Since 2016 I’ve had a word of the year. Some may say this is gimmicky, but I challenge that assumption, anything can be a gimmick if you only speak about it and do nothing with it. Owning success not gimmicks is being able to do what you say. It is powerful being a practitioner.

Mari Smith introduced me to the idea of having a word of the year to guide me as a lens through which I base my decisions and what opportunities I make the most of. It was because Mari spoke of the great success she had with her word each year, rather than only speak of the concept, that I decided to give it a go.


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2016 Focus

After starting Serena Dot Ryan in 2014 with a determination to create a job for myself by educating Small Business Owners in Digital Marketing, in 2016 I selected the word ‘focus’ to guide me on my development personally and professionally.
I focused literally and figuratively on determining what it is I wanted to do to morph and grow the business into what I wanted to do. Including what activities I wanted to focus on personally and professionally in my life.


2016 Highlights include:

Mari Smith’s Inner Circle

2016 saw me invest many hours attending webinars hosted by Mari Smith and participating in online chats. The quality of the Inner Circle group and the leadership and guidance by Mari was profound. It became my window to the global opportunity of leveraging Facebook and how I could further develop my business online.


Finalist for Digital Innovation in The St George Bank National AusMumpreneur Awards

2016 AusMumpreneurBeing a finalist for these awards meant that I took advantage of the opportunity to travel to Melbourne and attend the annual Ausmumpreneur conference and Awards. The networking and learning opportunity gave me inspiration to look beyond where I was and think and dream big.

Discovering I could volunteer at Social Media Marketing World

In Mari Smith’s Inner Circle I asked if anyone thought it was worthwhile attending Social Media Marketing World. The overwhelming response was YES!! Another person in the group mentioned they were going as a volunteer. I asked them how they did that. They sent me a link to apply to be a volunteer. I applied.


2017 Team

I started 2017 at bursting point. Working 60++ hours a week. I was on a fast track to burn out. I knew that if I wanted to continue growing and stay in business, I needed to focus on utilising the team I had around me and then looking for opportunities to grow.


2017 Highlights include:

SMMW17 - Serena Dot Ryan
Volunteering at Social Media Marketing World

A complete game changer and still one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.

Meeting Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu loves numbers and business results. This is an area I wanted to develop in my business and meeting Dennis was a catalyst for growth and positive change.

Becoming a better team player

After working for 3 years as a Solopreneur, it was time to be better with my time and see what I could continue to do, delegate or delete from my life.

Creating processes for repeatable excellence

Creating processes that could be consistently repeated in my business was definitely one of the biggest challenges and also one of the most rewarding. The biggest tip I can give anyone doing this is just start and as you implement and follow the processes, update them with your learnings along the way. Also known as Metrics, Analysis, Action (MAA).

Growing my team

Thanks to creating necessary processes and putting them in place I was able to hire 2 new employees.

2018 Bold

I had the team, my work hours were calming down, it was time to be bold with my attitude, actions and leadership.

2018 Highlights include:

Living A Flexible Work Schedule

Creating new work hours as a ‘Shift Worker’ working full-time hours in split shifts. Being able to do school drop off, pick up, work with International Clients (scheduling 5am meetings) and even do volunteering at school pursuing one of my passions, reading with children.

Taking On International Clients

The new work hours opened the door to working with International Clients and not working on Mondays which meant I could volunteer at the school.

Creating Daily Learning

2018 I committed to reading new books (physical and audio) daily. This habit 3 years later is continuing and is now a way of life. My thirst for knowledge and commitment to implementing my new learning goes hand in hand.

2019 Becoming

I started 2019 with reflection on how far I had come, but also a time to pause and consider what direction did I want to move forward in? October 2018 I found myself saying ‘enough!’ to debt and had started on a path to become debt free. 2019 became the year of ‘Becoming.’

2019 Highlights include:

Paying off and closing credit cards

Paying off and closing the 2nd of 3 credit cards is a profound moment that I am in awe of. Currently I have a 3rd and final credit card to finish paying off. Its balance is $2,705.94. I’m on track for it to be eliminated by 1st July 2020. I’ve learned the hard way, living within your means and consistency of making payments is more important than quick reduction in debt. If you force it too quickly at the expense of other things, the debt will come back, with interest.


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Started the Weekly Podcast, ‘Adding Up with Serena Dot Ryan’

The Adding Up podcast is raw. When someone shared with me that my money story compelled them to get professional help to get out of their financial debt, it sparked an idea for me to create my weekly podcast. I still sat on the idea for a few weeks, before Cliff Ravenscraft told me to stop overthinking it and just publish. Over 30 episodes and counting. I’m committing to weekly episodes until I’m debt free. I’m sharing my personal finance journey to become debt free, the failures, successes and learnings along the way.

Freeing My Dream

Realising I’m an educator with Digital Marketing at my core and Personal Finance in my heart, 2019 saw me seize the opportunity to become a better educator, speaker and motivator. I attended 2 conferences in September in Tennessee, USA and Toronto, CA. Gaining support, mentorship and courage to pursue my passions to help as many as I can with the skills and experience I have.

2020 Ownership

In 2019 I started sharing my money story. Not just the story of my successes but also my failures and the shame associated with them coupled with the learning I have gained along the way. Personal debt and money management had been something I hid. By talking about it, I started to see I wasn’t the only one and interestingly each time I spoke about it, I’d have people sharing their money challenges. To see people light up, become relieved in the sharing process, it has led me to want to focus in 2020 on “Ownership.’


This includes:
Ownership of my story, ownership of my actions and ownership of what opportunities I take in 2020.


What process do you follow for focus and motivation each year?

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