested in my personal and business growth.
I ran my first 5 day challenge. Despite being early in business it’s something I had on my goals list for 2020 which didn’t happen as I wasn’t ready yet. Now I am shocked that I’ve done it and it was a real success where I helped many amazing coaches launch their business. The relationships I’ve built and loyalty I’ve felt from people I haven’t even met before was immense and it means so much to me.
I ran my first group programme for new coaches which is again what I knew I was always meant to do though I let my fears of what others would say hold me back. Not for long though as I did it and again am so very proud of the love I poured into that programme and the support I received in return. I am seeing that coaches are so kind and it’s quite amazing to finally have found my tribe.
Edit Image

I can’t believe I so often forget this but I actually wrote and published a book this year! I figured out how to do this on my own and loaded it up to both Amazon and anther global platform that makes it accessible in other bookshops all over the world. I even got the Amazon #1 bestseller spot! It’s quite unbelievable that I’ve done this on top of having my business, two young kids and two days of childcare. I admit though that I did spend every minute I could on researching and learning.
It was a stressful period and I’m glad it’s done. This is why I chose ease and flow as my intention for the year as it was such an intense time and not one I want to revisit in my business.
I held 20 group career workshops of 25 attendees. That’s 500 people I’ve supported in a group setting in their careers and it has been one of my favourite things to do this year. Another limiting belief I started the year with was “I could never run training”. I’d always thought of myself as shy; not a good communicator; not quick enough; not smart enough; not engaging enough. I discovered that it’s in fact something I love to do and have had great feedback. I love building a group connection, really seeing, and hearing everyone in the group, modelling honesty and that it’s okay not to be perfect, which has enabled those in the group to do the same.
Edit Image

I also gained my ICF ACC accreditation this year. This entailed 100 coaching hours and 10 coach mentor hours, lengthy application process, submission of a coaching audio, plus a 3 hour exam. This is another huge hurdle for me as I remember when I first went to Guildford Coaches Group I felt such a failure for not being ICF accredited. I then had it in my head that I wouldn’t feel like a ‘proper coach’ until I was. Of course, I now see it’s complete rubbish and the piece of paper (or in fact gold pin!) wasn’t a part of the puzzle for me to feel good enough but either way it’s an achievement and I’m proud that I went through the process.
2021 is the year I invested in my first professional photographs which make such a difference to my profile and website. I’d like to get more taken in 2022. We shall see.
I’ve recently started working with a VA. It’s only been a week but having someone on my team who supports me and helps me through those blocks I put up on getting things finished is satisfying. She’s got marketing, copy-writing and branding experience so it’s wonderful to have someone like this in my world.
I’ve been lucky that ALL of my clients have been completely amazing. I’ve heard so much about the clients who make you feel bad and out of alignment and I’ve just never had one so for that I’m blessed. I’ve had a few clients lately who are experiencing great mindset shifts and for that I’m so grateful. That is what my coach did for me and to now be able to do the same for others makes my heart hurt (in a good way!).
I’ve read 18 books and listened to so many amazing podcasts. I think the podcasts in particular have been inspiring to listen to on the way home from the school run each day to set my mind in the zone of possibility.
The books I’ve read this year are:
1. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
2. Profit First – Mike Michalowicz
3. Zero Negativity – Ant Middleton
4. Playing Big – Tara Mohr
5. Coach the person, not the problem – Chad Hall
6. Essentialism – Greg McKeown
7. The mystery of the squashed self – Trish Lewis
8. One page marketing plan – Alan Dib
9. Radical Candor – Kim Scott
10. Believe IT – Jamie Kern Lima
11. Foundations to lead from – Leigh Howes
12. Go MAD – Andy Gilbert
13. Like a river through a rock – Rachel Stevens
14. Eat That Frog – Brian Tracy
15. Why leaving your job could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you – Eleanor Tweddle
16. The Squiggly Career – Hellen Tupper & Sarah Ellis
17. The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse – Charlie Mackesy
18. The Miracle Morning – Hal Elrod
Edit Image

I did my first in person speaking event EVER! A big one too at the amazing Women in Tech Conference in London. This was another hurdle after just a year ago not feeling confident to speak in front of a small group for a second let alone host an entire hour with so many amazing women! Another limiting belief smashed.
I continued to work with my wonderful coach Nick Harris MCC. It’s been 2.5 years now and it is quite unbelievable what you can learn about yourself from coaching which can then transfer into you taking action you had previously thought wasn’t possible for you. To have an honest space to say the crazy things that you think that you’d never say to anyone else. This is my one saviour and I really don’t think I’d have done it without his support.
I have also met so many other wonderful coaches and this year in particular Fay Wallis and Jo Oogarah have given me masses of support and encouragement to go for it in my business and I’m so lucky to have met them.
I also invested in a mini business MBA with business coach Alan Wick so it’s great to have learned the solid foundations for a business. I think the biggest impact this had is a now weekly review of my finances. I’ve moved to the Profit First system which encourages rewards. Working with a wonderful accountant Hetty Verney, has been great to keep me on track and to help me see during months where I was spending more than I was making that it’s completely normal for a new business. I was always hard on myself so it was good to discover that early in business there is a lot of investment and this is okay.
The last quarter of the year has brought me the peace and balance that I dreamed of for my business. I work term time only, school hours only and I’ve been so much more present and content when I’m off. The beginning of the business was certainly an ‘always on’ time so I was on the verge of burnout in September 2021 and stopped social media posting. It’s been nice to be kind enough to myself to allow that to be possible and to have in fact had my most profitable months without it.
Edit Image

I took on too many different types of work. This left me putting a lot of work in creating things for ‘one off’ events which took a lot of energy for a small reward.
I give a lot to my clients after the sessions in terms of very detailed notes, vision sheets, CV reviews etc which isn’t really part of a usual coach’s role. I love to see the results and reflect on a clients learnings so on reflection this has helped me as well as them, to really see their thinking plus record their results which has been rewarding.
I should have sought help for my challenge as creating emails and sending them, whilst creating challenge content, delivering, FB group etc was immense and made me very anxious. I’m pleased to have now found a VA who has fab copyrighting/branding experience and I hope this will really help me and my business.
Early on in the year I was intensely stressed. I found it very hard to be present in family time. I was always listening to something on my headphones or writing emails. I also only had 2 days childcare until September 2021 and would sometimes have calls with Max around which was very stressful.
I have essentially acted on my intuition in 2021 with no plan as to what will happen when. I intend to become more strategic in 2022, know my ideal client in depth, reposition my business, and streamline my services.
I’ve been inconsistent with my email list after a previously good routine. The challenge burnout in September made me go inwards and just serve my clients which has been wonderful though it would be brilliant to have allowed consistent time and space to serve those on my email list too. I have allowed time in my diary in 2022 for this.
Edit Image

Continue to create amazing client transformations. This is something I’ve experienced a lot in the latter part of 2021 in particular and it’s immensely rewarding.
I have never been a big goal setter though this year I am working towards my mission of impacting a million people for the better. This is something I said at the start of my business and it felt ridiculous at the time though I can now see that I am using my ‘intuitive strategy’ as one of my lovely coach friends said to me recently, to do this by supporting coaches to build their business as then I will be helping to bring life-changing coaching to more people.
Strategise and automate. I’ve done some great ‘funnel’ training this year which is not quite in place yet so early 2022 will be ensuring that my business is automated as much as possible and that clients receive a great welcome from me when they join my community. I’m also going to run my first FB ads and have some ideas for partnerships which I’d like to implement.
I’m intending to map out my entire year including webinar and challenge dates which I envisage will be my way of bringing clients into my world this year. My first challenge was the best experience and one I’d love to run again although I’m slightly nervous in case it’s not as amazing as the first. I’ll never know unless I try plus to have some support or automation will be a huge bonus!
I’ve been fortunate that my group course clients have stayed on in a membership type format so it will allow me to continue to support them in getting great results and implementing all they learned plus eventually add more people to this group who would like ongoing support after my programme. The word mastermind is talked about a lot and I envisage it being a bit like that though I’d like to learn more about creating magical experiences like masterminds.
To continue the balance and ease I feel. The last few months has been lovely after around three years of absolute intense work, balancing way too many jobs to enable me to have coaching as my full-time business. So worth it, though I look back and wonder how I survived.
Edit Image

Trust. Despite my big goals this year my coach brings me back down to earth and says I have nothing to prove. And it’s true. I’m having the impact I always dreamed of. I’m making money. I have designed a career around my family. To be honest I have everything I’ve ever wanted.
If this continues whilst being more streamlined and bringing in some more income so I can support my family, while preferably working less hours I’d be in heaven.
Edit Image

This has undoubtedly been the most aligned quarter of my life. I’ve worked so hard. I’ve probably pushed too far out of my comfort zone nearly all the time though I’ve achieved my dream of matching my previous HR income whilst being around for my family.
A real passion of mine is to support other women to do the same. I’m so passionate about replacing the immediate option for a woman with children being ‘work part-time for a school for £10 per hour’. I want to show that there is another option to earn money and do purposeful work around your family.
I’ve received a lot of calls from new coaches lately who tell me they’re here and I’m there, and that they don’t think they’ll be able to do it. And I tell them the same thing: a little over a year ago, I was right where you are. And if I can do it, you can too.
Want to read what happened next? Click here to read it...
Want to read my other Annual Reviews?




to the blog

Hello and welcome! I’m Joanna Lott, and I’m passionate about empowering qualified coaches like you to build brilliant businesses.