My favorite parts of the months/years, are the ends. ‘Cuz something in us loves to stop for a few and look back over what just happened, and then look forward to what’s about to come. (Or, what we *hope* is about to come ;)). So when my boy Nate shot me a link over to Chris Guillebeau’s recent article on reviewing 2013, I stopped what I was doing and opened it right up.
And I’m glad I did. Any time something forces you to hit pause and evaluate your life/goals – even for just a few minutes – I’m all about it. The years seem to pass progressively faster and faster than the last one, and if we’re not too careful we’ll end up old and wrinkly with nothing to show for it ;) And it’s interesting to see how others evaluate stuff too – even if just out of curiosity.
Here’s a clip from the article:
To begin the Annual Review, I ask myself two questions and try to come up with at least 6-8 answers to each:
What went well this year?
What did not go well this year?
For these answers, I’m mostly interested in events I have control over. If something didn’t go well that I couldn’t prevent or control, it doesn’t need to go on the list. (Hint: you have control over most things.)
I love that he threw in stuff that’s “out of our control” – that’s an important thing to decipher. Not that it doesn’t affect our other goals of course – they most always do! – but that it shouldn’t get you down as much as perhaps other things that could have been avoided.
At any rate though, I thought it make for a good exercise today to answer those two questions Chris poses, even if just to yourself (though it would be more fun for the rest of us if you left them in the comments below ;)). And since I hate leaving the bad stuff at the end, I’m going to reverse the questions and start with the bad first. Who wants to be depressed at the end of these things??
Here’s how my year went:.
What did not go well this year?
#1) Overall business income. While we had some major successes this year in selling off a few projects, overall my business income has taken a hit this year. A mixture of changes outside of my control, as well as some things that are in my control but haven’t figured out yet. I haven’t run the numbers yet, but I’d guess we had a 30-40% drop – ouch.
#2) Retirement investments. Since now my main retirement vehicle is tied to business income (my SEP Ira), we’ll be putting in a few thousand dollars less at the end of the year… and more than likely not maxing out both the wife and I’s Roths to preserve cash reserves in the upcoming year. But we’ll see how long I last – I get hard headed when I’m about to break a winning streak ;) (I’ve maxed out my Roth IRA for 5 straight years in a row).
#3) Overall savings. While our reserves are back to the $70kish levels again, half of it was only recently brought back after killing $30k+ on our house updates and move earlier this year. And another $15k+ will be headed to our SEP in the next month or so for our retirement. $50k is nothing to sneeze at, of course, but in comparison to past years it’s not as pretty.
#4) Car troubles. I’ve gotten in two accidents this year (one my fault, and one not), on top of other money-sucking repairs like the brakes going to crap the other month. I’m starting to like the idea more and more of giving it up altogether and becoming a 1-car household ;) Perhaps on the day the next major thing happens?
#5) Stress levels. 2013 was the first year since I can remember feeling stressed. Between businesses nonsense, becoming landlords, baby $$ stuff, and going down to a single income household, I finally know what it’s like to not be in la la land ;) And, to be honest, I kind of appreciate it. I’m hoping 2014 is a LOT better, of course, but it’s good to have a reminder every now and then that shit doesn’t always go your way. And that you can’t be complacent.
What went well this year?
#1) Overall net worth! Despite the major drop in business, our net worth has climbed $100k in one year! WOOHOO! $330k to $440k – not too shabby at all…
#2) Relocation! We finally got off our asses and made our moving wishes come true – after years and years of talking about it :) And so far so great! It’s only been 6 months since being here in Virginia, but we’ve been having a blast and feel like it really is “home” now. And will continue living here until the Mrs. finishes that paper and starts applying to jobs over the Summer… From that point on, who knows where I’ll be blogging from :)
#3) De-cluttering. I no joke have at least 50% less “stuff!” It really was The Year of The Simple, and I busted my ass to clear away as much stuff as possible, knowing we were moving to a smaller house. And I haven’t stopped since! In truth, I’m kinda addicted, haha… Been donating/selling/giving away more and more stuff lately, all of which progressively gets more valuable since I’m done w/ the cheap/trash stuff, haha…
#4) Family growth. See yesterday’s post :)
#5) Mustache growing efforts! I successfully grew a handlebar mustache after years of wondering if I could pull it off, and then – after 4 solid months of rocking it – I shaved the entire thing off. As a birthday gift to the Mrs. :) It was a fun ride to say the least, but now back to my boyish good looks…
How about you?
How did your year go? Did you have more positive or negative things go down? Are you ready to kill it in 2014?? I hope so. And I hope you’ll continue following this blog too so we can learn and grow together. As lame as that just sounded right now ;)
Take a few moments and consider these two questions before you click away today… What went well in your life this year? What didn’t?
We’ll get to the goal-setting stuff later this month around New Year’s… That’s the 2nd key to this puzzle here: setting some realistic (and fantasy?) goals to get you excited for the future. But for now, we enjoy the rest of December :)
Photo cred: fabulousfabs