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2019: Closing Out Our Reboot Chapter And Exploring The Next One

It’s the time of year where I reflect on the year, before entering into my annual blogging break. This annual reflection point blog post is my second-to-last article for 2019 (One more to come, about 2020). Visit the blog archives to hold you over during this upcoming blogging break.

When this year concludes, it'll have been six years since we began this new journey (post Noodlehead Marketing) and it's included freelancing, a new church home, buying our first house, transitioning from home school to public, increasing our kid count to five, paying off our minivan, and launching numerous side projects (like IDEMA and The Island Story). 

My wife has also stepped out relaunching her website, launching a podcast, and publishing a conversation journal (on top of having a young baby girl to care for).

This year's greatest milestones for us included finishing our student loans ($155k), and for me, publishing my second book for small business owners (The Jump). 

Surrounding these two great achievements are numerous iterative shifts and adjustments to mold our life (time, money, & attention) into our desired vision (slowly and surely).

I'm grateful for the amount of progress (and with God's heavy lifting through it all) we've made in the last six years, and its an inspiring example of how much we truly can accomplish in a short period of time after starting over from scratch (even with debt slowing us down).

But, with this extended amount of effort to steward and build upon what God has graciously provided, it's been a tiresome journey to rebuild our new life. And, I've likely made it more difficult I’m some ways (by publishing books and maintaining this blog along the way) while making it easier in others (building awareness and credibility for my consulting work). 

More details to come, but my plan in 2020 is to slow down on these side ventures and rest in this extra margin throughout next year. It'll be a year of reflection, release, and rejuvenation for the exciting things on our horizon in 2021 and beyond.

But, before I jump to what’s ahead (in the upcoming final blog post for the year), let’s check back in on the goals I began with at the start of 2019.

Completed 2019 Goals

At the start of this year, I published my plan for 2019 (and checked in on it earlier this year) with a list of themes and goals for making our life better, closing out the past, and moving forward to the next chapter. As I seem to do, I bit off more than I could chew in a year. While this may be a tactic that demoralizes some, going after a little more than I’m able to handle helps me accomplish some goals while at least also moving the needle on others.

Here is my update on the goals I’ve successfully completed, and a few thoughts about them.

  • Pay Off $155k of Student Loans: This year we concluded our ten-year journey to pay off $155k of both me and Cait’s student loans. I’ve had several moments of emotional and intellectual acceptance of this accomplishment. As the fruit of this achievement manifests in our life, this additional margin becomes more felt and the financial burden I’ve carried lessens. It's a wonderful achievement for us!
  • Publishing My Second Book For Small Business Owners: Because of the amount of sustained effort and energy required, there are few things that feel as satisfying as publishing a book. Dedicated to my wife and introduced by my friend, The Jump is now available to equip and inspire striving small businesses. It’s also a milestone moment wrapping up another aspect of the Noodlehead Marketing Journey while also encapsulating The Jump I’ve made in my own vocational transition.
  • Allocating Week Day Time Off Each Month: While I’ve done it off and on over the years of freelancing, this year I buckled down to make sure I took a ”me day” each month. To do this while sustaining my freelance work and hitting my financial goals meant creating a pace that would build in the margin required for me to do this. Before, it was hard for me to make this happen. Now, I’m fiercely protective that this must happen each month.
  • Sustaining Income & Working Fewer Hours: While the year is not completely over, this too has been a goal I'm on track to successfully complete (despite a few setbacks). I'll be about six percent short of my 2018 hours (1,426 billable hours). With an income equal to or close to last year, that means I've accomplished my goal to earn the same amount while working fewer hours. It's a trend I intend to continue next year and beyond. 
  • Blogging 50 New Articles: A few months back, I was skeptical I'd actually make this one happen, but with the launch of the book, I was kicked into high gear for promoting it and creating content here on the blog. It gave me the motivation and energy to finish the mission with a total of 52 blog posts for 2019 (including my next and final article), and some of these recent ones have been lengthy and time-consuming to create!

Goals With A Mix Of Success & Failure

  • Containing Side Projects Within The Work Day: I've been rather inconsistent working on my book and blogging this year in-and-out of work hours. As I got closer to publishing my book, this went further out the window as I was spending evenings moving it forward, and preparing for the launch. Next year will be a transitory time to permanently move my side projects into the workweek.
  • Exercise, Fasting, & Analog Nights: While there have been some attempts at all three of these efforts, I've mostly fallen flat on my face when it comes to consistently doing any of them. 2019 will have been a test run on these, but integrating them permanently into my life will happen next year.
  • A Marketed Up Bible For The Kids: This was another goal I started and am excited about, but after losing my initial momentum, I failed to move it forward another inch until this past month where I picked it back up. This is something I intend to carry forward into next year.
  • Scheduled One-On-One Time With Wife & Kids: With the kids, this was done like clockwork all year long. With my wife, it's been hit or miss with mostly misses. My intentions for 2020 include more dedicated and scheduled one-on-one time together. 
  • Content Distribution Testing: I successfully wrote 5 guest blog posts this year and the Jump helped me make that happen. Another goal was to distribute 10 of my blogs onto Medium, but I fell short by one. Another goal involved creating 10 Pinterest images for existing blogs and sharing on that platform. I finished three. My final experiment was posting 50 comments across other people's articles. This was actually a fruitful effort even though I only succeeded at posting 22 of 50 comments.

Interesting & Noteworthy Updates & Tidbits

  • Gwinnett Men's Leadership Group: As part of my journey to further integrate my previously fragmented life with our wonderful church, I'm participating in a small leadership development group. This is a nine-month program, which will end in the middle of 2020.
  • Co-Leading Our Gwinnett Church Small Group: We've been in a terrific small group at Gwinnett Church, and in our final year, my wife and I have stepped up to help lead the troops for the remainder of our time together.
  • My Parents Moved To Nashville, Tennessee: Wow! Following the footsteps of my sisters and me, my parents have sold their business and bought a new home in the Nashville Tennessee area. We're excited to get more opportunities to do life nearby (relatively speaking).
  • Quora Space For Path of the Freelancer: I was invited earlier this year to trial the new Quora space expansion. I decided to jump on the wagon and create a space for freelancers around the concept of my first book. I've been sharing articles from this blog, the POTF website, and from around the web. It's now over 8k followers! Wow!
  • $2,375 of Lost Freelancing Revenue: Due to a few unexpected situations this year, I lost a few thousand dollars where I should have been compensated. While I plan each year for this possibility to happen, it's never a fun thing and a forgotten sting since 2018 was a perfect year in that regard.
  • Entrepreneur Magazine republished my Airtable advice in a followup issue to the one they first published last year.
  • Updated Noodlehead Marketing website: As part of the launch of my second book, I updated my former marketing company's website to consolidate it into one page and add a few things.

Fun & Interesting Photos

Perusing through my gallery of photos, here are some interesting ones that capture other moments for my 2019 journey.

This is me with Artie Ruderman interviewing about my new book, on the Pro Business Channel.

This is me speaking at the Atlanta Hubspot User Group about the content in the Jump: From Chaos to Clarity for Your Striving Small Business. The event was a hit and I landed a new coaching client from it.

This is me on the set of the Netflix show, Ozark, as a police officer. Unfortunately, I didn't end up being used for the day's scenes.

I nominated one of my clients, Dixie McCurley, for a financial leader of the year award. And she won! This is us taking a selfie at the awards ceremony.

My first corn hole tournament, at Gwinnett Church. We were quickly eliminated in the first round.

This is me drinking the Sonic Carolina Reaper slush. As much as I love it spicy, this was disgusting. 

Blog Highlights

As I look back across the year, here are the blog posts that were most popular and those I personally cherished most. 

Five Most Popular 2019 Blogs

Other Favorite 2019 Blog Posts To Check Out

My Wall of Consulting Client Gratitude

Freelancing as a small business consultant and marketer has been a fruitful path since I began in 2014. My array of wonderful clients has allowed me to sustain this vocation, pay off debts, and make tremendous financial progress. 

The following is a collection of my 2019 clients and listing them is a small token of gratitude for their contribution to my journey.

Thank you for choosing to work with me!

Wrapping 2019 Up

The final days of 2019 will wrap up a solid year of accomplishment and lessons learned. The changes we’ve made will provide us opportunities and options to explore and experiment personally and professionally over the upcoming years. 

But, before I explore them I’ll be taking a step back to reflect, learn, and rejuvenate. More on that in my next and final blog post (for 2019 and until 2021).

montoya family in the city of Atlanta georgiaFamily Photos courtesy of Mosaic Photographics.

Annual Reflection Point

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