As a mental performance coach, I advocate that my clients reflect on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to build self-awareness. However, my reflective practice has been lackluster this year whether it is reflecting on my client delivery work, my self-care, or the development of a relatively nascent business.
I will show myself some self-compassion in that 2022 has been a challenging year. I feel as though I developed some positive momentum during the first part of the year with respect to building my mental performance coaching business and The Freshman Foundation® Podcast. Yet, I don’t really have a ton of evidence to support that notion, well, because my self-reflection practice was not very good. In my professional practice, I recommend setting well-structured goals and consistently reflecting through measurement and journaling. I did none of these things very effectively. I feel like bit of a hypocrite.
Then in July 2022, my mother was admitted to the hospital early on a Sunday morning while I was sleeping. I knew my mother’s health was not great in general, but I did not expect this type of phone call in the middle of the night. Everything changed at that point. Mom spent the next two-plus months in the hospital. At first, she was unconscious in the intensive care unit. Ultimately, she emerged to consciousness, but was still very ill. She had chronic cardiovascular disease that would require multiple surgeries and procedures just to keep her alive. She was bounced back and forth between ICU and different rooms over the course of those months.
After about a month in the hospital, she seemed to have turned a corner in her recovery. We thought there was a chance to get her home, even if under nurse’s care. Then we received a call that Mom had a stroke. She could not talk. She could not eat. Her physical acuity was impaired. The stroke was ultimately the straw that broke the camel’s back. She mercifully died on October 1, 2022.
The two-and-a-half months were extremely difficult for me. I spent almost every single day back-and-forth to visit my mother in the hospital, sometimes multiple times per day. My sister was living with me most of that time, which was a blessing, but just different. My father, as you might expect, was mostly a wreck. Almost all my attention was directed at my family and rightly so. However, my business was suffering due to lack of attention. There was very little room for self-care. I feel as though I handled everything as well as I could have, but this very hard time took a toll on me.
When I emerged from Mom’s funeral and the aftermath, it was almost November 1st and the vast majority of 2022 had passed me by. I started to refocus my efforts on work. When I did, I realized that business growth had come to a standstill. My marketing efforts had been minimal at best over the past three months aside from continuing to produce a new podcast every two weeks. New coaching inquiries were few and far between. It was very concerning. I knew that I had to push myself to invest in my business both financially and timewise over the last two months of the year in hopes of getting a strong start on 2023. As I would suggest to a client, I couldn’t get the past few months back. However, I focus on the present moment and put all my energy into what I could control.
Over the past two months or so, I feel as though I have rebounded a bit. I engaged with a marketing agency to help produce new content from my podcasts. I have been more active and consistent in sharing that content across my social media accounts. I knew my human connections were drying up too, so I made it a point to reach out to several people that I wanted to add to my network. Building those relationships, like any relationships, has been a work-in-process. Nevertheless, I can only control what I can control.
As December 31st approaches, my visceral reaction would be that this has not been the year I envisioned at this same time last year. Business revenue did not increase nearly as much as I had projected. I certainly didn’t expect tragedy to fall on our family. It has been a hard year and if given the opportunity, I will beat up on myself for what I didn’t accomplish. Like many of my clients, my first inclination is to focus on the negative. I should have made more money. I should have made more progress in growing my podcast. I should have taken better care of myself and exercised more. Should, should, should. However, I am very adamant in telling others that the word should is my least favorite word in the English language. Again, I must heed my own words.
In 10 years of recovery, I have come to believe that I am right where I should be. Many things happen that are out of my control and those things have meaning. It all depends on how I interpret the information that I have collected over this past year.
First, business, like recovery, is not a straight line. There are ups and downs. However, if the line has ticked up just a smidge, then the year has been a success. From a revenue perspective, I can say my business has ticked up. My podcast downloads have grown. More importantly, I have seeded my business aggressively – more than I realize – during this year. Plants take time to grow and so do businesses. Every time I publish a podcast or post a video clip or blog, I have built equity in my business and myself. Maybe I didn’t get the payoff in 2022 like I would have liked or expected, but the payoff will come eventually if I remain patient and consistent.
I am not the smartest or most experienced mental performance coach. I am not the best marketer or salesperson. And, I am not the best businessperson out there. What am I? I am the most resilient person that I know. I truly believe I can handle anything that gets thrown my way.
Mom becomes terminally ill? Step up and be there for her and everyone around me. Be present in the moment, pick up the spin on each curveball, and put it in play. Was I scared? Yes. Was I sad? Yes. Was I angry? Yes. However, succumbing to those emotions would have made it harder for me to do my job, which was to support my family the best way I could.
Money is tight? Do whatever it takes (within legal limits) to make what you need. This year, I needed to drive Lyft and DoorDash at points to supplement my income. It meant coaching pre-school soccer classes. It meant taking a full-time employment position on top of running my business to supplement my income. No complaints and no excuses. I told myself that if I really believe in what I am doing as a mental performance coach, then I would do whatever it takes to make sure that I keep my practice afloat until all the seeds I have planted sprout up out of the ground.
Despite not getting the results that I would have hoped for, I had a lot of concrete accomplishments in 2022.
I published 24 podcasts in 2022, missing only one regularly scheduled semi-monthly slot due to my mom’s illness. I am hoping to publish at least 25 podcasts in 2023, perhaps moving back to a weekly cadence at some point.
I was a guest on a number of podcasts in 2022 discussing my professional work and personal experience. Being a podcast guest allowed to tell me story and build exposure for my practice, which was a clear goal of mine coming into 2022. I am looking forward to getting more media exposure in 2023.
I served over 20 young people in 2022. Some were new clients, and some were existing clients from my initial year of operation, 2021. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity of helping over 20 young people to manage their thoughts and emotions more effectively, and as a result, improve their performance in sports and life.
I also learned so much about how to get better at marketing my services and my podcast in 2022. I read books, took courses, and more importantly, I took risks. Growing a business requires being comfortable with trial and error. I have become comfortable with both trying and failing and trying and succeeding this year.
Most importantly, I was there for my family in 2022. I certainly wasn’t planning to deal with a family tragedy this year. Yet, I believe I was present for my mother and my family. I got to spend quiet time with Mom in the hospital, holding her hand. I helped my sister stay calm. I helped my dad make important medical decisions. This is my greatest accomplishment of 2022.
So, what did I learn in 2022?
- Family comes first. Certainly, I’ve always considered family to be important. However, I have taken my family granted at times. I get lost in my own world. I am an introverted single parent and business owner. I tend to focus on my responsibilities in solitude. When my mother got sick, I had to shift my priorities. My mother, father, and sister were on equal footing with my kids and ahead of my business. Were there consequences to pushing my work off? Absolutely. Were those consequences worth it? Absolutely.
- Entrepreneurship is hard. Starting and growing a business is hard. It requires time, money, energy, and most of all, patience. I envisioned 2022 to be a year of growth. It turned out to be a year of survival in many ways. However, I still made progress in many areas of my business. I also know there are many things I can do better in 2023. It is a process, and I will continue to embrace it.
- Money isn’t important, but not the only thing. Money is a scare resource. For me, financial success means security and while it is certainly one measure of success, it is not the only measure of success. There were times in 2022 where money was tight and led me to question my worth as an entrepreneur. However, I don’t think I let money – which is mostly out of my control – be the reason I quit. I have kept going knowing that the equity that I have built in myself, and my business will convert to money at some point in the future. I just need to be patient.
What have you learned about yourself in 2022?
Take some time to reflect and be brutally honest. It’s the best way to get better.