This Year (2017) Has Been A Wild Ride Of Expected Change
It’s that time of year again where I take a moment to reflect, thank others and enter into a blogging break. This annual reflection point blog post is my last article for 2017. Come back and see me in 2018 or visit the blog archives for ones you may have missed.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” -Bill Gates
In the past three and half years, we’ve completely changed our lives after the shut down of our marketing company in 2014. It’s involved numerous small steps and big leaps after we rebooted. I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made in just over three years!
Just this year, we bought our first house in a new Sugar Hill community. We finished transitioning from a small Acts 29 Network church in Norcross to a large satellite church in Sugar Hill. We transitioned our two older kids from homeschooling to public school. I published my first book, and we bought a slightly used minivan after our previous one broke down in North Carolina. And to top it all off, I went through the Leaders Lyceum personal Development program and completed a four-month weekday blogging challenge while maintaining the highest level of freelance success to date.
I could not have jammed any more into our lives than this, which is good because next year's goal is to start a trend downwards in the amount of change and new things we introduce. And while there were numerous milestones this year, it was the culmination of activities done over the past several years that empowered us to make it happen. Let's take a deeper dive into these highlights.
Publishing A Book
In April of this year, I published my first book, Path Of The Freelancer: An Actionable Guide To Flourishing In Freelancing. It was over 18 months from start to finish, but slowly and steadily I wrote, edited, and published it on Amazon. I also built a tremendous online website library to help freelancers succeed.
The biggest challenge I faced with having a big splash came from my desire to sustain my flourishing freelancing business. Since I’m earning a great income, I didn’t want to compromise it, and this meant limiting my time to give to this project.
To date, I’ve moved (sold+gifted) 74 copies, spoke at three events, received 9 great reviews, 6 guest blog posts, and 3 earned interviews. What I realized is for me to have more success with these types of projects, I need to grow my personal digital platform. With a larger reach on this blog, I’ll get more traction when I launch these types of projects. This thinking is what eventually fueled my next big project for 2017, a weekday blogging challenge.
Launching A Weekday Blogging Campaign
Right now in my life, it feels great to create out of my own volition (as opposed to the direction and need of my clients). I've contributed eighty-eight new articles to this blog over the past four months. And when I look back over these articles, I'm satisfied and proud of what I've created. While the challenge came on a whim, I'm so glad I did it.
Like a shot of adrenaline, it feels like it's changed and set me up for the future in a powerful way. Since 2014, I've mostly gone down this blogging path in isolation, so it was great to blog alongside my friend Jim Karwisch, Craig Haynie, Allison Miller, and others. If you missed any of the 2017 blogs, here's a snapshot of my favorites as well as the most popular blogs to check out.
My Top Five Favorite 2017 Blogs
- Are You Ready To Face Your Greatest Fears Head On?
- American Made & My Experiences As A Movie Maker & Film Extra
- The Magnum Test: Will Your Business Survive Beyond You?
- Five Steps To Transform Your Messy Business Into A Well Oiled Machine
- What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From The Firing Of Star Wars Director Colin Trevorrow (with Addison Williams)
My Top Five Most Popular 2017 Blogs
- How Answering These Five Questions Can Give You Instant Clarity And Focus
- How To Become A Movie Extra On A Feature Film Or TV Show
- Why I Impose A Cap On How Much A Client Can Work With Me
- What Is The Deal With My Email Greeting?
- The Story Of My Life (In A Nutshell)
My Three Most Found Blogs On The Search Engines
- Three Ways We Can Respond To Those Who Offer Their Help
- The 'Splinter Effect': Wounds, Pain & Healing
- Guest Post by Chi Chi Okezie: How Faith In God Changed My Business and Transformed My Life
Buying A House
In 2005, Caitlyn and I moved to Atlanta. We rented my parents condo from 2005 to 2014. From 2014 to 2017, we rented from a friend of a friend. During these past three years, I've been working hard to position our family to purchase a home and earlier this year, we finally made this aspiration a reality. My favorite part of the house is the openness of the downstairs area while Cait's is the backyard deck seen in the photo above.
While we were deliberate in our search for the area and home, the purchase and move have turned out better than I expected. When we got back from our recent trip to Florida, it felt so wonderful to come back to this place. It truly feels like our home, which is great because we plan to live here the next few decades.
Transitioning From Home Schooling To Public Schooling
As part of our move to North Gwinnett County, we also made the decision to transition our two oldest kids who were homeschooled the years prior to the local public elementary school. While it was hard for both Madison and David in the first few weeks, they adapted to where they now love their teachers and the school.
The entire experience has been pleasant and fruitful, even though we experienced the expected challenges, I'm glad we made the transition. Both our kids now love riding the bus to and from school.
Journeying Through The Leaders Lyceum Training Program
Years after learning about and working with the Leaders Lyceum, I finally got the opportunity to go through the personal development program. It was exciting to formalize my understanding of development theory and get a deeper dive on the topics I had only experienced from a distance.
The day after I turned thirty, I went through a leadership program (Lifework Leadership). A few years ago, I went through a second program (Transformational Leadership). And just before I turned thirty-three, I finished the Leaders Lyceum program. It's neat to see how God guided me through this transitional season.
As part of my journey through the Leaders Lyceum program, I wrote ten blog posts about the experience. Click here to read them.
Buying A Kia Sedona
In the middle of the year, we found ourselves in a bit of hot water when our van's transmission went out in North Carolina. After much deliberation and planning, we decided to buy a slightly used 2017 Kia Sedona. Our intent was to buy a family vehicle that would last the next decade while also paying off the loan within a year. We've currently paid half of the price, and by the middle of next year will have paid it off in full. You can read my blog post for a deeper dive on what happened and why we made this decision here.
Transitioning to Gwinnett Church & Starting A New Small Group
As I mentioned earlier this year, a big part of why we chose to participate in Gwinnett Church was their approach and philosophy. The more we've gotten involved in attending, giving and doing community, the more refreshing this experience has been for me. In many cases, it felt like they read my mind while other times they made it even better than I would have expected or hoped for.
Small groups are my weekly sanctuary. This weekly group time is when I get to escape from the impending realities that push in on me. I get a moment to laugh, learn, and share life with others. While I've heard about both positive and negative experiences with community groups, we've hit the jackpot with our first Gwinnett Church small group. We're open, honest and fully committed to sharing life together.
I'm grateful and encouraged in our decision to share our lives with this church for the foreseeable future.
Other Interesting Tidbits
- I got to joyfully experience my 15 Minutes of fame in AMERICAN Made with Tom Cruise. I wrote about discovering myself in the movie trailer in July and this past September, I got to watch my scenes from the movie. When the movie comes out on digital and Blu Ray, I'll be sure to buy a copy so I can share the moment with you here on the blog.
- This year, I spoke at two events, which was the first time I'd spoken in years. In fact, the last speaking event I was scheduled to do was the weekend when I had my nervous breakdown. Suffice to say, there was some emotional healing that came from this process.
- Over the past few years, we've been watching numerous episodes of Brave Wilderness with Coyote Peterson. Madison and my wife Caitlyn both got the opportunity to attend a local event he did here in Atlanta. Madison even had the opportunity to ask him a question. Since my wife told Madison she couldn't ask him to marry her, she instead asked him about the upcoming (now live) episode where he gets stung by the warrior wasp.
- For the first time in a long time, Cait and I got to vacation away from the kids in a Cedar Creek Cabin Rental by Helen Georgia. The first thing we did when we arrived was taking a nap. Only parents of multiple kids would start their romantic trip sleeping.
- I'm a huge Star Wars fan. While I was too young to experience the original movies in the theaters, I grew up watching and rewatching these movies. My favorite was Return Of The Jedi. When the prequels came out, we camped out for all three. And I loved The Force Awakens. It even inspired me to write a blog post about a common criticism. We watch that movie about once a month and so we're pumped to see The Last Jedi. Cait and I already have our tickets for opening night.
Here are a few more fun photos from the year.
Me and Caitlyn at the opening night of American Made.
A double rainbow in front of our house.
Our four children dressed up for Halloween.
A mini family reunion.
My Wall Of Gratitude
Our flourishing and wonderful changes would not be possible without the grace of God, the love of Jesus, the support of my family, and the impact of the church. I am so grateful for the love that has been given to me by so many people. In the following section, I'm taking just a moment to quickly acknowledge many of the people who have made an impact in my life this year.
Friends and Allies
- To my lovely wife Caitlyn and four children (Madison, David, Judah, and Elihu) for loving me and contributing to moving our lives forward.
- James & Betsy Rowell, Rob & Robyn Lowe, and our Generations Norcross Community for shepherding and loving us over the past several years.
- Jim Karwisch for helping me lead the weekday blogging challenge group.
- Addison Williams for our many interesting and extensive discussions on all things life-related.
- Keith Taylor (for writing the introduction to Path Of The Freelancer)
- Judy Kreklow for lavishing your love and hospitality on our family and especially our kids!
- Ray & Rachel Souza, for leaving (I mean LEADING) our first Gwinnett Church small group.
- Fred Hadra & Jessica Lalley for referring clients my way!
- To the friends, family, and people I'm missing on this list. To those I know have helped me and those who did it secretly. I'm grateful and know it's the love and support of those around me that have fueled our wonderful life!
- Craig Haynie & the team at CablesandKits.com
- Tom Telford & the team (including Toby Bloomberg, Allison Miller, Addison Williams, Len Wikberg, & Josh Womble) at Cedar Creek Cabin Rentals
- Dixie McCurley and the Trusted CFO Solutions team
- Rick Bembas & The Ecotech Machinery Team
- Feland Meadows & The Pan American Montessori Society
- Mary Claire, & Caitlin from Jackson Spalding
- Keith Rinzler & The 1Q Team
- Fred Spring & Addison Williams (98toGo)
- To Dave Harvey (Am I Called)
- Jean Vallee (Atlanta Permits)
- Laura Collier (Braselton Event Center)
- Ellen Bristol (Bristol Strategy Group)
- Deenie McKeever (McKeever's First Ride)
- Bryant Cornett & The DTSpade team.
- Lauren Lowe (Lauren Elaine Interiors)
- Cynthia Bancale (Openeye Scientific)
- Dan Capoferri & the Precision Pain Relief Center Team
- Jennifer Tompkins (Richmond Signscapes)
- Rick Davenport & the Roofing Atlanta Inc. Team
- Carmen LaBerge & Jessica Lalley (Speak The Truth)
- Alicia & Kenna (Valley Box Company)
- David Wittenberg (Wittenberg Law)
- Barret Sherrill (Fred Lemon & Associates)
- Alana Kelly (Gitche Clean)
- Henri Darby (Trinity Electronic Labs)
- David McLeroy (Concrete Replacement Specialists)
Until Next Year
Have a wonderful December, Last Jedi viewing, Christmas, New Year and holiday season! I'll be back in 2018 to share more stories & systems to help you live better and work smarter :-)
Jason Scott Montoya
Family photos by Mosaic Photographics. Taken at Piedmont Park In Downtown Atlanta Georgia.
Tags: Annual Reflection Point