6 min read

2015 Review

Discover key insights from my 2015 achievements and learn about my ambitious goals for 2016, including personal growth and business success strategies.
2015 Review
Photo by Markus Winkler / Unsplash

It’s officially that time of year again. You contemplate life, reflect on the year, see what worked (and what didn’t)…  

This is only my second year doing these annual reviews. You can read the previous one here.  

I post these mainly for me, to be honest. I do so publicly in case anyone can take away anything from it for themselves; however, it mainly holds me accountable for the goals that I set for the following year.  

I reviewed my goals from last year's annual review.

  1. Set my morning success ritual (from reading A Miracle Morning)
  2. Build systems for business
  3. Read 3 books per month

I’m happy to say that I’ve accomplished all 3 goals for the year.  

I’ve read 40 books in 2015, which averages 3.33 books per month. Check out my list here.  

You can read about my morning routine here, which was my most popular article ever, and was even tweeted out by Arianna Huffington herself! (Yay Me!)  

Arianna Huffington BestSelf Tweet
Twitter followers

My big 2015 wins:

1. Creating a partnership with Allen

Cathryn Lavery and Allen Brouwer

With each previous venture that I’ve embarked upon, it’s always been me – solo. While it feels good to only be responsible for myself, there’s only so much I can and want to do at a time.

There are also a lot of tasks that come with a business that I do not enjoy doing, which is why having a partnership with someone whose skills complement mine is extremely beneficial.  

Allen is an action-taker. He doesn’t spend a lot of time hemming and hawing over things. He goes out and gets shit done! (It’s why we’re accountability partners.)  

Over the year, I’ve realized that I’m a “product person,” which is to say that while I enjoy learning marketing, I dislike the minutiae of what that involves. Facebook ads, tracking links, lead pages, email segmenting, split-testing… C’mon! Just writing about it is exhausting!  

I like being creative; working on products, and their contents – creating experiences. It’s so great to have a partner that excels at the skills that I lack. This gives me the freedom to do this creative work, and it means that we can both stick to our wheelhouse and move further, and faster.  

Takeaway: Partner with someone who shares your values but has complementary skills. You want to work with someone who enjoys doing the work you don’t.  

2. Launching the SELF Journal on Kickstarter and getting over 10,000 journals sold

self journal launching stats

After working on SELF journal development for almost a year, it was exciting to finally release it to the world on Kickstarter and get validation that all the work had been worth it.

The feeling of creating something from scratch, and then people taking out their credit cards to buy it before it’s even available, is pretty incredible – and the ultimate validation that what we made actually mattered.  

Over the past few years, I have invested in my own personal growth, and I’ve become a better version of myself. I have also become more successful. I know this isn’t an accident; personal growth and success go hand in hand.

This is why I’m excited about working on the BestSelf.co brand in 2016. Our mission is to create meaningful products, like the SELF Journal, that help people become the best version of themselves.  

Takeaway: I wrote about it in this post, but essentially it all comes down to focus. Once I stopped splitting my time across several projects, I was more successful because I stopped thinking about money and focused on creating value.

3. Pre-sellingabout 18 People on a Kickstarter course (from a Facebook post)

In November I put up a Facebook post offering to teach 10 people my product launch formula for Kickstarter. As a product person, I’ve always felt the need to “perfect” a product and have something polished by the time I show people.  

After a mastermind event in Maine, where we created a product in a day and pre-sold it to the tune of $30,000 (for charity), I realized what was possible within myself, and I set myself a challenge: pre-sell 10 people on the course in 24 hours.  

The results: I had 18 people sign up and pre-pay $197 in advance. Within a month, I did two online workshops teaching everything I knew about product launches and Kickstarter. I’ll be posting about how I did this shortly.  

I got some great feedback:

kickstarter course feedback

Takeaway: I enjoy teaching and sharing what works for me. As someone without a traditional background in business, I like showing people what’s possible with hustling on a shoestring budget. I want to do more teaching in 2016, through private workshops, coaching and through this blog.

What didn’t go well:

Personal Relationships:

When I’m working on building and launching projects, I get tunnel vision, and I get bad at responding to personal messages and emails. As a result, some of my personal friendships and relationships have suffered neglect because I take them for granted. Luckily I have some great friends and family who have not given up on reaching out, and I’m going to make a conscious effort to cultivate these relationships. In fact, one of my 2016 goals is to write a personal email or message to someone each day.  

Takeaway: Don’t take relationships for granted. It’s a two-way street. Saying, “I’m bad at staying in touch,” is (of course) not a good excuse.

Daily Rituals

When the Kickstarter campaign launched in late August, my life became more reactive and less proactive. Due to the nature of Kickstarter, I felt like I was always “on;” so, each morning, rather than completing my morning routine and my first big task of the day, I was checking Kickstarter, my email, etc.  

How ironic.  

Here I was, launching a journal around the topic of productivity and being intentional with your day, and meanwhile, I was practically doing the opposite!  

Once the campaign ended, my bad habits continued for a while. Even though it was “over,” I had to talk with suppliers overseas who were awake when I was asleep.

First thing in the morning, I was checking my email to correspond with them before I missed my window for the day. It wasn’t until the beginning of December that I really started to get back on track with my habits.

I wrote down my ideal day and started following each step like a recipe until I was back on track.  

Takeaway: Starting my day reactively causes me to be less productive and makes me feel frazzled by the end of the day. My daily ritual is not optional. It is a necessity.


BestSelf journey

I’m so grateful for the freedom that my work gives me to travel. Back when I worked in architecture, I got 10 days off per year. That didn’t give me much opportunity to travel. In fact, I couldn’t go home for the first 2 years that I’ve lived in the U.S. Now, 2 years later, I’m able to travel pretty extensively for both work and fun:

  • Palm Springs, CA (Mastermind Event)
  • Minnesota, MA (Work, Visiting warehouse)
  • San Diego, CA (Traffic & Conversion conference)
  • Ft Lauderdale, FL (Amazon conference)
  • Maine, CT (Mastermind Event)
  • Chicago, IL (Tony Robbins Conference)
  • Iceland (Friends wedding + vacation)
  • Ireland (Trip home – fun)
  • London (Visiting uni friends – fun)
  • Brussels & Brugge, Belgium (Visiting friends – fun)
  • Maui, HI (Friends wedding + vacation)

In 2016 I am hoping to extend my travels to Australia and Southeast Asia.

2016 Business Goals:

  1. Grow BestSelf 3X and sell 50,000 journals
  2. Build my LittleMight email list to 5,000

New habits:

  1. Write 1,000 words per day
  2. Send daily personal messages/emails to someone I care about
  3. Take 1 day a month off work for reflection and planning

In the comments below, I’d love to know: What are your goals for 2016? What new habits are you trying to add to your life?

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