My year-in-review: Reflecting on my 2023

Reflection is a skill that I believe all athletes should have in their toolbox. Learning from our experiences is critical to long-term development. However, many times we don’t want to reflect on our performance because things didn’t go exactly as planned. Reflecting makes us uncomfortable. Reflecting can even make us feel bad about ourselves. So, of course, we avoid reflecting.

Being that I’m human, I too have a natural instinct to avoid reflection, especially when things don’t go as I planned. I find this kind of ironic given that I advocate that young athletes develop a reflective practice. I need to challenge myself to reflect objectively upon my performance in order to improve my performance in the future.

Looking back at my writings since 2020, I just realized that I conveniently did not reflect on my 2022 at year-end. This is probably because it was a challenging year. If I recall correctly, the year started out very good from a business perspective. Then, I got a call late one night in late July 2022 while I was sleeping that my mother was in the hospital and the whole year was turned upside down. After I got that phone call, I spent the better part of over two months driving back and forth to the hospital every single day to visit my mother in her room. She ultimately moved from the hospital to a nursing facility, but she never came home. She passed away on October 2, 2022.

I learned a great deal from that experience even though I’d prefer to leave it in the past. Obviously, it taught me about the fragility of life and how prioritizing our well-being, and that of our loved ones, is critical. However, it also taught me about the value of consistency.

What did my mother’s illness and ultimate death teach me about the value of consistency?

From late July 2022 through the end of 2022, my business took a backseat to my family situation. I had to focus my time and energy toward caring for my family. However, my business suffered. The consistency that I had developed since early 2020 when I started the business was starting to pay dividends. When I lost that consistency due to my shift in focus to my family, then my business obviously suffered.

I was ready to start fresh in 2023. I wanted to get back to the consistency that I had demonstrated over the first two years of running my mental performance coaching practice. Dropping a new podcast every two weeks. Sharing valuable content on social media every week, multiple times per week. Consistently writing new blog posts. Building new personal relationships. All of this consistent action resulted in new clients that would allow my business to grow in service of helping more young athletes and their families.

Unfortunately, growth is not linear. This year – 2023 – has really enforced the idea that mental performance coaching can be a seasonal business. Potential clients reach out right before a season starts or during a bad stretch in-season, a slump if you will. Families don’t typically take a proactive, long-term development approach to mental game training. In plain terms, mental performance coaching is often a band-aid.

Overall, I’d say six months out of the year are significantly more active than the other six months.

March, April, May? Busy months.

September, October, November? Also busy months.

However, mental game training tends to be “out of sight, out of mind” at other times of the year.

Summer? Athletes and parents are often taking a much needed breather. However, summer is a great time for mental skill building when there is more downtime.

Holidays? Rest and downtime are prioritized once again. Perhaps, even more importantly, family funds are being directed to holiday purchases.

So what does that mean for me and my business?

I’ve learned that consistency is even more critical than I ever imagined it to be when I first started this business. Relaxing when things are quiet – like in the summer or during the holidays – is going to make the busy times of the year less busy and make the slow times dead . 

I’ve also learned that mental game training generally takes a backseat to physical training, skill development, academics, and family time, so having less consistency in my effort level at any point is going to make it more likely that mental game training will be moved from the backseat to the trunk for most athletes and families.

In 2023, I wasn’t nearly as consistent at investing in my business as I have been in previous years. 

One example of my decreased consistency is with my podcast, The Freshman Foundation®.

In 2023, I published 18 episodes of FFP.

In 2022, I published 23 episodes of FFP.

In 2021, I published 31 episodes of FFP.

As you can see, the number of episodes published each year has decreased. My consistency in producing podcasts has waned. There are some good reasons as to why my production has dropped off. I’ve been conscious of expenses. I’ve gotten busier with client-facing work. I traveled a significant amount in 2023. 

However, the truth is that I’ve lost a bit of motivation to deliver the podcast. The production process can be tedious at times. I’ve lost a bit of focus in terms of staying on brand. I’ve questioned whether or not continuing on with the podcast is worth it. I’ve questioned whether I need to refocus, reposition, and/or rebrand it. This has led to a bit of paralysis by analysis, quite frankly.

Upon further reflection, my decision to deprioritize podcast production has been a detriment to my business. I believe the reduction in the number of podcasts published has negatively impacted my business’s growth because I haven’t consistently produced as much valuable content to share with potential clients and strengthen the connection with my audience.

In contrast, I’ve experienced some wins in 2023.

First, I increased the number of new clients acquired over 2022. My number of new clients grew by 25%. I love any kind of growth since it tells me that I’m doing something well. Perhaps most encouraging, I’ve started to experience more word-of-mouth referrals and a greater willingness on behalf of my clients to provide public reviews and testimonials. (You can read these reviews on my website, social media, and my Google Business page.)

Second, I’ve invested in developing new relationships with travel clubs, recruiting services, content partners, and a high school. In some instances, I’ve received client referrals. In other instances, we are still in a relationship building phase. However, these relationships are a signal that I will be able to 

If I could use one word to characterize these two wins, it is TRUST. I believe referrals are a reflection that I am reliable and good at what I do. Getting a referral or positive review is probably the highest form of praise, especially when you are working with someone’s children.

The final win that I will talk about is developing The Freshman Foundation® Digital Playbook to help high school athletes BE READY for the leap to collegiate athletics. Developing the “course” is a natural extension of what I’ve learned through the podcast experience and my experiences coaching high school athletes for the past 5-plus years. I’m really proud of this project because I started it from scratch. I engaged others to help me develop it. I persisted even when it got hard (and expensive), and saw it all the way through to launch on August 1, 2023.

Unfortunately, I haven’t sold any playbooks just yet. Perhaps, my marketing message needs to improve (I think it does). Perhaps, I need to invest more actively in the promotion (I’m sure I do). Perhaps, I need to get it in front of a new and different audience (this remains unclear to me for now). It might be these reasons and others as to why I haven’t sold the course yet. However, upon reflection, it really just comes back to consistency. I could have been more consistent in my effort over the final five months of 2023. Taking one small step each day may have likely led to better results.

You can learn more about The Freshman Foundation® Digital Playbook by clicking on this link:

I am very proud of the blood, sweat, and tears that I’ve put into my coaching business. I’ve been willing to make the sacrifices required – emotional, financial, time, family – to build a purpose-driven business knowing that it would not be easy. However, I learned in 2023 that no matter how hard I work, there is always something else I can be doing and that results are never guaranteed. Patience, faith, and resilience are required.

With all that said, here are the three most important things that I’ve learned in 2023…

  • I need to keep leaning on my WHY. I became a mental performance coach because I wanted to have a meaningful impact on the lives of young athletes. When things get hard, I need to remind myself that I transitioned into this field specifically for this purpose. In order to serve this purpose, I need to keep pushing forward to grow the business to serve more young athletes and their families.
  • I need to reflect more consistently. While consistency is key, continuing to do the wrong things consistently can actually hinder growth and development. I need to invest more time over the course of a year to reflect and evaluate progress so that I can make changes as needed, not just in my end-of-the-year blog post. I need to review and make sense of data, as well seek out objective feedback to avoid going down the wrong path too long.
  • I need to take more of my own medicine. If you were a fly on the wall in one of my mental performance coaching sessions, then you’d likely hear me saying things like, “control what you can control,” “focus on process over outcomes,” and “What would it be like to judge success in a different way?” Yet, here I sit writing a blog about my business’s performance that is focused largely on results. Just like my athletes, I focus on results because they matter to me and to the longevity of the business. Good results help the business to grow and help me stay motivated. However, I can focus my attention in the wrong places sometimes.

I have achieved more than I could ever imagined over the past 3.5 years or so. I need to stop and reflect on my accomplishments more frequently to fuel my motivation to keep going.

I wish you a Happy New Year filled with happiness, peace, prosperity, and reflection.


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