Year 6 in review – Evolving the business

Year 6 wraps up today so I’m taking my most important stakeholder out for lunch – Mr. Shinkai! He’s always supportive of my crazy plans and trusts me to build the business that will support our family as equal partners. He doesn’t get involved so much but is always there for me and since COVID has taken over all the food responsibilities in the house 100% (except breakfast!) Game changer for me!

At the end of year 5 I did a “year in review” using the same format as Make March Matter’s TGIF review (lifted from The Productivity Planner). It made interesting reading this morning! It was a great structure so here we go for year 6


Kept a comfortable balance whilst growing the business 

No projects were super stressful and overall feeling of space to keep variety of experiences, formal opportunities to learn and creating spaces that feel welcoming and inclusive. Thanks to my clients support and many ongoing journey projects I was able to continue to grow the business on a 4 day work week. Friday is now a meeting free day to work on creative projects, fill up my cup of inspiration on “Artist’s Dates” or just read a book. Life design was a huge part of my motivation to set up my business in 2016 and I am so content right now with what is happening for me and how I spend my days.

Coaching – lots of coaching!

Grateful to Cherry Lee at Talking Talent Asia and Keiko Nakano at Japan Intercultural Consulting for so many corporate client introductions for Parental and Expat Transition Projects. And my private practice is mwah – chef’s kiss! Interesting, diverse, challenging their edges, vulnerable and designing their lives to feel more ikigai every day. I’m blown away by them and so honoured to be invited into their lives and trusted by them.

Spending more time coaching rather than doing group facilitation or training was quite an energy shift and one which I have really enjoyed .

Systems Coaching

Became ORSC Trained – grateful to be  able to take this online in English. I got to experience the learner perspective for 3 days online and whilst it is not my preference, I was reminded every session that engaging content with masterful facilitation can make the time fly… but I was exhausted at the end! 

Leaning into co-facilitation with Certified systems coach, Rieko Aiba. 

We are really investing in our system by joining the Alchemy programme on co-facilitation and we have our own systems Coach, Donna Treiblock. I’m excited to see what our bilingual, bicultural and diverse experienced co-coaching system can bring to support our clients.

“Integrating your Ikigai” book proposal went into editor submission with my agent in New York.

This sentence seems so preposterous to read out loud! I worked with Ann Maynard an amazing US based editor to help me get everything in shape when I was feeling lost in 2021 and now the proposal is out in world. Submission seems to be a waiting game…unlike self publishing! So it’s a new experience to be part of someone else’s universe. A big experience of letting go and trusting the process. I hope we find a great publishing house to partner with soon!

Published a Second book as an illustrator in collaboration with David Sweet, “Gus”

which for a brief moment was # 2 behind “Where’s Spot?” on Amazon. I also sold 2 original watercolours which felt amazing – one in Japan and one to Australia! Does that make me an international artist?

Came 2nd a lot

As well as the #2 Amazon Bestseller category, I was also pipped at the post by AstraZeneca in the BCCJ British Business Awards Responsible Business category for Make March Matter. Astounding to see Make March Matter, the free online community that I founded to support small business struggling with Covid related issues, up there with the Astrazeneca non-profit Covid vaccine! Started Season 2 of the Ikigai with Jennifer Shinkai and was nominated for a “Best Society and Culture” Podcast award

Things I didn’t do or stopped doing

Stopped doing work that felt inauthentic

Made a decision around the end of 2021 to only solo-facilitate someone else’s content in Japanese that I am absolutely obsessed with. When I don’t feel it in my bones, it becomes less fun and I become less present. Co-facilitation can help to make things feel more natural. What an absolutely privileged position I am in to be able to say “no, thank you”. I do not take this for granted AT ALL.

Did not run a Creative Practice Academy Programme

My excuse…super niche – English Speaking coaches in APAC time zones, interested in Points of You who have already taken Level 1 AND ready to invest for a 4 half day online programme on a weekday. I realise that I am not doing anything to nurture that audience so looking at the effort I made, it makes sense! I did get to co-facilitate with Marek for HQ for a Global Online L2 Creative Practice

Did not update my website…again

This was in the plan but I did decide on my web design agency this quarter so expect to see a newly designed website in Year 7! I was able to use my experience as an in-house marketer to write a brief for the first time in a while and it was a great reminder to check in 

I did not hurry back to F2F delivery

finding the accessibility for little and often training online and not having to commute means that I can support more clients at shorter notice. i can offer more slots for both meetings and clients when I don’t have to deal with a 2 hour journey for a 1 hour meeting. This feels like another place where I am aware of my privilege to have the freedom to define these boundaries.


Some practical ones are in the wins above in terms of formal learning

Youtube content is really useful for bringing in clients

“Ikigai with Jennifer Shinkai” finally got enough followers to make a custom URL (woo hoo!) but more importantly the content really helps to give clients an idea of my style and approach especially around Ikigai. Whenever I get an international inquiry about ikigai they always mention YouTube!


Maintained my “no meetings/ coaching in the morning, after 6 or weekends” as a standard rule and added Fridays as a day for creative projects to keep creating new neural pathways that I believe make me a more flexible and perceptive coach. Sometimes I get an old story coming up around “who does she think she is swanning off to an art gallery in the middle of the day?” Still working on how to be at ease with this but have mostly overcome my FOMO trigger…for now!

Make a crazy promise to get something done

How did I manage to publish another book this year? I was in Jiim Fortin’s 14-week Transformational Coaching Programme in the autumn and there was a “Comfort Zone” challenge. Things like “lie on the floor in a busy public space” or “try on expensive jewelry”. I went with “take a photo of your current bank balance. Send it to a friend and say “if I don’t do X by Date Y, you can have all of this!” I sent the screen shot to Aysha my best friend from JHS “If I don’t publish Gus by April 21st, 2022 (anniversary of Can Giraffes Swim?) all this money is yours!” It was terrifying in the moment – my whole body was shaking. I also had a bit of a panic in early April when I thought I could not get the collaboration approvals agreed fast enough. But it surely lit a fire up my bum to have this much skin in the game and Gus is out in the world….Looks like external accountability still works for me.

 Now to work on the promised book about meerkats for my son!

What will I do in the next 12 months?

I haven’t really thought much about that yet! Continue to evolving (my word of the year), continue unfurling different layers of my practice as a coach, an artist, a human.

My #1 priority is seeing my family in the UK for the first time in 3 years – I am beyond ready to hug them again and for my kids to connect to their English roots again.

I will be offline for most of the period and back to coaching and facilitation in September. When I started my business in 2016 this annual sabbatical was a huge driver for how I structure my pipeline and set expectations. What is the point of being my own boss if I don’t give myself the flexibility to do these types of things for my family.

Get Mentor coached as part of my ACC renewal at the end of the year – this is both terrifying and exciting. Am ready to be humble and to break some bad habits and learn something new. PCC to follow perhaps at the end of 2023 – just under 200 coaching hours to go for the 500 hour threshold

Hold my first public exhibition – actually this is starting on July 1 and running to the end of August at LOF HOTEL Shimbashi. Huge thanks to Cynthia Usui for her generous support for the original illustrations of my two books. Do let me know if you plan to check it out.

Deliver at least 1 Pro Bono #iamremarkable online workshop per quarter – DM me for 2H 2022

I will dip into F2F workshops as part of offsites but deepening participant experience through ongoing online journeys has been a really important part of development over the pandemic and should not be thrown away!

Phew! That feels like a lot and also a lot I didn’t share here!

P.S. I remembered some more – 3 of 4 of my family got Covid in the last 12 months – it was tough but we were ok! I was a volunteer for TOKYO2020 at the rowing venue for both the Olympics and the Paralympics and got to make my dream come true by touching Olympic medals and even wearing one around my neck thanks to a Team GB rower!

How about you? What is your 2022H1 review? What do you have in store for 2H?

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