A Terrible Loss
In February I found out my dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma; his doctor wanted him to start treatments immediately. After a very difficult battle with colon cancer in 2008, he wasn’t 100% on board with undergoing chemo and radiation again. I accompanied him to a few doctor’s appointments and he eventually came around. He was to begin treatments at the end of March, but he hurt himself (multiple myeloma makes your bones really brittle) and had to go to the hospital. One week at the hospital preceded three weeks in a nursing home for rehab. During that time we weren’t allowed to see him (due to covid lockdowns) except through the window for a few minutes at a time. His health declined rapidly and when he returned home after Easter and his 69th birthday, he lived for only 8 days before passing. I still can’t think about him or the events surrounding his death without crying. If you’ve ever lost a parent you were close to, you know that your world basically stops.
For over 45 years, my dad was a mechanic; he took over his dad’s garage when my grandfather died in 1975. I grew up living close by; I have so many fond memories of time spent there, from riding my big wheels across the parking lot to working there in the summers during middle school. The garage was a place that was always a part of my life — a place I could always find my dad, doing his thing. He worked up until a few days before he went into the hospital. After he passed, there was a LOT of work to be done to shut the business down. I spent May – October cleaning, organizing, sorting and preparing for auction. We auctioned the building, contents, machines, vehicles and tools in October and closed on the garage at the end of November. For as much work as it was, I was grateful for the physical work, the distraction and for the opportunity to hold on to my dad just a little bit longer.
All that being said, in addition to the havoc that the coronavirus wreaked, I didn’t get a ton done. BUT I did manage to do a few things AND I want to be accountable, so let’s dive in.
I had several business goals for 2020.
- Create checklists for each part of client’s journey. I worked on this in Notion, but I still have more to do. I’d like to have a complete set of checklists by the end of 2021, including documentation for each step — potential lead to satisfied customer.
- Investigate project management system. In 2020, I used Basecamp and NiftyPM but ended on ClickUp. ClickUp has a lot of great features; my favorites are that I can share a read-only view of a project with my clients and that I don’t have to use a lot of separate systems. (I was using Trello for leads, Basecamp for tasks for my contractor, Nifty/Asana/Google Drive/Dropbox for project management, etc.). I’d like to continue to learn more about ClickUp so that I can get the most out of it (and see if I can use it to replace any other systems I’m currently using).
- Revisit my customer avatar. Absolutely zero work on this.
- Create and execute a content strategy. I was going strong through February, but did nothing after March. I consciously removed my recurring tasks and reminders to write blog posts and newsletters. Having too much on my to do list (or honestly, a to do list at all) was not working for me. I’d like to ease my way back in to regular content creation — one post per month, one newsletter per quarter and regular social media posting (to be determined).
- Get branded thank you cards. With the help of Jenni Lathrop Design, I got some kick-ass, custom cards and even sent a few out right after the new year.
- Find new images for my blog posts. Finding images can be really difficult for me (how many laptop images can one person use?!), but Jenni saved the day again and I feel SO much better about the images on my blog posts.
- Get new headshots. I got some great photos (see my home page and avatar) in the fall from Stacey Louise Photography.
- Time block work in the morning, limit use of email, eat meals at the table and 30 minute walk once per week outside. No, no, not so much and not as much as I wanted.
Not listed above, but I also managed to refresh my website and hire a contractor (see more on the latter under learning).
Early in 2020 I started a new side project helping photographers with email marketing and automation. I put up a website and did some pro bono work, but once other priorities came to the forefront, I had to step back on this and near the end of the year I took the site down.
I worked on some awesome projects this year with some great people!
- Arron on Sound Supplements
- Linsey, Katherine and Kelly on Face Time Beauty
- Scot and the BOOM team on PROSPER in PA
- Anne and Kelly on Hooked
I had a few financial goals for 2020.
- Use YNAB for business. I started this at the beginning of the year but stopped when it was taking up too much time. I still use YNAB for my personal finances and love it. I may revisit at some point for my business finances.
- Increase my SEP contributions by at least 10%. Done and I also added more to my SEP throughout the year.
- Participate in the 90 day proposal challenge for Q1. Done and this was awesome. There are two variations on the instructions — here and here. The premise is that you can’t control how much you make but you CAN control how many proposals you send out (and what’s included in those proposals). My stretch goal was $45,000 in proposals (of which I sent out $33,030) and I landed $19,880 in projects. See the results or get a copy of the Google doc so you can try this at home.
I also added more funds to my HSA and requested a debit card that I can use for qualified medical spending.
The WordPress community is important to me and I had a few community-related goals for 2020.
- Go to two WordCamps. There weren’t any in person ones, and the virtual ones weren’t super appealing, so this was scrapped. I did co-organize a virtual mega meetup with Miranda Knee for the WordPress Pittsburgh group with three great speakers! I’d like to organize a few meetups this year and already have two on deck.
- Participate in a mastermind. I participated in Q1, but not for the rest of the year. If the opportunity arises, I would like to participate again. Half community, half personal — I had Friday Zooms with my great friend Ruanna all throughout 2020. We talked about everything from work-related problems to personal ones, and I am so grateful for her.
- Teach a WordPress course. I taught a non-credit, online course in the spring. Due to the timing it was mostly terrible — my dad was in the nursing home, then home, then had passed away — all in the four weeks of the class. But we got through it, and I ended up hiring my first contractor — a student in the class. Christie has been great and we’ve both been learning a LOT. I also taught my first credit WordPress course in the fall (online with the community college) and it was super! My students were very engaged and seemed to really dig the course. Some quotes from a mid-semester check-in:
I love the course and am having a great time learning and developing my site and already have ideas for future sites I am going to create!
You are doing amazing. I really enjoy the class. Thank you for teaching me in advance for the semester!
I think you are the best teacher I ever had at WCCC. You really know your topic and you are passionate about it. I really appreciate how you share all your knowledge with us. I’m learning so much from you. Thank you.
Learning is a tough category — it seems like I always put client work first and after that, there’s no time for any additional learning.
- Complete a HubSpot course. I didn’t do this.
- Participate in an SEO Bootcamp. I did this in January, but didn’t do much with it after that.
- Find regular time for reading. I read less than I would have liked in 2020 (only 11 books), but I read several books on grief which were very helpful.
- Create goals and tasks for each 12 Week Year. I only did this for the first quarter, but I started up again for 2021. See my 2021 Q1 goals and tasks.
I always like to have a few personal goals, because it can’t be all about business, right?
- Go camping. Sadly, this did not happen.
- Run two 5Ks. I didn’t do this, BUT I did participate in a 25 mile challenge in September with team RunWP and my kiddo.
- Find a food plan that works. From January – March, I did great with IF using Zero and tracking my food with Lose It, but after that, all bets were off. I wouldn’t be hungry for days, then I would want to eat everything in sight.
After the gyms closed and life got really insane, I also mostly stopped exercising, minus the 25 mile challenge in September (which felt great). I was *just* starting to become one of those people who went to the gym and then the coronavirus hit. I haven’t been able to figure out how to exercise at home (I tend to do better going somewhere) OR outside (it’s always dark or cold when I’m ready to go out), but I’m going to keep working on this.
In December, my partner, kiddo and I did a webinar on making mug rugs (coasters) and I LOVED it. I’ve been making them ever since. I also did a few other crafts — stuffed hearts from some of my dad’s shirts, a shadowbox for my sister and a set of pillows (also from my dad’s shirts) with a book for my nephew — “My Pap Pap Wore This Shirt” (special thanks to Tara). I enjoy offline projects and hope to do more of this in 2021.
My goals for 2021 are purposefully slim. I want to set some goals (goals move you forward) but I don’t want to overdo it. Like last year, if you’d like to follow along with my progress, visit renemorozowich.com/2021update.