What ONE THING will you regret not doing this year? My story as told through my diary*

*Yes, I still address my journal as “Dear Diary.” Stop laughing!!! I’ve been writing almost daily since I was ten years old and the name stuck. Before we jump in, I want to extend my deep gratitude to Jade Craven for including me on ProBlogger’s list of 20 Bloggers to Watch in 2012 — I’m beyond honored, and in great company if you’re looking for awesome new blogs to follow. 

I’ve been burrowed away in my apartment these last few days consuming coffee at a pace as close to an IV drip as I can get it, writing, course-creating, working on a super-fun project with Mint (stay tuned!) and wracking my brain for what to say to all of you that isn’t horribly, obnoxiously cliché as we ring in the new year.

Resolutions Schmezoloutions

I don’t make resolutions, I make mind maps of what I’d like to do or be in every major area of life and business, and I’ve made one every year for the last four years. Last year I shared my Passions Mind Map from 2008, along with instructions for creating your own. But I’m not here to preach about whether you should make resolutions or set goals, or even tell you how to keep them or not.

Instead, I just want one thing for all of you this year: to dig deep, find your courage, and pursue with gusto that thing in your heart that you know you must do. That one thing that, upon reflection 12 months from now, you would surely regret not attempting. I don’t care if you’re “successful” or not. I just want you to TRY. And to come alive in the process.

Show not tell: in which I crack open my journal for all to see

My English teachers always said to show not tell when writing. Somehow I don’t think they meant I should bare my innermost thoughts for all to see, but I’m doing it anyway. Last year, the one thing I would have regretted most was not giving myself a chance at running my own business full-time.

This month marks my six-month anniversary of solopreneurship, and I’m breaking even and paying bills with far more ease than I had envisioned. It all happened as a result of someone asking me, “How would you feel if a year from now nothing has changed?” (see the video of me telling this story in my 20SB Keynote)

Rather than just sit on top of a mountain of “yay, I did it!” and tell you about how I got here, I’d like to show you.

With a few caveats:

  • Jenny's TripIt Stats for 2011Most of my most thoughtful entries happen during flights — you’ll notice that’s where many of these came from. As you can see from my TripIt stats, I had lots of opportunities for deep reflection this year!
  • As I mentioned above, I still start every entry with “Dear Diary.” Dear Journal just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
  • I never write with the intention to share, and if anyone ever read my journals without my consent I might not speak to them again. Sharing these entries is new for me! Shared without edits, even though there are several places I would have liked to omit a few things 🙂

Journal Entry 1: May 15, 2011 – Suspended between two worlds

In this entry I’m scared about the future, but having experienced the joy of being on my own, I start to entertain the possibility that I won’t be as massive a failure as my inner critic would like me to believe.

JB Journal entry from May 15, 2011

Journal Entry 2: June 1, 2011 – When it all finally clicks

This is the day I actually committed to moving forward with my great leap. I knew the conversation with Google would be incredibly hard (I haven’t been that nervous in a long-time) but that it was time for my to fly (my theme for 2011). I loved working at Google and cherish my time there, but this is when I realized that I was ready to give myself a chance, and that I would greatly regret not taking that risk.

JB's Journal Entry from June 1, 2011

Journal Entry 5: June 15, 2011 – Pardon my french!

Two weeks later, I made the call. I was sad to leave my co-workers and hated disappointing my manager, director and teammates by not returning, but I couldn’t help but squeal with glee at FINALLY making a decision and betting on myself.

JB Journal from June 15, 2011

Haha — that’s what pure JB handwritten all-caps excitement looks like 😀

Journal Entry 4: November 30, 2011 – Mantras Moving Forward

Most of these mantras came to me as a result of challenges and emotional pain I was experiencing. They are an attempt at documenting how I want to be and what I want to focus on moving forward instead of fears, doubts and self-criticism.

JB Mantra's for 2011/2012

A Toast: to 2012 with no regrets

I hope that in some way these snapshots have been helpful or interesting (if not just plain voyeuristic!). I hope they help you see that behind every courageous leap lie many fears and insecurities, but that they CAN be overcome.

Whether you write resolutions or not, ask yourself these two questions (and if you’re feeling gutsy, answer in the comments):

What is the ONE THING that you know in your gut you want to do this year?
How would you feel if one year from now if nothing had changed? 


Make Sh*t Happen Enrollment + Free Crash Course

If you are looking for extra support as you go after your own “no regrets” year, stick around: the doors re-open for Make Sh*t Happen on January 11 at 3pm ET.  I’m so excited I can barely stand it! Wondering if the course is right for you? Check out what the inaugural group had to say.

I’m also super excited to host a free Make Sh*t Happen Crash Course webinar on January 11 at 1:30pm PT as a fun way to kick-off the new year and provide a CliffsNotes version of what we cover in case you can’t afford the full course at the moment.

I’ll share my 8-step process for going after a massive goal: everything from big-picture visioning to building a strong support network, surviving the dip, and celebrating. At the very end I will answer any questions potential course enrollees may have. Register here, and please note that the webinar will not be recorded.

Cheers — to dreaming, doing and big-goal-swagger in 2012!

  • Great post, Jenny! I love your integrity and transparency. Happy New Year!

    • Thanks Mozart!! Very happy New Year to you too! 

  • Rebecca Loughin

    I might have to adopt some of those mantras myself.  I have mostly money related goals, but I’d love to take a trip alone that doesn’t have anything to do with visiting anyone. I think it’d be good for me.

    • Thanks for your comment Rebecca! I LOVE the idea of taking a trip alone — you can do it! I actually find it to be such a joyful experience — you get to do and go wherever you want, whenever you want to! And I find myself so much more open to meeting strangers and striking up conversation too. Definitely report back when you make it happen!

  • Alexandra Dare

    Oh my gosh – I just had a revelation (I have so many – haha!).  So I read this blog post and decided to journal about the New Year.  I barely got through two sentences before I realized something.  The person who I was last year, compared to the person I am this year – the difference is just AMAZING.  

    Last year at this time, I had just split with my business partner and decided to give up the makeup biz and try to “make it” (psh) as a blogger instead (very vague – just a blogger, haha).  Since then, I’ve discovered acting, writing, I’ve saved almost $25,000 that I’VE earned.  I know SO much more about myself, my talents, my essential self, etc. that I think I am LIGHT YEARS from the person I was.  

    So even though I’m not yet a millionaire or even fully independent, I realized today that I’ve grown like a foot since last year, and I think the rapid growth will continue as now I am finally settling in on what I love to do.

    Yay!  Thank you for inspiring some self-realization for me today, Jenny!  You are the bomb dot com 🙂

    • Alex — I LOVE LOVE LOVE your revelation!!! I cannot believe how incredibly far you’ve come in just a year…and to think what this year will bring! I mean, you kicked it off by chatting with Oprah, so CLEARLY there is endless more greatness where that came from 😀

  • Basilbe

    As always, refreshing honesty and truly inspirational!

    • Thank you so much!! I hope your new year is off to a fabulous start 😀

  • Jenny,

    Your words have stuck in my head for the last few months. As December was coming to a close I realized I let an entire year go by when I didn’t make the updates I wanted to on my blog. Rather than be disappointed in myself I took the necessary steps to check this item off the “2011 To Do List.”

    Which means… stephanieflo.com now exists!!! Thank you for continuing to motivate me both professionally and personally. Big post coming up – written weeks ago, but finallllly I can shout it out loud. Get excited : )

    • Stephanie Florence!!! Oh my goodness — I cannot believe I didn’t see the letter until just now. I am speechless. Totally speechless, humbled and blown away. THANK YOU, and I am so honored to have made a difference in your life; you are already such a rock-star! I never had any doubt you could do it. Huge congrats on launching your new home (aka website), and on making the giant transition to New York. I hope you will be joining us for many Geek Yoga classes!! Now I’m going to post this on your blog to give you extra love there too 🙂

  • Those all caps I DID IT are always special.  If you get one or two of those a year, you can call it a good year.

    • Haha – YES! You’re so right — even just one of those a year is an amazing target to aim for 😀 Cheers!

  • First, thanks for sharing your diary entries and “showing” us what you went through in the past 6 months. And, geez, lady, it totally worked! As I read your posts there was a trigger of excitement that lit up inside of me for you — so glad you did what you needed to do and things are happening for you.

    Cheers to an amazing 2012!

    • Thanks so much Laura!! Yes — it’s so funny to look back and see the shift happening, to see the difference in tone and emotion from one entry to the next. That’s why I find keeping a journal so fascinating — I’ve also been using OhLife.com which you might really get a kick out of. Cheers to an amazing 2012 for you too!! 

      • Oh wow, it’s like 750words.com but…cares. This could be kind of awesome. Thanks for introducing me to it 🙂

  • Laurel

    How neat!  I’ll be graduating college this year and am still not sure if I’ll be able to make a career in my chosen field, but I’m sure going to try.  After four years of prepping for this time I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be…Encouraging to read this!

    • Thanks Laurel! Very exciting that you are graduating this year — congrats!! If you *have* a chosen field in mind, you’re already past the hardest part. I know you can do it! 

  • Inna

    loved this post 😀 
    i especially enjoy the difference 30 days made.  you went from ” i think i have to do this” to ” holy sh*% i’m free”  .  ( can i swear here hehe?)

    • Inna, love! Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment 🙂 Can’t wait to see you next week!

  • I think this is my favorite post of yours yet. LOVE it.

    • Aww, thank you so much Clare!! That means a lot to me — I think this is about as transparent as it gets, so it means a lot to hear that it resonated with you. Cheers to a fabulous start to 2012! 

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  • Cat

    Wow, great stuff! Perhaps one of your most raw posts but I love it. Your ability to be genuine and share is so inspiring to me. Keep it up!

  • Rachel

    Wow, I want to take a flying leap as well! I know I am not satisfied in my job. I even found a note that I wrote to myself from two months ago in my purse.  It is scary to think about and I have all the fears you wrote in your journal entry.

    I do not have a strong identified passion or path that I am interested in, that will be my goal for this year to CONNECT and figure out where I want to be.

    I will definetly be listening at the webinar.

    • Rachel – thanks so much for your comment! It’s tough when you know you’re not happy at your job but aren’t sure where to go next. I love that your word of the year is Connect — I have no doubt that will lead you to your path!!

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  • Your article headline really caught my attention and got me thinking about things that I’d like to do this year. It’s a different take on the new year’s resolution thing and I like the idea of not regretting not doing something this year. I’ve been single ever since I moved out here in Singapore a year ago for work reasons and I’d really like to find a partner this year. I plan on being more proactive and experience new things in the hope of finding mr.right. I’ve also been thinking about joining a dating site but there’s a surprising amount of choice. Fingers crossed I find love this year and don’t regret anything!

    • Love your intention for this year! I think getting out there and meeting people is a great resolution — and there may be many ancillary benefits even beyond meeting a romantic partner. Awesome that you’re living in Singapore too!

  • Al

    What an inspiring post!  I appreciate your candor.  I have a lot of work to do this year.  The good news is I am knee-deep into the execution of my plan but I have to stay the course and ignore those pesky limiting beliefs that their way between my ears.  Failure is not an option.  Congrats and good luck on your journey.  It will only get more exciting.

    • Thanks so much for your comment Al! Awesome that you are knee-deep in execution — keep on keepin’ on! Love your attitude that failure is not an option. In my book, you are already smashingly successful just for going after what you want.

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