Entrepreneuship,  Life reflections,  Travel

Reflecting on 2023 and New Year’s Resolutions for 2024

It is normal to look back and reflect on what happened during the year. According to Stanley, the end of every year always makes him feel like a storm is coming. He says I go into my annual end-of-year meltdown and I freak out because I don’t feel like I achieved any significant milestones. From his perspective, I only consider lofty pie in the sky as success and anything else is nothing. Therefore, I decided to write my first ever reflection blog to “remind” myself of what milestones I have accomplished and eventually, each section will become its own blog post (I hope). I will also list my new year’s resolutions. I hope I can achieve all of them!

My public Instagram journey

This year, I took a leap into the social media world by starting a public instagram account. It was a giant step for me; I am a very private person and I was worried about putting myself out there for the world to see. I initially struggled with deciding what to post; I wasn’t able to focus on just one thing because it wouldn’t be authentic to who I am and frankly, it would be quite boring. I finally decided on showcasing what I do for my 2 companies (OPC and Safety Nest), my experience as a pet owner, and useful daily life tips. 

I did some research into what I needed to do to gain followers and I tried to adapt my posts based on that research. I kept track of how many followers I gained, focusing on the number of followers who are complete strangers to me. At first, the numbers went up very slowly, but after a few months, I somehow managed to pass 100 followers, most of them were people I have never met before. I felt some satisfaction at being able to grow my public account and wanted to find ways to increase the number of followers. 

I found a consultant through Instagram ads, who promised to give me advice that will grow my account. After submitting all the intake forms, I was provided with a plan that would result in the growth I am looking for. I was very doubtful about the plan. It required daily posts and creating content that didn’t feel like me. After a few revisions to the plan, I gave it a try. To my disappointment, the posts that followed the plan got less interactions than before. I stopped posting because of the holidays and I will have to figure out what I will want to do in 2024.  

My first post-pandemic international trip

Ever since the pandemic happened, I paused all my traveling, and I haven’t even gone back to Taiwan for almost years. Yes!! I know. It sounds crazy, but I married a safety expert. Before this trip, he even made me wear a p100 to take an international flight back home. That was a painful experience. Then, my friend Penny invited me to her birthday trip because her sister is planning a birthday euro trip for her. With all the proper protections and covid guidelines that had been provided to me, I decided to venture out into the world again! We traveled to Paris and Barcelona; this experience was not just about the places I visited but it’s also about reclaiming the freedom to explore, meet new people, revisit old places and experience different cultures. This trip reminded me how travel can broaden our perspectives and rejuvenate our spirits. 

Entrepreneurial ventures: a leap with Omni Pet Club

2023 the year when Omni Pet Club began selling the OPC leash system. Penny and I spent lots of time fixing our design and went through multiple prototyping and testing to create our leash system. This venture was not just about launching a product but about creating something that can work with cats and dogs. Seeing our idea come to fruition was both challenging and rewarding. It was even more exciting to launch our product to the market. 

The excitement didn’t last, as we encountered challenges with marketing our product and generating sales. But that’s ok! Everything is a learning experience, including our lack of sales! We tried many different ways of generating traffic to our website, including giveaways in our Instagram account, discounts, and social media ads. One of our most successful avenues is one that I did not expect. 

Penny decided to set up a stand at the farmer’s market in Antioch. I knew that there was a possibility of making a few sales here and there, but we have sold quite a few sets! What’s even better is that because Penny has face-to-face contact with the customers, she is able to get feedback from them on what they like/don’t like about our leash system. The seatbelt is a great hit and harnesses are a common ask! With this valuable information, we’re looking to make our products even better!

A surprise golf trip for my dad

During my dad’s visit in February, he looked quite troubled one day. He said that he was peer pressured into organizing a golf trip in the United States for his golfing buddies, which meant I was now responsible for organizing a 10-day golfing trip for my dad and 7 of his golfing buddies. 

Planning was chaotic. The group wanted: high end accommodations, golfing at PGA tournament courses and some had to include fairways that were surrounded by sand, and high end dining. I also had to provide entertainment because it’d be just boring if all they did was golf. After a month of calling and searching, I put together a 10-day trip going through Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Napa, and San Francisco; 7 rounds of golf; and 2 national parks. 

My dad was quite nervous about the trip; he was worried that something would go wrong and he would be embarrassed. Somehow, that didn’t happen at all! I had help along the way, thank goodness, because I could not have pulled this off on my own. My dad was among the youngest in the group of 8, so I had to carry luggage for them. I also did not expect that keeping a group of 8 retirees together would be so difficult! We hit a few snags here and there, but nothing that ruined the trip. My dad and his friends were quite happy with the trip; they even gifted me a few bottles of wine when they went wine tasting!

My pregnancy

I know I keep saying a lot of things are unexpected, but this certainly is one of the most unexpected things to happen to me in my entire lifetime. This is not an exaggeration. 

Marriage and having kids were never in my plan for myself, but the marriage part changed in 2018 and this year, after my dad’s visit in February, the having kids part changed. I decided that as my duty as a daughter, I will try to start a family. 3 months later, a pregnancy test showed that I was on my way on this 40-week journey (which has not ended at the time of publishing this post). 

So far, my pregnancy experience has been a mix of ups and downs. I have remained fairly healthy so far. My weight gain is the only blemish on my monthly checkups. I have had to change my plans for my pregnancy diet and that resulted in my rapid weight gain. I also became hypersensitive to smells. I cannot stand the smell of cleaning chemicals and in my first trimester I couldn’t even cook. Since the second trimester, I’ve been able to cook but I still can’t prep food. 

Two of the visually scariest symptoms are my nosebleeds and bloody gums. I can wake up one morning and end up with many bloodied tissues after blowing my nose. I don’t mean a few specks of red, there are rorschach test patterns of blood on the tissue. Brushing my teeth makes me look like I just came out of a bar brawl. My teeth are stained red with blood with barely any hints of white. My mom just shakes her head in disbelief whenever I show her my bloody mouth. 

Just about everyone was surprised when we told them I’m pregnant. It really was a very significant change from my stance on children. It’s been 35 weeks and I haven’t felt any big changes on how I feel about children. I’m sure that I will care for and love this child with all of my being, but I wouldn’t be so quick to say that I want more children. Choosing to have this first child was a big step for me, and I will see where things go from here. There are a lot of things I need to learn about being a mother. 

Starting a podcast

I mentioned earlier about challenges with selling our leash system. One of the ideas I had was to create a  podcast to increase our exposure and brand awareness. I’ve always wanted to do a podcast, I think it’s a very effective way of publishing information in a format that can make any topic interesting. I usually listen to murder mystery podcasts during long drives. 

A podcast requires very lengthy planning, because once you start, you don’t want to end up without any content to post. We planned to record 4 episodes at a time and release 1 episode every 2 weeks. That way, we can space out the recording sessions. After 2 recording sessions, I can say that the only drawback is that the feedback loop takes a long time and we won’t be able to make changes until the next recording session. By then, we may have released 8 episodes since we received feedback. 

You can listen to Storytails here: StoryTails (buzzsprout.com)

This website: my new blogging journey

Lastly, starting this website has been one of the cornerstones of my 2023 journey. This wasn’t planned at all. My dad has been telling me since I was a college student, “You should set up a website for yourself, either for a portfolio, blog or anything. Everyone should have a presence in the digital world.” 

I started blogging multiple times before and I failed to maintain or continue to write. I just can’t find motivation to do it. It’s easier for me to just tell the stories to people in person. Writing things down makes me feel I need another brain or something. You must wonder why I started this website. No fancy reason! It’s only because I purchased a domain for my Instagram, and it has been sitting there doing nothing. That’s how I started it.

Looking ahead: New Goals for 2024

As I step into 2024, this is my new year’s resolutions list:

  1. Give birth to Nolan and meet him. I wish he will be a healthy and smart baby. His due date is close to the Chinese New Year, so he might be a Bunny or Dragon.
  2. Bring Nolan back to Taiwan to meet my family and friends. 
  3. Improve the transition during the rental move out/move in process and have good tenants for the new year.
  4. Lose all my the baby weight by the end of year.
  5. Increase brand awareness and gain more revenue for Omni Pet Club.
  6. Launch BookManta and Mantahub.
  7. Get more connections for Safety Nest and hopefully launch a new look for the website.

I look forward to what 2024 holds! Cheers*

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