(*NOTE: The following was written & formatted based on Chris Guillebeau’s article “HOW TO CONDUCT YOUR OWN ANNUAL REVIEW,” which can be found in its entirety at www.ChrisGuillebeau.com.)


Dear 2009,

It’s me, your old pal JVB!

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for being one of the best years of my life! No, really. You were a time of transition, change, growth, discovery, and synonyms. I have never felt better about who I am and what I’m doing with my life. Let’s look back on your highlights, shall we?

Year: 2009

Theme: Christopher Columbus (i.e. It’s Okay To Be Late To The Party, Just So Long As You Make A Giant Splash When You Get There!)


What Went Well This Year:

  • I began taking improv classes at iO in January! and cannot begin to describe how helpful doing so has been in propelling my acting career! Thanks to these courses, I have:
    • Redefined the way I approach character work in theatre.
    • Gotten to perform onstage for live audiences almost weekly.
    • Met, and continue to meet, countless new friends and colleagues on a regular basis.
    • Begun writing for the stage in both theatre and sketch formats.
    • Started rehearsing and performing with two separate improv comedy troupes!
  • I started reading for pleasure again! It was an activity that I had done endlessly as a child, but I lost my love of literature at some point in middle school. The revival started simply by reading my roommate’s copy of Post Office by Charles Bukowski, and has:
    • Expanded my vocabulary.
    • Changed my perspective.
    • Given me something more intelligent to talk about!
  • I auditioned for tons of theatre, and even landed several roles! My relentless pursuit of a life in theatre has:
    • Driven most of my college non-musical roles from my theatrical resume.
    • Allowed me to amass some strong personal contacts in the theatre community.
    • Gotten my face seen by loads of directors and theatre companies!
  • I finally took control of my finances! For those of you who know me, you might know just how bad I am with money. Like, really bad. I have a full-time day job, and got tired of reaching the month’s end and still having to scrape together enough pennies to pay rent! In this process, I have established:
    • A daily journal of my income and expenses. I track how much I make each day, how much I spend, and detailed notes of what I spend it on (including possible cheaper alternatives for the future).
    • A monthly living budget that covers my regular expenses (e.g. rent, bills, website hosting).
    • My three biggest financial goals:
      • To become a more money-wise individual.
      • To establish a savings account and make regular additions to it.
      • To pay off my credit card.
    • Bi-weekly funds transfers to steadily pay off my credit card, which I used to pay for my classes at iO.
    • A much better quality of life and a drastic increase in happiness!
  • I’ve been exercising several times a week! It’s a great way to feel healthy, relieve stress, and boost self-confidence! Though I won’t be renewing my gym membership (it turned out to be a little too expensive), I have taken up running outdoors and investing in an Iron Gym for the apartment (the company exaggerates the outcome, but it does deliver a pretty solid workout!).
  • I began keeping a career journal at the recommendation of friend and PvsP co-author Ben Whitehair. At the end of every day, I write down what I did that day to advance my career. Since I began keeping this journal in October, I have:
    • Realized the enormous value of doing the “little things” every day, such as reading a theatre blog, updating a website, or even just watching a movie or a play!
    • Held myself accountable for increasing my efforts at career advancement and self-improvement.

See what I mean, 2009? You kicked so much ass! Of course, you also had your small share of difficulties, my friend:

What Didn’t Go Well This Year:

  • The U.S. economic crisis took a big chunk out of my already humble income. On the bright side:
    • The tightening of finances led to my new sense of fiscal responsibility (see above), which might not have shown up had the economy not sucked my money away.
    • Turns out I’m pretty darn good at living frugally! Who knew!?
  • In December of 2008, I made a loose “resolution” to be getting paying acting work on a regular basis by the end of 2009. I failed to achieve this goal. On the bright side:
    • I now know why I failed to achieve this goal:
      • By nature, it was a goal that was out of my control. The things I COULD have controlled (e.g. mailings, letters) went by the wayside out of sheer ignorance.
      • I never sat down and planned out the details of how I was going to make it happen. It was simply an ideal; an ends I expected to achieve without the means to do so. Do I smell a goal for 2010?…

Is there anything else that didn’t go well? I can’t think of anything! Seriously, 2009, you were amazing. Thank you!

I see you sneaking around over there, 2010. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, because you’re about to get a face full of Joe VB! Hiyaaah!

Look for a “2010 goals” post in the near future! 🙂

~JVB

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