Biggest lesson from 2017: You can’t control outcomes. But if you set goals and pursue them, you’re much more likely to design a life you love than if you leave it up to chance.
Today, I am sharing my final “A Final Note” post in the series I did every month in 2017. This month, I’m super excited to talk about my year as a whole – not just December.
Below is the best and the worst of 2017 in each area of my life. This post was super fun to write, btw. It was also fun to look back at each month. Kind of like an online journal for me. I loved it.
Okay, here’s a look at my year!
My blog improved a lot in 2017, and I am happy with the overall progress I made on it.
I work full time and had a relationship for most of the year, so I didn’t spend a ton of time on my blog compared to people who do it full time. That’s why I think my income is pretty impressive. I only made money from affiliates and display advertising. Next year, I plan to incorporate digital products, too. I don’t freelance write or do any VA work, so the income is strictly just from my blog.
As a reminder, my blog income goes directly to my student loan payments. I took a 50% pay cut when I quit my job as a lawyer to have more work-life balance (aka a 40 hour work week) as a financial planner. Without my blog income I would be negative $1.5k every month in my budget (!!!). So my blog income is necessary for me to survive given my income as a financial planner.
Here are some of the best parts of 2017 for my blog…
- The best part of 2017 for my blog was that I made $45k gross this year. Keep in mind I have expenses and taxes to pay, so it’s not like I took home $45k. My expenses were ~$13k. Then, I paid taxes on the net amount. I took home enough to cover my student loan payment every month, which allows me to live on my salary from my day job. I was really happy this was income from ads and affiliate marketing, and it wasn’t from other things like freelance writing.
- I was featured in CNBC.
- I started a YouTube channel and finally feel comfortable on camera (after a solid 6 months of practice!).
- FinCon was really great this year and definitely one of the best times I had in 2017.
- From a strategy perspective, Six Figure Blogger was a game-changer for my blog. It taught me how to create a monetization strategy for my blog. I’m super excited about my blog going forward, in large part because of what I learned from that course.
Here’s a look at the top 10 most visited blog posts in 2017:
- 11 Habits You Need To Stop
- How To Live Frugally: The Ultimate Guide
- 10 Ways To Improve Your Finances Right Now
- How To Plan Your Best Year Ever
- How To Create A Budget: A 6-Step Guide
- 100 Self Improvement Tips That Will Make Your Life Better
- 7 Ways You’re Wasting Money Without Realizing It
- How To Prepare Financially For a Baby: An 8-Step Guide
- 5 Personal Development Books Everyone Should Read
- 45 Ways To Make Extra Money
So, the worst part about my blog this year was that it only made $45k. I know I listed this under the best part, but, well… it’s complicated! I really really want to pay off my student loans ASAP, so I need my blog to make a lot more money.
Also, I would like to see my traffic and email list grow faster. Traffic is steady but not growing really. My email is growing, but I frequently “clean” my list and delete inactive users. I would like to get over 50k subscribers, and I’m only at about half that right now.
That’s it for my blog. It was a good year overall – no complaints!!
Here’s a look at how my money was for 2017.
Since I made more money from my blog, I felt more comfortable with my finances. I saw my debt finally get under six figures (yay!).
I started with $206k in student loan debt, and I’m at about $95k now (my interest rates range between 7%-8.5%). I paid $25.3k onto my student loan debt in 2017.
The more money I make from my blog, the faster I’ll be able to pay this down. I wouldn’t be able to pay anything toward my debt if I didn’t have blog income, so it’s a life saver.
2017 was my 2nd year at my job as a financial planner. I learned a ton about managing money, and I now feel very confident with what to do with my money. I have the money-management side of things down. I’m no longer nervous about what to do with my money.
I have an emergency fund, and I have some saved for retirement. Honestly, it’s just a matter of getting those student loans out of the way so I can put into action everything I know with my own money.
If you don’t know where to start with money (and I get that – I was there 5 years ago), start by reading books or listening to podcasts so you can learn about money management yourself. Here’s a list of the 20 Best Money Management Podcasts to start with.
The worst part about my money situation is that I still have a lot of student loan debt. I don’t have a spending problem (not having a credit card makes spending pretty easy for me). I have an income problem. That’s why I focus so much on increasing my blog income – it really needs to increase to pay off the rest of my debt, so I can get on with my life and do more fun things like invest my money. 🙂
Health was one of the few areas that I actually achieved everything I wanted to for 2017. It’s just not a struggle for me the way that other things are. I guess that’s what makes everyone different – some people have health problems, some have money problems, some have relationship problems.
I started out the year at 130lbs, and I ended it at 120lbs. My goal was to lose 10lbs and that’s exactly what I did without much effort at all. In fact, I haven’t been to the gym in months (not proud of this, just saying!).
I quit eating meat and dairy for health reasons, so that was a huge health change. I feel so much better, too.
The worst part about my health is that I barely cook or workout right now.
I’m prioritizing my blog and relationships in my down time, so I don’t cook or workout really at all. This is just a season in life, but it’s definitely the worst part about 2017 for me.
I really enjoy yoga, dance, and running, so I can’t wait until I’m in a different season of life and can pick these things back up. Cooking, too! 🙂
I grew so much in ways I never would’ve expected in 2017.
This goes back to the whole “you can’t control outcomes” idea. It’s true. I was pulled in many directions I didn’t expect in 2017, and I grew so much, despite feeling so much resistance at first.
The best part of the year was that I grew so much. It’s insane how much I grew in 12 months – truly I am a different person than I was 12 months ago, and I’m really proud of that. Nothing would be more disappointing to me than not growing at all in a year.
I read a lot, I journaled, I became a little obsessed with journals (see my fav journals here).
I also started using the Artist Of Life Workbook as a life planner. I really like it so far!
Here’s a look at some of my favorite things from personal development this year…
- Podcasts I loved in 2017:
- Andy Stanley’s Your Move podcast (Christian)
- Lewis Howes’ The School Of Greatness (personal development)
- Andrew Ferebee’s Knowledge For Men (don’t judge me – it’s good for women, too!)
- The Life Coach School (self improvement)
- How I Built This (interviews with entrepreneurs)
- Boss Files (interviews with big thinkers)
- Entreleadership (small biz and leadership)
- Up First (news of the day)
- Favorite Podcast Episodes of 2017:
- Your Move with Andy Stanley, epi Fear Less
- The Life Coach School, epi 1 Why You Aren’t Taking Action
- Knowledge For Men epi 400 with Dan Millman: Seeking Excellence & the Return of the Peaceful Warrior
- How I Built This, epi Starbucks: Howard Schultz
- The School Of Greatness with Lewis Howes, epi Les Brown: Overcome All Odds and Change the World
- Designing Your Life | Bill Burnett | TEDxStanford (this is actually a YouTube video and it’s AMAZING)
- Books I read in 2017:
- Seven Stages of Money Maturity by George Kinder
- On Writing Well by William Zinsser
- SEO 2017 by Adam Clark
- Just Listen by Mark Goulston
- Strategies Worth Sharing by Brittany Ann
- As A Man Thinketh by James Allen
- Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
- The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
- The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
- Copywriting 101 by Copyblogger
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg McKeown
- The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
- The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone
- Be Obsessed Or Be Average by Grant Cradone
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
- Unshakeable by Tony Robbins
- You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell
- Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success by John Maxwell
- Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
- Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood
- The Path To Prosperity by James Allen
The worst part of personal development in 2017 was that I had to learn about grief, heartbreak, and everything that comes with it.
I thought I would be entering the best time of my life, and it turned out to be the worst. I have never gone through a sudden trauma or a loss like this before, and let me just say whoa. It was not fun.
It was definitely the worst part of the year.
It was interesting to go through this as someone who loves personal development so much. I was able to really analyze what I was thinking, feeling, and how I was acting.
I definitely did everything I could to go about it the right way. I got around my friends. I read books, I listened to podcasts, I went to a therapist. I literally did it all. And it helped a lot. I learned more about grief than I ever wanted to know.
I don’t wish this on anyone.
Interestingly, it gave me perspective on people who are in their final stages of life. I started to think about all the suffering and grief people experience in a life time. I cannot even imagine the amount of loss and grief older people have gone through in 70-100 years of living.
I am certainly more compassionate now. And I’m thankful for that.
This year flew by at work. I was finally done with all studying and could work my normal 40 hour work week as a financial planner. This is a large reason why I quit practicing law – I wanted to transition into a career I was passionate about and work 40 hours a week. This meant a 50% pay cut, but it was worth it to me.
I officially became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in 2017. This was really cool and definitely a long time coming. I first talked about getting my CFP® in 2012! I was really happy to finally have accomplished this goal.
The worst part of my career this year was time management. I’m actually really good at time management, but it doesn’t mean it’s still not hard sometimes. It takes me about 20-40 minutes to commute to and from work depending on traffic, and I want to be committed to 40 hour work weeks (that is a huge part of why I left law), so fitting everything in and doing a good job at work was harder this year than it was the previous year.
Faith was okay in 2017. There weren’t any failures or successes really. I feel really strong about my faith and was so glad to be able to rely on it during such a hard time this year.
I continue to listen to Christian podcasts (I do this in the morning while I’m getting ready), which helps me keep focused on my values.
I’d like to incorporate my faith-based reading in the future. That’s not something I’ve really done yet.
Well, most of you already know by now that the relationship category of my life exploded into a million pieces in 2017.
I started out the year thinking I was going to get engaged.
I had so many plans.
So. Many. Plans.
Remember what I said about not being able to control outcomes? Well, I learned that loud and clear this year.
You can’t control relationships because the very fact that it’s a relationship means there’s another person involved, and you can’t control other people.
I want to start with the worst part of relationships in 2017 first because that will explain the best part.
The worst part of this year was I thought I was going out of town to get engaged and instead the relationship was suddenly over.
It was crazy.
I didn’t know things like this happened, and I never thought something like this could happen to me.
And now, thankfully, I’m happy to say I’m doing much better.
The best part of the year was deepening so many friendships.
Going through something so horrible brought all my friendships front and center. It quickly became clear who was a good friend and who wasn’t.
I don’t know where I’d be without a handful of people who helped me through such a horrible time. It’s incredible. I’m forever grateful to all of them.
I have much stronger friendships heading into 2018.
That’s A Wrap!
I am saying bye to 2017 with excitement to leave it behind and head into 2018.
Usually, I achieve most of my goals.
This year, I learned that I can set all the goals I want, but I still can’t control the outcomes.
This was a super important lesson to learn. I think it’ll help me for the rest of my life.
The good news is it’s still worth it to set goals because I increase the likelihood of getting the end result I want (I just can’t guarantee it).
And like I’ve said before, it’s not really about the end result. It’s about who you become in the pursuit of your goals that matters.
I am moving forward into 2018 with an open heart and renewed vigor for life.
Thank you for being a part of it.
Cheers to 2018! 🙂