Looking Back, Looking Forward: Part 1

LookingFoward_final-300x158The following is part one in a series I’ll be writing for the next few Wednesdays, based on prompts from Katy Tofoya’s (Success for Solopreneurs) workbook, Looking Back, Looking Forward.

Katy is a teacher and a coach who finds joy in helping women claim their passion and expertise. She guides solopreneurs to make their lives and their businesses juicier, more fulfilling and more successful.

Since December is a quieter month for me, I’m taking time to reflect on the year that is coming to a close, and prepare myself for the year ahead. The past year has presented me with many challenges, but not all challenges are a bad thing. It’s how you look at them that counts.

So per Katy’s workbook, I’ll tackle a few questions per week, in hopes of discovering something about myself that will help make 2013 a great year.

Looking Back

What did I accomplish this year that surprised me?

My biggest accomplishment was examining and changing my financial life, including starting this blog back in May. I knew my spending on my limited budget (actually I didn’t even have one) was a problem, but it wasn’t until I hit my financial rock bottom that I really woke up with what I call a financial hangover, and wanted to turn things around.

I wish I could undo what I had spent in the past, mostly as my time as a freelancer, but obviously I can’t. But I have made enormous strides this year in controlling spending, valuing what I do have, living more frugally, and most importantly, keeping a budget. And while I still struggle to stay in budget, each month I get better and better.

Who was there to support me throughout the year?

My biggest support has probably been my friend D. He has seen me at my worst, and I pretty much tell him everything (probably more than he wants to hear) about my life. And when I sat depressed one night thinking about my income and how much I hated working at The Container Store, he offered the opportunity to let me help him around his house so that he could focus on his own business, giving me pretty much my only (although small) guaranteed income this year.

My parents were also very supportive, and this was the first year that I took them up on their offer to help me financially on a couple of occasions, like fixing the air conditioning in my car. But more importantly was their ability to listen. Well mostly…my dad still needs a little work.

And of course there is the PF community. Like I said yesterday, I’m eternally grateful to all of you.

What did I learn about myself this year?

I learned that I’m incredibly resilient. If one door shuts, I look for another one. If I get a no, I’ll find someone who says yes.

I also learned to deal with my ego and what I used to feel was the definition of success. There were so many external factors that I thought contributed to me being successful, like a good job, excelling in volleyball, being in a relationship, etc. But when you don’t necessarily have those things, all you are left with is you at your core, and if you can’t be happy with that then you’ve got some shit to deal with. And a lot of people define themselves with those external factors.

And lastly I learned that I’m amazingly creative and hardworking when it comes to earning money and saving when I need to. I feel like I have gained so many new skills as a result of doing this blog, doing TaskRabbit assignments, and being a personal assistant, on top of my regular job!

What did I stop, eliminate or let go of this year?

I let go of expectations. Detaching myself from the outcome…and being more present where things are today. Obviously I’m setting goals, but I don’t try to assume I will be happy when this happens or that happens. I need to be that way now, or else I risk never being satisfied.

What one word best describes the year I just experienced?


Look for part two in the series next week. If you would like your own free copy of the workbook, go to Katy’s site and register. And check out Katy’s blog at Success for Solopreneurs.

So what one word would you use to describe your past year? 


Tonya is a video editor/producer and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball, playing ukulele, and running. To get the latest updates, be sure to subscribe. To support her fundraising efforts to produce more video for this site, please visit her crowdfunding page!

Latest posts by Tonya (see all)

  • http://www.youngadultmoney.com/ DC @ Young Adult Money

    This is a great review/reflection post. I love taking the end of the year to review how the year has gone and what changes I can make into the next year. It sounds like you are on track for a great 2013!

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      Thanks! Yeah I think this time of year is serious reflection time.

  • http://twitter.com/seedebtrun See Debt Run

    I think you have a come along way this year.. Following you from afar, that much is very obvious. You have changed your mindset dramatically and are well on your way to turning your life around.


    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      Thanks J! Hopefully that trend continues!

  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    Great reflective post, as others have said. My Mom always says when a door closes a window always opens. I know it’s a bit on the cheesy side, but does ring true many times. My word for this year is risk…leaving my job to risk it all running our own business. It’s been a great learning process and one I hope will make me the better for it.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      Good word. I think sometimes you have to be willing to just go for it, otherwise you will always wonder…

  • Mackenzie Randompath

    Love this post Tonya! Reflection is important to see where you’ve been, and to know where you need to go. Like I said to you before, 2013 is going to be your year!!!!!!

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      Thanks! I really hope so!

  • http://twitter.com/SavvyFinLatina SavvyFinancialLatina

    It’s all about continuous improvement! :)

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach


  • http://twitter.com/DebtandtheGirl Debt and the Girl

    I struggle too with setting goals sometimes. Its good to have something in mind but sometimes I feel like you are setting yourself up to fail especially if the goal is too lofty. I am glad you learned some great insight along the way.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      That’s true. Leo from zen habits is against setting goals for that reason.

  • http://twitter.com/TheHeavyPurse Shannon Ryan

    Congratulations on taking back control and putting yourself on a budget. It certainly sounds as though it’s been “transformative” year for you and you’ve put yourself on the right path. I find my clients who gauge their happiness on what other people what or think are never happy regardless how big their bank account is. But my clients who take the time to figure out what they want – they’re happy regardless of how big or small their bank account is.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      Cheers to that! I was just around some of that “big talk” today about cars, private school, houses…yadda yadda. Doesn’t impress me. Real genuine people impress me.

  • http://twitter.com/RFIndependence Pauline

    I love this post, it is great to see how far you have come from and learned from the past to build a future.

    Unexpected was my past year. My plan was to settle down in France and look for someone to marry and start a family with. Instead I toured Europe on a motorcycle for 5 months and ended up in Guatemala.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      I’d say the word is detour! :) Crazy how your blogs would be SO much different!

  • Katy Tafoya

    I love reading over your responses. I think this is one of my favorite and more focused times of the year (even though I’m quite often over-extended) because of the time I spend getting clear through my reflection of the waning year and my visualizing for the new year.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      Thanks Katy-and thanks for writing the workbook! Any new signups? Anyway yeah, I think it’s about balance. You don’t want to spend ALL your time thinking. :)

      • Katy Tafoya

        It’s getting a nice response. Thanks for spreading the word. And yes, balance is key.

        • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach


  • holly

    I love this! It sounds like you have learned a lot about yourself this year. so have I!

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      Thanks Holly!

  • http://twitter.com/CanadianBudgetB CanadianBudgetBinder

    Wow, sounds like you really got to know yourself this year. I can’t say that I have reflected as much as you but one word would be busy. I’ve been a busy bloke this year but hope to transition to a much more relaxed 2013!

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      I’ve seen your blog! I can agree that busy would be a good word for you! But that’s good, right?

  • http://my-alternate-life.com/ Jordann

    This post is so self aware, I love it. One word to describe myself would be focused. I’m focused on getting out of debt, and have seen great results so far.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      I like that word. That would be my secondary word! So happy for you!

  • http://dumbpassiveincome.com/ Matthew Allen

    Educational – I feel like I went through 2 years of college this year learning about websites, blogging, keywords, SEO, advertising, affiliate marketing, etc. But, everything I learned was absolutely free via blog posts, podcasts, webinars and whatnot.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      OMG right?!?! Thank god for the internetz for free education!

  • K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks!

    You have been busy with being introspective and you’ll reap the benefits of doing so. I’ll definitely check out Katy’s blog. To sum up 2012 in one word: Rewarding. After years of personal and professional sacrifices and challenges both my husband and I began to reap in spades what we’ve sown…it was amazing to see how things unfolded this year. We feel extremely grateful and blessed.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach


  • http://twitter.com/NewlywedsBudget Newlyweds ona Budget

    This looks like a good project to really think and focus on the past year. Too many times we just say “wow this year has really flown by…”

    • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

      I know. I do sometimes grapple with the idea of thinking too much of the past and too much in the future, but there is a lot to be learned, and I think appreciated about what happened over the year.

  • The Happy Homeowner

    What a fantastic idea/post. I love taking time to reflect & plan at the end of each month.

    I’m definitely going to take a look at her site; thanks for sharing! My year can be summed up with the word “Inspirational”

    Looking forward to reading the next installment you post!

  • http://twitter.com/Thefrugalpath The Frugal Path

    This is a really great idea. With our lives being non-stop it’s good to take the time to reflect on the positive aspects of the year. My one word would be “Challenging”

  • Mandy Knight

    Busy! Busy! Busy! As a stay at home mom to a 4,3,and 1 year old 2012 was a busy year for me!

  • http://twitter.com/femmefrugality femmefrugality

    What a great exercise! I love “transformative.” 2012 for me was just plain “fast.”

  • http://simplefinanceblog.com/ Elizabeth_SimpleFinance

    Being more present… a lesson we could ALL use! I know I struggle with that at times, too.

  • FrugalPortland

    love the last line most of all — SO glad you’re sharing via the blog. :)