2013 Annual Review

I remember being in the middle of 2012 and thinking that the end of 2013 was so far away. Well here we are at the end of 2013 and even though it passed much quicker than I anticipated it was a great year!

I listed my 2013 goals on our old family blog. We set goals in seven categories: Spiritual, Physical, Social, Financial, Family, Intellectual, Career. Amanda and I are goal setters, but more than that we are goal do-ers. Over the past years we’ve had a good track record of setting and achieving goals. We are both ENTJ’s, so we love making a plan and then making it happen. We didn’t acheive all of our goals this year, but finished some and made good progress on others. I’m going to use the three question format suggested by Chris Guillebeau to do my annual review.

1. What went well this year?

Financial: Debt free by end of year

In December of 2012 we had $67,784.92 in non-mortgage debt. Our goal this year was to be out of debt before the end of the year. I took a second job to help pay off debt faster, but even with this added income we projected it would be sometime in 2014 when we were debt free. Then mid-year the opportunity came to sell some of my plugins. We decided to sell and in July were debt free!

After half a year of being debt free I can say two things for certain:

  1. I will never borrow money again
  2. Being debt free is better than I thought! We’ve been able to be more generous and stress-free than ever before.

Financial: Raise household income to over $10K/month

This was a pie in the sky goal, but I obliterated it. I achieved this goal and tripled our income from what we made in 2012. I believe this was related to being faithful to the tithe, prayerful and in agreement with Amanda about the opportunities I pursued, and finally switching over from services to products.

Family: 10 year anniversary

This wasn’t a written goal, but it was an exciting milestone to reach. Amanda and I love being married and love our “crazy lives” together. We can’t wait for what the future holds!

Financial: Sold our house*

Related to being debt free we decided to sell our house to become completely debt free and be more minimalist before we started slow travel as a family. We did sell our house, but 6 days before closing we had a minor setback. We’ll be re-listing our house in January to finally be completely debt free and have less stuff to worry about as we travel the world.

Family: Another year of homeschool

This accomplishment is more for Amanda since she is the primary teacher. But thinking of where the kids started the year and where they are now I’m excited about how far they have progressed in just one year.

Social: Meet more web folk, locally or at conferences

I wrote this goal without a clear timeline or plan of action, but knew it was important. Nevertheless this was one goal that was more than fulfilled. I attended several conferences (WordCamp Atlanta, WordCamp Minneapolis, WordCamp Austin, WordCamp Grand Rapids, WordCamp Europe, Pressnomics, WordSesh) , a few meetups (WordPress San Antonio, WordPress Austin) and spoke at three conferences. With attending conferences I was able to overcome my usual conference shyness and effectively network. I’ve had the chance to meet so many fun and talented people across the world in the WordPress community!

Career: Full year with WooThemes

This year was my first full year as a support ninja with WooThemes. I love working with this team and enjoy being involved in the WooCommerce ecosystem.

Family: More Date nights

Amanda and I had many more date nights in 2013 than in 2012. Another thing we did to increase our quality time together was to institute what we call “Ally Hours.” We found that late nights after the kids were in bed isn’t an ideal time to write blog posts nor do planning. We wanted time during the day without kids where we could write, read, record a video, or just hang out together. So we booked our babysitter Ally for four hours per week on the same day of the week. This time together has been very productive and we love getting a break from the kids.

2. What didn’t go so well this year?

Career: Build 30 more paid extensions by the end of the year

I only completed 3 new plugins this year and relied heavily on products that were built in 2012 for income. I had a tough time switching from my support brain (answering tickets for Woo) to my developer brain. Also, half the year was either in ‘Sell the house’ mode or ‘Fix the house’ mode. The management of each of these house phases were like having a part-time job so it left little time for other things.

I’m not going to get down on myself for this since life happens, but I’m also not going to be satisfied with the products I currently have in the market.

Career: Create new recurring revenue stream and build it to $2,000/month

I didn’t start a new revenue stream this year, but I had some great conversations and planning sessions on ideas to get things rolling for 2014.

Financial: 6 months of expenses in an emergency fund

After we finished Baby Step 2 and were debt free, the next baby step is to have 6 months of household expenses in the bank as an emergency fund. We started saving toward our emergency fund, but decided to cash flow several house fixes to improve the sale price of the house. Because the house hasn’t sold yet we haven’t recouped that cash flow. Once the house sells we’ll have an emergency fund, but until then we have about one month of expenses in savings.

Physical Goals

2013 was a plateau year physically. I didn’t pay as much attention to my health as I did in 2012, so I reaped a lackluster year with no progress. When Amanda and I have the same goal in this area we make great progress. In 2009 she ran a marathon and I ran a half marathon. We’ll be goal setting together and holding each other accountable in this area in 2014.

Spiritual: Join a small group

We believe that being connected to a church small group is a vital part of our Christian life, but we’ve had difficulty finding a group to connect with. The first part of the year we led two Financial Peace University classes so that took the place of a group. FPU is more of a class than a group, so when the 9 weeks were over we didn’t connect with the people in the group. We tried starting a group, but the formation didn’t take off and we didn’t want to recruit so we ended that group. We will continue to find a small group and possibly a new church home where we can connect.

3. What am I working toward?

To say that I’m excited for 2014 is an understatement. I’m excited to build on the successes from last year and to take more risk and explore new opportunities this year.

I’m going to be blogging more about being a solopreneur and building small enterprises that bring $5-$10K/month income. I love the model of having a portfolio of small companies that each produce recurring income while requiring minimal effort to keep running. This is an ideal setup for someone who wants to slow travel and be a digital tentmaker.

I’m going to be working more on the idea validation marketing side of things. I’m confident that I can build products that people will buy, but now I want to focus more on marketing, product lifecycle, the sales process and understanding customers intentions before/after the sale.

I’ll continue to connect with people in the WordPress community and meeting more product people. I will be attending as many WordCamps as my schedule can stand, but we will also be looking for missions conference and faith-centered conferences to connect with missions folks.

And finally 2014 will be the year we take our first international trip as a family. Our family goal is to be digital tentmakers – run an internet company and be location independent while serving the world. We want to visit 10 countries as a family and visit missionaries we know in person. We’re excited for the mission we’ve had in our heart for so many years to take off and become reality!

I’ll be sharing our specific 2014 goals in an upcoming post.

Let me know what you achieved in 2013 and what you’re looking forward to in 2014!