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2021 Year End Failure Review

glass of champagne next to entrepreneurs computer

Amidst the year-end reviews of goals hit, lessons learned, and celebrations of surviving another year, sits my favorite of personal reviews: the failures.

It started back in Summer 2019 with the massive, epic failure of launching a refreshed version of my group coaching program “Uncover Your Core” as “Core Catalyst Academy.”

I went the whole 9 yards with the social posts, the emails, the webinar leading into the launch – the works.
I swung for the fences!
And completely biffed it!

Not gonna lie – it stung.
A lot.

December 2019 rolls around and everyone’s posting about how they smashed their goals and all I can think about is the massive flop I had that summer. Rather than gloss over it, I decided to write about it. Celebrate the fact that I had indeed swung for the fences! I went all in on something! And even if it completely flopped, I had – at the very least – tried.

It remains one of my most engaged with IG posts to date, leading to so many incredible conversations with folks about what they went all in on and how it didn’t work out.

Thus began a yearly tradition.

With a cup of tea in the fancy china, and a full teapot at the ready, let us commence with the review of failures of 2021!


My Top – and only! – 2021 Fail:
I completely fell apart.

Y’all. I preach and teach a damn good Human First, Biz Second® game.

And I completely ignored it this year.

Let’s back up by getting into the fabled Year End Review Time Machine and find ourselves in January 2021:

  • Husburrito and I had finally moved into our first home together (with the knowledge and intention that we wouldn’t have to move in a few months! A first in our entire marriage!);
  • Checking in on The Connection Collective every day (and resolving to chat more in the slack when I had more time for a thoughtful response to all the posts, then feeling guilty for forgetting to follow up that day, thus putting it off another day…) then *deep breath,* unpacking boxes and throwing another load of laundry in and figuring out what piece of furniture was being delivered when and where would we be getting takeout from that night as we hadn’t found the kitchen stuff yet → for 3 weeks straight;
  • Once the dining room table was in and built, my makeshift office was set-up!  The converted garage out back was to be mine (yay!) but first, we needed to put in the floors and give it a good coat of paint before I could move out there;
  • I was full of hope every day that because we were finally in a home, because we had a space to call our own, because I had been looking forward to this day for YEARS, all the pressure of life-crisis that built up over  the past few years would release.

[A moment to appreciate the hilarity that despite the international pandemic, my day to day included considerably less crisis management than the past 5 years or so.]

This is where I started to crack.
Where the Great Fail of 2021 took root.
The misguided notion that with the release of the pressure of a crisis, I would finally be able to breathe.

As I eased out of survival mode, the pressure DID release. And in rushed all the trauma of the past 5 years, all the processing that hadn’t been done (understandably out of necessity), all the emotional dust bunnies I’d been handily sweeping under the rug for years could no longer be ignored.

Narrator: and yet, Megan did her best to ignore them.

I talked a good Human First game.
I did what used to work for me with regards to self-care, community care, biz care, etc.
I maintained that things weren’t “so bad” that I needed to slow my roll anymore than I had slowed it already.

Never mind that I had little to no memory of February or September as we entered March and October, respectively (a fun side effect of clinical depression: memory loss!).
Never mind that I initiated canceling no less than 3 client contracts (and authorized refunds) as I realized I was drowning in my work and would not be able to give them the Megan Dowd Standard of work I (used to) pride myself on.
Never mind that in the course of one week in the summer there were 3 separate life events that rank on the “highest life stressors” but I was determined to Not Let Them Take Me Down.

My biggest 2021 fail was failing to recognize my own unraveling.

With every metaphorical blow, I clung tighter and tighter to the self-care patterns that had served me while in crisis management, and I could not for the life of me fathom that I would need to change them. In my mind I just wasn’t working hard enough.

Please pause for a moment of laughter at that truly hilarious statement.
I thought I wasn’t working hard enough – that I wasn’t doing “good enough” – at self-care.

This is the other reason I love my Year End Failure Review – it always offers a good few chuckles.

Over the past 5 years I had to learn how to advocate for myself while in crisis (thank you 2018, The Year of Unapologetic Boundaries).
But I had never learned how to do so otherwise.
What boundaries and self-care and needs would look like when NOT in survival mode.

I didn’t know how to advocate for myself or my needs without the “excuse” of crisis.

And if I’m honest, I still don’t!
But now I can see it.

I can follow the thread of unraveling throughout the entire year.
The places I completely came apart at the seams.
The places I tried to use scotch tape to patch it back.
The places I refused to consider the need for love and care and attention. And that these needs were valid even when I wasn’t in survival mode, managing crisis after crisis.

In 2019 I could speak with pride about my massive failure.
I’m not quite there yet this year.

There’s a lot of shame at the moment.
For the ways in which I failed my friends, my clients, and myself.
And I don’t anticipate it just *poof*ing away anytime soon.

What I do know is that sitting with the shame – and naming it – is the first step in minimizing its power.


Thus ends our 2021 Year End Fail Review.

At the moment I can’t fathom what I hope to swing for the fences for next year.

What I am certain of is that I’ll still be stitching myself back together a year from now.

Maybe 3 years from now!

And I’m ok with that.

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