It’s hard to believe yet another year has gone by. Time really does go by very fast which makes it so important to spend your precious time with people you love and doing work that you love!!
In the Lean/Continuous Improvement world we carry out ‘Hansei’ which is Japanese for ‘reflection’. Hansei allows us to look back at what has been achieved so we can use lessons learned to determine future direction for improvement and growth. Every year I carry out an Annual Review which is a personal ‘Hansei’ on my life so I can continue to improve and grow.
An annual review is a great way of reviewing goals set at the beginning of the year and reflecting on how the year went to see what worked so you can build on the successes and see what didn’t work so you can adjust and change direction.
I find an annual review helps me to plan better which in turn enables me to focus more and get more done so I can continue to improve my life and the life of those around me.
An annual review is also hugely beneficial when setting goals for the coming year.
I have been carrying out an annual review for a few years now and started publishing my annual review on my blog 2 years ago. See annual reviews from 2104 and 2013 linked below,
The system I use for my annual review is still a work in progress and evolves year on year as my own life evolves. When I first carried out my annual review I started with a template shared and used by Chris Guillebeau. If you are interested in starting your own annual review, here is Chris Guillebeau’s How To Conduct your own Annual Review. This is a great read and highlights how powerful planning and reviewing can be.
Chris’s updated annual review template can be found here – Annual Review Template, I used this initially then changed and modified it over the years. Chris’s 2015 annual review can be found here which will give you an insight into why I follow him and why I travelled all the way to Oslo a few years ago to attend his celebration for visiting every country in the world, he is a very inspirational guy!
To say carrying out an annual review has transformed how I plan and achieve goals would be a huge understatement. Last year it took me quiet a while to compile the annual review – this year, learning from that lesson, I carried out mini monthly reviews as well as the larger quarterly reviews outlined in the template linked above. This has made the annual review process much more streamlined and has ensured I changed direction when required and not a moment too soon. These mini reviews also helped me track metrics much more closely. I’m not sure if this is a result of planning more, being more organised or the fact that my passion for Lean has also awoken a passion for metrics of all sorts! More about metrics below!
Similar to most years I met some of my goals, exceeded a few, dropped some during the year and did not do as well as I would have hoped in others – my goals like life itself are a work in progress!
As always, Mike, my family and my friends are my reason for everything.
So here goes, in no particular order, my annual review for 2015.
This year, long haul travel was put on hold to help me learn more about and improve my finances. In saying this I still seemed to be packing a suitcase often enough to keep me sane but my travels this year were mostly around my beautiful home of Ireland (North and South) instead of long haul.
My first trip of the year took my Mom and I back to Belfast to bring my Travel Photography exhibition home. My Travel Photography exhibition was displayed in the arrivals hall of George Best Belfast City airport from August 2014 to March 2015.
I am immensely grateful to all 4 airports (Cork, Dublin, Shannon and George Best Belfast City) for hosting my Travel Photography exhibition over the past few years. Following my exhibition in George Best Belfast City airport I wrote a blog post on how I created my Travel Photography Exhibition that can be viewed here – How to create a Travel Photography exhibition.
As always big thanks to Tony from RightBrain Fine Art printing studio – Cork City for my Fine Art prints, Donie and Denis in Thomas Street Framing gallery – Limerick City for mounting my prints and Barbara in Barbara Hubert Bookbindery – Cork City for my gorgeous custom made comments books.
Northern Ireland has the most amazing scenery, from the scenic walk to Carrick-a-Rede bridge, across the bridge itself (which is not for those with a fear of heights) to the unique and breathtaking Giants Causeway…..Northern Ireland is a must see.
Belfast is a fascinating city with so much to do. Beautiful shops, markets, restaurants and architecture make this city an excellent city break. Belfast is home to one of the most fascinating museums I have ever been in – The Titanic Museum. A trip to Belfast with Mike later in the year became the 3rd time I have visited the Titanic Museum and it most certainly won’t be the last. If you are looking for a city break with lots to do I cannot recommend Belfast highly enough.
Mike and I spent a relaxing week in Lanzerote in June and took many city breaks around Ireland throughout the year. One of my favourite places in Ireland is Killarney and I was lucky enough to spend many weekends down there during the summer including a fabulous weekend with my entire family.
I admit I did miss long haul travel this year, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings travel wise.
My Travel Photography Exhibition – George Best Belfast City airport
As mentioned above I took a break from long haul travel to learn more about and improve my finances. Travel and Photography are both pretty expensive hobbies and when you join them together they become one that can drive your Visa card or any other card you use into overdrive! I’m happy to say this year saw me pay off the final payment on my ‘Travel Photography’ loan and become much more stable in relation to finances. This is a huge achievement for me as I don’t make an active income from Travel Photography and so it is still very much supplemented by my full time job (when I had one – I was made redundant in November – more about that later).
Life and the lessons life teaches me has changed my financial views, habits and outlook over the years. My financial views, habits and outlook did not change by themselves, I have my boyfriend Mike and my family (esp. my Mom) to thank for their help and also the professional help, support and advice from the following wonderful people.
Patricia O’Donnell is a financial advisor I met over 6 years ago who has become not only a force for positive change in my life but also a much trusted friend. If you are local and looking for financial advice of any sort and want to speak with someone who has a passion for helping people to find financial freedom then Patricia is your lady.
At Chris Guillebeau’s party in Oslo (mentioned above), as well as meeting Chris I met loads more inspirational people. One of these inspirational people was JD Roth. JD founded the hugely successful finance blog ‘Get Rich Slowly’ which he subsequently sold and can now be found at ‘Money Boss’ where he shares excellent financial advice. In 2014 in conjunction with Chris, JD launched his ‘Get Rich Slowly’ Unconventional Guide which he calls ‘everything I’ve learned about saving and investing during a decade as a money writer. It’s like the entire Money Boss website condensed into one tidy little package’.
I bought the basic package and this was by far the best investment I have ever made in relation to financial freedom. JD’s year long e-mails and ‘Be Your Own CFO’ guide introduced me to information and tips n’ tricks that I never knew existed and have totally changed how I view and treat finance. If you are looking for financial advice it’s absolutely worth following JD’s blog ‘Money Boss’.
Like all goals, some financial goals I met, some I didn’t and some I just need to work much harder on!
As mentioned above my fourth Travel Photography airport exhibition was hosted by George Best Belfast City airport until March 2015.
One of my goals this year was to find a stockist for my Fine Art prints where people can view and purchase them as framed prints. Where best to showcase my prints than in the Framing Gallery where I get all of my prints framed/mounted in my home city of Limerick.
A selection of my Cuba Fine Art prints are now displayed in Thomas Street Framing Gallery in Limerick City. I am very proud to have my images displayed in this gallery as Donie and Denis have been framing prints/images for me for many years and framed/mounted all of the images used in my airport exhibitions. If you are looking for local, professional mounting or framing this is the place to go.
This year I created a Fine Art catalogue using Blurb where you can view the images available on my website as well as a few new ones. This Fine Art catalogue can be viewed here – Siobhain Danaher Travel Photography Fine Art Catalogue . This brings the number of Blurb Travel Books I have published to eight, these books are also available on Amazon.
Thanks to Art Cards Ireland, there are now 8 different types of greeting cards available to match my Fine Art prints. I’m currently researching where the best place to sell these is. If you are looking for a company to create professional customised greeting cards, I cannot recommend Art Cards Ireland highly enough. Their cards are beautiful and they are a dream to work with.
This year I completed 7 ‘non travel’ photography projects. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of these. Most projects were for friends and family with a few high profile clients thrown in!
Anyone who knows me well or has worked with me knows I love Lean.
I love Lean culture, Lean tools, Lean methodology – basically I love everything about Lean. I have seen first hand how Lean tools, systems and approach can transform how people work, increase productivity (and in turn increase profit), allow creativity and innovation to fluorish and increase employee/customer satisfaction and engagement.
Last year I wrote in my annual review of my delight in starting my new job as Continuous Improvement Manager. Just over a year into my new role I was made redundant. Yes you read correctly – redundant!! I really loved the work, learned so much during the year, made fabulous friends to whom I am very grateful to for making me feel so welcome and embracing positive change. However, when the time came to move on I was actually happy to leave. Professionally there are very few things worse than getting up every morning and going to a job where your skills, experience and contribution are not valued. From personal experience I can tell you it is soul destroying. This is the antithesis of a Lean culture where not only is every single employee respected and valued but they are developed, mentored and empowered to become the very best they can be.
Every cloud has a silver lining and over the past few weeks the time off work has afforded me the luxury to be able to spend quality time with my family and dedicate time to build my own Lean website/blog where I will share information and thoughts on Lean in business and life. My experience of being made redundant makes me even more committed to sharing the positive benefits of Lean which I will do through my new website/blog. Launch date yet to be confirmed! Watch this space!
Lean is traditionally used in business to remove waste and create value, however in 2015 I used Lean principles to ‘Lean’ all areas of my personal life – I implemented 5S in some areas of our home, created kanbans for certain household consumables and removed items in my life that no longer serve me. I will continue to ‘Lean’ my life and am looking forward to sharing more about how Lean can help to streamline your business and life in my new website/blog.
An absolute must for any business in this digital age is internet marketing.
Like most things in life, the more I learn about social media the more I realise I don’t know. Also the more I learn about social media the more I realise it is essential to a thriving business in todays global market. Finally the more I learn about social media the more I love it. I love how it provides a platform for ideas to be shared, voices to be heard and how it allows global connections to be created at the click of a mouse.
My interest in internet marking has grown steadily over the years since I set up this blog in and started using social media to share my Travel Photography journey. Combining my love of Lean and social media, the majority of my blog posts this year were about social media and online resources available to increase efficiency using automation, outsourcing and various online tools and sites. The following posts were the most popular from 2015
In 2014 I started using Upwork (formally O-Desk) to create a global team. In terms of business this was one of the best decisions I ever made. It has freed me up to be more creative and do more with my time. #Lean. Thanks to Upwork and the amazing people I work with I managed to create hundreds of inspirational quote images and post these daily to numerous social media sites. Towards the end of Q3 I started to post a travel image every day from my 1000’s of travel images to numerous social media sites.
Visits to and views of this blog have steadily increased since my first blog post in 2012. In 2015 I published the very same number of blog posts as I did in 2014, however the views to my blog posts doubled as did the number of visitors to my blog. This was due to the fact that I learned more about internet marketing and how social media, traffic and blogging actually works.
As I mentioned above, the more I learn about internet marketing the less I think I know as it changes and evolves so fast.
Just like the Lean world and the world of Continuous Improvement, the only way to definitively know if you are improving is to have ‘fact based’ metrics. I currently track 16 metrics across 6 social media platforms. Each one of these metrics increased in 2015 which means I’m moving in the right direction!!! In saying that, growth is slow – slow but steady!
I have many people to thank for sharing their wisdom with me through their blogs and books in relation to all things social media/internet marketing/entrepreneurship – Chris Guillebeau, Natalie Sisson, Greg Canty, Robin Sharma, Brendon Burchard, Michael Hyatt, Kim Garst, Dale Partridge to name a few.
It’s nice to give back. I have been supporting various charities for many years and year on year I try to give more to each charity whether this is monetary support or volunteering my time. I continued to support these charities in 2015 but didn’t give as much in donations or time as I would have hoped. This is something I certainly need to work on in the coming year.
For me, it is nurturing Mind, Body and Spirit that keeps everything else in good health.
Mind – I keep my mind healthy, grounded and nurtured by reading, meditating and journalling. The human mind is so fragile and complex and it doesn’t take much for the stresses and strains of the world to overwhelm the mind. That is why it is as important to feed and nurture your mind as it is to feed and nurture your body.
I absolutely love reading and this year I discovered the joy of audio books. In 2015 I read and listened to so many books I wrote a separate blog post on ‘My Top 20 Books Of 2015‘
Body – ‘Health is Wealth’ is a well known saying that is so so true. If you or one of your loved ones is sick there is no money in the world can give you or your loved ones back the health once enjoyed. I have always been aware of this saying and seem to hear it many times but it has never made more sense to me than it has in the past few years as I have watched family and family friends battling illnesses.
For many years I made ‘New Year Resolutions’ in relation to health such as be more healthy, exercise more, stop smoking (when I smoked), drink less alcohol (when I drank alcohol). Year after year I found I was making the same ‘New Year Resolutions’ which would suggest things weren’t going quite as planned!
Now as the New Year rings in and I set my goals for the year I make lifestyle changes instead of New Year’s Resolutions. In 2015 I made a lifestyle decision to stop drinking alcohol, coffee and diet coke. Those who know me best know I have more than a fondness for all three of these drinks. I thought I would find it hard to stop drinking alcohol as being Irish it is pretty much part of our heritage but not drinking coffee turned out be the most challenging of the three!
Every year I say I will commit to exercising more and being more healthy, I have a roller coaster relationship with this goal. I signed up for personal training and yoga at work which I enjoyed immensely but could have attended more and pushed myself harder. I continue to enjoy my favourite sport swimming but could also be pushing myself a bit harder in the pool. I’d love to be a runner – when I see my boyfriend Mike, family and friends competing in 5k, 7k, 10k runs and marathons I am more than impressed with their dedication and ability however I don’t think I’m suited to being a runner! This year I ran the Great Limerick Run 10k which I enjoyed but couldn’t walk right for a week afterwards!! Note to self – l’m more of a fish than a cheetah!
My diet is healthy but could be better.
Spirit – Spirituality is a huge part of my life. For me spirituality is about nurturing my inner world so I can function optimally in the outer world. Spirituality for me is where Mind, Body and Spirit all merge together, I ensure that what nurtures my mind and body (mentioned above) also nurtures my soul.
I had planned to travel to London in October to attend a talk by Dr Wayne Dyer, however this was not meant to be as sadly and unexpectedly Wayne passed away on August 30th at the age of 75. He leaves a legacy of positivity with his books and teachings. the world lost a great teacher this year.
Eckhart Tolle came to Belfast in September and I attended his talk in the Belfast Waterfront Hall. It was, as expected, a joyful, inspirational and insightful talk. Just as he does in his books, Eckhart shared his wisdom and knowledge with immense humour and humility. I very much look forward to attending more of his talks as he tours around the world.
My goals set for the past few years have been a little vague, non measurable and were open to a little more than a bit of interpretation.
Metrics are a huge part of Lean/Continuous Improvement teachings and so last year I set metric based goals which gives me much more clarity and accountability than before. Metric based goals allow me to narrow my focus to areas that need more attention. As metrics are documented in real time this ensures I don’t travel down the wrong road for too long and and can change direction with ease.
If you are unfamiliar with metric based goals what I mean by them and the difference between non metric based goals is explained below.
Non metric based goals – I will read more books, I will give more to charity, I will increase traffic to my blog
Metric based goals – I will read 10 books each quarter, I will give 5% of my salary to charity, I will publish 1 blog post every week and increase my blog views by 10% each month
As mentioned above (in the internet marketing section) I track 16 metrics across 6 social media platforms. I also track metrics for each area of my life as in the sections above. This may sound like a lot of work but just like metrics in business, when you get used to setting, tracking and using valuable information from metrics they can become quiet addictive! #Lean
That’s it, 2015 was like most years, full of ups and downs.
Now that the annual review is complete it’s time for goal setting for 2016 – my goals for 2016 will be similar to those for 2015 and will be all about the loves in my life – my boyfriend Mike, my family, my friends, travel, photography, Lean, internet marketing and creating more time, space and abundance (using Lean principles of course!) to live the life I love.
I hope you had a wonderful 2015 and that you are setting stretch goals for 2016.
I wish you and your loved ones a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year. May 2016 be a transformational year for you all. Always remember small consistent changes will lead to huge transformations.
A sincere THANK YOU to everyone who has shared this journey with me, each and every one of you have a made a positive impact on my life. A special and heartfelt THANK YOU to my boyfriend Mike, my family and my friends for making each year better than the last, you are the reason for it all.
x x x
How did your 2015 go?
Did you reach your goals?
What did you learn from reaching/not reaching your goals?