As I close out 2022 in a personal vacay, I woke up today remember that I could procrastinate no longer in doing my annual review, a practice I picked up from Chris Guillebeau a few years back.
Will there be lessons learned? Maybe! Will there be TMI? Maybe! Who knows, I’m doing this undrafted and writing in my blog’s composer as opposed to Google Docs, so we’ll see what typos I miss.
I should come clean that I really have no running format, as I only do this once a year, and it’s usually hurried and last-minute (as it is this year), so going back to check what I did last year seems like a luxury of time I don’t have. Regardless, I’ll try to lump things together around buckets of things I’ve learned.
I started out this year in a flurry, overbooked and slightly overwhelmed. I was helping build out a live learning experience with DISCO called Practical Utopias for Margaret Atwood, all while head coaching a session of the altMBA as well as The Copy Workshop. And due to some scheduling mishaps, I was also cohort coaching in the altMBA as well. My January-March (while also managing some private coaching clients) ended up being me working three 20-hr/week jobs (while trying to maintain an NFT community).
This is not advised.
When everything wrapped up for me in April, I was pretty exhausted, and I wasn’t really satisfied with my output. When I had overloaded myself in the past, I usually could manage to rise to the challenge, but in retrospect I was responsible for a much higher level of work that required a much much higher level of emotional labor than in the past, and I hadn’t accounted for that.
Additionally, the nature of the roles required me constantly having to context switch from role to role (all were remote but time-sensitive), so it was surprisingly much more draining than me pulling a 75-hr week physically printing t-shirts.
While mostly nothing burned down, it was regardless a huge learning experience for me. Beyond understanding where the bandwidth was around my sustainability, it also really helped me make peace with the idea that I might be already doing enough.
As someone that’s led a very unconventional career, I’m often plagued by impostor syndrome around how much work is actually expected in a role. Since I’ve worked for myself mostly, my expectation of how much someone needs to do is often drastically above and beyond what most people consider to be sustainable or even advisable levels of effort and work in a corporate role.
By being forced to have to communicate stronger boundaries (to myself and collaborators) around time and expectations, I’ve been able to more clearly set healthier and sustainable boundaries around my work. Yay!
DEEP DIGITAL ART DIVE + REFRAMING REJECTION
If you haven’t been following crypto news, there was a huge cryptocurrency crash this year, which obviously affects NFT art sales.
Regardless of me losing about 60% of the USD value associated with my NFT sales and crypto “investments,” I continued to push ahead with my art, releasing 3 new collections on Tezos, a new collection on Ethereum (ok, now that it’s not the energy-guzzler that it used to be), 9 collections on Fx(Hash), and a whole PFP project (hello Dark Wheel Demonz!) that will be the second pillar to the blockchain video game I’m continuing to develop.
It was an interesting space for sure this year, with many creators and collectors leaving the space. Between the crash and Twitter’s late-year Musk-driven descent into madness (an important place for collectors to find NFT art), it’s been much harder selling artwork this year than the year prior.
It’s times like this that I remember how difficult it was to sell art outside of the NFT space (I have paintings that haven’t sold for decades!). This is a helpful reminder in a space that considers most collections or pieces that don’t sell out in 24 hours to be an abject failure.
This year was a helpful reminder to not invest more money in something that you can’t afford to lose (especially in super volatile areas like crypto) and also that especially in a highly speculative, subjective field like art, you need to redefine your own metrics of success that are not bound to the actions of others.
Sure, tracking sales volume and stuff like that can be helpful for accounting purposes and figuring out if you had a better sales year or not and helping you market and all those more obvious advantages, but getting caught up on it and letting it determine your self-esteem is a bad idea.
My output this year eclipsed most of my years post-art school, and that is something I’m definitely proud of and chalk up as a success.
I’ve met tons of rad artists, curators, collectors, and built a home-away-from-home on Discord, which has been super fulfilling.
I also started writing screenplays, submitted to a bunch of art contests and won zero of them, curated a Halloween dark art event, created a digital gallery to focus on female-identifying artists with the proceeds of Witchez, got curated into a show by Superchief Gallery LA, and made a ton of art I’m proud of.
So regardless of whether or not I’m selling enough art to buy a new car (I’m not), I’m pretty happy with all the different things I’ve created this year, and look forward to continuing to build and show up in a way that I feel successful regardless of the financial statements.
2022 was the great pause on my collaborative consultancy Spotlight Trust. We still managed to do some great work with a few clients, but due to both of us working on other things, we paused the In Trust podcast (although more by attrition than general announcement) and I ended Season 1 of The Inner Monster Podcast.
I hope to getting back to podcasting in the near future, and I have some ideas of Season 2 of the IMP, but I’m also learning the importance of letting things go on pause when they need to.
I usually try to hang on until it’s too late as it’s pretty obvious with me still not giving up on a podcast that combines horror fiction with mythology and personal development, but I’m considering how it can evolve and continue on and what form that the podcast will take if and when S2 comes around.
Also, Akimbo made the big decision to discontinue offering any courses besides the altMBA, so I’m currently under the impression that I’ve served as head coach for The Copy Workshop for the last time. While overall sad about the decision, I think letting go of The Copy Workshop was a bit more emotional for me, as I had served as head coach since the beta iteration, so even though it’s 100% Margo’s, there definitely was more ownership there in this workshop than the others I’ve had the privilege of coaching.
But, it’s not my course, nor my company, so not only is it out of my control, but it’s also a nice reminder about focusing on things that we do have control over.
I think it’s important to take the time to consider what’s serving you and what is no longer serving you, and if we ignore sunk costs, what might we let go of?
TRAVEL + HEALTH
Lumping this here in the end as I’m not sure if there were any big lessons learned, but we took an extended weekend vacay in March to the beach and a trip up to Vancouver in July for a wedding, and did some Bay Area visiting this winter for the winter holidays. It was our first time out of the country since pre-pandemic, so it was nice to get on a plane again, even though I had already read the Carbon Almanac by then and felt extremely guilty about the amount of emissions plane travel uses.
I also had two surgeries(!), both minor and mainly elective, but I bled a lot more this year than most years prior so that was fun, I guess.
I got an exercise bike since I hate running and felt the need to improve my overall level of activity, but I need to rebuild the habit as my second surgery got in the way and I need to rebuild getting more movement in my did.
I’ve still managed to put off finding a new dentist, which needs to be priority one in 2023. For long-time friends, you’ll remember when I nearly died because I pulled this ridiculousness of not taking care of my teeth a few years ago.
A few people have asked me what I’m looking forward to for 2023, and I really didn’t know what to tell them.
Not because I hadn’t thought about it at all, but as I write this, so much is up in the air for me and I’m just chilling here in the uncertainty about it all.
I might be working with DesignerCon again next year. In what capacity? Who knows?
I might be working with altMBA next year, but maybe not?
Will the national Skee-Ball tournament resume next year? Will I qualify?
We might get a grant from the Tezos Foundation to assist in building The Cult & The Coven, but we might not?
Twitter might explode. The world could fall into chaos. There could be a giant earthquake and I’ll fall into a massive hole in the ground and perish. The zombie apocalypse might finally befall humanity.
Well, some of those are more likely than others by magnitudes of order, but regardless, all I know is, once again, what I can control. And assuming I’m alive and breathing and the world exists relatively like it does today, I’ll be working on The Cult & The Coven, on my screenplays, and continuing to serve my existing coaching clients. Hopefully some new ones too!
But as time and the ticking clock and shifting calendar reminds us, nothing lasts forever, and all we can do is prepare ourselves the best we can to sit with uncertainty, be grateful for what we do have now, and try to move like water, flowing around obstacles and riding the peaks and troughs that are inherent in our own lives.
Wishing you an awesome 2023.