Rocket Ships and Roller Coasters: Our 2012 Annual Review

Dream Big, Dreaming  //  

“I think we should all get back to building that rocket ship we dreamed of when we thought about what our life would be about” – Bob Goff, Love Does

I remember being young and dreaming about what I would be when I grew up.  I loved building things with Legos and K’nex.  My first big Lego project I remember was a pirate ship with sails and all.  There must have been over 1000 pieces, but I knew that if I worked hard, and asked for help when I needed it, that before I knew it, the pirate ship would be complete.

Shortly after my swashbuckling days were over, I moved onto K’nex.  At the time I was growing up, K’nex had just been released as the new must have holiday toy.  For Christmas I received a giant orange case of K’nex.  The possibilities were endless!  Eventually, K’nex came out with a roller coaster set.  I saved all my allowances for months and looked under every seat cushion for long forgotten coins.  When I finally had enough change, I walked into the toy store with my rolls of nickels and dimes and walked out with a box of K’nex that was nearly bigger than I was.  Soon my dreams would come true and I would become a real life roller coaster designer.  Being older and more experienced at building things, it only took me a few short days before the entire set was complete.  It was this love of building things that eventually lead me to pursue an engineering degree.

At the time, I may not have realized it, but in addition to creating a really cool roller coaster, I was also learning how to dream BIG.  When we were little, we had no cares in the world.  Building a rollercoaster in real life seemed just as easy as it was to build one out of K’nex or a pirate ship out of Legos.

However, along the journey of life, it seems as though we often forget this simple life lesson.  That lesson that no dream is too big and that anything is possible.  Instead, we often get bogged down with our to do list and don’t make time to dream…

Four years ago we decided to change that.  We stumbled upon a blog post by the AMAZING Chris Guillebeau titled: How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review.  After reading the post, we decided that we would conduct our own annual review.  That was the year our lives changed… we started our business at our very first Annual Review! Ever since that year, we have been conducting an annual review.  Be sure to check out Chris’s post to learn how you can hold your own annual review too.

In our first annual review, we began assessing our lives, and the dreams we had.  We were both working well paying “safe” corporate jobs but something was missing.  Although we enjoyed what we did, we had a sense that there was something more that we were being called to do.  Instead of living our own dreams each day, we were instead just being paid to live out someone else’s dream.

We started our very first annual review by heading to Spoons, our favorite coffee shop, (Check out our promo video that was partially filmed at Spoons here), and wrote down our dreams for the upcoming year.  While we sat there, we tried to think back to our days as children with huge imaginations and dreams the size of the universe.  It was in that moment, that we dreamed a BIG dream of one day running our own business.  Liz had loved photography as a young child, and as an electrical engineer, I really loved the technical aspects of cameras so we decided to start our own photography business.  At the moment we didn’t really realize how big this dream could become.  But, now four years later, and 75+ weddings photographed, we have realized that our dreams can never be too big.

I am sure by now you have probably heard nearly a thousand times about dreaming BIG dreams and that you can do anything you dream of.  Although this is true, just dreaming a BIG dream, doesn’t make it a reality.  The next step after dreaming up your BIG dream is going out and actually DOING.  And that is what is so amazing about hosting your own annual review.  It is the first step of DOING.

We hosted our annual review just before Christmas this year and wanted to share a few things we did to hopefully inspire you to have your very own annual review and get you one step closer to living your own AMAZING Life! In addition to following Chris’s post as our guide, we have started incorporating a few of our own ideas each year.

Step One: Go somewhere new that will stimulate your creativity and separate you from your normal routines.

In past years we have gone to the Inn at Perry Cabin on the Eastern shore.  We love to sit by the fire quietly to dream BIG.  They also serve afternoon tea… a delight we normally don’t take time to enjoy in or normal routine.

This year, we decided to create our own Inn at Perry Cabin experience in our home.  We turned our guest bedroom into a spa and checked in as if we were checking into a hotel.  We slept in our guest bed, relaxed in the bath in our guest bathroom and made our own afternoon tea to enjoy while conducting our annual review.  (Want to create your own spa retreat at home too?  Check back tomorrow when we will be sharing some ideas on how to make your guest room a perfect retreat for two). 

Step Two: Create an agenda, but leave room for relaxation and spontaneity. 

As with most things in life, it helps to have an agenda or rough outline of things you would like to cover during your annual review.  However, be sure to leave room to be spontaneous.  If you are inspired to watch a movie in bed together, or have an afternoon dance party, then do it.  I believe that relaxation and spontaneity are two key factors to dreaming BIG dreams.  By letting our minds truly wonder, we will think of ideas that are inspired by the things in which we are truly passionate.

Step Three: Disconnect.

Four years ago when we decided to start our business, we didn’t have iPhones and free Wi-Fi everywhere we went.  It was easy then to focus entirely on us, our dreams, and our plans to make those dreams a reality.  Having an effective annual review requires intense focus, soul searching, and asking hard questions.  Emails, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are distractions.  Disconnect from social media, turn off your phones, and focus your attention on your goals and dreams for the next year.

What are you waiting for? it’s time to get back to building your own rocket ships!