A few thoughts on 2011…a few plans for 2012

January 19, 2012

For the past several years, Chris Brogan has defined his goals/resolutions for each year with a series of words. I follow a lot of Chris’ writing via his blog and upon reading about his method for setting his annual goals last year, I thought I’d give it a try.

I liked his method. (You can read more about it here.) Correction, we liked his method. So sometime shortly after the calendar changed from 2010 to 2011, Hubz and I sat down to define the handful of words that we wanted our 2011 to swirl around. Like Chris, we wanted these words to be a constant base to be used to launch the more specific goals we set for ourselves, in addition to helping us to refocus or make decisions about priorities, if the need arose.

We defined 2011 as the year of: Freedom, Family, Property, Discipline.

We typed out the words in ultra-large font, printed out the page, and taped it up multiple places around the house. And then we promptly ignored them.

It was interesting and fun and scary and reassuring to look back on those words come December 31st. Like many goals that are defined and then written down, it was thrilling to prove to ourselves once again how rarely you have to consciously think about a goal to still make significant progress towards making it a reality.

I love that about them. Goals.

Freedom This was the foundation of everything we wanted 2011 to be for us. I have my time freedom. Hubz does not. Together we’ve both moving towards more financial freedom. Building our residual income via rental properties, building and strengthening the income coming in via our Vemma business, and being open to additional opportunities was what we wanted this goal to reflect. Gaining our freedoms was to be the underlying priority in everything we did.

“Does this help us get closer to those freedoms?” we would ask ourselves. If the answer was no, we didn’t want to be doing it.

We did pretty well with this goal. It’d be a lie if we said we didn’t have hopes to be able to obtain the time freedom for Hubz by the time the calendar ran out on 2011. We didn’t make it. At least not to the level that we felt comfortable with. But we made significant progress on several fronts, and that was definitely a success. The feeling that this word evoked in us will carry into our 2012 plans, for sure.

Family The most personal of our defining words for the year. January 1, we were struggling with several months of frustration over starting a family. Turns out two Type A personalities can’t control the timing for everything in their lives. Harumph. That struggle, however, ended up being a blessing in disguise. Especially for me.

There was a lot I knew about myself at the end of December 2011 that I wasn’t anywhere near knowing in January. Personally, professionally, physically, even spiritually. Every area of my life was strengthened because of that journey. Everything from accupuncture to journaling to self-reflection to travel helped me get there. But I wouldn’t have even come close if I hadn’t forced myself to take a step back and work on things. To make Family become a reality.

By August, it was. And come late April 2012, it really will be.

Defining Family as one of our words related strongly to Freedom, too. We wanted one to help support the other. We wanted the other to experience the one.

Basing the transformation of our year from January to December in regards to Family? A success a million times over.

Property Nothing abstract about this one. We wanted more properties. More than that though, we wanted to make sure that every financial decision we made in 2011 was measured up against our ability to increase our property portfolio. We wanted to be smart and calculating, yet agressive.

Property, obviously so, tied right in with the larger goal of Freedom and indirectly to Family. All a big circle.

January 1st we owned one property in cash that was in the midst of a massive renovation. December 31st we had sufficiently leveraged that property, had it rented and cashflow positive, a significant cash cushion built up in the LLC that we owned it with, and a second property purchased and renovated using Other People’s Money, just added to the rental market. Not too shabby.

Discipline If Freedom was the base that everything our 2011 swirled around, Discipline was what was going to keep that swirling in motion. This was also a more personal goal. Quite simply, we wanted to step up our discipline.

Remember the kill the snake mentality? Yeah. That.

Discipline would remind us to take care of the little things, and to take care of them now. To make the phone call now. To research the new idea now. To take a small step every day a bit beyond the necessary. We hoped that, over the 365 days of the year, those tiny changes would add up to a big deal. (A la The Compound Effect and The Slight Edge.)

It’s hard to measure, but I think they did. I think they could have even more, though. So, if I had to pick, I’d say we succeeded the least (like that wording?) in defining our 2011 by this word, especially compared to all the others.

And that was our 2011! Chock full of growth professionally, educationally (is that a word?), spiritually, personally, and financially.

2012 will be one for the record books.

Four to five months in, parenthood and all it entails will hit us. Rental property #2 will hopefully, quickly, very soon-ish be rented and supporting itself, plus adding to our real estate business’s cashflow. We hope to add a property #3 to the ledger. We have several huge, personal financial goals related to both parenthood and properties. With the launch of an enormous new product line three days into the new year, I have ambitious goals for our Vemma business this year, too. Simply keeping volunteering a focus would be a huge goal on its own. Growing this site, its readership, and its offerings, venturing into ebooks and information products, is an ambition as well. Oh, and have I mentioned my new post at Silicon Prairie News? Doing whatever I can to support and help grow their mission will also get a part of my focus.

2012. It’s already tiring me out just thinking about it. But in the greatest way.

If I haven’t lost you and you’re still reading, first of all, thank you. You’re my hero! And why I occasionally share more with you in this public space than I would if we were face to face. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to do so.

And for not laughing. Too hard.

Stay tuned for more specifics on my plans for 2012! In the mean time, I would be honored to hear about what you’re working towards this year.

How are you going to define your 2012? Have you set any specific goals? Made any resolutions? Defined a few words to set you on the right path?

Do share.

Cheers to ya’ll,

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