2021 in Review: Quitting my 9–5, newsletter stats, and not being able to walk
Last year was a bit of a whirlwind. Everything I’d been working toward for years finally came together, and the results were amazing. Here’s a look at what happened:
Launched my newsletter
I put this off for so long because I knew nothing about creating a newsletter. A couple of things made me finally pull the trigger:
- Taking baby steps and building in public. Instead of thinking of everything I needed to do, I just focused on the next step. Then, I shared the journey to show followers what was happening behind the scenes.
- Purchasing the Newsletter OS from Janel Loi. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. This product helped me fill in the blanks.
- Leaning on support from followers and my network. My followers requesting a newsletter and helping along the way was a huge inspiration for me actually going through with it. Instead of building it for me, I was building it for them.
Here’s a look at the growth over time:
Here are the top articles of the year:
- How to spend only 5% of your workweek in meetings
- Asynchronous work is hugely misunderstood
- This Popular Remote Work Advice Is Wrong (And You’re Probably Following It)
- Work Style Profile: Steph Smith
- WFH Gift Guide
See all past posts here.
Got my COVID vaccine
I got my COVID vaccine as soon as I was eligible (and could find an appointment). My first Moderna shot was in early April, and I had an absolutely terrible allergic reaction to it. A couple of minutes in, I felt faint, couldn’t breathe, and had a terrible rash. Luckily, it passed. I got my 2nd shot in late April (after getting doctor approval) and, weirdly, did not get an allergic reaction. Same for my booster shot in November. I was on allergy medication for other things for the final 2 shots, so maybe that had something to do with it? Who knows.
I was also out of commission between 3–5 days for each of the shots with flu-like side effects. The worst side effects actually came from my booster shot.
Even though I had a far worse experience with the shots than anyone I’ve talked to, I would 100% do it all over again. The peace of mind that comes from being as protected as possible from COVID is worth all of it. I’ll continue to be first in line for any future shots.
Launched my first CBC
This wasn’t something I expected to happen in 2021. But the stars aligned and offered me an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. I created and ran a 4-week live cohort course on Mastering Remote Leadership. Overall, it was a huge success:
- Just the first cohort made five figures
- The guest speakers killed it
- We had the BEST students (Seriously. Couldn’t have asked for a better group.)
- The course received rave reviews like this one:
On the other hand, I learned that while the live course format is popular right now, it’s not sustainable for me while running the course by myself. I received so many emails and requests for more cohorts, so I’m officially converting the course to self-paced educational content with a live community and monthly events. This will allow me to reach more people, make it a sustainable model to run with my workload, and provide even more value to students. Win-win for all. We’ll be launching in early 2022, so make sure you’re on the waiting list here to receive first access.
Quit my job and started working for myself
I didn’t realize it until I looked back, but every step I took in 2021 was building to this. I had started my company, Remote Work Prep, in 2018 and ran it on the side. In January 2021, I negotiated more time (half-day on Wednesday and Friday off) instead of more money to help keep up with my business growth.
This worked until June when I took a 2-month entrepreneurial leave from my 9–5 to run my live course.
Finally, in September 2021 I switched my 9–5 company from employer to client, and officially went full-time working for myself.
It honestly still feels a bit surreal. I’m an extremely risk-averse person. There were 3+ years between when I formed my Remote Work Prep LLC to when I fully worked for myself. I wish there were more public stories like mine to break the view that these things happen overnight.
One thing I wasn’t ready for was the identity crisis that came with achieving my dream. Who was I without a fancy title at a tech company? When I first started Remote Work Prep, it was supposed to be a side hobby. Now, it had turned into a big thing that took me away from a career path I’d been working toward since middle school. I found it disorienting.
Also, I’d spent years designing the perfect workday optimized for juggling multiple roles. It no longer served me though and I had to start from scratch in designing a workday that wasn’t built on working around ancient (but deeply ingrained) work rules that I no longer had to follow. This was the inspiration behind kicking off the Work Style profiles. I wanted to show how others designed their work life when they weren’t restricted.
I feel like these struggles were tough but necessary. It feels like working for myself was something I was always meant to do, and I’ve never been happier with my work.
Grew my connections
I’m a huge introvert and tend to keep a very tight circle, but this year that circle expanded quite a bit. I completed multiple courses including the On Deck Founder Fellowship, Minimalist Entrepreneur, Maven CBC Builder, and the Portfolio of Small Bets course that allowed me to expand my network. I was also fortunate enough to meet several amazing women who inspired me and supported my solopreneur journey. Plus, I have the very best followers.
Every time I felt like quitting this year, these people kept me going.
Couldn’t walk for 5 months
2021 wasn’t all rainbows and roses. In early July, I was in the best shape of my life. I had used some of the extra time after quitting my 9–5 towards exercising. I was feeling great, and then, suddenly, I wasn’t. One day, I had a throbbing in the metatarsal of my left foot. It grew until I could not put any weight on it.
I figured I had strained it and it would be better in a week. I was wrong. Endless doctor appointments and tests later, they still haven’t figured out the issue. I was unable to walk for months. We canceled our October trip to Disneyland because I didn’t know if I could even walk from the car to the airport. In November, I was finally able to do a small walk around the block. But the struggle is far from over.
The latest potential diagnosis is nerve damage and I’m referred to a new PT. Crossing my fingers for better results this time.
As someone who uses exercise to manage my anxiety, this has been a rough second half of the year. We never truly appreciate our health until it is put in danger. Personally, I don’t think I ever gave my foot a thought prior to this injury. This experience has given me a much bigger appreciation for walking, rowing, yoga, and all my other favorite exercises. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get back to them in 2022.
Top Twitter Moments
I didn’t spend as much time on Twitter this year as I did in 2020, but I still doubled my followers (3k to 7.5k) and received over 10 million impressions. Out of that, 4 million of the impressions came from these 5 tweets:
Some Random Favorite Memories
- Building the Lego bonsai tree
- Launching the 10-Day Question the Default Challenge
- Getting my first haircut since the pandemic started
- When a beautiful owl chilled on my deck all day
- Helping a company be remote-first from day 0 of their company being founded for the first time (so much fun)
- Finding a small park nearby with a cute, little coffee shop that we had never heard of
- Taking my first 3-week vacation
- Getting featured in Every’s Sunday Digest
- Launching the Slack Hacks guide
- Finally finding a PS5 for my husband
Best of the Year
- Book: Think Again by Adam Grant and Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman
- Newsletter: Ask Polly by Heather Havrilesky
- Podcast: WorkLife with Adam Grant
- Movie: Encanto
- TV show: WandaVision
- Food: Crumbl Cookies
- New find: Perfect waffles every time
- Lesson: Sometimes taking a step back in order to adjust and take a step forward in the right direction is more productive than only moving forward
This was a life-changing year for me, and I’m grateful for every piece of it. I have big plans for 2022, so make sure you’re following on Twitter and subscribed to Remotely Interesting ✨
Hope you have the loveliest new year!