My 2013 Annual Review: The Highs and the Lows

My 2013 Annual Review: The Highs and the Lows

Written by Emilie

Topics: Updates

Ahh the end of the year.

Time to reflect, time to set goals and time to write up your Annual Review!

I love sharing these with you and hearing yours. I’ve done it for the last two years (here are the reviews for 2011 and 2012, if you’re interested).

I usually use Chris Guillebeau’s model, but this year I’m going to do a general overview and loosely work in what went well and what did not go well. The good and the bad feel very interwoven this time.

2013 was an interesting and somewhat challenging year. About midway through the year, I realized that I needed to reevaluate how I was spending my time. This lead to me updating the vision I had for how I wanted my life to look.

The visions we hold for our lives are continuously evolving for multipotentialites, but I’ve noticed that mine tend to shift more dramatically every 3-4 years. Realizing this about myself will certainly be helpful in the future.

Work-wise, things went very well. Puttylike and the Puttytribe grew quite a bit, I began speaking at high schools and colleges and started writing a new book. At the same time, I found myself getting a little bored, not of Puttylike, but of the day-to-day activities related to running the business.

I decided that I needed to start outsourcing and systematizing more so that I wasn’t spending so many hours doing things like aweber formatting, billing support, coding and content editing. Instead, I wanted to only be doing the things that truly lit me up, like writing my new book, interacting with puttypeeps in the Tribe, preparing for speaking engagements, etc.

But it was a great year and we did grow. Over the course of the year, Puttylike went from being a team of two (me and our awesome Director of Tribe Happiness, Jon) to a team of seven! That’s huge for me, being able to relinquish control of a project I care so deeply for. But I found the right people, mostly members of the Puttytribe whom I had worked with before and whom I trusted immensely. They were people that I knew cared as much about this community and this cause as I did. So far, having a team has been great and has absolutely allowed me to do more of what I love and am great at.

This is a common multipotentialite problem. When you can do a bunch of different things, it’s sometimes hard to not just do everything yourself. At first, you might have to wear many hats because you might not have the resources to hire out. But as soon as you can, you need to push yourself to relinquish the parts of your work that don’t light you up and hand them over to people who do get excited by that kind of work.

While working to free up more of my time for the important projects, I’ve started thinking more and more about what I want my day to look like.

I did this exercise a few years ago and the vision was clear. I wanted a life where I would wake up in the morning, take my schnauzer puppy for a “gratitude walk“, have breakfast with my amazing girlfriend, go to a coffee shop and work for 3-4 hours on a meaningful and creative project, maybe do something collaborative at times too. Then my afternoon would be social time, dabbling time, time for other projects and activities. I also wanted to live in a health-conscious, progressive city where I could be around nature and have funny, interesting people to interact with on a daily basis.

Three years ago I had none of this. No puppy, no girlfriend, no green progressive city. Then I moved to Portland, Oregon, began working hard to grow Puttylike, eventually got Grendel, started dating Valerie, and was quite literally living the dream– well, my dream, that I had defined for myself.

But after a while, I went from being happy to being comfortable to being too comfortable and a little bored. And so my vision for what I wanted began to shift. In the middle of 2013, I began really reevaluating what I wanted my life to look like. I wanted more in-person interaction in my day (less time behind a computer screen), I wanted to maybe work with teenagers, I wanted to study science and possibly open a co-working space. I’ll write more about my goals for 2014 in my annual goal-setting post, which will be coming out next week.

To make matters more complicated, it was also around this time that we moved to Chicago. My girlfriend got into grad school there and I made the decision to go with her. Best decision I could have made, and I don’t regret it for a second. I also thought that maybe this would shake up my routine in just the right way and provide a bit of adventure.

The reality was that the move was incredibly stressful. Neither of us had ever lived with a partner before, let alone move to a new city with another person, and we had a lot to figure out. While I appreciate Chicago and am enjoying it more and more every day, moving here really taught me just how special Portland is. I think we’ll be moving back there when Valerie’s program is over, though I’m keeping an open mind.

We’re both doing much better now. It just took a few months. We’ve moved to a neighbourhood that we love, we’ve started making friends in the city and getting into the groove of things. I also feel like we’re closer than ever from having gone through something so challenging. But yeah, Chicago ain’t so bad.

Other things that went well:

In May, I ran the Multi-Passionate Must-Haves sale with Michelle Ward. It was a tremendous success and a ton of fun. I loved connecting with all of the authors and it felt great to be able to deliver so much value to the multipods who picked up the bundle. The revenue from this sale allowed me to pay off a good chunk of my student debt, which felt amazing (thank you!). We’re definitely going to be running a MPMH Sale Part 2 in 2014.

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and began speaking at colleges and high schools. I looking forward to doing more speaking in the New Year. I have a very important talk coming up for parents of multipotentialite children in Colorado in January that I’ve been working hard on.

I committed to writing my book by July 2014, or I owe Rami $1,000. Yikes.

I started coaching again in a very limited capacity and have found that when working with only a handful of students, I really enjoy it. I also started thinking about how I might expand the coaching program in the new year to be able to help more people. More news on this in upcoming weeks.

I wrote and recorded an album in a month! This was a longtime dream of mine. I didn’t want to go to my grave having never released an album.

After jumping through many many hoops, re-learning high school algebra and getting discouraged several times by the bureaucracy of it all, I finally managed to register for a science class at a local community college. General Chemistry starts in mid-January. Woo!

Although there were some setbacks, my health has improved dramatically in the last year. I’ve also learned a lot about health and nutrition, to the point where my doctor asked me at our last consultation when I was planning on going to naturopathic medicine school. This book in particular had a major impact on my health. Anyone with a brain needs to read it.

Some things that did not go well in 2013:

I wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, but that’s due in large part to the massive move from Portland to Chicago.

I really let Puttylabs go. I just didn’t have the time or drive, to be honest. I was hoping someone in the Puttytribe would take the lead, but it proved to be too much work trying to coordinate with so many people. I couldn’t really blame anyone for not stepping up. Right now, I’m deciding whether to continue with the project or just shut it down, calling it an experiment that didn’t quite work out.

I didn’t do much outreach or actively try to grow Puttylike. I would have liked to do more guest posting, interviews, reaching out to bigger names and platforms. In the last few months of the year, I did begin doing this and trying to adopt an attitude of experimentation. This has been working well and although scary at times, it’s been fun. I definitely will be carrying my new attitude of experimentation forward into 2014.

I didn’t blog/write as much as I would have liked. Having a few new writers on the team made me step back more but after a while, I started to really miss writing to you guys. I’ll probably be blogging more in the new year.

My confidence faltered a bit this past year. I let some of my rituals and positive habits slide, again probably due to the move to Chicago which really shook things up, routine-wise. That’s okay though, I don’t want to be too hard on myself. I have been getting back to working on my confidence and emotional well-being in recent weeks and it will be a major area of focus for me in the new year.

I failed at my exercise goal. My plan was to “get out of my head and into my body” through intense physical activity. Well, it turns out I wasn’t quite ready, health-wise. After attempting a “boot camp” in Portland, I learned that I had some adrenal/HPA-axis issues and that that form of exercise was too intense for me. I had to address my cortisol insufficiency first. I started seeing a great functional medicine doc for that and am doing much better now.

After the bootcamp attempt, I tried going to the gym and doing a very simple strength training routine. That worked wonderfully until I injured my back trying to do a deadlift, possibly due to poor form, possibly due to trying to lift too much. In any case, that was the end of my exercise attempts and it was time to start seeing a chiropractor and physiotherapist.

I learned that I need to meet my body where it’s at. I’ve been through a lot in the past few years. Discovering I had celiac disease after my body basically fell apart, recovering from a nasty parasite, dealing with some autoimmune issues. It’s been a lot for my body to take and I need to really start a lot slower when it comes to exercise. I was feeling so much better at the beginning of 2013 that I got overambitious and pushed too hard.


2013 saw a lot of ups and a lot of downs. It was a year of realizations, making changes and expanding my comfort zone.

I’m ultimately very happy with how things turned out because I learned so much about myself and where I want my life to go. I cannot wait to carry this knowledge forward into 2014 and start making decisions that are more in line with these new goals and values.

Thank you all for being here with me this past year. You’ve been amazing, encouraging and a real source of inspiration.

Happy Holidays!

xo Emilie


*grendel says hi.

Your Turn

How did 2013 go for you? Did you come away with any big realizations?


  1. Milo says:

    Congrats Emilie, I’m always impressed by how much you’re able to achieve, even with the various challenges that you’ve faced.

    And thanks for your honesty in putting this out there. It’s great to see how you’ve progressed to working with a bigger team of such awesome people!

    Interesting how you mentioned ‘getting a little bored’ of routines a couple of times, but then later you seem to acknowledge that having positive routines are good for you in terms of confidence etc. I suppose we all (especially multipods) have cycles that we go through and sometimes we need to shake things up a little.

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Milo!

      Good point about routines. I think you’re right about cycles. That certainly seems to be the case for me. Something will work for a while and then it’ll stop working and I’ll need to change things up.

      Great ‘seeing you’ here, Milo. Merry Christmas! :)

  2. Lauren says:

    A great read and I’m sure things will only get better now you’re settled in Chicago. Keep up the great work, and if your confidence falters again remember all of us who know you’re strong and brilliant and who take great inspiration from you.

  3. Dear Emile,

    Wow this was an awesome read. Its great that you addressed your highs and lows of 2013. Doing a long distance move is very difficult. I have done this 3 times and while its a bittersweet moment in your life it can sometimes be more bitter than sweet ;) I am happy that you moved to Chicago because it gave us an opportunity to meet. Its a wonderful city with lots of things to offer. Its funny how you note that you have a cycle for your changes in vision. Mine happens every 5 years and i have just completed another 5 year mark so I am having that change of vision happening now and its quite scary.

    I will be writing my 2013 in review and posting it to the Puttytribe this week. Stay strong and I wish you nothing but success for 2014. We have to do a meet up again soon!

    • Emilie says:

      Interesting. Scary, but exciting! I can’t wait to hear about what you get up to.

      Yes, lets get together again sometime. Are you still planning on moving away?

      • Austen says:

        I do still plan on moving away just not sure when… I have settled on North Carolina. Lots of new startup companies and several opportunities to network… i did decide to let go of my high stressful job and have begun looking for a less demanding one, so i can focus on my business and create the life I have always wanted to have. It will be scary and will stretch me out of my comfort zone but it will be well worth it!!!

        • Emilie says:

          Cool! My cousin lives in Asheville and says it’s like a mini Portland. Sounds amazing. I’ve heard good things about the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area too.

  4. Rob F. says:

    Congratulations on a solid year, Emilie! I’m glad to read that life stabilised after the move to Chicago, and I’ll be curious to how things work out re. heading back to Portland – closest I’ve ever been to it is watching Grimm.

    Oh, and I love how Grendel is standing guard over the tree!

  5. Quiana says:


    You did awesome. Even with the areas you want to improve, you still did amazing work. Kudos to you and I can’t wait to see what you create in 2014!

  6. Hannah says:

    Thanks for sharing your review Emilie. It’s so cool to hear about everything that’s gone well for you this year! A long-distance move is a huge upheaval, especially when combined with living with someone else for the first time. I’m glad things are more settled now and I hope you both enjoy Chicago :) Thanks also for the “Why Isn’t My Brain Working” book recommendation—definitely going to read that.

    I really appreciate the point you made at the end about how all these experiences are opportunities to learn more about yourself. So true! That reflects my feelings about my own highs and lows of 2013. Hope you have a happy holiday season and a great start to 2014 :)

  7. Hey Emilie

    Amazing review. What a candid account of the year! Stuff that didn’t go well accepted, acknowledged and brushed aside, you did a sterling job of absolutely smashing 2013.

    Here’s to 2014.

    • Emilie says:

      Thank you so much, Steve. I’m so glad that you’re a part of this community. I hope we get to ‘meet’ soon… Maybe during Puttython? Happy holidays!

  8. Saul says:

    Thanks for sharing! Sounds like you have a lot of great projects on the table. I wasn’t going to write one of these, but after reading this and Rami’s post earlier, I thought maybe I should:

  9. Zsolt says:

    Hi Emilie,

    Reading your review of 2013 I was thinking you’re really not just talking, but are leading by example. Doing so many different things and actually making progress in some is the greatest challenge as a multipod I think.

    Knowing you are one helps a lot of course. I’m sure there are still millions of people out there who need to hear your message so that they can realize their own multipod nature and reach their full potential. I’m glad I heard it and will always be grateful to you.

    I still haven’t done my own review, but I already know that going travelling has been my best decision of the year. Mainly because of the amazing people I meet. As I mentioned earlier, I had a very interesting conversation about purpose in life, here is my post about it:

    I wish you and the putty tribe an exciting new year!


  10. Benny says:

    Really enjoyed reading your Annual review! I don’t read many but glad I read yours!

  11. Crystal says:

    Hi Emilie,
    I am a parent in Denver, CO. Is there a way I can find out more about your speaking engagement?

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