I know you're tired of hearing this from every blogger, TV news anchor, and all of Facebook, but damn 2016 went by fast. I can't believe we're just a few days away from the excitement of a whole new wall calendar!

This year has been one of those transformative years around here. The kind where day to day you feel like everything is fairly normal, but you look back over the last twelve months and realize you're (once again) in an entirely different situation than you were when the year started. 

I thought it might be fun to break away from the norm and take a few minutes to think about everything this year has brought us. Not on a global scale, but on a personal level, looking at our own businesses and lives. I do this at the end of every year, an idea I borrowed from Chris Guillebeau and added my own spin on over the years. I'm a planner at heart, so I like to know where I've been and put down a few goals for where I'm going in the next year. I check in and adjust my goals and progress every month (Also sometimes when I'm just bored. Or anxious. Or hungry.), but I do it on a much larger scale the last month or two of the year.

I highly recommend doing your own annual review every year, if for no other reason than the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what life has looked like and dream of what you want it to look like. I'm definitely of the belief that if you don't know where you're going it's super hard to get there. Unless I'm road tripping. In which case who cares where you're going, the journey is the fun part.

Anywho. You can check out this post on goal setting to get some more specific ideas on making sure you set and reach the right goals next year. And remember, there's never a bad time to review how far you've come and set new goals for the future. January 1st feels like a nice fresh slate, but you get a new start every day, week, and month. Just don't get so focused on the planning part that you forget to take action. 

So what did this year look like around here? 

This was the first full year of Lena Elizer Designs!

After the startup I was working with failed I launched back out on my own in October of 2015. This was definitely not my first venture into self employment, but if I'm being honest it was the first time it really mattered. 

When I ran Snazzy Turtle Designs (the studio formerly known as Licentia Designs) I was married and my income wasn't super necessary. I worked hard for my clients, but I didn't spend a lot of time trying to grow the business or narrow down what I really wanted it to be about. This year was different, it was all on me, and it shows in the numbers. I brought in 5 times what I had in my biggest year in the past. I also invested more than 10x what I'm used to spending back into the business. I have a long way to go to reach my income goals for next year, but first I'm going to take the time to celebrate the kick assery that was this year!

I also feel like this is the first year I truly have a message with the business. My branding, message, this blog and my client work all feel authentic to me. It's a beautiful thing!

Other cool things I'll remember from this year... 

I quit smoking! 

I feel like it's such a taboo thing to do that even saying you quit comes with a stigma, especially in the entrepreneurial world. But you know what? I don't really give a crap. I started smoking around 18 years ago (I don't feel old at all now...). I tried to quit a handful of other times, I used medicine, gum, vape, I tried cold turkey once for about 4 hours. I would quit for a little while but it never really felt like the end, until this year. I decided on a Tuesday that I was going to quit that week. I looked up the Almanac best dates to quit, which fortunately were only a few days away (thanks Universe!), and I just... quit. Cold turkey. The emotional aspect SUCKED for a few weeks, maybe a month or more. But I knew from the first week that I was done finally. I'm ending the year with 4 months of extra oxygen in my lungs.

I got my first tattoo!

After having "get a tattoo" on my bucket list for the last few years, and having the design drawn in my sketchpad for at least a year, I finally did it! I was lucky enough to find an amazing handpoke tattoo artist locally, which made it even more unique and special, and I went with a visual representation of one of my favorite sayings: "No mud, no lotus". I feel like the mud I've been through has definitely brought out my lotus, and I wanted a reminder of that. The fact that it's completely beautiful is a great bonus! 

So what's on the agenda for next year? So much fun stuff! I want to keep adding useful content to the blog and become a resource for you as you grow your brand and your life, so I'm dedicating myself to writing here every single week in 2017. I'll also be implementing a newsletter with tips and tutorials that aren't shared here which will be going out twice a month starting in early January. If you aren't already on the email list this is a great time to sign up

I'm also really excited about some templates and products I'm working on to help businesses that are just starting out and need inexpensive, but great looking, websites and logos. And I have a plan to finally get out the courses I've been thinking about for two years. The first one is due to launch at the end of April, so there will be much more on that in the next couple of months!

On the personal side of things I hope to be in the position to buy a house when our lease is up here, so a lot of the year will be spent focusing on that. I really want a yard with a cozy little fire pit and a porch for grilling. Somewhere I can DIY to my heart's content. I also want to focus on getting outdoors more, and trying all the new things I'm big enough to try. 

Now, tell me about you! What were the highlights of 2016? What will your 2017 look like? Do you have a word for the year? What about resolutions? Do you plan for the thrill of planning, fly by the seat of your pants, or do something in between? Tell me everything in the comments!