My Year in Review: Inching Toward A Perpetual Vacation

This is a “year in review” post but please consider your warned: this has been the best year of my life. Each year, I love writing a “year in review” post because it allows me to take the time out to really think about the past year: what I’m grateful for, what went right, and what went wrong… It’s feels delicious.

I wrote a similar post, but I lost it — which is kind of beautiful. My intention is never to compare one year to another. I just want to take the time to appreciate each year on its own.

What did I want to accomplish?

I only had a few goals for this year:

I did all of those things except for the last one, which I decided to scrap so I could build Devise instead.

Of all of them, though, the second one is the one that I enjoyed achieving the most. More on that in a bit…

What do the numbers say?

What would a “year in review” post be without the numbers, right?

And the numbers are glorious. This year, I increased my personal income by over 520%.

Design + Development:

My work at TPV Create makes up the majority of my personal income, which makes sense. This year was great for us, albeit a bit stressful. Around June, I decided I couldn’t handle the stress anymore and promised myself I’d work with fewer clients. After two months or so, I achieved it! Now, I have less stress and (I hope) better results. My team feels the same way.

All in all, I ended up enjoying the work much more after I decided to take it down a notch. Big win for my ideal life and perpetual vacation.


Apart from my design and development work, I did some consulting on the side. I’m usually conflicted about this kind of work: my clients rave about me, but I don’t feel too excited about doing the work.

Being good at something doesn’t mean it drives or excites me.

Maybe it’s the hit-and-run nature of consulting that doesn’t really move me. I like to stay on projects for a while and make sure they’re a success. I always feel guilty when I can’t.

I don’t think consulting will be my focus this upcoming year.


My little book that could, Life Is What I Say It Is, did really well this year. It was a blast to write (except at the end), and I’m so glad it helped me make the impact I envisioned for this year. The emails I receive from readers still make my teary-eyed…

While I don’t think I’ll be writing another “book” next year, I do think I’ll spend more time writing shorter “guides” on specific topics related to entrepreneurship. I’m actually finishing up one called The Freelance Switch right now…


This little sliver of income came in due to my iOS app called QuestionUp. The sad thing is it’s such a small sliver because I accidentally let my Apple developer license run out, and the app is no longer in the App Store. The app was even featured in The Next Web!

You’d think Apple would email developers asking them to renew, but nope. They just let their licenses (and apps) die!

In the first few months of next year, I’m relaunching the app with TPV’s new branding. I’m excited about this because I know just how much some users love using QuestionUp to break through their mental barriers.


This is the only new item on the income list, and it’s also one of my favorites. This year, I decided to do some experimentation with coaching a few select members of the TPV community. It only lasted about a week, and then I got too busy to continue…

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Coaching is the only activity that makes me nervous (even slightly afraid). Right before the start of a coaching call, my stomach would do flips…

Speaking in front of hundreds of people, no problem. Coaching a single person, nerves galore!

I follow my fear toward my greatest challenges and creativity.

Because of that, I definitely want to do more of this next year.


This probably isn’t even worth mentioning. Affiliate stuff isn’t something I actively pay attention to, but some old affiliate links brought in some income. Nice but kind of not my style, either.

What went wrong?


When I started my business, I wasn’t too picky about who I worked with. I tried to be, but it’s hard to turn down money, right? Well, I continued that trend for the first part of this year.

The 80/20 rule is spot on: 80% of my stress was caused by 20% of my clients.

For the first half of the year, everything suffered — up until I hit a low point in June. After hitting that low point, I decided to make a change.

The plan is to be more picky in the coming years.

Lack of contact: 

Most of my day is spent at home (or my parent’s house), which has its pros and cons. I love the independence of working remotely, but I also felt the negative effects of it at some points.

When I was being too much of a hermit, I’d get bored and stressed, too focus on my work stuff. To get out of the funk, I made an effort to ask friends I value to coffee or lunch.

I want to keep an eye out for this in 2014 because I know I won’t be traveling to conferences as much. If my connection needs to happen in Nicaragua, then I need to stay on top of my friend-dates, even if they’re via Skype.

What went awesome?

Luckily, this is not just the most important part of my review post — it’s also the one which I feel the best about. My year was amazing, and I’m eternally grateful for everything I’m about to brag about.


I never imagined I’d be reporting these results… This year, I traveled a ton with JJ, more than I ever expected.

We hit up the following places:

  • Guatemala City, Guatemala
  • Austin, Texas (My only trip without JJ)
  • Miami and Orlando, Florida
  • Fargo, North Dakota
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Francisco and Napa Valley, California
  • San José, Costa Rica
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Florence and Sienna, Italy
  • Copenhagen, Denmark

This was one of my main goals for the year, and I can’t describe just how grateful I am that we were able to accomplish it together. The memories, experiences, new friends, and inside jokes we’ve gathered because of these travels will be locked in my heart forever.

Family time: 

I may have overdosed on family time this year. I say that because I’m at their house so often that I need to start, you know, going home!

This year, I feel closer to my family than ever. We’ve had a great year together. That’s about to change, though, with some family members moving away and some coming into the picture.


This year, I did more speaking than in previous years. I never thought I’d be holding workshops for C-suite executives, co-hosting a TEDx event or being flown to Europe to speak at a business school. All of my speaking engagements were incredibly fun and successful this year. Each was better than the last!

I may skip this in 2014 and pick it back up again in 2015…


Ah, my sweet, sweet community of awesome Adventurers. After hundreds of emails, dozens of comment threads, and a few live video conversations, I’m so grateful to have witnessed such a surge in growth this year. The community is stronger than ever, but only because the connections aren’t just between me and readers. The connections between community members are growing stronger and stronger.

Bonus! I also enjoyed some amazing quality time in Nicaragua with people I greatly admire and care for, like Srini Rao, Matt Wilson,Helen Frixione, and Julien Smith.

I couldn’t ask for anything more…

What’s up next?

For the upcoming year, I want to focus on the following:

Nurture my relationship with family and friends
Launch products to help freelancers improve their businesses (like Devise, The Freelance Switch, and more)
Work with an even smaller core group of team members and clients

I’ve been thinking about the words that will guide me this year, and I’ll share those in January.

What’s next for you?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments: what are you cooking for next year?

Wishing you awesomeness from Managua!

— Marcella