2018 - A Year in Review
Wow - this year flew by. I feel like I was just writing out my goals for 2017 yesterday.
In what has become an annual tradition, I spend every week between Christmas and New Years taking a step back and reviewing my annual theme, goals, and progress from the previous year. It’s been helpful for me to count blessings and realign myself with the higher purpose to which I’ve been called. This sets the foundation to planning out my goals for the new year.
My theme for 2018 was Reflect. I knew going into this year, I had planned to launch a lot of new initiatives. All of these things required additional time and focus, something that I lacked in 2017 being on the road more than half the year. I was hoping to cut back and devote time to thinking, praying, learning, and really getting quiet each day.
How did this play out:
I launched The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast - This was a podcast I started in March highlighting the “true” stories of entrepreneurs who had built multimillion dollar companies. My goal was to use this venture as a way to connect with people I respected and wanted to learn from; it was my self-created MBA. Each interview would give me an hours worth of content to re-listen, to reflect, and to extract valuable insights I would use in the future. It has not disappointed.
Writing on The Wescapades - This was hard. I knew I wanted to get into the habit of writing for the future when I would come out with a new book, so I decided to write a blog post once a week. Overall, this was a strenuous exercise that took up so much time and sacrifice. Yet, as much as I hated it, I’ve gotten better about tightening up my message and conveying it in shorter, punchier, formats. A good tool for any marketer looking to get better.
Silent retreats - Once a quarter I would go camping by myself without any screens or technology. I found myself getting purposely “bored”, which is when I’m at my creative best. Camping in the Texas summers sucked (90 degrees at night) and we also had an extremely rainy season, so that put a damper on things, but silent retreats are something I’ve found helpful and will likely continue in the new year at a reduced amount.
Building a healthier relationship with my phone - This was a growing issue in 2017 I didn’t want to get out of hand. To get creative and think deeply, I had to cut back on distractions. The smartphone is arguably the greatest distraction in today’s day and age. I’m still not great, but I wanted to spend my mornings without my phone and set my own pace for the day without an alarm clock. I have a pretty stringent circadian rhythm so I’ve been able to wake up around 6am most mornings without an alarm and that’s been great. Traveling across less time zones has also been beneficial to this.
As with life, you can’t plan for everything. There were certainly situations that emerged I hadn’t accounted for going into 2018.
Biggest one: I left my job with Advantage/ForbesBooks — This happened in March/April. Both the company and I arrived at a place where the distance and travel became a detriment to working successfully together, so we decided to part ways. I still have a very close relationship with many of the individuals there and have a much redacted, smaller, role as a strategic partner. Advantage/ForbesBooks continues to do great work with incredible people, so I’m supremely grateful for the opportunity and time I've spent there.
I started four new gigs — I thought I would “cut back” on work when I left Advantage/ForbesBooks and in the span of a month, had four ventures I was running as a solopreneur: ForbesBooks strategic partner, The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, my own consulting, and part-time business development for Zilker Media (my former team from Shelton Interactive). This was my first foray into “entrepreneurship” life and in the span of 6 months, I had built a really flexible and profitable individual business. Yet, I quickly discovered I didn’t love it. Yes, I had built a life that many dreamed of, but I felt my purpose involved so much more than serving myself. So…
I committed to full time with Zilker Media — I’ve always had aspirations of building a $10MM business that significantly impacts others in a positive way (it’s on my dream board). The original plan was to do this by acquiring a company and growing it or starting my own business. Around the time I was in Glen Canyon with my folks, I was reading a book gifted to me titled How to be Rich (dumb title, great book. Thanks Pete Mueller for the suggestion.) I realized my mistake of always looking to start something new and overlooking the opportunity and gifts already in front of me. That’s when I realized I could align my passions and dreams with that of Zilker Media. So I spoke with the team and now we’re in the process of building something special, really special, and I’m excited to share it with everyone.
My 360 Review
I also track goals I set forth at the beginning of each year that help keep me well-rounded, hence the reason I call them a 360 review. They’re broken out across several categories.
Workout at least 3x/week (173/156) — Finished this year out strong (pun intended). Fitness/nutrition has never been a primary focus, but I’ve built out pretty good habits that keep me healthy and allow me to perform well in other areas of my life. Score: A+
Yoga twice per month (23/24) — I missed this goal by 1. I was on track going into the month of December, but frankly, ran out of time as the holidays approached. I’m disappointed I didn’t complete this goal, but found the benefits of it worthy enough to continue in 2019. Score: A
Sleep 6.5 hrs every weekday (251/250) — Leaving my job helped reorient the trajectory of this beginning in Q2. I’m still not great at getting “good” sleep, but the fatigue and burnout this year has been less prevalent compared to years past. Score: A+
Journal 5x/week (291/312) — Close. I still journal most days, which is an incredible habit I believe every person should take up, but I’m happy with having close to 300 journal entries in 2018 to be able to read back on in the future. Score: A
Meet up with Lucas one-on-one once per month (12/12) — Lucas continued to be a source of encouragement for me this year. We had the chance to do the garage flip challenge, play video games, and detach from the world of business/school. His family is moving to Alaska, so our relationship will have to change, but I’m so stinking grateful and proud of the 5 year relationship we’ve had since him and his mom moved to Austin. Score: A+
Eat dinner with parents once/every other week (49/26) — A continued privilege and pleasure to spend time with my folks on a weekly basis. Score: A
Quiet time in Word at least 5x/week (237/260) — This is an area I need to work on. Getting quiet continues to be a challenge when I have so much I want to do in the morning (workout, breakfast, read, write…all before the work day starts). I think what I’ll do next year is bring in an accountability partner and have a more structured reading guide. Score: A-
Meet with small group 2x/mo (25/24) — I’ve been in town more often and also switched churches. I’ve loved the group and find myself clicking well with them even if it’s only been a few months. Overall, looking forward to next year and being more intentional about the relationships in the group and getting to know each individual better. Score: A+
Fast once per month (12/12) — Fasting is a habit I’m still not certain I’m doing correctly. The act of using hunger to slow down and reflect has been a good one, but as I do this more frequently, I feel the hunger pains not being as difficult as they used to be. Perhaps I may look at an extended fast of 3 days vs my typical ~30hr approach. Score: A+
Host a dinner once per quarter with at least 2 other people (4/4) — I’ve hosted a series of communal events this year including guy’s nights, Friendsgiving, actual Thanksgiving, and other group gatherings. Quality time continues to be the love language I gravitate towards most and I’ve enjoyed using my home as the grounds to which relationships can foster. I’ll look to continue doing this next year. Score: A+
Conduct a silent, no technology, wilderness retreat once per quarter (4/4) — This one has been hard and I find even doing this four times a year to be difficult with my schedule. Getting quiet and still in nature has 100% been rewarding and fruitful, but I think I’ll need to pair this back to twice a year if I expect to be able to do this in 2019. Score: A+
Travel once per quarter outside of Texas (10/4) — Travel continues to be something I enjoy, though much more now that it’s not required for work. I even took an international trip to Mexico City to practice my Spanish! List of places outside of Texas include:
Mexico City (int'l)
Grand Junction, CO
San Francisco/San Jose, CA
Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon Lake Powell)
Go without phone until 8am every weekday (191/260) — This is an area I have not performed well in all year. Despite keeping my phone in a separate room when I go to bed, I still find myself relying on it in the morning for music, reading, emails (yikes.), etc. I think I may adjust this goal in the new year so I’m limiting the amount of time I’m spending on it vs what time I’m on it. Score: C
Business & Financial
Blog once/week (54/52) — Writing continues to be challenging, but I’m hoping the discipline of it will play out in the future. Score: A+
Write 300 words every day (186/260) — I’ve written about this in the past, but writing 300 words a day was a leading indicator to make sure I was writing a blog post once/week. While I’ve fallen short of the goal I set for myself, I wasn’t actually concerned with writing each day as much as I was about making sure I had a blog post out once per week, which happened! Yet, Score: C-
Release 32 episodes entrepreneurs (32/32) — Gosh, I have so many things learned launching a podcast and building out the workflow behind it. There’s so much hard work that goes into, especially in the beginning, but now it only takes me 2 hrs each week vs the 5-6 hrs when I initially started. This is something I’m excited to continue moving into 2019. Score: A+
Reach out to 120 entrepreneurs (210/120) — Knocked this one out fairly early by bringing on a rockstar intern. Outsource, delegate, automate. Score: A+
Read 24+ books each year (28/24) — I’ve continued to enjoy reading books on various topics and genres. **I’m currently reading books about relationships, buying businesses, and the cannabis industry** That said, my favorite books this year have been memoirs, specifically American Icon and Open. I’ll look to continue a goal of ~2 books per month in 2019. Score: A+
100 days of Spanish lessons (101/100) — I finished all 100 lessons of Spanish on Duolingo in the first four months of the year. To cap this off, I decided to take a trip to Mexico City to “practice.” Was I good enough to get around? No. But thankfully Mexico City is a beautiful place with beautiful people who are used to non-spanish speakers. I fared quite well when it came to reading, but still have a long ways to go to be able to carry on a conversation. I feel like I’ve graduated from Duolingo lessons but will look to continue in-person lessons in the future. Score: A+
Take a glass blowing class (1/1) — This was SUCH a cool experience that I got to share with my buddy Pete Mueller. Thanks to Ghost Pepper Glass for their great instructors awesome facilities. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the Austin area. Score: A+
Learn how to drive stick shift (1/1) — I have to give a shoutout to my old small group leader and friend, Ryan Chan, of Red Eye Garage for reaching out to help me with this one. The police showed up midway through learning and told us to leave the premises of our practice grounds (I guess I was really bad…) but I can now say I’m not clueless when it comes to driving manual. Score: A+
Play keys at a concert (1/1) — This was a fun experience playing alongside my friend and colleague Paige Velasquez, an incredibly talented musician and all-around human being. Thanks for inviting me to be apart of your concert Sean Richards. 🙂 Score: A+
Take discovery pilot class (1/1) — Big shoutout to friend and former colleague, Amber Gray, for inviting me to fly and eat BBQ in Lockhart, TX. SUCH a fun day with incredible people. Score: A+
Learn 3 new magic tricks (2/3) — Alright, I didn’t take this one too seriously but I thought it would be fun to learn a few magic tricks for…you know…whenever. I would share more, but a magician never reveals his tricks. Score: F
That’s the overview of my year! A huge thanks to all the wonderful people who helped make them a reality. I’m already beginning to think through how I want to be challenged next year, but I’m grateful for all the opportunities and relationships over the past 12 months.
Happy New Year, folks! To many fun and exciting journeys ahead.