One of my favorite personal practices every year is the year in review. I do a version of this for myself and my own life's reflections beyond work and business, but I also like doing it for the business. As a business owner, it’s so easy to lose sight of the wins and not take stock of HOW the losses or challenges helped us learn - which, inevitably, is a win itself even if in the moment it felt anything but.
Here’s some of my biggest reflections for 2021:
Starting every day with a moment of gratitude.
Quite simply, in yet another year marked by the pandemic, it felt like a victory every day to wake up and take a deep breath of fresh air. I was reminded by several mentors that when everything gets overwhelming, start with an exercise of gratitude to help center yourself for the day. I can’t emphasize enough how important and helpful this was on a regular basis.
It’s okay to sign off.
As a business owner, it’s practically an expectation for you to be on, 24/7. Our culture and media regularly teaches us that in order to be successful, you have to eat, sleep and breathe what you do. To some degree, this is very true. But what’s also true is that it’s more than likely to be unsustainable. In 2021, I chose to be kind to myself and started testing time boundaries and structures in order for me to be generally more effective - from leading my team, to building a better business to service our customers, to tapping into and reconnecting with some creative aspects of myself that needed reinvigoration after what has been such a crazy year. To do that, I regularly signed off social media entirely. I can't tell you how incredibly healing doing this on a regular basis is. "Signing off" other things, such as roles/responsibilities might be harder and require a bit more diligence, or quite simply may be impossible. But identifying something simple, like signing off of social media for a good while, or cutting on the mindless scrolling, will do wonders. I promise you.
You can’t control everything.
As a customer, there’s no doubt you’ve probably read or seen regular news updates around supply chain disruptions. Every business you’ve interacted with, big or small, has likely had disclaimers of “we’re out of X because of supply chain disruptions due to COVID.” On our side, we’ve done our fair share of having to navigate these uncertainties while being communicative, transparent and supportive to our customers.
Our team prides itself on being as reasonably organized as possible, and we project manage the heck out of everything, along with our manufacturing partners. Still, the bottle necks and backlogs that started in 2020 snowballed in 2021, as consumer demand clashed with these issues head on. Planning sometimes felt like a futile exercise. Everyone at all levels of supply chain, shipping and delivery had to just do the best they could. As an owner, and as someone who significantly prioritizes customer service, this felt like a nightmare 😂 sometimes it felt like all we were giving was bad news! We had to adapt to really accepting what it was that we could control, and what we couldn’t. What we could control was building great relationships and to continue to maintain them.
The compassion, patience and support of everyone in our community - from our wholesale partners, our gym partners, and our customers - has been what has gotten us through it all. It was a really positive light for us, on what was a really complex year for many small business owners.
Be kind to yourself, and be kind to others.
You know, you would think this one is a no brainer. But, time and again we’ve seen evidence in the news of folks behaving real poorly to their neighbors, service workers, health care workers, airline staff - excessive verbal and physical assault, you name it. To say that we have felt shocked, disappointed and often times angry at those who could behave that way and inflict such pain on others is an understatement.
There’s a saying that my therapist once said, and it’s become a regular perspective I maintain. It’s, “hurt people, hurt people.” It’s a shame that our culture doesn’t encourage those who are emotionally struggling to seek mental health therapy, nor does it provide easily accessible resources and general access to those who financially cannot afford it. It's only recently that influencers like Naomi Osaka, Michael Phelps and Simone Biles have led the way, but despite this, we still have so much further to go. It’s also a shame that our divisive environment only contributes further to the verbal and physical violence. As a Vietnamese American woman, I’ve definitely had moments of anxiety with my surroundings, more than usual, especially with heightened crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country.
I’m a firm believer of manifestation, and with this anger-fueled era we’re in, it’s really difficult to feel like there’s no hope, or that it’s impossible to change everything. Especially people’s hearts, minds and attitudes. I know that when I go down a rabbit hole, it does indeed feel simply impossible and sometimes it just shuts me down. But I learned at a young age from my grandpa that when you focus inwards, and focus on what you can do to enable a greater sense of peace within yourself, that it can enable peace in the energy around you, including those in your community. There's a cause and effect for everything - and in this case, YOU are the cause. So start creating the greater peace within you, to project and manifest greater peace AROUND you (the effect), with and amongst others. This, coming from a man who survived war, escaped it, and went on to establish family roots in a completely foreign land where he didn’t speak the language or know the culture. Certainly provides a perspective shift.
This year, I gave as much as I could to that principal. Finding small and simple ways in which I could find peace within myself, to smile at myself… which often led to greater smiles towards other people, friendlier “hello’s”, and genuine chats with the essential workers and walkers-by around me. I can’t tell you how healing that is, in a general cultural and societal environment that just wants to scowl right now. I highly recommend it.
I hope that 2022 proves to be a new year filled with hope, opportunity, healing, recovery and a greater sense of community for you, and for us. We can’t wait to take it on with you.
Founder, Society Nine