I know that 2020 was a challenging year for many people in the world, but for me, it was a HUGE improvement over last year. I am fortunate to be in the safest country in the world. In New Zealand, nobody is wearing masks, the pandemic is completely under control, and I realigned my business to work from home and never travel in January. My skills are suddenly in high demand, and I’ve accomplished a number of professional milestones this year.
To see all of my annual reviews, click here. To use my workbook to create your own Annual Review, click here.
Part 1 – What were my victories of 2020?
Permanent Residency in New Zealand
Our three-year journey to find a safe home for our children culminated in one last piece of paperwork – a Permanent Residency visa that will never expire. We can live in New Zealand for the rest of our lives, and our children will always have this faraway island country as a safe haven.
Moving to New Zealand, getting a work visa, bringing my family across the ocean, and getting permanent residency here was one of the hardest projects I have ever accomplished. It took three years, as well as nine months of working 60-hour weeks. This effort broke my body, and I developed a lifelong condition because of it. This victory will also have the longest-lasting effects on my lineage, so I count my own pains as a worthy price to pay for the future of my line.
Healing an autoimmune disorder
This year started with a recovery from the sickest I have ever been. Thanks to the patient ministrations of my wife, her herbal therapies and nourishing food, I have recovered most of my health. I am frequently on the precipice, and there are a great many foods that can trigger me back into relapse. But I have learned how to achieve a relative equilibrium, so long as I don’t push myself too hard.
For Yule this year, we got a big trampoline for the family. Within a few months, I was able to do backflips again. As I write this, in the summertime, my body feels strong and fit. Last year at this time, I was unable to walk up the stairs without getting winded. Doctors were recommending indefinite hospitalisation, steroid prescriptions, and invasive surgeries. My rebound from that prognosis is drastic.
10th move in 10 years
The Huntress Clan is nomadic. We have moved so often that we don’t keep very many possessions about us, so it makes it easier to pick up and move somewhere new. Our last house was fraught with difficult repairs and messy emotional ties with our landlord. We successfully extricated ourselves from a potentially explosive situation by leaving when we did, and we found somewhere that is much easier to live. As we so often find in our nomadic lives, leaving drama behind is better than making enemies.
First $5k speaking gig
I’ve been speaking publicly and semi-professionally for a while, but this year I charged $5,000 for the first time. This is the base rate for professionals. Meeting planners don’t take you seriously unless you charge this much, and now, I do.
Published 50 articles
I’ve been writing and publishing around the web for a while, but I was surprised that amidst everything else I had going on, I published 50 articles this year.
At the beginning of this year, I started documenting anything I could potentially hand off to an assistant. Anytime I was doing something I could train someone else to do, I made a video screencast and a checklist on a Trello card, and built a little archive of activities I could hand off to someone else. After interviewing a bunch of candidates, I found a great virtual assistant based in the Phillipines. She’s been working 20-30 hours per week for me for six months, and it has been fantastic. This has enabled me to focus more on creative production, which makes me more effective.
While I have used lots of various contractors for my digital marketing agency over the years, she and I have been meeting twice weekly for months, and it feels good to have someone at my right hand. I can come up with an idea, spend a few minutes describing it to her on a Trello card, and within a few days a complicated project is all done. It’s great.
I’ve been working on Marketing Yourself in one form or another since I moved to New Zealand three years ago. I had to write (and throw out) a few drafts before I finally clarified the book I wanted to write. I finished the manuscript on 20 December, 2020, and I plan to publish and launch it in early 2021. Get on the waitlist here. If you want to see how much I geek out on process, here is how I planned the production of each chapter as a standalone article on Medium:
South Island Vacation
My word of 2020, set on last New Year’s Day, was ‘Relax.’ I’ve been intentionally introducing relaxation into my life, because if I don’t, my body falls apart due to chronic fatigue and an autoimmune disorder I am still learning how to handle. One of the best things I did for myself and my family this year was take a 10-day trip to the South Island to explore New Zealand.
We are fortunate enough to have a whole landscape where we can travel, safe from the pandemic, and it felt great to travel and explore. New Zealand is such a beautiful country, and there is so much more here to discover. Taking the time off of running my business to really have a vacation with my family was incredible.
At least now, I have a name for it. I’m remarkably efficient in how I schedule and allocate my time; unfortunately, this gets in the way of my ability to relax and be in the present moment. Once I identified this as its own condition, ‘time sickness’ has been named the culprit behind many of my other issues.
Napping and rest
I have improved my ability to relax during my workday, by structuring in time for Qi Gong and reading in a comfy chair in my studio. But I am still horrible at napping. I also struggle with insomnia, and when I miss out on sleep my newly-weakened body gets much weaker. I’ve tried various things to get better at entering a state of relaxation, but it’s a struggle. I wish napping was easier for me. I scheduled 2 hours for my daily lunch break, but half of that is usually taken up with preparing cabbage juice and eating lunch with my family. While I should take the second hour for a nap, I often get back to work early, and run out of energy before the end of the day.
Deeper in debt
I earned more money in 2020 than I did in 2019 (22% increase) but my expenses were much more. Any year that we move is always financially difficult, not just because of the expenses of the move (and the friction of learning how/where to buy things in the new place), but also because of the deceleration in my business that happens around moving time. I had some great client work come in this year, but setting up in a new house and paying for a 10-day vacation was more than my income increase.
The Hamstring of Expertise
Because I am good at making sales pages and email automations, I can do these things myself. Unfortunately, when I am launching a new training program, I get distracted by the things I know how to do, instead of focusing on the strategy for the project. Even worse, because I know how to do it, I make it slipshod. Some of the projects I launched this year had weak branding, or weak execution, at a level that I would have never allowed for one of my clients. Instead of hiring someone to make my website pages, I have preferred to do them myself, badly, so I could move on to other aspects of the project. I saw this year how this hamstring held me back.
Alcohol and diet
If I was smart, I would take a year or two off of alcohol entirely. It aggravates my condition, and depletes my ability to heal. We just moved to wine country, and I can’t drink any of the wine here! The 202 sulphite preservatives wreak havoc on my gut. But I can drink wine that has no sulphites added, and there is a website where I can order organic wine in New Zealand. I love wine, and instead of drinking 3-4 times per week I have gone down to 3-4 times per month, which is progress. I should be drinking raw cabbage juice every day, but it’s disgusting, and it takes 30 minutes to prepare and clean the juicer. Instead of drinking this medicinal potion every day, I drink it regularly in spurts, when my symptoms are diminishing my ability to function. I haven’t found the right level of equilibrium with my diet and with alcohol, and this challenge can sometimes make me sick for days on end.
Part 3: How many New Year’s Resolutions did I keep?
Resolution Not Kept
Attend 4 immersions for Thought Leaders Business School
The first immersion this year in February was in Melbourne. I had not yet recovered enough, physically or financially, to make the trip. The world locked down in March of 2020. The next quarter’s Immersion, in May, was their first virtual immersion. I attended three virtual immersions this year, and the third was while we were on our South Island trip, so I technically travelled for that one! I am on track to attend the February immersion, so I am a bit behind on attending all 4, but I am now fully onboarded into the program. My business is constantly levelling up because of what I learn in TLBS.
Eat a Healing Diet 6 Months After Remission
Diet has been hard for me to handle. I don’t eat any gluten, or dairy, or nuts. The few foods that I do eat are only saved from monotony by the culinary skills of my wife, who has a talent for making exceptionally tasty meals. When my symptoms decrease, instead of staying on a relapse diet, I immediately experiment with introducing new foods. This triggers me right back into delicate territory. My resolution this year was to stay diligent, eating a simple diet even when my symptoms were gone, to allow my system time to heal. People with my condition who do this can sometimes go back to eating semi-normally, but I have been unable to do this yet.
Hike 10k Track With My Wife
By the time I was strong enough to make the 10k hike near our old house, we were getting ready to move again. Instead of taking a big hike together, my wife and I spend more time walking our dogs. Our new neighbourhood is much nicer for walking dogs than the previous house on the cliffs by the ocean, and we often take 2-3 walks in a day together here. There is a vineyard near our house where we can stroll for hours. Technically this resolution was failed, but the purpose of it (walk more with my wife) was definitely achieved.
Make 52 Pink Sheets
I was delighted to discover that while I was not keeping count, I started this year with 19 Pink Sheets complete, and last week I uploaded a batch of 5 that put me to a total of 71. Without meaning to, I made exactly 52 Pink Sheets this year.
Produce a Masterclass Webinar Every Month
Every month I created an hour-long interactive presentation, complete with slides, polls, activities, and exercises. They were heavy on presentation, since my ulterior motive in creating these Masterclasses was to create a library of content from which I could swipe material for future presentations. I’ve already been pillaging this archive of content for speaking engagements, videos, and articles, so it was time well spent.
You can watch these Masterclasses here (no opt-in needed):
We tried it for a while, and then Quarantine hit, and then we moved, and we’ve been very lax about screen time. Instead of focusing when our off-time is, I’ve started making more frequent invitations during on-time. When I come in the main room and everyone is on a different screen, I invite everyone to ride bikes, or jump on the trampoline, or play a game with me. They don’t always say yes, but the intention helps redirect my kids out of laziness and into activity.
Invite Kids to Art Projects
We had just set up an art table before the first of last year, and I tried keeping it clean for the first couple months of the year, with limited success. Then, when Quarantine hit, everything changed, and this resolution was discarded.
Life Repair on Wednesday Afternoons
Blocking Wednesday afternoons has been so helpful for my physical healing. I don’t schedule anything on Wednesday afternoon, unless it’s an acupuncture appointment, or a leisurely hike. The few times I skipped this break and worked through it, my energy diminished on Thursday and Friday, and proved to me that I need to keep this midweek break. Without Life Repair, I would only be able to hobble through my week.
Part 4: What are my resolutions for next year?
I’ve published my resolutions in a separate post. Read my 2020 New Year’s Resolutions here.
Caelan Huntress is an American digital nomad living in New Zealand, and has spent ten years running an online business while traveling the world with his young family. Caelan is a website designer, copywriter, and sales strategist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs make more money in less time through setting up smart marketing systems. Subscribe to Caelan's newsletter here.