2022 Year in Review

This year did not turn out the way I had planned.

2022 was going to be special for a couple of reasons:

  • The birth of my second daughter; and
  • after 7 years as Bean Ninjas CEO, I stepped down and was taking a sabbatical.

I had a certain vision for how the year would go, and all I would experience during my time off.

💥 Here were my 5 Focus Areas and Goals for 2022:

  1. 💻 Career: Transition out of the CEO role at Bean Ninjas and take a 12 month sabbatical to spend time in the next 4 focus areas
  2. 💛 Family: Be a great mother and supportive partner and take at least 2 trips away. Go on an annual adventure with my dad and brother.
  3. 👩‍⚕️ Health: stay on top of health checks plus sleep and stress
  4. 💪 Fitness: Fit as F*ck 40s (get into the best shape of my life before turning 40!)
  5. 🧠 Learning: Build a writing habit, build my skills as an investor, learn more about crypto and Web3

But life had a different journey in store, with a surprise diagnosis for my business partner.

In March 2022 my business partner Tracey was diagnosed with DCIS, a type of early-stage breast cancer.

We reacted quickly so that Tracey could focus on her health away from the stress of running a business. We transitioned Tracey’s clients and most of her team across to our friends at businessDEPOT prior to her surgery.

I’m pleased to say that Tracey’s treatment was a success. She is cancer free and looking as fit and healthy as ever!

With my business partner Tracey in 2021.
With my business partner Tracey in 2021.

We got through that intense period of change and uncertainty both for Tracey personally and in the business,  and then I thought my sabbatical plan was able to come to life albeit slightly delayed. I thought I had already received the worst news and biggest shock that 2022 would bring, not knowing it was all about to get much closer to home.

A second surprise diagnosis.

Tracey’s health issues prompted me to visit the GP and get up to date on all of my health checks. I was feeling fantastic with no specific problems or issues to report but I just thought given the circumstances and what Tracey had been through, it was the safe and smart thing to do.

In a cruel twist of fate in May 2022, I was also diagnosed with DCIS (early stage breast cancer).

I mean, what are the chances that two business partners both have breast cancer?! Both diagnosed just months apart?!

My partially de-railed 2022 plans were now completely blown up.

I had genetic testing completed as it is unusual for someone under 40 to have breast cancer and we needed to find out if I had the BRCA gene which would indicate whether I needed a single mastectomy or a double. I saw two different surgeons, joined Facebook groups, spoke to other breast cancer survivors and read research articles to understand what all my options were.

Taking everything into account, and after receiving the test results back, armed with the knowledge that I didn’t have the BRCA gene, we moved forward with a single mastectomy in August 2022.

I was in hospital for 10 days.

In hospital following surgery.
In hospital following surgery.

At first, I needed help from the nurses to get out of bed just to get to the bathroom a few metres away. Within a few days, I could walk the length of the corridor in our ward (followed straight after with a much needed rest!). The worst part was sleep. I couldn’t lie on either side comfortably, and when I finally did drift off to sleep I’d be woken up what felt like a few minutes later to receive different jabs and have my obs taken.

But it was all worth it because my surgery was a success. After an intense wait, we received the good news that they got it all, and no cancer had spread to my lymph nodes or elsewhere in my body.

Finally, my physical (and emotional) recovery could begin. After 6 weeks I could lift a 2kg weight which also meant I could finally pick up my baby daughter again! During the early stage of my recovery, I could only cuddle her if someone else was holding her. Another huge milestone was getting back into running 3 months after surgery.

Here are the 3 biggest lessons I learned through my shock breast cancer diagnosis and journey:

  • Stay up to date with your health checks, even if you feel fine
  • Always get a second medical opinion
  • Take ownership of understanding your health journey because no one will care as much as you

My cancer diagnosis threw my 2022 plans out the window, so for each category here are some more specific reflections on what my plans were versus what actually ended up happening.

2022 Reflection

1. 💻 Career

Goal

To Transition out of the CEO role at Bean Ninjas and take a 12 month sabbatical.

In December 2021 I stepped down as Bean Ninjas CEO and moved to a part-time advisor role. Bean Ninjas had a great year in 2022 and ran smoothly without me in the CEO role.

What went well

It was nice to spend some time in-person with key team members (see photos below).

At our 2022 Christmas Party I also announced we will be holding a team retreat in the Philippines in 2023 for all team members.

Quickbooks Connect conference in Las Vegas with my business partner Wayne
Quickbooks Connect conference in Las Vegas with my business partner Wayne

Meeting Bean Ninjas - Director of Service Delivery for the first time
Meeting Bean Ninjas - Director of Service Delivery for the first time

What didn’t go well

I didn’t have my usual headspace for creative thinking and problem solving due to my health issues. I’m expecting this will resolve itself in 2023.

2. 💛 Family (and friends)

Goal

Be a great mother and supportive partner and take at least 2 trips away. Go on an annual adventure with my Dad and brother.

With the arrival of my second daughter, my focus for 2022 was more on family than friends.

I’m hoping to make friends more of a focus for 2023.

We were so excited to welcome Imogen
We were so excited to welcome Imogen

What went well

  • Easter camping trip at Tallebudgera Creek with a group of other families
  • Our family reunion at Sandstone Point Holiday Park with 17 members of our extended family
  • Meeting up with my cousin for a few days in Colorado
  • Staycations in Coolangatta, Broadbeach and Brisbane
  • Christmas at my brother’s house in Melbourne
  • Family holiday in Marysville with another family

What didn’t go well

I didn’t see as much of my friends as I would have liked and I need to make more of an effort to call them (by the time I get home from work I don’t usually feel like a social phone call).

3. 👩‍⚕️ Health

Goal

My 2022 health goals were pretty simple. Stay on top of regular health checks and focus on 3 main areas:

  • Sleep: 8 hours per night
  • Eating healthy unprocessed food, limited alcohol to weekends, and max 1 coffee per day
  • Low stress levels

What didn’t go well

Having young kids made getting 8 hours sleep per night challenging. This in turn made it hard to get up and exercise. With all those things considered, I would score myself a 7/10 for daily exercise.

What went well

I’m pleased to say that my kids are now mostly sleeping through the night so 2023 should be much better on both the sleep and exercise front!

4. 💪 Fitness

Goal

My original goal for 2022 was Fit as F*ck 40s (I turn 40 soon). Safe to say this focus area got well and truly sidelined for much of the year.

What went well

  • Playing indoor soccer with a group of friends
  • Regularly going to the gym until my surgery

What didn’t go well

  • Weight training: I stopped seeing my Personal Trainer at the end of 2021 as it was too hard to fit in with young kids.
  • Surfing and Mountain Biking: these activities both take longer than a 45-minute gym workout. I still surfed and rode every month or two, but not as often as I would like.

Observations:

I found it hard not being able to exercise properly after my surgery.

My lower body is fine, but I still can’t do a push-up or chin-up due to my pectoral muscle being stretched as part of the breast reconstruction.

I realised that part of my identity comes from both feeling and looking fit. Regular exercise is also what helps me to think clearly.

5. 🧠 Learning

Goal

As my sabbatical was such a big part of my 2022 plan, having time to learn across a variety of different topics was important to me. My biggest priorities were to build a writing habit, build my skills as an investor, learn more about crypto and Web3, as well as ensure I was really hitting and prioritising my other focus areas as well, in a way that perhaps wouldn’t have been possible in a “normal” year.

What went well

I dived into the Web3 space and also worked on a few different startups:

  • Zero to Done: a business to help founders stop procrastinating and Get Shit Done
  • Mention Media: a Web3 media business focused on TikTok. We were selected for the Google News Incubator program. When the focus moved from Web3 to side-hustle content I moved on from the team.
  • Quorum: A Web3 podcast and newsletter focused on DAOs. I did some freelance marketing work but have finished up.
  • BanklessDAO: I contributed to the Podcast Hatchery team (operations and product) and was Operations Manager of the team for a few months.

These were all fun experiments, but I won’t be continuing on with any of those projects in 2023.

My main lessons from these different projects are:

  • building something from 0-1 is hard!
  • I really enjoy the team culture at Bean Ninjas (some time away working on other projects helped me to realise this)
  • I love the accounting industry
  • I believe in Media Companies as a business model - more of my thoughts on this here

I have a new project I’m excited about for 2023 … more to be revealed soon!

Bonus Category: 🏔 Adventure

Goal

So this wasn’t originally a focus area for 2022, but especially as the events of the year unfolded it became very clear to me how much of a priority going on adventures was, and in particular having those experiences with people who were important to me.

I remembered this year that going on adventures and getting out of my comfort zone is one of my absolute favourite things to do.

What went well

  • 3 Capes Hike in Tasmania This trip had been scheduled and then rescheduled due to COVID. It ended up being less than 2 months after my surgery, so my Dad and brother kindly carried the contents of my pack. It rained for most of the trip and I haven’t laughed so much in a long time!

Hiking the 3 Capes Trail in Tasmania with my Dad and brother
Hiking the 3 Capes Trail in Tasmania with my Dad and brother

  • Skiing in Colorado I managed to combine a work trip to Denver with a few days skiing at Keystone with my cousin. I haven’t skied much over the last few years, but it came back quickly. Getting to be outside every day, moving, and breathing the fresh air was absolutely unreal.

Skiing at Keystone Resort, Colorado in December 2022
Skiing at Keystone Resort, Colorado in December 2022

My 3 biggest takeaways from 2022:

  1. 🤯 Life is short!
  2. 😳 My identity was tied up with being a founder and CEO. When I stepped down as CEO I felt lost for a while. I had to ask myself, who am I?
  3. 🏃‍♂️ I realised my identity is also tied up with exercise and being an athlete. My health issues and having lower energy levels this year also forced me to reconsider that.

So there we have it. 2022 was a whirlwind and a bit of a sh*tstorm, but it also reminded me of the most important things in life. I will certainly be taking all of these lessons forward with me in 2023 as I set my new focus areas and goals (stay tuned for that post coming soon!)

I’d love to know if you undertake a your own reflection process each year, and if you’d like to feel free to use this as a jumping off point or template. Send me a DM on Linkedin to let me know how you are going.