Deep Stretch: 2021 Look Back

Can you believe it? The end of 2021 is officially here. It has been a wild ride but we are so happy to have had you all along for the ride. Thank you so much for allowing us to be a part of your self-care support system and for showing up for yourself this year. Without you, none of this would be possible! As Taylor wraps up the year with this final Deep Stretch, she looks back on this year through the lens of her personal values and Inner Workout's core values.

If you've enjoyed Inner Workout thus far, we have some exciting things in store for you coming up in 2022. The first thing on our list is our Self-Care Support Masterclass where you'll have a chance to build our your own self-care support system and integrate Inner Workout's dimensions of well being into your inner work. Click the link below to learn more, share with a friend, and as always thank you for being here. We look forward to sharing more moments of care with you in the New Year! Cheers!

Episode Transcript

Welcome back to Inner Warmup where your inner work begins. My name is Taylor Elyse Morrison, creator of Inner Workout, and you are normally our expert guest but today's a deep stretch episode. If you're not familiar, normally I have built in time for reflection in these episodes. On deep stretch episodes, it's an opportunity for me to just chat with you, real talk about what self care and inner work is looking like in my life and in the business over the course of the past month or in this case, over the course of the past year. We still will start with a micro exercise and in the spirit of looking back, I want you to think back over the past week or so on something that made you smile, take a few moments to just sit in that memory. As I think about my memory, a smile is automatically coming to my face. Maybe the same is happening for you too. I spent some quality time with my niece over the weekend and it was just so sweet. She is growing up so much and to see her coming into her own and having her own interest and passions and getting to talk to her as more of a young adult brought a smile to my face multiple times. She is an incredible young woman.

So that was our micro exercise. And before we officially get into the deep stretch episode, I want to share something with you that I'm super excited about. We're having our first workshop of 2022 on January 15th. It's the Self Care Support Masterclass and it's all about setting you up for success in 2022 through support. So if you have taken the Take Care assessment and you weren't quite sure how to apply what the insights were, if you've had questions around the five dimensions of well being, or if you're like, yeah, I get all of that but how do I put it into practice? This masterclass is for you. So we'll make sure that’s in the show notes, we've got a link to get those tickets, it's going to be really lovely. I am so excited to, in real time, build out our self care support systems to make sure that we're entering 2022 not just trying to do everything on our own, but really feeling like we have the support that we need and also the support that we deserve. So I'm looking forward to that, to working through all of that with you. I hope you're excited too! You can get all the details at the link in, I almost said link in the bio (we are not on Instagram right now!) at the link in the show notes.

Okay, so let's get into the episode, we're calling this the 2021 Look Back. I am such a fan of looking back before moving forward, mostly because it's not my natural tendency and you might realize that's a theme for me. Self care is not my natural tendency and now I have a business that exists to help myself and others practice self care. The same thing for this idea of looking back before looking forward, I love moving forward. I love creating new things. And it's really easy for me to go through an experience and then just say okay, well that happened, what's next? Instead of really sitting and seeing what I can learn and glean from that experience. And we kind of see that on steroids in this season of the year where it's like okay, we finished out the holidays that we celebrate. All that's left is New Year's Eve, and then we're gonna just go full steam ahead into the new year without really taking the time to reflect and think about what the past year taught us and what that can mean for the year to come. 

And so I want to give us a chance to look back at our previous year before we move forward. And there are different lenses that you can take as you do this. I decided, for example purposes, to look at Inner Workout’s values and to use that as the lens through which we looked back at 2021. You might do it differently. You might just look back at every month and generally see how you felt. Maybe there were specific milestones or goals that you're going to use as your lens. Because I I try both as a person and with Inner Workout as a company, we try to live our values, it felt really really authentic to look back using values. I did this exercise both for Inner Workout and also using my own personal values as well and it just naturally led into some goals or some some things that I wanted to shift into my own life. So I would encourage you, if you have stated values, to try doing it with values, but if not, in general looking back at your year, you're gonna get something good and juicy and meaty out of it. 

Okay, that is the preface, the context through which we'll go into this conversation about Inner Workout’s 2021 look back. I was just telling someone earlier today, it felt like it was 10 years packed into one. So much happened, so many major shifts and changes, but also minor tweaks that over time really started to add up. So Inner Workout, if you don't know, we have four stated values: we foster belonging, we take care, we listen and we flow. So I use those as the framework for our look back and for this episode. 

In terms of fostering belonging, originally this was about this value. We looked at making sure that people across backgrounds, across socio economic statuses, across ability levels felt like they could enter into and engage with our work. And I'm really proud of the way that we were able to do that this year. On the workshop and experiences side of the business, which I'll probably talk more about next year, I led an Inner Workout practice for Google and also led workshops and practices for school principals who were in the middle of trying to navigate the craziest school year of their lives. 

With nonprofits, with low income students, I was really able to and as a company, we were really able to bring the work of Inner Workout to all kinds of people and that felt so values aligned. We also introduced sliding scale for some of our offerings which was another way to make sure that we could be inclusive. And I'm actually going to get more to that later but it was another way to foster belonging as much as we were able to. The final thing I'll say, there's a whole episode we did around community and a lot of the fostering belonging originally I can see that it would happen in this online community. And now that's kind of shifted. So even as I've paused and made the decision for Inner Workout to pause the online community, we still are seeing like conversations happening in our DMS and people are starting to show up to Inner Co-Working and it feels like we've got this community that I can't wait to see it deepen and grow further in 2022.

For the next value, we take care, this one was where a lot of learnings as a business and as a business owner showed up for me. So one thing around take care, we chose this value of we take care before we created the Take Care assessment, and we literally took care by making the Take Care assessment free. I knew that we would be building more paid things and paid things at higher price points and so it felt really nice to know that there would always be the take care assessment as a free offering that anyone could enter into. The podcast is still going strong, another free offering that anyone could enter into. And this is where it gets interesting. 

Another big realization that I had is that my idea of taking care, because of my experiences in my conditioning, was often about lowering the prices as the only way to take care, as the only way to foster belonging, as the only way to be inclusive. And I realized that taking care isn't just about lowering costs. You probably know this by now, but I'm a black woman and we're a minority, women owned and operated company. We got a really small team and as we've developed products, we have tried to have a supply chain that reflects our values. And as I look at what would need to happen in order for the organization to continue to grow, to be able to bring people on full time, sometimes that means having things at a higher price point. 

And I felt a little uncomfortable with that at first. But then I realized that if I want to fight against a system and systems that in many ways I see as being exploitative, the answer is not then for me to exploit myself, or to create a business model that is based on this me or service providers exploiting themselves. There's something really care filled of trying as much as possible for people to be well resourced, including me as the founder of the business, but the people that I work with, as part time employees of the business, the vendors that we work with. And if we make taking care just about a race to the bottom in terms of prices, that doesn't actually feel like living into this value. So that was a huge paradigm shift for me this year. And you'll still see sliding scale, you'll still see free offerings, it's not to say that that's going away. It's just this new truth, or really this widening of the perspective that taking care is not just about low prices. It's also thinking about the people who are creating the product, whether the product is this podcast, or the product is our Reunion bath salts which is made by single moms in Chicago. So yes, I could probably keep talking about this, there's so much more depth and richness nut it's cool to have these values that still feel so true and important. But to be able to sit and to look back and realize oh, there's more to this than I originally thought.

Our next value is we listen. Sometimes that listening is listening internally to what's happening as a tiny team. A lot of times that's listening to you, our community members, to our customers, to our clients. And we try as much as possible to build in ways of listening. At the beginning of this year, which seems like forever ago, we did a survey, we're thinking about doing an annual survey again in January, probably we'll throw in a little gift card or something for you to make it worth your while. 

Pariss, who is our Content Lead, has done such a great job of creating a space on our Instagram Stories. If you don't hang out on our Instagram stories, it’s poppin. She's got polls up there, people DM and it's nice for people to again, it kind of goes back to the fostering belonging but for people to feel like they can share. There's actually a product that we're working on for next year that started based on something that came up in the DMs. So we really are listening. And sometimes the listening is not just did you reply to this thing that we put in stories or sometimes in the newsletter, you'll see I say, “hey, reply to this email “ or if you’re newly subscribed to the newsletter, there's a letter from me that comes in. And I love when someone responds and says, hey, this is me and they introduce themselves back. I always have that invitation, very few people actually take me up on it. But it's also just kind of noticing, like, oh, people seem to be really excited about buying this thing, or people aren't showing up for this thing anymore and shifting. 

Sometimes it's asking follow up questions and sometimes it's just testing a different time and seeing if something different happens. So if you see that things are moving around in the business, it's because we're listening either to what you are verbally saying to us or typing out to us, or just in actions and how things are happening and playing out that way. And something that I'm already starting to shift in and that I've noticed is, I don't know where exactly I've heard this, but there's this idea of wanting to anticipate needs. And I do think that many businesses who are maybe a little bit more mature than Inner Workout is right now can get to a point where they really do start to anticipate needs of their customers and their community members. I think there were times, I know there were times this year where I tried to do that when I really just should have asked. So I'm just trying to get better at asking upfront, and giving opportunities for people to say, this is what would be really useful, this would not be useful, and to build from an informed and an empathetic place, rather than making assumptions that I know what people need. Even saying that out loud sounds so kind of paternalistic, and condescending, like I don't know better than you what you need, that's actually kind of antithetical to our values. And so trying to build in asking those questions sooner rather than later. 

And then our last stated value is that we flow. It's great to listen and to get those insights but if we hear or we see that something isn't working, doesn't feel aligned, and then we don't do anything about it, what was the point of listening then? So we make it a point to adapt in aligned ways. And we've done that a lot this year. We have changed the way that we talk about our work or certain aspects of our work. We launched inner co working sessions, which are honestly still a test. The Instead Deck was not something that we planned at all but we just kept hearing so many people say that they didn't have time for self care, but they were spending too much time on social media. And so we really wanted to create a partial solution to that, something that people who are in that position too could hopefully use and appreciate. And next year, at some point, we'll be officially announcing kind of a sister company to Inner Workout and that really came from listening and flowing. So, I'm still figuring out how we know when to make those pivots and the timing on that. And I think that's a place where where I'll continue to grow as the CEO, and that we will continue to grow as a company. But I feel really excited about the flows that we made thus far. 

So that's kind of what I did for the look back. Now I'll say with my personal values, just to give you some more context, like one of my personal values is honesty, so I put, “I felt the most honest when…” and then I listed some situations. And then I put, “I felt dishonest when…” and then I listed some situations. And then I did kind of like a “here's what I want to do with that information” for each value. So this one, I kind of just had more stream of conscious notes. But that's another structure that you might take is like this is where I felt I lived this value. This is how I felt I didn't live this value.

Since it's our last episode of 2021, thought I'd give you a sneak peek into what's next because you're here, you've made it to the end, which I would say probably means that you're one of the people who's more invested in Inner Workout’s work. Our mantra, this was my personal mantra for last year and became the mantra for Inner Workout as well, which was to root deeper and add water. Root deeper, add water. And I thought that the rooting deeper part would mean like doubling down on what we were doing already because a year ago, we did not have a podcast, we were very much focused just on the Inner Workout mat based practice. And I thought it was just…make that piece grow. But really, now that I'm looking back, I see that the rooting deeper was about getting into the foundations of Inner Workout which is not just the mat based practice, it's really these five dimensions of well being, which I don't know if I've done a good job of mentioning really, but I'm writing a book on that. And that will be coming out in March of 2023. 

And so rooting into those dimensions, understanding what they mean and how they can play out in people's lives, starting to test out products that can support them. Next year, we'll be announcing and giving you opportunities to apply them more in your own life. The first opportunity is with the Self Care Support Masterclass that I mentioned. And another level of deepening, well, I guess I'll pause. So that's what root deeper, add water looked like in 2021. And I actually feel like there's more to do there. I didn't feel like it was time to transition into a new mantra for 2022 and so our mantra, again for 2022, is to root deeper and to add water. And I think that part of that deepening is deepening the sense of community among the people who are drawn to the work of Inner Workout, which really means that they're drawn to the work of the inner work for themselves. They're drawn to self care, and they're drawn to community care too and so a lot of what we'll be doing next year is creating opportunities for you to experience that community online, and hopefully offline too. The rooting deeper too has even, it sounds crazy because it's only December, but we're starting to think of things all the way through the end of 2023. And I just had a meeting about something that could go into 2024. So we're taking this approach of presence, of being present with you, our community, being present to what is happening in the world, and creating these tools, these products, these resources that really support you in your own self care journey. So that was our 2021 Look Back. I want to say thank you, thank you for being part of our 2021. Really, thank you. 

This podcast, I wouldn't keep doing it if no one listened to it. But you're here you're listening. And I encourage you to take some time before the year is out for you to do a look back of your own. Speaking from personal experience, it can make your goals for the coming year so much easier. When you just sit in you look back and you ground that look back in something that matters to you. Whether it is your values, or milestones are those other things I mentioned at the beginning. So thank you for an unimaginable 2021. This year was not at all what we expected for the business and has been even better than what we expected, even in the midst of some really difficult times this year. So thank you, thank you, thank you, and take care. Until 2022!