At the end of each year, I make it a point to go over everything that happened to me during the last twelve months. Not only do I enjoy reflecting on all the fun memories, but I also thrive on looking forward to the next year. While 2016 was full of milestones for both my family and my business, I still get excited about planning new goals for the new year.
Now, I'm not talking about “New Year's Resolutions. Why? Because I don't really believe in waiting for the new year to create goals. I tend to believe resolutions are a waste of time, mostly because the bulk of people never follow through.
In place of resolutions, I like to create short-term and long-term goals. As each year draws to an end, I like to make a new list of end-of-year goals as well.
On top of those one-year stretch goals, I like to check in every 90 days to take stock of my progress. I implemented this strategy into my business and personal life about five years ago after being introduced to the concept in a strategic coaching program, and it was a game-changer. Once I started tracking my progress, amazing things started to happen.
What I want to do today is go back over my goals from 2016, then introduce my new personal and business goals for 2017. Maybe these goals will inspire you to reach for greater heights in your personal or business life.
At the very least, I know that making my goals public helps keep me accountable. (Also check out GFC Podcast #62 for a recap of my 2015 goals!)
Amazing Happenings of 2016
Too many of us get so caught up in what's happening now- right this moment – that we never really think about all the good and bad things that have happened in our lives. It's so easy to forget and to move on.
But if I've learned anything, it's how important it is to be appreciative for what you have and willing to learn from your mistakes. Without reflecting back, it's far too easy to get caught up in the next big thing. This is especially true if you're an entrepreneur.
Before I go over my new goals for 2017, I wanted to share some of the best moments for my family and my business in 2016.
#1: Adopting a Baby Girl from the Phillipines
The best thing that happened to us this year was our adoption, and it's not even close. For those who may not know, my wife and I had been trying to adopt a child from the Philippines for more than four years. It got to the point where we wondered if it would ever happen. Throughout the process, we started to feel as if we were forgotten. The fact that I'm part Filipino on my mother's side means that we were supposed to have an expedited adoption, but it started to seem as if that wasn't the case.
We were initially told our adoption would take only a few years. In the end, it took almost five. Still, it was worth the wait. When we finally got the call in March of last year, we were ecstatic. We still had to wait another three months before we could travel and pick up our child, but we at least had hope. Then, at the end of June, we got the call that she was ready….and we traveled to bring our daughter, Janella Jane, home.
Introducing her to her three doting brothers was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. She has been a joy in our household and we're so thankful she's here every day. We're also so glad the adoption didn't come earlier; had it moved any faster, we wouldn't have ended up with this beautiful child.
As always, God had His plan and His timeline in mind. Although the timing wasn't perfect on our end, He was waiting to put the perfect daughter and the perfect sister in our home. We're so thankful to Him for placing her in our house.
#2: My Awesome FinCon Talk
The rest of the happenings on this list are in no specific order. However, another goal I'm extremely proud of is my talk on profit at the financial blogging conference known as FinCon. While there are a ton of conferences in existence, this conference is where it's at – where financial bloggers and professionals mingle, network, and share ideas. Basically, it's a huge nerd fest and I fit right in.
In 2016, the conference was held in San Diego, California, which is pretty much the best location ever. The weather and the venue were amazing. Even better, I was asked to give a speech on the big stage. I've talked at FinCon before, but only in front of smaller groups comprised of maybe 50 – 100 people.
This year, I gave a twelve-minute talk in front of hundreds of people. I was extremely nervous, but it was totally worth it. I was so thankful for the opportunity, for my wife for supporting me, and to my friend Grant Baldwin who graciously coached me on how to give my talk more effectively.
In the end, I think I absolutely killed it. The topic of the talk was how following a simple principle allowed me to spend more time out of the office while also growing revenue. If you're interested in learning how to delegate and simplify your work life, you have to check it out!
#3: Best Day Ever With My Boys
Another awesome milestone from 2016 was a “best day ever” with my kids. I picked this idea up from my friend Curtis, who I met in Michael Hyatt's Inner Circle mastermind group. Like me, Curtis has boys who are totally consumed with sports.
He's also a successful business owner and entrepreneur who, like me, works a ton and doesn't always get to spend enough time with his kids. Even though we love our kids, it's easy to get so caught up in work and entrepreneurship that we forget to make them a priority. But with our “best day ever,” I vowed to change that.
It all starts with asking your kids one thing they really want to do every six months or so. For Curtis, this meant taking one of his sons to a UCLA basketball game and taking another child to a baseball game.
I loved how intentional this idea was; not only does it let your kids know they're a priority in their life, but it sets you up to create special memories that will last a lifetime. I basically followed Curtis's lead and did the same thing with my kids. I started by asking my oldest son what he wanted to do. Of course, he immediately told me he wanted to go to a Saint Louis Cardinal's game and spend the night. Surprise!
After I did some research, we bought tickets to the game and booked our overnight stay at a nearby hotel. And honestly, it was a blast!
When I asked my middle son what he wanted to do, he said he wanted to go to a bouncy house. Of course, that only lasted until he heard what his older brother was doing for his special day. After that, he decided he also wanted to go to a Cardinals game.
Since he didn't really want to spend the night, we took off during the day to see a daytime game. It was an amazing experience. We were sitting behind the dug-out and Yadier Molina actually threw my son a ball to keep. It was awesome!
Later on in the year, I also took my two older boys to a Chicago Bears football game. The main reason I brought two kids along for this special day was due to the logistics of seeing – and paying for – a game. It was expensive and we live five hours from Chicago.
To make it extra special, we spent two nights in a hotel, went out to eat some Chicago deep-dish pizza, and enjoyed plenty of quality time.
Since my youngest son isn't too into sports yet, I took him to Las Vegas to visit his grandmother for his special day. Since I was going to Las Vegas for a business trip, this worked out perfectly. He loved flying in the plane, and we had a blast together.
I love the “best day ever” concept so much that I plan to do it as long as I can. I also plan to have “best days ever” with my daughter once she gets old enough. My wife and I want to have as much fun with our kids as we can while they're still young, and this is one way to make these years last forever.
When my kids are too old to care about this stuff anymore, I want to look back and know we did all we could to spend time with them. Kids are only young once, so we plan to make it count.
#4: Michael Hyatt's Inner Circle
Joining Michael Hyatt's Inner Circle Mastermind was definitely one of my biggest highlights from 2016. In case you don't know, Michael Hyatt is a New York Time's bestselling author, internet entrepreneur, and awesome family guy.
I joined this group after being involved in the Strategic Coaching Program for around five years. Just as I was ready to upgrade to the 10x program from Strategic Coaching, Michael's Inner Circle group practically appeared before my eyes.
When I first heard of the Inner Circle, I thought the $25,000 price tag was far too steep. Instead of joining, I took note of the program and decided to sit on it for a year. The next year, I talked to my wife about it again to see if it was finally a good fit.
Out of all entrepreneurs in the world, there was no one I wanted to be mentored by more than Michael Hyatt. Not only is he a business owner and entrepreneur like me, but he's the type of family man I strive to become. He's been married to his wife, Gail, for almost 40 years. Together, they have five daughters.
People who join the Inner Circle tend to be business owners who want to be better spouses and parents, and also better leaders. With my wife's blessing, I applied and was accepted. The entire experience has been amazing – not only being mentored by Michael Hyatt, but also being around the other individuals in the program. The experience has had such a huge impact on my business and my personal life. It's made me a better man, a better household leader, and a better husband to my wife, Mandy.
Unfortunately, Michael decided not to renew the group for 2017. With a business to run, he decided to refocus and spend more time with his executive team. The good news is, I've gotten so much out of the group that it was still more than worth it. It was only a year of mentoring, but man, last year's group will have an everlasting impact for the rest of my life.
I'm thankful for all of it. I'm also thankful for you, Michael, for taking me on. And I'm thankful for all the guys in the Inner Circle for embracing me like we're brothers.
#5: Doing Nothing In Cabo with the Mrs.
Every year, my wife and I try to take at least one adults-only trip somewhere. Last year was no different. Once we cleared our schedules, we booked a five-day trip to Cabo with the goal of doing absolutely nothing. And I mean it; we did almost nothing. We laid by the pool I guess, and we drank cute drinks with tiny umbrellas. We played a little beach volleyball, but mostly for fun. I did work out while I was there, and we ate a ton of food. Really, that was about all we accomplished.
I have to say, the “nothingness” of this trip was absolutely amazing. We made a conscious decision to spend quality time together without feeling pressured to do any activities, and that's exactly what we did.
Co-parenting our children is important, but so is our marriage. Whatever it takes, and no matter how hard it is to piece together babysitters to get away, we've made our adults-only time a priority.
#6: Awesome Media Deals
One of the cool strategic byproducts of having a blog and online presence is that you can grow enough to get contacted by huge brands who want to work with you. It doesn't usually happen for a while, but it's awesome when you finally get there.
Last year, I got two pretty huge deals. With the first one, I was contacted by a production company that was working with Time and Money.com. They were working on a web-based video series in a partnership with State Farm and asked me to record a six-video series in New York City. Yes, please!
The cool thing is that, when they initially approached me, I turned down the offer. Why? It wasn't enough money at all. They even came back with a second offer that I also turned down. Eventually, they asked how much money I wanted and said I could name my price. Now, that's what I want to hear!
Eventually, we worked it out where I would only have to travel to New York City three times. And yes, I got the amount of money I wanted – along with some fun memories with my wife in New York City.
The second media deal I scored was with Capital One. This one was a little bit different, but still cool in its own way. I mentioned earlier that I got to go to Las Vegas with my son, Sloan. The reason behind this was the fact that I got a media deal to meet with Capital One BuyPower cardmembers. Not only that, but I was allowed to drive a Corvette around a legitimate racetrack.
The best part is, I was paid for the entire thing. And yes, this is yet another experience that I am entirely grateful for. Even better, I already have at least one awesome media deal lined up for 2017. I can't wait to share more about it in the coming months!
More from GFC, Below
#7: Launching The Online Advisor Growth Formula Course
In 2016, I launched my first digital product – a course for financial advisors. This is something I've wanted to do for years, but only got the courage to finish last year.
The Online Advisor Growth Formula teaches a step-by-step process I created for financial advisors who want to increase their reach through online marketing. I've had so many advisors contact me about this topic over the years, that I finally just went for it.
I'm so thankful to my friends John Corcoran and Grant Baldwin for making this happen. Not only did they provide support and encouragement, but they walked me through the process as well.
Thanks to them and my own efforts, my course brought in almost $115,000 in sales in 2016. Launching the course was a huge win for me, and the profits were just icing on the cake!
#8: Working Less than Eight Hours in the Office
One of my favorite books ever is The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. When I first heard of it, I wondered if the ideas he taught were legit at all. I mean, can people really get all their work done in just four hours per week?
To an extent, the premise is slightly bogus. But when you understand the book and what it's all about, you start to see where his ideas have merit.
Here's a good example of how work hours can be reduced with the methods Ferriss teaches: When I'm in the office, more distractions happen – whether these distractions are conversations in the hallway or something else. To cut down on distractions and wasted work time, I decided I only wanted to be in the office for client meetings or strategic meetings with my team.
And guess what; it works. My initial goal was to be in the office for 16 hours per week. Eventually, I dropped that down to 12 hours. For all of 2016, I worked my way down to just 8 hours of office time per week.
The cool thing is, everything is still going smoothly. I had to build some really detailed processes on all of my work so that others could do it, but most of that was a one-time thing. I also had to train my team to take care of any issues that arise when I'm gone. On top of that, I had to be willing to delegate some of my work to people I trusted.
All of this worked wonders for my mental health and my business. And, believe it or not, our revenue even grew 30% last year! Considering that I only spent around eight hours per week in the office, I consider that a huge win.
#9: Earning More than One Million Dollars in Revenue
Last year, I created the goal of earning at least seven figures in total revenue across all of my business ventures. This means earning at least $1 million dollars with my financial planning firm, this blog, my new course, media deals, and everything else.
I'm excited to say that I blew this goal out of the water. In fact, total revenue exceeded $1.3 million for the entire year!
For a guy that was once a college dropout and had over $30k of debt to start my career, it still amazes what you can achieve if you believe in yourself and hustle your arse off.
2016 Goals Recap
I already told you I created a list of goals for 2016 at the end of 2015, right? Here's a recap of how those goals panned out, where I had big wins, and where my dreams fell flat.
Win #1: Doing Nothing In Cabo with the Mrs.
As I mentioned, my wife and I went to Cabo for a week without the kids. This was one of my goals for 2016, and I call this a “win” for sure.
Win #2: Working 16 hours per week
If you'll remember, I wanted to get to the point where I was working less than two days per week in the office. However, I was actually able to work an average of eight hours per week instead. I consider this a huge win for 2016!
Win #3: Start a weekly video podcast
This is one goal I absolutely killed. I launched Good Financial Cents TV in the summer and did my best to create a weekly show. As of right now, I have recorded 15 episodes. I've only released 11 of those, but I'm going to release the rest of them here soon.
This is almost four month's worth of video podcasts, which I consider a huge success. I haven't been as consistent as I wanted to be, but I consider this a “win” nonetheless.
Win #4: Launching My Course
This one is definitely a huge win. Not only did I launch the course, but it brought in over $115,000 of revenue in 2016.
Win #5: Hiring an Executive Assistant
Since I'm busier than ever, I began to realize I need help! Fortunately, I was able to bring a new employee, Melanie, on board as an executive assistant in 2016. She handles an array of tasks for me including email, blog scheduling, and creating images. I had a lot of help already, but I really needed someone at the center of it all. Bringing Melanie on was a huge win for me and I'm glad it's working out.
Win #6: Earning More than $1 Million in Revenue
Another goal I had for 2016 was for my total revenue to exceed $1 million. As I mentioned previously, I accomplished this goal and I am so excited about it. Fortunately, I think it's only up from here.
Fail #1: Another Family RV Trip
A few years ago, my wife and I took our three sons on a really fun trip around the country in an RV. This trip included the Grand Canyon, which was the highlight of our journey with our sons. I wanted to redo that trip in 2016. Why? Because it was awesome! Unfortunately, too much happened including the adoption of our new daughter, Janella.
While we didn't get our RV trip done this year, I'm adding it to my list of goals for 2017 for sure.
Fail #2: Complete the Spartan Race Trifecta
This one was a big, fat fail. Not only did I not complete the three races that make up the trifecta, but I didn't do any of the races at all. A lot of factors ruined this goal – including the fact my schedule didn't jive with my battle buddy's, and that our kid's baseball schedules got in the way. I'm not sure I'll get this done in 2017, but I hope to run these three races one day.
Even though I didn't get in a Spartan Race last year, I was able to complete my first Battle Frog race with some other buddies of mine in Nashville. It was a muddy blast! 🙂
Fail #3: Launch Another Blog Movement
Over the last few years, I've launched several blog movements – the Roth IRA movement, the life insurance movement, and the debt movement. I've been wanting to launch another blog movement like these, but never quite made it happen in 2016.
These movements require a considerable amount of work – from getting over 100 bloggers to write about the movement to planning and getting sponsors. While I'm unsure I'll get another big movement going in 2017, I hope to make it happen sooner rather than later. For now, this one was a huge fail.
Fail #4: Build a School
My wife and I have been wanting to build a school – either through Pencils of Promise or some other organization. This is one goal we had that took a turn as life unfolded. After we adopted our daughter from the Philippines, we got a chance to visit her orphanage.
It didn't take long to realize how run down it was and how much help they needed. The place was not only dirty, but filthy. It's not that the people weren't trying; they're all amazing. The orphanage just didn't have the funds to keep things clean and running smoothly.
Once we left the orphanage, we donated a fairly large sum of money to help out. Still, we started to feel like we could be doing more. So, we decided to do a T-shirt fundraiser. That meant designing T-shirts and selling them to raise money for the orphanage. When all was said and done, we raised over $30,000 for the orphanage. And since we decided to match part of the gift, we actually donated even more.
So, while we didn't build a school, I only consider this goal a partial fail. We were able to offer money for improvements to my daughter's orphanage, and we feel blessed we were able to do so.
My New Goals for 2017
So, that was 2016. But, what about 2017? Here are my new goals for the new year, and how I plan to make them happen:
Goal #1: I want to take my family on a cross-country trip in an RV.
As I already mentioned, I am so ready to pack up my kids and my wife in an RV and hit the road. We had such a blast last time, and it was such an amazing experience. I want to replicate that again, but with our daughter Janella along for the ride, too.
Goal #2: We want to pay off our mortgage.
While we haven't thought a ton about our mortgage, I really want to pay it off in 2017. Once we pay off the mortgage on our primary home, we'll be entirely debt-free with no consumer debt of any kind.
Since we started with a thirty-year loan, this is a pretty lofty goal. Fortunately, we did eventually refinance to a fifteen-year loan, which means we've paid off our home a lot faster already.
Our initial goal was to pay off our dream home by the time our oldest son graduated high school, but we're going to blow that goal right out of the water if we can make this happen. Our new goal is to pay off our home before our oldest child starts junior high, which means 2017.
Goal #3: I want to have three “best days ever” with my kids.
As I mentioned already, one of my biggest priorities is spending quality, one-on-one time with my kids. I already have one trip planned with my older sons in 2017. This is an exception, but I want to do a joint trip to see the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers play in Oakland at Oracle Arena in January.
This trip was a Christmas gift and will also be a birthday gift for my middle son – a huge Steph Curry fan. Since my older son is a huge LeBron James fan, this trip is sure to be a hit.
To complete this goal, I'll need to plan several more “best days ever” with each of my kids. I can't wait to see what they want to do, then figure out how to make it happen.
Goal #4: I plan to teach at least six times at our church.
I've been volunteering with the junior high program at our church for several years now. During this time, I have had the pleasure and privilege to teach that group. Since the group is made up of sixth, seventh and eighth graders, it's a ton of fun. I love interacting with the kids and providing spiritual nourishment directly from the Bible.
Earlier this year, our youth leader asked if I would be willing to teach more often. Of course, I said yes. My goal this year is to teach these kids on at least six separate occasions. I get something out of it every single time and I hope that they do, too.
Goal #5: My wife and I want to launch a community around Marriage More.
While Good Financial Cents listeners and readers may not know this, my wife and I also have a podcast about marriage. Called “Marriage More,” this joint podcast lets us share our experiences with marriage and family. We've been married for twelve wonderful years. While it hasn't always been perfect, we've learned a lot and we just feel like we have a lot to offer couples who need to feel more connected.
To take our podcast to the next level, we really want to create a community where married couples can go to connect and become more accountable. I also want to tie the financial aspects of marriage into the group. Since I'm a financial planner, it only makes sense.
Our goal is to create a paid membership program where couples can go through different curriculum and courses to feel better connected and eventually reach financial freedom. We hope to launch in beta by March 31st, then have at least 100 paying members by that point in time. After that, our goal is to have 500 couples in the program by the end of the year.
If you want to hear more about this goal or check out our podcast, head over to MarriageMore.com. If you're on iTunes, you can search for Marriage More there as well.
Goal #6: My wife and I plan to get away for another marriage retreat, and hopefully an adults-only trip!
In 2016, my wife and I were able to do this really awesome marriage retreat at this place called Blackberry Farms in Eastern Tennessee. This trip served as a great reminder of why it's important to get away with your spouse. When you've been married for a while and have kids, any one-on-one bonding time you can get is priceless.
During the marriage retreat, we got a chance to learn from Ian Cron, the author of a book called The Road Back to You. I suggest this book not just for married couples but for anybody wanting to learn more about themselves, their personality, and their life choices. When you use the concepts in Ian's book and tie them into a marriage, it's absolutely amazing.
One of our marriage goals for 2017 is doing another marriage retreat or something similar. Even though we're happily married and have been for years, it's important to continue nurturing our relationship.
Goal #7: I am going to earn $2 million in revenue.
While all goals are important, it's crucial to have a revenue goal. Last year's goal was to crack seven figures. In 2017, my goal is to crack $2 million dollars in revenue!
Originally I figured I would aim for $1.5 million in revenue, but that's not really a stretch goal, is it? Go big or go home, right?
Keep in mind, the $2 million goal is net profit – not my personal income. I do hope to hit seven figures of annual income one day, but this year's goal is a pure revenue goal. Also remember that money isn't anything in the grand scheme of things. It's true that money is important, but there are more important things in life.
A long time ago, I felt the opposite. Nearly all my goals were tied to earning money somehow. Eventually though, I realized I was chasing something that could never fulfill me. Further, I learned the real feeling I craved was helping people – not earning more money. The revenue is great for sure, but it's really just is a byproduct of me becoming a better person and helping others.
Yet, I still strive to earn more money every year. Why? Because you can use it to help people. I was emailing back and forth with another successful entrepreneur named Stu McLaren, and he said something that really impacted me:
Basically, the more you earn, the more you can give away. If we hadn't had the money to spend, we might not have been able to adopt a child from the Philippines, let alone donate $15,000 of our own money to the cause.
I'm sure you're wondering why I'm sharing this with you. The thing is, people who don't know me often assume I'm trying to hit absurd revenue figures so I can keep more for myself. But, that's not it at all. At the end of the day, I just want to be able to help others and impact others. It's not the money I love; it's having the funds and the ability to help people.
More money = more impact, remember? This is why I strive to work harder and smarter every year.
So, that's finally it. If you've stuck around for all 6,000 words of this post, I truly commend you. I hope me rehashing my wins and losses was helpful. I also hope you'll check out some of my podcasts on the topic of goal-setting, along with the goal achievement worksheet I use to check in with my goals every 90 days.
Tune into the next podcast where we'll talk about how money can change our lives and the lives of others for the better. Until then, I'm reminding you that it's your life, it's your money, and only you can make it awesome.
Did you reach your financial goals in 2016? What goals do you have for 2017?