One thing that is an exciting process for me is when I can actually take a step back from my day-to-day activities and really focus on where I want to be a year from now. Many people talk about the “things” that they want to accomplish and the “things” that they want to do, but they hardly make any effort to actually get there.
Someone once told me that if you have a goal or desire, you have a 90% greater chance of success of achieving it if you actually write it down. Is it true? Heck if I know, but it sounds good to me.
Every year I do some type of goal planning, but I felt that this year that I really needed to take it one step further. I wanted to take it to the next level and put my goals out there for everyone to see – to hold me accountable, hence this blog post.
Why the need to make it public? Because I want to make 2011 my year. What do I mean by my year? That's where the fun begins…..
Right now I have a lot of things on my plate that I know I can get done. I know that with a few sacrifices (can't watch every single St. Louis Cardinals game – doh!) and with a lot of extra hard work, I can pull it off. (I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.)
Am I a workaholic? That's debatable. But here's the thing: I love what I do.
I love being a financial planner.
I love having two blogs.
I love filming videos for my Soldier of Finance site and soon for this site, too (see goals below).
Here's my most favorite Soldier of Finance Video Thus Far:
If you want to see more, head over to the Soldier of Finance YouTube channel.
I love all that stuff.
And as a wise man once said, do what you love. So, 2011 I designate as the “Do what you love year“.
Group hug anyone?
Biz: 2010 was very successful for me. We were coming off a really bad market and just over a year removed from starting our firm, Alliance Investment Planning Group, I didn't know exactly what would happen. I didn't know how people would react if the market did come back and recover. But it did come back (definitely still more to go, but I ‘m forever the optimist). People are more confident, although hesitant, and that has really helped make 2010 a great year for me.
I love helping my clients. I love helping them make “cents” of the investment world and just helping them live their life the way they want to.
See the “Do what you love” theme here?
Blog: My blog had an amazing year as far as traffic and growth – I'll get into some of the numbers below. I never could have imagined that my blog could get as much notoriety as it did this past year. I get calls from other advisors all over the country that are really impressed by my blog and how good it is – their words, not mine. Anytime you get compliments from colleagues in your industry, it's enough to brighten your day.
Family: We welcomed our second son, Bentley, in January. Our first son Parker turned 3. We found out we're having a third son due next June. And my wife and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. Family life couldn't get any better. Well, a little more sleep wouldn't hurt 🙂
A Brief Confession
First, I have to make a confession: Up late one night, I decided to start writing my goals out on my whiteboard that I have in my home office. I recall as I wrote it down, my first goal I wrote down was: business. The second was my blog . The third one was my book, and the fourth was my family.
I remember sitting there looking at that and thinking,
“What the heck am I doing? How could I put my family fourth of the goals I wanted to accomplish?”
Just looking at it on that whiteboard just gave me a sick feeling inside. I love my family. My wife, especially, supports me in everything that I want to do, and I had no right putting her and my two sons at number four. I felt icky inside, and I knew that's not how I wanted it to be. So, a quick adjustment moves them to the number one spot – right where they belong.
Finding a Balance
When you have a lot of goals that you want to accomplish, you have to find a way to find your balance. You have to balance your family, your wife, work, and everything else. I know that I always need to work on this, but I also know that I love spending time with my family. Since we have two sons right now with a third on the way, I know that it's not going to get any easier. I will have to commit myself to devote the necessary time for my family so that we can enjoy each other, love each other, and learn from each other.
Okay, now for my goals.
1. Upon arriving home, put the phone down.
I have a BlackBerry, sometimes referred to as the “CrackBerry”. The thing is always on my hip. I'm always checking my e-mail. I'm always checking my Facebook; it's always there. The first goal is when I come home, I want to sit it down and forget about it for a minimum of 30 minutes. I know that might not sound like a long time for you, but I can't help it – I'm a web junkie.
At least for 30 minutes, I want to come home, kiss my wife, tell my boys I love them and just sit down and play with them. Now 30 minutes could easily turn into an hour, and that's the point. Because I also want to extend it to dinner time.
2. Peaceful dinner please
My wife and I have both been guilty of being on our phones while we're eating dinner. That's something I want to put a stop to. I want to be able to have that time to dedicate to us to reflect on the day and just to see how things are going. When you've got two kids, it's hard to have good alone time. I'm hoping by setting the phones down, this will help accomplish just that.
3. Pucker Up
The other goal, which I alluded to earlier, is to kiss my wife each day. It's almost sad that I have to admit this, but both my wife and I, with two kids and both working, have gone a full day without kissing each other. I love my wife. I love to kiss her, I love to love on her (PG-13 please), and the fact that I have let this happen truly upsets me. We have both talked it out and we both have admitted that sometimes life has got the best of us. No more. There is enough time in the day for a simple kiss and simple I love you, and I want to make sure that happens each and every day for the rest of our lives. Love you, baba! Mmmmmmcha!
Okay, on to the next stage: my business. Ever since I left my old firm and joined LPL Financial to form Alliance Investment Planning Group, it has been, by far, one of the best moves, second to marrying my wife, that I have ever done. I never could have imagined that it would have taken off as well as it did. Now that I have an awesome client base with people that truly value my opinion, and most importantly that I love working with — my clients are great.
They have been through the hard times, they've been through the good times, and I'm enjoying helping them transition to their Golden Years. I have brought on a significant amount of new clients in the past year, and most importantly – they are ideal clients. Not meaning that they just have a lot of money — which most of them do — but the key is that they appreciate me. And guess what? I appreciate them. Here are some of the goals that I hope to accomplish.
There are many metrics that you can use to measure the success of a financial planning practice:
- Asset growth (total dollars of the assets that I manage for my entire client base).
- Revenue growth (how profitable is my business)
- Growth of ideal clients. (clients that have sizable assets or are good referral sources of idea clients)
For the sake of simplicity, I'll focus on the first two of the sake of my goals for 2011; mostly because they are almost directly related.
Using my growth rate of this year, and factoring in a few “clients-to-be” that I've already met with and I'm expecting to come on board next year, I'm estimating that I should have at least a 33% increase in revenue and asset growth. I'm hoping that's a conservative number, because last year's growth was 55% – (growth was calculated based on both revenue growth and growth of assets) – yes, like I said, 2010 was a very good year.
The beauty about my business, as with most businesses that have laid strategic seeds in fruitful locations, is that you'll always a certain amount of crops you can count on. It's so fun to see when the expected seeds starting popping up – the ones I wasn't counting on. I've done a fairly decent job (sorry, tooting my own horn again) of using my blog to leverage my local media presence. It's been a time investment, but I'm now starting to see some real results.
How am I going to do it?
To help me in my quest, I'm going to attempt something new this year that I've never done before: I'm going to hire a coach.
I know. It sounds weird saying it. My wife even questions it because she knows how self-motivated I am and wonders why I need to hire a coach.
I don't question my motivation, but I know that at times I get a lot of ideas that I want to do, that I lose track and sometimes spread myself too thin. By me hiring a coach, I want to have someone that I'm accountable to – that will keep me focused on the parts of my business that I need to concentrating on.
I'm actually filling out the paperwork as I write this post to get signed up for my first coach. This excites Jeff – yes, I just referred to myself in the third person.
Wow, where do I even begin? In 2008 I didn't even know what a blog was. Then in July of 2008, I started this baby. I remember the day I had over 50 visitors – I was ecstatic. When I passed 100 I'm sure I busted out a big “Woo-hoo!”. When I passed a 1000, I'm pretty sure I almost fainted. For the entire year of 2009, my rough estimates show that I had over 400,000 new visitors to my site. How insane is that? Wait, it gets better….
As of right now, my blog averages between 3k-4k visitors per day; which equates to around 80k-90k visitors per month. To my little ol' blog. Pure craziness.
Now I know that many bigger blogs and sites get way much more traffic than me, but remember: two years ago, I didn't even know what a blog was. This is one of those times that I even impressed myself; mostly because I was so clueless.
As of now, I'm on pace to have over 1,100,000 visits to my site for 2010 alone. Over 1 million people have came to my blog this year. That's still hard for me to comprehend.
So how do I improve that?
That's a great question. One that I had a hard time answering. Here are few of the things that I'm going to try this year:
- Site redesign: I love the layout of my blog, but I know it could be improved. I want to make it easier for new visitors to navigate through the blog to find material that could be beneficial to them.
- Focus on a wider range of articles. Hiring Miranda as a guest writer was a great decision for a couple reasons: 1. Her stuff is good and I enjoy having it on the blog. 2. She's able to offer a perspective that I don't have. I want to try to have more guest posts to cover topics that are outside my realm that I feel would be beneficial to my readers.
- More guest posts on other blogs. One of the bonafide ways to get more traffic to your blog is to guest post on other sites. I've written for Wisebread.com, GetCurrency.com and a few other sites when I first started blogging, but haven't done much at all lately. That will change. In 2011, I will embark on a guest posting campaign in attempt to expand the Good Financial Cents reader base and try to help that many more people with their finances.
- Video blogging. This is the one that I most excited about. As a way of building my brand for the book that I'm writing (See next goal), I started recording short videos and uploading them to YouTube. (Check out my Soldier of Finance YouTube Channel) Most of my initial videos were all recorded with a new HD webcam that I bought and I quickly realized how much I liked it. Trying to step up the quality a bit, I hired a local young man to record and edit for me. He does an awesome job and we have much more planned. Recently, I bought a Flip Ultra HD camera to I can do some more videos on my own and now I'm officially hooked. For me, filming a 3-4 minute video takes just that (maybe two takes at most) and is much easier than writing a 750 word blog post. Now seeing how easy it is for my Soldier of Finance videos, I want to start doing more for this site, too. Stay tuned. I'm on a video mission 🙂
What are my goals then?
Even though I averaged around 90k visitors per month for the year, my fear is that much of that traffic was due to the the Roth IRA conversion event of 2010. That term alone helped me get over 120,000 visitors in the month of January, and the reason why I feel I'm finishing the year off strong. In 2011, I don't expect the Roth conversion to be as a big deal so I have to be on the lookout for other topics that are both timely and beneficial to my readers. I'm hoping that the strategies noted above will help with the traffic lost from Roth conversion seekers.
My goals as far as traffic is to see my blog average at least 100,000 visitors per month, consistently. On the higher side, I would like to see 120,000 by the end of the year.
Don't forget about the Soldier of Finance site. I just launched the site this past September, so the traffic is just starting to pick up. As of right now, I'm averaging about 60 visits per day – took me much faster than with this site 🙂 I know this might sound crazy, but I think I can pull it off, I would like to get my traffic to Soldier of Finance to at least 30,000 visits per month by the end of the year. I know I have my work cut out for me, but I'm up for the challenge.
Last Goal: The Book
Oh, the book. The thing that I love…..to hate. Writing a book is by far one of the most challenging tasks that I've taken on in my life. Luckily, I've hired Les O'Dell to join me in the misery. Just kidding. We're having fun with the book, we're just trying to find the right direction for it.
Right now, we have about 5 chapters complete and I was excited to share the first 3 with a book agent that I was introduced to. For those that don't know the book writing process, it's tough just to get an agent to look at what you got. I want to thank Baker at Man Vs. Debt for the introduction. He's cool like that 🙂
After a few weeks I finally heard back from the agent. Just for the record, I haven't shared this with a lot of people. Honestly, it's took me sometime to digest, but I'm ready to address it. It's not horrible, just not what I hoped to hear:
Overall my impression is that I’d want to push you in the direction of having a stronger voice and a more unique structure to the book. There’s plenty of good info in there, but my concern is that in looking at the writing & structure editors will feel like it’s a pretty straightforward personal finance title. And unless you really have a huge platform to rely on, you don’t really want it to feel that way.
The agent was very helpful and I was thankful for this opinion. He reminded me that he is one person and his opinion is clearly subjective.
Does that mean back to the drawing board? Not at all. I know that we have a lot of good stuff so far, it's just a matter of doing some strategic repositioning. Once again, I'm up for the challenge.
So what's the goal? I want to take what the agent suggested and get the tone of the book in line with my mission: Enlist. Take Charge. Succeed.
And I've set a goal to get 90% of my book complete by July. Why 90%? Partly because it sounds cool 🙂 And it gives me enough wiggle room for edits, re-edits, and more re-edits. In the mean time, I'm looking to build my platform with the Soldier of Finance brand through the blog and my videos. 2011 is going to be a great year.
What can you do to help?
Wow, I'm so glad you asked 🙂
A few ways you can help is subscribing Good Financial Cents Newsletter (see info box under my video).
Lastly, tell all your friends about it. Any help I can get building my small army of financial soldiers will always be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for coming along for the ride!