Lisa Robbin Young

If you've ever read my book The Secret Watch, then you probably also know that the story was inspired by my own encounter with a woman on a plane. She told me that I'd write a book about a magic watch that revealed special secrets and it would become a best seller.

I did... and it did!

As I wrote the book, I imagined how my life might be different if magic watches were real. If I could just pop open a pocket watch and be inspired by a new inscription every day, would I be able to make the most of it like my character, Tina, did? That's actually how our virtual coaching card deck came to be!

While I have yet to find a real secret watch (unfortunately), I'm lucky that I don't have to wait around to find inspiration. I create my own inspiration every year with my annual goals.

Not *another* goals "accountability" post!

Yeah. I hear you. They're often overdone at the beginning of the year. But by February, according to a 2020 survey, about 30% of folks see their well-intended goals fall by the wayside. Since I gave you my Annual Review rundown earlier in the month, I thought it might also be valuable for you to see what I'm driving toward this year.

You know, besides more ease.

To be clear, this isn't about having you hold me accountable. My past experience has shown that sharing my goals with you will not help me stay accountable. That's not how I'm wired.

There have been too many times in my non-normative life where that kind of "accountability" put too much pressure on me to perform - and then, I'd either choke, end up stressing myself out, or resent the entire thing. Sometimes all three.

Like when all those internet marketing gurus were trying to convince you to sell something before you built it - and then you just "build the plane as you fly it." It might work for some folks, but not me.

There have been too many times in my non-normative life where that kind of "accountability" put too much pressure on me to perform - and then, I'd either choke, end up stressing myself out, or resent the entire thing. Sometimes all three. Plus, people often have their own thoughts and opinions about my goals.

Frankly, ain't nobody got time for that!

But I do believe in being transparent. Whether or not I hit my goals is up to me, not you. But transparency is a way to model for you - to see what I am doing and see how you can apply my approach to your own situation. As a business coach, I help my clients set and achieve goals for themselves. To be in integrity and "walk my talk", I think it's only fair to share my goals with you. I've used the Dreamblazing tool to define what success looks like for me for almost 15 years now. Some years, I hit them all, and most years I fall short in at least one, but that's how I expect things to go because I aim pretty high.

Your mileage may vary, but by seeing my thought process, it might spark something for you. THAT is the reason I'm sharing my goals with you.

So, based on the 5 key areas of success, here are my 2023 goals, in priority order:

Goal 1: I experience ease in every way throughout the year (Freedom)

My Freedom Goal is my number one priority. I am a hard worker. I was raised with a strong work ethic and a deep programming that the only way for me to break out of the poverty I was born into was to work. like. hell.

So I know what hard work looks like and I know how to do it. I don't need anymore practice.

That's not to say that there won't be times when I need to hustle a little. But that's what I call compassionate hustle. I can't live and work on the hamster wheel.

What's more, I don't want to.

So that means finding ease. Not working for it, figuring it out, or struggling/striving/stressing about it.

That is not the way of ease.

It looks like asking myself "What's the easier path?" and honoring that awareness.

But what's the easier path? To struggle and fight and strain and stress, or to enjoy where I'm at right now and see where the road takes me?

Goal 2: I enjoy and take pride in my body, no matter my shape or size (Fitness)

In Dreamblazing, you set two goals for the Key Area of Fitness: one for your physical container and one for what's contained within it. This is my inside the container goal.

My personal history has been more body shame than body confidence. I've had major surgeries 2 years in a row and that really knocked me on my heels and had me feeling like my body was betraying me - as if that could even be a thing! I knew that I needed to adjust my attitude and rekindle an appreciation for who I am inside and out.

I'm lucky as hell that my current husband makes a point of telling me he loves how I look. I didn't get that much in my first marriage. It's been a growth edge for me to really hear, receive, and believe that feedback. I'm still working on it.

But what's the easier path? To struggle and fight and strain and stress, or to enjoy where I'm at right now and see where the road takes me?

Right. So, I'm all about enjoying the journey this year... wherever it takes me.

If I had listened to them, I never would have written 2 best sellers or recorded 3 albums - or any of a number of other things I wanted to do with my life that I was told was "too much" for a kid who was born in the ghetto.

Goal 3: I'm cultivating a supportive community that sees and believes in me (Family)

Chosen family is a big part of how I manage to keep my shit together. I love my birth family, but they are distant, and most of them rarely ever talk to me. That road runs both ways. I rarely ever talk to them. Growing up, I didn't feel like I had much support from them - they didn't understand my goals or dreams, and thought I was aiming too high.

If I had listened to them, I never would have written 2 best sellers or recorded 3 albums - or any of a number of other things I wanted to do with my life that I was told was "too much" for a kid who was born in the ghetto.

This year is about deepening connections and cultivating a community of folks who get me. Surrounding myself with encouragers who believe in who I am and what I'm up to in the world - who want to see me succeed and want to be part of making that happen in some way.

I've been part of an international women's networking group for several years, and have been lax about connecting with members. Although I have a few friends in that community, I've not been great about maintaining connections. That needs to change, if for no other reason than there are some pretty amazing people there and it would be cool to have more friendships with people like that.

Jane Fonda said in a recent interview that "you have to pursue people that you want to be friends with." I've never been a pursuer. More like "if you build it, they will come." Which is hysterical when you realize the irony. So, like Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, I'mma be in hot pursuit this year.

Goal 4: SHINE like the STAR that I am (Faith)

This is both an invitation for me to follow my own success path and to come out of hiding. That's another reason why I'm sharing these goals with you: coming out of hiding.

I've done a lot of hiding since I moved to Mississippi. It's easy to cocoon when you're in a rural town where nobody knows your name and there's nothing doing because a global pandemic has shut nearly everything down. Then there was a wedding, surgery, a move (we bought a house), another move (back to Nashville), more surgery, and yet another move last year to Bloomington, Indiana.

All that movement made it easy to lose myself in the details of those moments. To start to identify myself by those moments (or the results of those moments), instead of being intentional about the life and body of work I want to have/create for myself.

When you shine, it's either because you're emitting or reflecting light. I realized that I wasn't really doing either - and I want to do both.

To shine my own light through my body of work but, also, to share the light of others in my world. My clients are mystical, magical Unicorns. They are smart and brilliantly gifted. I want more people in the world to know about them!

When you shine, it's either because you're emitting or reflecting light. I realized that I wasn't really doing either - and I want to do both.

That means more video, another live event, and monthly live workshops for my clients. I'm also going back to doing more video and having more guests on the show. That was a hard step for me to take because I am so leery about who I share with my audience. A lot of people look good on paper, and then they open their mouth and it's trash. I care about my audience too much... and my reputation. So adding guests will be slow going, and mostly from people I've either already worked with (like my interview with Dr. Mazur), or folks I know and trust in other ways. All the more reason I need to connect to more people!

Goal 5: Rebuild my body for optimal health (Fitness)

This is the goal related to my physical container. I've had major surgery two years in a row that stem from life-long health issues. My doctors and physical therapists have given me specific instructions that I intend on following. Some of them are easier than others. The hardest one is being up and moving 15 minutes for every hour that I'm awake - that's 2-4 hours of movement every day. That's not necessarily exercise, but it is getting up and moving around. Thankfully, walking around the house, putting away dishes, and doing laundry all count toward that activity goal.

But it's still a huge adjustment to my daily routine. It gives me about 5 hours of useful worktime, and I can't sit for more than a couple of hours at a time. Really, 45 minutes is best, but some of my appointments don't lend themselves to that possibility.

I have no illusions of getting my "20-year-old-me" body back. That's not optimal health for me... making sure I'm doing what I can, as I'm able, to rehab my body to the best is can be right now is.

But my body needs to heal. I just had my 1 year follow-up ultrasound from the first surgery. I'm waiting on the results, but I'm hopeful that what I've been doing is working. In the meantime, I've adjusted my coaching calendar and I have a standing desk. So if we're in a long workshop, you may see me stand up and pace around at my desk in order to get my movement in.

I have no illusions of getting my "20-year-old-me" body back. That's not optimal health for me at almost 50. Making sure I'm doing what I can, as I'm able, to rehab my body to the best it can be right now is.

Goal 6: be a wealthy, generous entrepreneur (Fortune)

I was intentional about the wording for this goal because those words carry a variety of meanings, depending on your audience.

Wealth, as I'm defining it, is about total well-being, not just my bank balance. Yes, income is important - a girl's gotta eat! But so is showing up happy, healthy, and in the right frame of mind for whatever comes my way.

If you were in our Customer Journey workshop last month, you saw how our offer stack is changing in the coming months. We're also right-sizing our pricing and rolling out some new, free workshops over the course of the year. Last month, it was the Customer Journey workshop. In March, it's a content creation sprint, and May we're hosting a brand new workshop about Enoughness, based on the TEDx talk I'm doing at the end of March.

Generosity takes many forms... including generosity to myself as well as others. Putting my oxygen mask on first is not being generous. That's a bare minimum that hasn't always happened. I want to move beyond that and really enjoy being exceptionally good to myself. Sharing the spotlight with my clients, as I mentioned earlier, is also rooted here. So is improving our client experience. We're moving our community off facebook this quarter. We're also migrating our Rising Tide learning library and all our courseware to a new platform as we prepare for a website redesign in the next year. I wanted a stable, easy to use place for everything to live, so that we can create a better customer experience. So that I can afford to be more generous to everyone in our circle.

Generosity takes many forms... including generosity to myself as well as others.

Being an entrepreneur signals my desire to keep getting paid (and paid well) doing work I love. Being an employee is challenging for non-normative people. Ageism and racism are real; so is fat phobia. The easier path for me has almost always been entrepreneurship - even when owning my own business has been hard.

I hope my transparency inspires you. Above all, define what success looks like for you this year, then go for it! Whether you need support to help you stay accountable or not, whether you hit all your goals or fall short, what matters most is that you are moving in the direction of your dreams.

[Note: I started doing an annual recap back in 2010. You can find previous years here:  2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2021 - 2020 got skipped for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the pandemic that shall not be named.] 

Here's the TL;DR: last year was hard as hell, so this year, it's all about creating more ease in every possible way. I'm not accepting any more Incubator clients after June, limiting my coaching availability, raising rates on coaching & consulting, and offering more free training throughout the year inside our new community.

Last year's recap was a podcast episode. While it was expedient to do it that way, it left me feeling... well... like I didn't do it "right".

Shoulding all over myself. Not-enoughing it. Cranking it out and then feeling bad about it.

But it is what it is. And it's done. Over. Finished.

Just like 2022.

I almost wrote an apology for the length of this post, but I'm not going to apologize for being real. My best clients read long posts. They want the details because they know the details matter in business and might save them a world of hurt. As a business coach and consultant, I've never apologized for being my own guinea pig. It's how I learn what really works and how to translate that to my clients for their own success - without the painful learning curve.

So yeah, this will probably be long. #NotSorry

2022 was F*ing HARD.

While we did okay income-wise, it was a roller coaster of a year.

Just before the year began, we returned to Nashville from Mississippi. Jim accepted a new teaching job, so we sold our house and moved. Rental rates being what they are in Nashville, we signed a 10 month lease, thinking we'd have plenty of time to find a home, put in an offer, and move again before we had to renew.

We thought wrong.

Jim's employment situation ended up being more precarious. Two jobs after we moved back to Nashville, Jim was physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and by January of 2022, decided to take a 6 month sabbatical.

My eldest had also joined us from Michigan. It was his "Hail, Mary pass" - he certainly didn't want to leave Michigan, but he didn't have a place to stay. He found work doing foam insulation and settled in for a while. Having another person in our otherwise empty nest made for some growing pains, but we managed.

Fitness: My well-being is more important than ever

The physical and emotional demands of 2022 took their toll on me. It drove home the point that I'm not 20 anymore and my mental and physical health have been low-priority for too long. Having major surgery two years in a row also took a toll on my mental health. By the end of the year I wanted to take a break from EVERYTHING. Even after I took my year-end vacation, I came back to work with a sense of dread. Too much of what I didn't want and too little of what I did want... and I had painted myself into this corner in many ways.

I started 2022 by celebrating my birthday with COVID.

It was, hands down, the worst start to any year. Even the year my ex forgot my birthday I was at least able to go out and be with friends. This year, I was alone, sequestered in my office. Tortuous to an extrovert like me.

The physical demands of the year were steep: I got the final stent out from November's surgery. I had sciatica on and off for the first half of the year that led to back surgery in September. And we packed our home and moved again. This time to Indiana. We had to stay in a hotel room for three weeks before we could move into our home, so we really moved TWICE - once into a storage unit and then a second time into our Indiana residence.

My doctor said I need to be walking more throughout the day - meaning I have to change my work schedule to accommodate my new physical demands. AND I'm in physical therapy as part of my recovery from back surgery (I still have numbness in parts of my foot).

But the emotional demands were even greater.

The added financial and emotional stress of having a partner out of work left me feeling like I was carrying too much for too long. I'm thankful that I'm married to a swell guy who understands the importance of communication. We were able to keep talking throughout a very stressful time, which did help things. That and providing for my son - while he looked for a new job after our move to Indiana - increased my emotional load.

I've pretty much ignored my physical needs for most of my life - mostly putting other folks first to my own detriment. It's a hard habit to break. Now, basically being forced to put so much attention and time into caring for myself was as much of an emotional adjustment as it was a physical one.

The depression and anxiety around being able to work (or not being able to work), hit me hard when I spent 11 days laid up in my bed while I waited for my surgery date. Every movement was excruciating, and I've never cried as much as I did then. I lost 10 pounds because I only ate or drank what was absolutely necessary. By the end, I wasn't even going to the bathroom anymore because there was nothing in me.

To be clear: my family brought me food and drink. I just didn't consume much because everything hurt all the time and I didn't want to make things hurt MORE.

The cherry on top was that the earliest my surgery could be scheduled happened to fall right in the middle of my annual client retreat.

Well, FUCK!

Laying in bed for 11 days gave me plenty of thinking time. About everything we were doing inside my company - and everything I wasn't doing that I wanted to be doing. About how things needed to be different when I got back to work. I remember sharing in one of my mastermind meetings that I was doing so much stuff, but so little of it was what I WANTED to do. It was more about keeping commitments and fulfilling obligations I'd made long ago.

Because the hotel was kind, we were able to re-schedule my client retreat. I'm grateful that people re-arranged their schedules and I LOVE doing this event every year. Still, it took a lot more out of me to ensure that folks who couldn't attend got what they paid for. I don't regret doing it, because I love my clients. It was just harder to make everything work.

Then, I got COVID again for Christmas. It was harder this time. I still have an infrequent cough that leaves me gasping for air every time it strikes.

DAMN, I feel old!

Integrity and honoring commitments are important to me. Maybe a little TOO important!

The older I get, the more important ease becomes. You never know when a pinched nerve could take you out of commission for 11 days! Having a business that fully supports me, regardless of what's happening in my personal life, has to be more important than continuing to honor commitments that don't support my well-being.

Fortune: ONE major investment at a time.

I learned the hard way that my company can't yet handle more than that.

Thanks to the Federal EIDL, I made several investments in my business. Some turned out great, while others are still waiting to see a positive Return On Resources.

I expected my messaging work with Dr. Michelle Mazur to be a year-long adventure - because it takes time to roll out new messaging and get it to stick in the mind of your audience. As part of that roll out, we planned to redirect some of our marketing energy to Linked In, to build an audience there. My existing VA was training my new VA to handle the projects that weren't time sensitive. Between the two of them, it looked like we were finally going to get some momentum in our marketing.

Then... MAN DOWN!

My "old" VA found a full time job and transitioned out by the end of the month. The "new" VA I had just brought on to cover low-pressure projects was suddenly thrust into doing EVERYTHING.

So, um, LOTS of... um... pressure.

I should have slowed down, scaled back, and focused on one thing at a time. But I didn't.

I found a VA agency to work with and that sort of helped. My new new VA was learning from my old new VA, which was more like a game of telephone than making meaningful progress. I didn't have the spoons to take the work back onto my plate, and our income wasn't supporting having so many people on the team.

We were able to get the podcast up and running, but not much else. It was at this point when I almost shut everything down and walked away.

If it weren't for my clients, that is. Having those commitments kept us afloat. Even if I was stressed to the max on every other front, working with my clients gave me hope for a better tomorrow.

I made two other investments that still haven't panned out: I hired an agency that guaranteed placements on top podcasts. The original commitment was that they get results for most of their clients within 4 months. That seemed pretty ambitious to me, especially since this was being presented as a beta test offer. But hey, it was guaranteed placement, so I figured the ROI would be worth the investment.

A year later, I'm still waiting for half of those "guaranteed" bookings to materialize.

I also hired a company to direct and film my videos. This was part investment, part experiment. I wanted to get video editing off my plate, so I took a chance to see if someone else could handle it. This company promised to help script, direct, produce, and edit my videos.

I thought this would be a great way to bring video back to Season 7 of our show, but it didn't turn out that way. Sadly, their editor lived in Ukraine and, well, WAR broke out over there, so everything stalled.

I'm no tyrant, so of course I was willing to change our timelines. Besides, this was an experiment. I didn't put all my eggs in this basket. We went ahead with Season 7 as a podcast-only season. We managed to make it through the year, but our results were less than stellar.

By June, the agency director had shifted directions and was focused on short-form content for social (think: tiktok & reels). Short form content is NOT my jam, but I filmed a few pieces of content under his direction. He also promised me access to a course he was teaching to help me learn how to create better short form content.

It is February of 2023 as I write this and I am still waiting for access to the course that was promised last year.

Trying to keep too many balls in the air was a disaster - and resulted in a LOT of dropped balls! This year's focus on ease should help, but it's also an important reminder to me to focus on one thing at a time, since we're not a huge team of people that can tackle eleventy jillion things at once.

Faith: Practice what you preach

By the end of 2022, I was feeling apathetic and "meh" about so much. As I considered every aspect of my business, I recognized I had strayed from my own mantra of "define and achieve success on your own terms".

I was letting other people's terms dictate what was possible for me.

Over the past 7 years, I've focused a lot of resources into supporting our Incubator clients. It became our primary income source, which was never the goal. Combined, our handful of clients have created close to two million dollars in real revenue. Many of these folks started from zero, so that's a major accomplishment we can all be proud of!

I love seeing them make progress toward their dreams, but it's happening at the expense of my own.

As I said, the Incubator was never meant to be my company's primary income source. My original vision for was to be able to fund the program to the level where we had dedicated staff supporting clients on all the admin as well has having a spare coach to pick up some of the coaching hours.

We probably could have hit that goal, were it not for the pandemic of 2020. Too much team instability meant we couldn't get our systems locked in.

You can't grow if you aren't stable.

And we simply didn't have the level of stability, nor the cashflow to do things differently. So while I'm proud of our accomplishments, that old Marilyn Monroe quote keeps playing in my head:

Sometimes good things have to fall apart so that better things can fall together.

I wrestled with the question: Do I want to continue trying to work this model at the expense of the other dreams I want to pursue?


But then there's this: I have my own anxiety around not leaving anyone hanging. I don't want to let people down - especially not my clients! I can't just quit what I'm doing and leave them in the lurch!

I love my clients. I love helping them AND I want to see my own dreams take root and grow. Those things shouldn't be mutually exclusive.

I enjoy coaching and consulting, but I have to do it in ways that work for how I'm wired to work.

That's why we're phasing out the Incubator and introducing some new ways to work with me. I'm not accepting new Incubator clients after June (if you want in, you better get moving!). Anyone currently in the program can stay until they graduate. We'll phase out the program through attrition.

In order to grow our audience and continue to support our existing folks, I'm rolling out a new workshop each month during the first half of the year. We hosted the Customer Journey Workshop in January and our Build Your Promo Plan Workshop series is next week! March will have our content creation sprint, and quarterly planning. April will see the return of our Cashflow Creator workshop. We'll cycle through these workshops throughout the year and unveil an all-new three day event in fall: Creative Freedom LIVE! It's nothing like our client retreat, which used to fly under this banner, so if you've been around for a while, know that this is an entirely new event, built around the content in my book.

As a Fusion creative, I need to do more than one thing, otherwise I feel stifled. I enjoy teaching business building concepts and I especially enjoy working hands-on with folks to help them get results and clarity NOW. But I have a growing need for the flexibility of short-term commitments, which are also better for how I'm wired to work. That means I'll be offering more short-term coaching and consulting, including one-day/half-day intensives and single sessions.

Giving people a way to work one-on-one with me in a more concentrated way works better for how I'm wired. Plus, my best clients often prefer to work in this way - a 2-hour sprint or a day-long intensive to hammer out a plan and start seeing results before we're even done. They don't have months to consume a course and learn as they go. They need clarity now.

Freedom: More video, please

I enjoy being on podcasts, but hosting my own podcast isn't as fun or profitable as I'd hoped. According to our numbers, the "shelf life" of an audio episode doesn't begin to compare to our video show. So, we're bringing it back.

I tabled the video show half way through 2021 because of our move. I wanted to resurrect it in 2022, but our experiment failed and then we were moving AGAIN! Housing uncertainty is NOT a good situation for shooting video!

That said, the numbers don't lie. Video is better for me for a variety of reasons:

  1. It's more fun! It's no secret that I adore being in front of the camera. I love an audience. I present well on video, and it's much more enjoyable for me to connect with my audience this way - whether it's teaching a live workshop, being on stage at an event, or just shooting our show. Video just works better for me.
  2. The stats are in our favor: our videos are watched and consumed by more people than our podcast. Significantly more.
  3. Videos on our YouTube channel are findable in search. Our podcast was intentionally kept separate, with longer, deeper episode content, and it doesn't get "found" like our videos do.

Since it looks like we're going to stay in Indiana for a while, I'll have a base of operations to make video production easier. It may mean editing content in-house, but it's worth it to reach more people, have a bigger impact and see our audience growing again.

The plan for our show this year is to split the difference: videos with deeper, richer content, but not as long as the podcast episodes. Instead of going 10-15 minutes, our show will likely run 15-20 minutes and live on both our podcast and video feed. We'll re-assess at the end of the season to see how the numbers shake out.

Family: Lean Into Support

It seemed like the only thing that was easy last year was my relationship with Jim. Despite the ups and downs of the year, Jim was a steady, loving presence through it all. Where my previous partner would shut down and not communicate, Jim stayed in the room. He was willing to have hard conversations and make tough decisions with me, instead of leaving it all up to me to figure out.

He raised me up and kept believing in me... in us... through all the hard stuff of the past couple of years. Even on his sabbatical, he was consistently showing up in our relationship. THAT is the greatest blessing I've ever experienced.

In fact, one of the hardest things I've been able to do is lean into his love and support. Trusting that he really DOES love me, that he really DOES think the world of me. That he means it when he says "I love you forever. No take backs!" I haven't been able to trust that in the past, and his steady, loving presence is a strength I get to learn to trust.

And I want more.

More supportive, trusting relationships that lift me up, see my potential, and want to see me shine. I'm being more proactive in my outreach - despite how scary it feels sometimes. Last year, I invested in a mastermind group that helped open that door. Our facilitator really gave a damn about us... about me. I could feel that in our conversations. I learned more about what being "coffee worthy" really meant.

This year, I'm amping that up. I'm part of an international networking group for women. I'm actively connecting with more of them on a more consistent basis. Not necessarily to drive more business (although, that's nice), but more so to develop a solid, supportive community around me.

If there's one thing I've learned about myself, it's that I don't "do alone" very well. I get in my head and sometimes get stuck there. But I also don't "do community" the way other people do (hello, neurodivergence!). It takes a lot of effort and energy for me to feel connected or feel like I belong in a group. That's my growing edge.

I'm also curating a community space of my own. For years, we've hosted our Accountability Club on Facebook and our Rising Tide learning library on my website. Neither was fully optimized and both languished a bit because of it. It took time to explore some different options that made sense. For a while, no one wanted to leave Facebook. Now, you can't stop them from jumping ship. After a bit of research, we made the decision to migrate everything to a new platform this year. Migrating and integrating everything takes time, though. Our goal is to have the new Rising Tide/Accountability Club space ready for visitors in Q2.

2023 Theme Song: Watch The Wind Blow By/Easy (Like Sunday Morning)

I recorded this mashup almost 10 years ago...long before I left Michigan (or my first husband). But it's pretty appropriate for this year's focus. I was sick that day. But I showed up anyway. And I kept it easy.

Easy, like Sunday morning.

That's my theme for the year, so this song makes perfect sense - and it's a silly video that reminds me of how much fun it was to do this work then. I'm bringing that fun and ease back in every possible way.

Hope to see you on the ride!