New Beginnings: My 2014 Annual Review


spacer-25It’s been said that practice comes down to two things:     1) Intention and
2) Attention   Below is my 2014 Annual Review, inspired by James Clear (  The exercise was quite helpful.  It has given me some clarity and ways to sharpen my focus.   I mentioned this in my dharma talk on January 5th.  

Jonathan Foust
2014 Annual Review

  I got inspired by James Clear, whom I regularly read and who posted his 2014 annual review.     I decided to do my own, following his format.  

This review explores three questions:

  1. What went well this year? 2. What didn’t go so well this year? 3. What am I working toward?   Here we go …  

1.) What went well this year?

  A Wonderful Home Life   I live in pretty consistent gratitude and appreciation for the blessings in my life.  A wife I deeply love and care for, a beautiful and healing home environment, two slightly demented dogs and a lifestyle that allows me to both ‘serve and savor.’     I’m truly blessed.     Improved at Public Speaking and Teaching   This was a busy year giving talks, leading retreats and trainings.  I’ve been working at getting better in my public speaking and refining my skills as a teacher.     Most of the growth was in speaking.  I’ve been anchoring the Monday night class at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington and give a weekly half-hour meditation and 45-minute talk when I’m not on the road teaching.  I also give talks on retreats, sub for Tara occasionally and give talks and presentations in businesses and to small groups.     I’m trying to get better at story-telling (showing, not telling), and speaking with more clarity,  simplicity and empathy.     My podcast ( has been downloaded 229,000 times since I started. In the last year, downloads have doubled.  There were 14,867 downloads in December of 2014.   Here’s what I did last year: * 38 Dharma Talks * 4 Vipassana Retreats * 2 teacher trainings at Kripalu Center * 6 daylong retreats * 2 intensive weekend retreats at Kripalu Center * 1 5-day retreat at Kripalu Center * A number of presentations in businesses and small groups * A series for a group of DC-based CEO’s and business leaders * 1 retreat in Holland with Tara * 1 daylong retreat at the Psychotherapy Networker Conference * 1 wedding (officiating)     Improved at Photography and Video   This is entirely subjective, but I think I’m getting better at photography and videography.  These seem to be the keys to improving: * I shoot virtually every day * I’ve learned some new software that has beefed up my awareness of composition and light and improved my editing skills  (Intensify Pro, SnapHeal, Focus, Tonality) * I published at least one photo a week on my blog and posted videos more often than before * I invested in the Panasonic GH4, which has excellent video capabilities (4K and shooting in multiple formats) * I constantly experiment and review what I shoot * I did a photography retrospective featuring my mother-in-law for her memorial service. * I did a photography retrospective featuring my father for his memorial service.     Improved in Communications and Marketing   I hired DNP Studio ( to re-design my website and provide ongoing consulting and support.  This upped the ante quite a bit for me as it forced me to clarify my message and intent.  I moved from a  very simple site to one that is more attractive and navigable.   The intention in my new site is NOT to do hype, marketing and sales, but to be a generous offering of resources that support people in their practice. I hope it comes across that way.   A few noteworthy advances: * Podcast downloads doubled in the last 12 months. (From 6,921 downloads in January of 2014 to 14,867 in December.) * I can now track progress on google analytics.

* I started a youtube channel and have had 11,000 views since inception.  * I started a monthly newsletter which keeps me on my toes sparks my creativity.

    Launched a New Product   In April, 2014 “Body-Centered Inquiry:  Meditation Training to Awaken Your Inner Guidance, Vitality and Loving Heart” was released through Sounds True.  (   This is 6.5 hour program is a fusion of Mindfulness training, Focusing and Inquiry and offers short talks and guided experiences.      Simplified   A major goal this last year was to simplify and streamline what I do. * Finances and investments are handled by an extremely competent advisor. (Thanks, Rohit!)   *My personal accounting software is up and running making tax time less traumatic.  (Check out iBank software.)   * I finally formed an LLC. (Thanks, Shobhan!)   * I gave away 2/3rds of my clothes.  (I pretty much wear black, white and grey. Simple! Easy!)   * I manage my projects via the Getting Things Done methodology and have everything set up on OmniFocus software.   * All my software is integrated in iOS and available on all my devices.   * All things cyber are automatically backed up via CrashPlan, including 35,000 images and video clips.    * The entire slide collection of my parents is now scanned, sorted, backed up and online.    * When people want to sign up for a 1:1 schedule they do so online via my online schedule. It’s magic.     and     Savoring   “Serve and Savor” is a phrase Tara and I live by.  I had some great adventures this year:   * A ten day personal silent retreat at the Forest Refuge in Barre, MA * Weekly “date nights” with Tara * Morning walks by the river and evening walks in the meadow * A European Tour, teaching and adventuring in Italy, Holland and Great Britain * A long weekend hiking in CO with two friends * Not least, paddleboarding and kayaking on the Potomac and the Atlantic and the gift of living next to a park on the river.  


  Guiding Teacher for the Insight Meditation Community of Washington (  * With all our Mindfulness Teacher Training Institute graduates completing the two-year training, we added about 50 new teachers to IMCW’s roster. * This required a new round of visioning, restructuring and organizing.  The goal is to provide enough structure and training to support new teachers, but  to give teachers enough room to allow spontaneous growth and to serve where needed.   Mentoring  * I’ve helped to restructure and revitalize IMCW’s Mentoring Program ( in my role as a Guiding Teacher.   * We’ve gone from just a handful of mentors to, in the last year, about 90.  * All kudos and salutations to Gary Hillesland, who administrates the program. * As we refine our systems we hope to offer what we’ve created to other communities who want to connect new students with those who’ve had more experience and want to serve in this way.   1:1 Body-Centered Inquiry Sessions * Without the responsibilities that go with offering a year-long program, I did a lot of 1:1 sessions in person and over Skype.  By my count, I did 235 private sessions.   One with Everything TV  ( * We shot a pilot in front of a live audience for “One with Everything,” a late night spiritual talk show. This was quite a leap and a collaborative, fun adventure. It’s being edited and we’ll see what happens.    

2.) What didn't go so well this year?

  My “sabbatical"   This was supposed to be a ‘sabbatical year.”  I stepped back from leading the Year of Living Mindfully and Tara and I were to explore having more space, creativity and R&D.  That didn’t happen.  Tara’s life got way, way busy and correspondingly, so did mine.     I am a stunned at how the space filed up so fast.  Now that I’m committed to the Year of Living Mindfully for this year along with a busy schedule, I’m looking to build in more wholesome daily habits to help me stay present and spacious.     Product Promotion and Promotion in General   I suck at marketing.  I have a great product that came out with Sounds True and failed to engage into any mass marketing campaign.  Part of this is feeling shy, part of it is due to my own distaste toward marketing campaigns.  I’m exploring how I can do some promotion that’s more low-key, but might still be effective.   This includes doing some promotion though Tara’s Facebook, enrolling some key teacher friends to let folks know about the product and having my CD’s and products featured on my site with easier avenues to purchase.     Habits   With my somewhat erratic schedule, it’s been hard to maintain wholesome habits.  I want to refine what  I do on a daily basis that provides the most leverage for me.   I’ve set up some tracking systems for this year and am determined to get these activities in place and focus on consistency.     Community and Networking   I’ve never been someone to 'hang out.' It doesn’t seem to be part of my DNA. Nor does asking for help. Most of my friends are at an apex of busy-ness in their life. Living in the woods and a natural introvert, it’s easy to stay too internal.     

3.)What am I working toward?

  Cultivate Presence and Compassion   This is perhaps the most important thing to name and the hardest to quantify. Harmony in my relationship with Tara is most important as well as cultivating the inner experience of peace, wonder, joy and wakefulness.   Cultivating intimacy, taking time to pause through meditation, in nature, in the creative process and opening to more intimacy are doorways.   I want to unwind some of the patterning that interferes with being more trusting and explore shifting from being the ‘holder of the space’ for others.  I plan to do some 1:1 work with my Focusing teacher.     Continue to Simplify    I keep coming back to this one as the simpler things are, the happier I seem to be. I made a lot of improvements in 2014 and I’ve got some momentum going.   I’ll keep on it, looking to eliminate what no longer serves.  That includes keeping vigilant and doing audits regarding my ’stuff,’ the ways I waste time and refining my support systems.    A few items on my list:   * Do a will - finally * Clear out old technology and move it on * Cut back on my addiction to RSS feeds * Figure out a strategy for Long Term Care * Do a regular inventory of what I own and give away what I don’t need * Continue to improve as a speaker and teacher * Get more feedback on my talks * Listen to great speakers and research best practices * Focus on excellence in all my offerings * Cultivate consistent wholesome habits   I’m following the adage “You can manage what you can measure.”   This is what I’m tracking in 2015 for daily habits:   * My sleep patterns. I’ve been at this a month, learning a huge amount and making adjustments in my lifestyle (check out SleepCycle on iOS) * Writing. No word limit, but SOMETHING personal each day (check out DayOne software.) * Meditation * The Seven-Minute workout (high intensity, short workouts) * Daily exercise (hike, swim, paddle, yoga) * Check in with Tara * Shoot one photo * Shoot one video clip * 20 minutes on multi-media (editing) * Dental care   (my insurance for having no dental insurance)     Dedicate Time to Creativity and Put Stuff Out There   So much of what I do feels creative, but in particular I want to explore more on the multi-media front.  James Clear inspires me in that he publishes two articles a week.   I’ve learned by his example and through my own experiments that the commitment to putting stuff out there keeps the juices flowing and opens up new possibilities.   This includes:   Photography * Continue to shoot each day * Work on composition and editing skills * Work on pulling out the best of my work and organizing it into presentable formats * Publish at least one photo / week   Video * Continue to shoot each day * Try new formats that put together images and learn new editing skills * Publish something video-related at least twice a month   Writing * Write something each day * Publish something substantive either in my monthly emails or on the blog at least twice a month   One with Everything TV * Last year we shot a pilot for One with Everything, a ‘late night spiritual talk show. We’ll see where it goes this year.  We’ve got one evening scheduled and are shopping around the pilot.   Serve   Teaching This will be an active year. My intention is to bring my very best to each event:   * The Year of Living Mindfully program * 2 Professional Certification Trainings at Kripalu * Weekly Dharma Talks * 4 Vipassana Retreats * 6 Daylong Retreats * 2 weekend intensives * 1 5-day retreat * 1 Keynote * 1 wedding * Ongoing study group with local CEO’s and business leaders Working 1:1   I love doing 1:1 work and will be doing less for the general public, due to YLM.    Mentoring I’ll continue to support the IMCW Mentoring Program as a Guiding Teacher   Savor Celebrate often.  Some adventures this year:   * Ten-day Retreat at the Forest Refuge * Ten days inspecting reefs on St. John’s  * A long weekend hiking with friends in New Mexico * Time at the Brach ancestral home on the Cape * Local adventures in the woods and on the river * A possible Foust family gathering  


iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.