Our new backyard. My office tucked away in the corner.

I spent some time over the last 2 weeks reflecting on 2017. I started by first asking myself, “What happened in 2017?”

I read through my old blog posts and journals and made a list of things that were significant to me. I was surprised at how much actually happened this year — everything from buying our first house to Lacie getting pregnant to having our best year ever in business!

2017 Summary
I felt like this was a year of settling down and establishing things both personally (buying a home) and professionally (focused on consistent cash flow). Feels like we’ve established a “base camp” and from here we can launch out to higher ground in 2018!

So here’s what happened in 2017:

What Happened this Year

1. Bought Our First Home: Last year we spent 69 days traveling in the RV. Including a 2-month trip to San Diego. It was fun but we discovered the nomadic lifestyle isn’t for us. So shortly after we returned we decided we were ready to settle down and buy our first home. We made our first offer on 4/1/17 but didn’t get it because it turned into a bidding war. Then 5 days later Lacie found a FSBO on Craigslist. A few days later I met the owner Kevin & his wife and signed the agreement! As we signed, we found out Kevin and I had the same middle name (John)… so did our wives (Joy). That made me feel like this house was definitely meant to be! We closed on 5/19/17 and moved in that day (see video here)! We love it!

2.  Home Office Remodel: We moved in on a Friday night and the next day we started our first project: remodeling the outbuilding into my office. I’ve worked in a lot of different places over the years but this is by far my favorite office! It’s a 30-second walk from the house and I love it. In August we built a covered patio so that made it even better! We ran an ethernet cord from the house so I’m hardwired for internet. I insulated the top and bottom before winter hit and have a little propane heater to keeps me warm.

3.  Growing Family: On 6/15/17 I found out Lacie was pregnant! She’s due mid-February with Baby #4… a little boy! The kids keep calling him “Baby Charlie” so I think that may end up being his name. We’re planning on having another home birth just like we did with the other three.

4. Growing Business: I made the most money in business this year then any other year, which felt good. I made about half my income from copywriting and half from Insurance Funnels agency work. I felt like I did a better job this year at consistently prospecting then any other year. I worked with 27 clients total. My top lead sources were: referrals, client nurturing, email prospecting, content marketing, and LinkedIn. I worked with two new financial educators this year and I have a third who may sign up next week. I’m enjoying this new niche and it’s closely related to financial advisors.

5. Started Paying Myself Salary: I Started my business in 2011. And it wasn’t until this year that I decided to finally pay myself a “salary.” Now, every 2 weeks I pay myself a set amount. I started doing this on 3/29/17 and it’s turned out to be a great decision. I now treat my payroll as a non-negotiable expense, just like paying people who work for me. I would never think of not paying them. But for years I was OK not paying myself if sales were down. No more! It’s amazing what happens when you just commit to something and are forced to figure it out. Motivation!

6. Built Advisors Grow: I formed a partnership with a professional friend I’ve known for several years to launch a new business called Advisors Grow. It’s a done-for-you digital marketing platform for financial advisors. You can read about it here, here and here… The plan was to launch in the Spring but development took longer than expected and we didn’t get it done until right before the end of the year. I’m glad it’s done but it’s also been stressful because I’ve invested a lot of time and energy and it’s not producing any profit yet. So this will likely be my #1 goal for 2018.

7. Renting Our RV Out: We decided to start renting our RV out this year so it could be an asset vs a liability. Other than our mortgage, this is our only debt. Our monthly payment is $492 ($5,913/yr). So we listed it on Outdoorsy and RV Share. We rented it 7 times and made about $7,800. So it turned out to be worth it. But we quickly learned not to do any rentals less than a week long. The renters who only rented it for 2-3 days were the most demanding.

8. Travel/Vacations: Compared to last year it felt like we barely took any trips this year. But we did take 3 short RV trips, including a spontaneous trip to Bend and to the beach. We also took the kids sledding at Ski-Bowl for Christmas, which was a blast!

9. No Facebook All Year: Last year I decided to quit Facebook for at least a year. And I’m happy to report that I stayed clean all year! No relapses. I plan to do a write-up about this because I’ve found a lot of people are considering quitting. So I want to share what life is like once you unplug. But bottom line is I stayed off for one year. So now I’m “free” to get back on if I want… but I don’t want to! I recently got back on Instagram but that’s the only social media for me these days.

10. Quit Blogging Daily: This is one habit I did break. Last November I made a crazy goal to publish a new blog every day for 10 years! I made it 300 days in a row and then quit. Here’s why I quit and here’s 3 lessons I learned after publishing daily for 300 days. Publishing daily sounded like a great long-term habit but it quickly became stressful, frustrating and unfulfilling. I had no focus and it was a heavy burden I had to shed (plus if I didn’t my wife would’ve deleted my blog anyway because she was sick of hearing me complain about it!).

11. Spiritual Progress: On 6/3/17 I started a daily prayer habit where I’d pray for at least 30 minutes a day. Here’s my update after 3 weeks. I made it 62 days before quitting. I still prayed after that but not consistently… I also got more involved at our church and started volunteering there. But I’m still struggling to “find my place” at church. Towards the end of the year I started asking myself questions like, “Why do I go to church?” and “What is the kingdom of God and how do you really seek it first?” This is an area I felt very discontent in last year. I believe God is a supernatural God who still does signs, wonders and miracles… I’ve seen these things so I know they’re real. But I somehow drifted away toward a more conservative “safe” form of Christianity and I’m not happy with it — especially now I have kids who I want to model “kingdom living” for. So for 2018 I want to return to my core spiritual beliefs and values… especially the “on earth as it is in heaven” kingdom message.

12. Health & Fitness: I was doing CrossFit 3xs a week at Wyakin CrossFit from January to April. But when we started the home buying process Iquit to focus more time on work (needed more money for the house!). I didn’t exercise at all until December when I joined CrossFit Atollo which is just 20 minutes from our house. I’m training 3x a week again and I already feel much better. I ate ok this year but I’d like to eat healthier in 2018 and focus on nutrition more.

Summary: So there you have it! That pretty much sums up all the major points of 2017. I felt like this was a year of really settling in and starting to establish things, whereas 2016 was all about experimenting, starting and trying new things. I feel like 2018 will be year of continuing to build on the foundation of some of the things that were laid this year.  Looking forward to it!