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Article: 2015 Annual Review - The Brutal Truth. What Went Well, What Didn't and What You Can Learn From It.

2015 Annual Review - The Brutal Truth. What Went Well, What Didn't and What You Can Learn From It.

2015 Annual Review - The Brutal Truth. What Went Well, What Didn't and What You Can Learn From It.

It’s a process I go through at the start of every year - a reflection on the year that’s passed, and then creating the year ahead of me.

While I’m under no illusion that creating my 2016 ensures that things will go to plan (in fact, they rarely do), however, this is an awesome way to set your intentions for the year ahead and help you determine WHAT to focus on.

But before we jump straight in to 2016, it’s time to look back at the year that was. Pull out the key lessons and perhaps pat yourself on the back for a job well down.

For this process, I use a combination of tools created by Danielle LaPorte (LOVE HER!) and Chris Guillebeau.

Firstly, make a list of what went well / what didn’t go well in 2015. I break it down into these key areas as specified by Danielle LaPorte's book (The Desire Map) :  

1. Livelihood and Lifestyle.
2. Body and Wellness.
3. Creativity and Learning.
4. Relationships and Society.
5. Essence and Spirituality.

Here are some of my insights.

What Went Well in 2015

One Girl had it’s most successful year to date.

I was appointed as the CEO of One Girl this year, and we began to kick goal after goal. We got some amazing national media coverage, raised just under $1 million, gave 100 new scholarships in Sierra Leone (total number of scholarship girls is now just over 300), 7 new scholarships in Uganda, trained 3,000 girls in business and life skills and our Australian team went from strength to strength.

I got paid a liveable wage and FINALLY started to get my finances under control.

Starting and working for a non-profit is hardly a lucrative business, and our salaries have always been extraordinarily modest (often painstakingly so). This was the first year I received a salary that I consider to be a liveable wage. It was amazing. I started a savings account, signed up with My Budget to get my spiralling bills out of control, and even had extra money to buy things like a new pairs of shoes. There is still a way to go, but it’s awesome to know I’m not scraping the bottom of the barrel each week anymore.

Had a crazy successful Be. launch and started to build a new company.

I remember sitting in the One Girl office at the start of the year, and telling the team about my idea for a bangle company. “I want to launch it this year”, I said. Of course I had no idea how I was going to do it (One Girl is a fulltime++ job) - but we launched online in late November and absolutely SMASHED the launch goal with the help of my extraordinary campaign soldiers. I’ve learnt that I LOVE starting things, and it’s exciting to watch this new little company grow.

Live What You Love Bangle

Fell in love and feel incredibly vulnerable about it (in a good way).

I’ve always been a bit of a cynic when it comes to love. I’ve never really understood the whole “committed for life” thing that those crazy married people do - and now for the first time, I get it. When you’re with someone you love, commitment isn’t such a scary thing.

A few years ago after a painful breakup, I wrote a declaration of desire - after all, the best way to get something you want is to ask for it. One of the things I wrote was..

I want an extraordinary relationship. I want a relationship where I feel safe to be the fullest expression of me. I want to be open, honest, transparent and fully myself. I want a relationship where I’m drawn to be a better human being. Two independent people coming together and making magic – to make the world a better place. An adventurer, visionary, crazy ass, living life on the edge, mission driven change maker. Each with our own vision, our own mission and total respect for that. We support each other, build each other up and always give the other person space to follow their dreams.

I’m lucky enough to have found that person, and although this year hasn’t been without some extraordinary challenges, we’re overcoming them together. Oh yeah, and I love him. (Vulnerability freakout).


What did not go well in 2015

My Health

Ugh, it’s a recurring theme of mine.
Stress levels - high.
Anxiety levels - high.
Down time to relax and replenish - low.
The eating of bad food increased, sleep decreased and after injuring my ankle playing basketball in August, exercise became non-existent. I was knocked out for a few weeks by a brutal flu, and had a variety of ailments kicking my ass throughout the year. Health = poo.

Disconnection from the things that bring me joy outside of work (yoga, meditation, al anon)

Due to my obsession with work, I consistently put aside the things that bring me joy and help me to relax. My yoga practice was deserted, and although I began meditating again towards the end of the year, I still felt disconnected from my essence and my body. This whole balance thing is an ongoing struggle for me. And perhaps it always will be!

Struggling to find motivation for work.

I’ve been with One Girl for coming on seven years now. For a girl that used to be lucky to hold down a job for 11 months, that’s quite a record. That being said, 2015 was probably the first year I found it difficult to stay motivated at work. Don’t get me wrong, I got the job done (hello most successful year ever), however, my role has changed significantly from where we began. There were some huge learning curves when it comes to dealing with budgets, cashflows, a team of staff, fundraising, program outcomes, the board of directors and a slew of new responsibilities. I learnt a lot about where my strengths and weaknesses lie, and where best to spend my time.

Key Takeaways

And the point of all this reflection? LEARN. 2015 will have taught you many things - by reflecting you have the opportunity to pull them out and bring them into your next year. Here are my goodies. 

Trust your intuition. Your body knows long before your mind does.

Your body is always sending you messages. I started getting some messages loud and clear in early 2015, but I chose to ignore them. I believe this was a huge contributor to my illnesses this year. Your body and heart know the path you’re meant to be on long before your mind may choose to acknowledge it. Listen for the messages it’s sending you. Trust it. Follow it.

If you can’t do it on your own - ask for help.

After asking for yet another natural rememdy on facebook, a friend of mine commented. “Dude, it seems like you are ALWAYS sick - who have you got on your team to help keep you healthy and well?”

The answer? No one. I’m excellent at making promises to myself - I’ll go to yoga this week. I’ll eat well this week. I’ll cook all my food this week. I’ll be healthy this week.

But my resolve lasts all of 12 hours (or until I see a chocolate bar). In 2016, that’s changing. I can’t keep myself healthy on my own, so I need a coach, or someone keeping me accountable (outside of myself) to make it a reality. I need help. And I’m going to find it.

Let yourself connect, love and be loved.

I’m someone who I’d consider to be very independant - often to a fault. I’ve spent the last few years healing a lot of old wounds my childhood, and this was the first year in a long time I’ve really given myself permission to reconnect with my family.

I’ve been spending weekends with my dad and step-mum as we worked together to setup Be. I reconnected with my mum after being estranged for a number of years. I finally dropped my protective armour and decided to TRUST and fall in love with the man I’m with, rather than keeping him at an arms length.

And yes it’s scary. And yes, when arguments happen it hurts. But I figure I’d rather take a chance on opening myself up and loving someone, rather than wearing a jacket full of spikes and never loving at all :)

I'd love to hear some of your key takeaways for 2015 - what did the year teach you?



Love where your journey is taking you! You are an extraordinary human being and I’m so glad our paths crossed xx wishing you the best year yet in 2016…

Ps nearly a million for one girl!?? WTF amazing


As you know, I feel that live has been good to me. Once again, in 2015,, I love the feeling of paying it forward in a meaningful way. Since our chance meeting in Portland, I have liked you even more, because you are real and open, with a heart of gold. I remain your faithful, energized, soldier-hero in USA (well close your eyes and forget my age, height, looks, etc and imagine) who continues to support one girl in ways I never imagined possible.
ron r

Ron Rhodehamel

Love this Chantelle! It’s amazing to read about the struggles you’ve had and after all your successes this year you would think that your title would have been ‘I kicked Ass in 2015!!!!’

Just goes to show how hard it is to get everything in your life to balance. While one area might be going extremely well, it’s often to the detriment of another.

Hope you find your balance in 2016 – and if you do, let us know how!

Gemma Bradshaw

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