My Year in Review 2022: Into the Unknown

2022's tagline was "The path less traveled"

I’m not into astrology but there’s one thing I know: Tiger is unpredictable. According to the Chinese horoscope, 2022 was the Year of the Tiger and indeed – it was the craziest, most surprising year (just like the previous Tiger was for me 12 years ago).

The surprises didn’t come from any external events but it was mostly me who surprised myself! 🙂 If someone told me on January 1 where my path unfolds, I’d be seriously doubting their sanity! I was living a relatively peaceful and predictable life (despite the pandemic) until 2021 and then..

In 2022 I left my dream job, went from 100% working to 100% homeschooling my kids, overcame chronic fatigue, started a company with my sister, grew it from 0 to 6 figures, re-educated myself in a completely new field, started another company and .. so .. on.

Let’s dive into it! I hope it will be an interesting read for you.

What I planned for 2022 and what actually happened

I opened my journal from the end of 2021 where I wrote my wishes for 2022. Here’s what I found:

  • “No more 40+ hour work weeks -> more freedom”

This materialized perfectly. I left my job of 7 years! 

  • “I want to live in an apartment that I design and furnish myself -> a beautiful home”

We moved into our own apartment in Zurich and I managed to make it quite practical (though not exactly beautiful yet). What I did manage to make extra beautiful though is my tiny apartment in Czechia that I’ve been renovating!!

  • “I want to explore the world with my children -> adventure”

Yes, yes yes! I spent almost 5 months homeschooling my children and traveling with them. It wasn’t exactly “globetrotting” but it was equally amazing.

  • “I want to start writing -> freedom of expression”

Well, I’ve been writing for myself for a long time, I suppose I meant “write publicly” by that. Voila, let this blog be an evidence!

  • “I want to spend more time with friends and find new friends too -> build a community”

I think I succeeded in spending somewhat more time with friends though it wasn’t as much as I had wished. I did create multiple great new friendships too (hey Anna, Jo and Vanessa!)

  • “I want to improve my German and do a useful job -> integration”

Nope, almost no points scored here 🙂 I do consider my online coaching “job” useful but nothing that my local community has benefited from yet.

  • “I want to spend less time on my phone – > conscious living”

Full-blown defeat here 😀 Content creation for social media and communication with my sister are to blame!

  • “I want to learn how to cook healthy dishes better. -> healthy lifestyle”

A tiny victory at the beginning of the year when I was with children but a big deterioration since they went back to school and daycare..

My Year in Review 2022

Every year around Christmas I sit down, have a drink (or 10..) with my best friends and we capture the year in our journals. This is the first time that I post my review publicly. I hope it inspires / entertains / triggers you – anything else than bore 🙂 Enjoy!

Quitting my job at Google

Posing at Google on the way to bathrooms.
Posing at Google on the way to bathrooms..

7 years of my life I devoted to developing Google Ads. It’s longer than anything else I’ve consistently done in my life other than attending an 8-year gymnasium (a high school in Czechia). It’s said that every 7 years, the body completely replaces itself with new cells and we become a new person (and I just confirmed with a quick google search that it’s a myth :))..

I landed a job as a software engineer at Google back in 2014: multiple 6 figures salary, free food, offices that looked like playgrounds, offsite events at the Mediterranean, super-smart colleagues, projects that impacted billions of users – and a Swiss work permit.

It was a ridiculous offer. A fairy tale, a dream. I was a student from Eastern Europe who was used to always looking for deals, living in a dormitory and hitch-hiking. It was a definite no-brainer Yes. And I loved the job!

Fast forward 7 years and 2 kids. I felt like I lost control over my life. I tried to keep up with my job expectations while avoiding the “worst mother of the year” title. My extended family didn’t live in Switzerland, my partner was always at work. I was on the treadmill and always compromising, longing for freedom.

To make it “worse”, I found new passions and started my own projects on the side.

I knew something had to go. But I couldn’t let go of my family 🙂 and I didn’t want to give up my projects that were bringing me so much joy. 

It had to be the job. The job that was my pride, my community, my security & the reason to be in Switzerland. It was so much more than the money. It was a privilege to be a “googler”. And it became my golden cage.

I was in the midst of yet another promotion to a relatively high level at Google. The logic commanded me to stay. But the body resisted. I handed in my notice to everyone’s surprise, left the company by the end of February 2022, and haven’t looked back.

I still think that Google is a great employer and an amazing place to work. But it stopped working for me. I currently don’t want to be employed.

Starting a business with my sister

My sister, a fitness instructor, with her son posing for a photoshoot.
My sister and my nephew during the first (and only) photoshoot for our new project

Long time before quitting my job, I started to coach my sister who was trying to transfer her pilates exercise lessons from a gym to the internet (pandemic..). It was not her day job, just a small side hustle.

Eventually, I developed the tech for her and studied what none of us knew much about: online business strategy. It was one of the side projects I mentioned above. I fell in love with the topic. I found so much similarity between designing an online business and designing systems (which is what I did for 7 years at Google). It came naturally to me.

Handing in my notice at Google has taken a load off my mind. I finally had the capacity to implement for my sister what I studied.

At that point, my sister had been trying to break through with her online exercises for a full year. She was giving live classes multiple times a week plus doing marketing, all of that on the top of her day job. It was a lot of work for what she earned from it: $2 000 for the whole year of 2021.

She was burnt out and just about to quit. But I was convinced that I can 10x her revenue while working less if we design a passive digital product. She laughed at me but decided that we’d give it one last try together.

We created an online course called “The Queen of the Beach”, and I designed the strategy to launch it. It took us several evenings (and quite some amount of alcohol) to prepare it. Nobody else believed that it could work.

We launched on March 1, 2022, and earned $10 000 in the first 10 days. It was the first 10 days that I was unemployed.

It worked!!

Homeschooling my children

Horse riding in Crete
The tiny ones horse riding in wonderful Crete

Yes, we were successful with my sister but for me it was still just a small side project, not something that I considered for my future. After 7 years of hard work all I wanted was to spend time with my children and.. a big trip 🙂

I didn’t immediately get it. We had to move houses in March 2022. The apartment that my partner bought 3 years ago was finally built! Exciting but.. I wasn’t keen on moving. I knew it was going to be a hell lot of work. The new apartment wasn’t that different from the one where we lived. And we loved our neighbors and our kids were happy in the local schools. It felt pointless.

To make it all easier for the kids and to fulfill my long desire to homeschool them, I wanted to arrange that they didn’t have to go to school until the end of the school year.

My son was just 3 years old so for him it merely required some planning (there’s a 3-month notice in Swiss daycares..). My daughter was 5 and she was obliged to go to kindergarten by Swiss law. I applied to the appropriate cantonal institution to homeschool her but my application was rejected. 

So, I had my time but still no freedom because I was tied to stay in Zurich with her!! The Swiss public education system is very strict, they don’t allow more than 2 days of absence per year..

It was frustrating but I didn’t give up and looked for other ways. I couldn’t see why it would be so important for a 5-year old to visit an institution every day when she could learn other things while traveling with her family. Looking back, this uncertainty was worse for me than quitting my job! 

It took me a while (and more bureaucracy) to arrange it in a legal way. Her teacher was great and she convinced the school principal to give my daughter a leave of absence from the kindergarten <3

A moment of anarchy, yaay!

Oh, but moving houses.. was much worse than I could imagine. Even if I am relatively minimalistic, with two kids, we had sooo much unnecessary stuff that I had no idea of. Long weeks of sorting, giving away and recycling. I never figured out how to get rid of things efficiently. Please let me know, anyone, if you have a recipe!

Nevertheless, it had a happy ending. Our new place is next to a forest (several forests) and a river, though still in the city of Zurich. I underestimated how life-changing it could be to get direct access to nature and I now never want to give this privilege up! It brings me joy every single day.

And then finally: my travel! I was planning a trip to South East Asia but it never happened. I like slow traveling so it was the perfect opportunity. I knew that I would send kids to schools in September again and then all we’d have would be the short school holidays.

Why didn’t it happen?

I got scared (and realistic). It was yet another project of mine that no one else approved of. And this time I knew I needed support because the kids were still too small. I didn’t want to risk that they would get sick, injured or lost.

I gave up and planned a trip in Europe with my sister and my parents instead. We spent several weeks in Crete, Greece and it was a paradise. We arrived before the season started and had beaches just for ourselves. Not even mentioning the amazing food and the breathtaking nature! I fell in love with Greece.

When my kids had to go back to school in August (only one of them had to, to be precise), it was bitter-sweet.

We experienced so much together during the four months of home-schooling <3. We lived in the present moment and we were a team. It was so different from our previous (and current) weekly routine. We didn’t need an alarm clock, we didn’t know which day of the week it was, we didn’t have plans, we could spend endless time on the “least important” things.

Would I want to continue doing it?

I was with my kids 24/7 during those months and had no backup. My partner was working, my extended family was far away and I had no babysitter or a friend who could help. After some time I developed an urge to start creating things of my own again. Basically, I was restless to start working but didn’t have the opportunity. It was not a sustainable situation. I had to move on.. However, I think that homeschooling could work for me long-term if shared with other families.

Did the kids benefit?

Oh dear. They developed new interests and learned so many things. Piano, chess, writing, swimming, to name a few. They improved their Czech and worsened their German. They were so happy.

I am so grateful that we had that opportunity!!

Renovating my own apartment

An old and very ugly apartnet
The first place that I own <3

In 2021 I bought my first property. A tiny apartment in my hometown in Czechia just across the corridor from my parents. It was an impulsive purchase but one that enriched my life in an unforeseeable way. It was the place where I later started my own online business..

The apartment was in a ridiculously bad state. Yet, it was in high demand and I only got it because the old lady who lived there liked my mother..

It was built in the communist 70s and nothing had been replaced or improved since then. It felt like an abandoned waxworks museum and certainly a place from a horror movie.

I loved it.

My whole Czech family united to transform that place and I was mostly directing the work remotely. On January 4, 2022, my brother-in-law demolished it almost entirely so that it could later be rebuilt. In the end the reconstruction took almost the full year of 2022..

It was the first time that I worked with an architect and it was a mind-expanding experience. 

I decided to use the highest quality materials almost everywhere, and where I didn’t, I already regret now.

Overall, through this project I learnt more about construction, materials and home remodeling than I ever wanted to 🙂

Initially, I was considering renting it out at least short-term but in the end I fell in love with the place and the opportunity that it gave me. When we used to visit my parents, we all had to fit into a 68m^2 apartment 90% covered with furniture and stuff (my parents are collectors). There was nowhere to go and certainly not work. 

Now I have a space that is a zen oasis, a female version of a man cave 🙂 When I visit my parents, the kids typically stay with them (and my parents love it, to make it clear), and I have a quiet clutter-free space where I can devote myself to whatever I want.

It’s also worth mentioning that it’s the first time that I have a space that is truly mine. I always used to share. A room with my sister. A dormitory room with classmates. Apartments with boyfriends. Compromises had to be made.

Now I can finally make a hole to hang a picture wherever I want.

Fighting chronic fatigue

Getting an infusion
In the hospital with chronic fatigue

My final months if not years at Google were plagued with frequent exhaustion. Even if I had a good night (not so often as my 4yo still doesn’t sleep through the night!), I would wake up exhausted. I couldn’t work in the evenings because I was falling on my face. And I was often ill.

I thought it was the result of my unsustainable routine, juggling family and work.

I tried almost everything to improve it. More sleep, less sugar, more exercise, more meditation, more sun, less chemistry.. Nothing worked. I left my job to decrease the load. Yet, I was still waking up exhausted.

For a long time it didn’t occur to me to go to the doctor. I wouldn’t go “just because I was exhausted”. I only went in June 2022 because my hair started to fall off. 

Whoever I later told the story to, they didn’t even let me finish and immediately said: the iron. And then “I had it too”, or “my girlfriend had it too”..

Iron deficiency anemia.

Sometimes our most painful problems have a trivial solution..

I got an iron infusion and felt like a duracell bunny a few weeks later.

Becoming an online business mentor

An illustration photo for my first online event (a workshop)

We spent the rest of the summer in Czechia. When we arrived, I did something for the very first time: I hired a babysitter to take care of the kids for a few hours every day for 2 weeks.

I thought that I’d just rest. On the first day, I went to my newly half-renovated apartment, opened my laptop and.. started another business. 

I was shocked how quickly and unexpectedly it happened! Well, the thought of guiding others to start and grow their online businesses was with me for a long time. I had enough education for that. I had enough experience from working with my sister. But I didn’t plan this at all..

During the months spent in the kids world and without a job, apparently a looot of ideas piled up. On that day in July when I first got a babysitter, it all got released. And it’s been pouring out ever since up to this day!! 😃

I skipped the painful step of naming a brand and chose the simplest “Barbora Online”. I wasn’t sure in which niche exactly I will land anyway. But I knew there was only one way to figure it out: by doing. I posted an offer for free 1:1 business mentoring to the community of the spouses of Googlers and got my first clients.

Looking back, the first sessions were .. not ideal, to say it kindly 🙂 But surprisingly, some of the people are still in touch with me 🙂

I continued doing 1:1s and ran a free 4-week online course on the top of it. It was a baptism by fire. I was basically learning with my students.

I was learning it all: how to become a great business mentor, how to run a business in the business niche which turned out quite different from fitness, how to run a global business, how to be visible on social media platforms, how to deal with clients, etc etc..

I was very comfortable in my role in the business with my sister because I was the “backend” of it. Now in the new business I was both: the frontend and the backend, and had no partner for this adventure. It was about 100 levels harder to take off with this.

I’ve overcome countless hurdles and many are still ahead of me 🙂 Possibly, it’s been the most exciting project in my life so far!

Reached 6 figures in the fitness business with my sister

It’s Dec. 15 and our online fitness business has 100k followers on Instagram

After the glorious first launch in March we took a break from it with my sister. Sales dropped but we were enjoying life.

While it was me who orchestrated the first launch, my sister prepared a different surprise: she turned out to be quite talented with instagram!

We started the year 2022 with a few hundreds of followers and soon reached 2k. Then 10k.. 

Unimaginable.

I considered people with 10k followers on instagram to be celebrities. I remember when I interviewed “an influencer” like that for our Czech podcast a long time ago. I was almost trembling.

Nevertheless, our sales were still low. A lot of followers doesn’t automatically mean a lot of money! 

When I finally had the babysitter in July and a bit of time on my hands, I set up a proper “evergreen funnel” for our pilates course. It required a combination of strategy and tech and was a few days of work for me.

Our sales grew instantly to $10k and then $20k months.. Our best month in 2022 was $40k!!

At the time of writing this article we just reached 100k followers on Instagram.

Someone, pinch me!

The 2nd most expensive purchase of my life and a shout out to all my mentors

A promo to the first episode of the "She Thinks Big" podcast
A promo to the first episode of my podcast “She Thinks Big”

In the last quarter of the year I realized that I want to learn business mentoring from the best. I had one favorite business coach but she was insanely expensive. Not that I couldn’t afford it but it just felt crazy to pay so much for mentoring.

But I kept returning to her.. Sigrun. I liked everything about her. Her style, her knowledge, the fact that she focused on Europe. I had a call with her team and they were incredibly laid back. I felt like if I don’t invest into myself, how can I expect others to invest into themselves by hiring me?

I paid $6k for her group program and it was my most expensive purchase right after the apartment that I bought last year 🙂

No regrets!! I discovered the beauty of having a coach myself plus a whole new world of top quality business coaching.

The end of the year escalated quickly. I interviewed Sigrun for my new podcast for women who are looking to start an online business (She Thinks Big, it’s on Spotify & Apple Podcasts) and then partnered with her to deliver Christmas masterclasses for online entrepreneurs (you can still sign up until January 2!).

Sigrun was my role model for years. I could never have imagined that this would happen and so quickly!!

I made many more investments into my online business education. I also bought programs from Shruti Pangtey, Holly MacCue, Tanya Aliza and Casey Squires. Additionally, I learnt from countless mentors for free (Lisa Larter, Michelle Seaton, Sunny Lenarduzzi, Ellen Yin to name a few) – thank you!!

It feels like I completed a whole degree on online business and marketing in 2022 (without even planning it). My curiosity was leading me! <3 Learning and growing is really my #1 thing in life!

What do I wish for myself for 2023?

  • I want to continue growing two businesses – the one with my sister and my own!
  • The above sentence makes me insanely excited but I know it’s going to be intense. Therefore my second wish is going to be around well-being: Every week, I will reserve time for myself without work or studying (no matter how much I love it!) and it will include sports.
  • I will hire help. I already have a cleaning service, now I need a virtual assistant and a social media manager at the very least.
  • In my business mentoring business, I will finally pick one direction (a niche!) and create a scalable digital product.
  • I will create a lot of content – written, audio and video 😉 And I will speak on stage!
  • My motto for next year: Show Yourself!

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