I’m still not entirely sure how it’s almost 2016 yet, but somehow, it is.
This year has been full of incredible stories, big life changes, and a few let downs as well.
In today’s post I’m going to share with you the first part of my annual review process: the overview.
The reason I say this is an overview, is that I’ll usually go through this process as a general starting point, and then between now and the end of the year I’ll deep dive into these a little bit more to really understand the why behind each, which allows me to position myself for success for the next year.
I think it’s important to have an overview before you go too deep, so that you don’t get marred down in all the details before you’re really able to take a step back and look at the year as a whole.
My Annual Review Process
Before I jump into the specifics of my year, I want to walk through what exactly I do so that you can either apply it to your own life, or at least have some context for what I’m talking about.
For my overview, I look at 6 different categories:
- 5 Things I rocked at
- 5 Things I sucked at
- 5 Memorable moments
- 5 Big let downs
- 5 Bucket list items
- 5 Measurable goals for the next year
You might want to do 10 items or more for each category, but I find starting with 5 forces me to think about the highlights and the things that come to mind first – as those are generally the most important things to focus on.
I usually spend a couple hours thinking through what these things are. I review photos and blog posts to refresh my memory, as well as to bring up things I may have forgotten about.
As I go through it, usually certain things will flow into other categories. Usually I find these are the things I did really well, or the things I really need to improve – so having overlap is actually a very good thing.
You’ll see what I mean when you go through my review. There were a few standout items on both ends of that spectrum.
For this overview, I then stick with 5 overarching measurable goals for the new year. These are the big ones, these are the ones that will drive most of my actions throughout the next 52 weeks.
During my deep dive later on, I’ll often have a few dozen goals and milestones to work towards that help support the 5 big things.
Let’s jump in.
5 Things I Rocked At
These are the things I really felt like I excelled at this year in both my personal life and business.
1) Improving consistency with my business
When I first started Location 180, I wrote every Monday and Thursday – and that worked well.
After awhile, life and my own struggle with focus got in the way and things got much more sporadic.
This year with the help of our community manager Liz we’ve been able to get some consistency back in the business.
New posts every Tuesday. New video every Thursday. A newsletter (usually) every Friday.
We have a set process for what to do each time a post goes live. And while there is still lots of room to improve on every aspect of consistency, having this base has been huge for setting the foundation of building out more systems in 2016.
2) Continuing to Travel
Last year when I bought a house and got engaged, there was a small part of me that hoped this wouldn’t mean I’d ditch travel, adventure, and become fully domesticated.
If there were any doubt in this, 2015 put it to rest. I visited 5 countries this year (Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Maldives, and Germany). I hit nearly every corner of the country (NYCx3, San Francisco, Orlando, Boston, Vail) and throughout the entire year, I never had more than a few weeks at home before leaving again.
I don’t know if I always want this to be the case, but at this point in my life I still love the constant travel and new adventures.
Next year is shaping up to be the same.
3) Building relationships with readers and LR members
One of the things I’ve prided myself on over the last few years is trying to always give a personal response to anyone who sends a thoughtful email to me.
This has led to a lot of new relationships, successful case studies, and ultimately made it much easier to see the transitions that people have been able to make with the help of this blog and Location Rebel.
As the site grows and I work on really narrowing in my focus on a few things this next year, there may be some aspects of this that need to change, but I never want to lose that one on one connection I’ve been able to build with so many people.
4) Making time for my hobbies
I’m one of those people who has a lot of hobbies. And this year I made a lot of time for them, but golf in particular, took up much of my free time this year.
In 2015 I played about a dozen new top 100 golf courses – so I’m now sitting at 26/100 of the top courses in the US and 23/100 of the top courses in the world.
These trips have led to some incredible memories, and it’s been fun to study the history and architecture of some of the courses I’ve had the good fortune to play.
I’ve also made time for rock climbing, travel, playing guitar, etc.
5) Maintaining the business
This year I’ve done everything I’ve need to do to maintain the business. I’ve kept up with blog posts, updates to Location Rebel and continued to do our twice per year promos for our community (the biggest one ever is coming January 1st! Make sure you’re on the email list…).
This has been great, and has led to revenue numbers that were similar to last year. So I’ve maintained the business at a very good spot. One that has allowed me to help a lot of people, while still living the lifestyle I’ve wanted.
5 Things I Sucked At
These are the things that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.
1) Growing the business
Yes, I was good at maintaining the business, however I was not good at growing the business. You never want to see things stagnate or stay the same. This year despite having a solid idea of how to do it, I let other things get in the way from really taking things to the next level, which has been a frustration to say the least. And it’s worth noting, the “next level” isn’t some massive multi-million dollar company. You should always know exactly what you’re trying to build and why you’re trying to do it – I have a good sense of what that is for Location Rebel.
At this point one of the best things I can do to grow the business is to try a lot of different things and test them. I did very little of this in 2015. In April I tested my first sales webinar. It led to about $10k in sales from one call and the email follow up sequence. You’d think I would double down on the testing of that model…I didn’t.
3) Positive Habits
This is easily the most frustrating thing I sucked at in 2015. One of my biggest struggles over the years has been building positive habits and routines into my life. Eating healthy consistently. Getting strenuous physical activity on a regular basis (walking 18 holes doesn’t count). Working on the important things rather than the urgent things. These are all examples of positive habits I wanted to build, but struggled with sticking to. There are many reasons for why this is, but much of it comes down to lack of discipline and it’s an aspect of working for yourself that many people don’t talk much about.
I’ve created a lot of really cool things over the last year.
- Rebel Launches: How to Build Relationships and Income During a Product Launch
- The Rebel Guide to Mastering Email
These are just to name a few. The first two are products I’m really proud of, yet the only people who have them are the people who joined one of our Location Rebel promotions. The Desk should have been released months earlier than it was. The big reason for these delays will be talked about below in the “let down” category, but this will be one of the biggest focuses early in 2016.
5) Making health the priority
Every time I’d make a week of progress on this, I’d leave to go travel and things would go to hell. This is one of the downsides to being on the road every few weeks. When you don’t have a couple months to engrain these routines into your life, its tough to make progress. So this one is a bit of a piggy back on #3, and there were certainly bright spots, overall I didn’t do nearly as well as I should have. I’ll be expecting a comment from Mike in 3….2…..1…. 🙂
5 Memorable Moments
These were just some of the awesome things that happened. I like to focus on these after the things I sucked at, because it’s a good reminder of, “hey, you did some amazing things this year too!”
1) Getting Married
Obviously the biggest and most important thing that happened all year was getting married to my beautiful wife Tate. Our wedding turned out absolutely perfect, and exceeded my already high expectations.
2) Honeymoon in the Maldives
Piggy-backing on the wedding, a couple months later we took our dream trip and went to a place both of us had always wanted to go: the Maldives. Despite all of our flights getting canceled less than 24 hours before we left (thanks Lufthansa!), it truly was the best trip of my life, and the Shangri-La Villingili is such an amazing place that I hope to make it back to one day.
3) Getting Groomsmen Suits in Vietnam
A lot of wedding related highlights this year, but Tate and I spent a week in Saigon and Hong Kong to get suits made for my groomsmen, after nearly 2 years of joking about it. It was awesome to create that story, and even cooler to be able to provide my groomsmen with $100 custom tailored suits 🙂
4) Speaking at WDS
I had the honor of hosting an Academy at this year’s World Domination Summit. This meant 3 hours of me up on stage in front of 250 people. I’ve never spent anywhere near that amount of time leading a workshop or anything like that, and I was incredibly nervous. In the end, the event was fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for a better audience or experience. Despite intense nerves, this kind of public speaking is something I hope to do more of in the future.
5) Playing Pebble Beach (and about half a dozen other golf trips)
One of the more memorable days of the year was finally playing the most famous golf course in America: Pebble Beach. While I didn’t exactly shoot me best score, the week I spent in the Bay Area cruising around in a convertible Camaro and playing some of the best golf courses in the country with my buddy Dan was an experience I won’t soon forget. And then when you randomly meet this guy, well, that doesn’t suck either.
5 Big Let Downs
Every year there are always things that don’t go as planned, or are a bit of a letdown. This year was no different for me, so let’s look at the 5 big ones.
1) Not getting new Location Rebel site live
One of the biggest projects of the year has been moving Location Rebel over to a new platform that will really allow us to take the site to a new level. It’s been a 6 months process that has simply taken much longer than expected for a variety of reasons. Much of this lies with me for not pushing the issue more and really working hard to make it happen. The good news is that the new site is now less than a month away and we’ll finally be able to start pushing forward on other projects (like releasing those products mentioned above), once every thing is done.
2) Not releasing The Desk sooner
Most of The Desk video was finished by May, yet we didn’t release it until November. The goal was to launch it with the new site, but when it was clear that wasn’t going to happen we just needed to get it out. While the response has been incredible, and I love the final product, I don’t think I did a good enough job promoting and marketing it. I’ll still continue to work on this, but it was something I was a bit disappointed with.
3) Wasting Too Much Time
When you work for yourself or work from home, there’s any number of distractions that can get in the way of progress. One of the best quotes I’ve heard this year is “free time is the enemy of progress” and I found that to be true in my own life. When I didn’t have things I had to do, it seemed like getting things done was tough, and the result was me wasting a lot of time. What I do is a privilege and the last thing I want to do is jeopardize that through laziness or inaction.
4) Business growth
Sometimes you don’t realize something that should seem pretty obvious until much later on. In the case of business growth, I didn’t really realize that I was in “maintenance mode” until recently when I started going though this review process. It’s easy to convince yourself you’re pushing things forward by handling the urgent stuff, yet putting off the important stuff (I know, there’s that phrase again). In responding to emails, writing blog posts, and working with Location Rebel members I handled all of the things necessary to maintain, but I didn’t release new products, build out my marketing automation system, host webinars etc. The good news is once you realize this, it’s easier to become proactive and start making the changes.
5) Personal Disarray
This one is a little bit broader, but mostly stems from the heavy focus on travel, as well as other big things like the wedding taking up so much time. I’ve found myself feeling very scattered and unorganized the last 6 months. Things like organizing my office, cleaning the house, and building positive habits have played a secondary role to everything else. This is ok for a period of time, but now it’s time to get things back in gear. I know myself and when there’s clutter in my personal life, there’s clutter in my brain and it’s tougher to work. Between now and the New Year I’ll be specifically focusing on removing all of that clutter and excess so that I can focus on business growth. A big thanks to Liz for putting up with this for the last year. She has to deal with my craziness on a regular basis while we work on the business together, and I only hope I’ll get better next year for her sake 🙂
5 Bucket List Moments
One of the primary reasons this site started in the first place was to hold myself accountable for all of the things I wanted to do in life – thus I published my bucket list. Every year I try and cross off a handful of items from the list, and 2015 was no different. Even 6 years in, it’s important to keep chipping away at the list and recognizing when I’ve knocked off another item!
1) Swim in the Maldives
2) Stay in an Overwater Bungalow
3) Drive a Ferrari
4) Play Pebble Beach
Growing up the idea of playing Pebble Beach was one of those things only rich corporate businessmen could do. So to finally play it was a pretty surreal and amazing experience. It was the most expensive round of golf I’ve ever had (and probably ever will), but it was totally worth it.
5) Have a Singapore Sling in the Raffles
This was kind of a make up goal. I had a Singapore Sling at the Raffles in 2013, but I didn’t got to the actual Long Bar. This year we rectified that during our unexpected 24 layover in Singapore on the way to the Maldives.
5 Measurable Goals for 2016
1) Increase total revenue by 50%
I have all the tools needed to do it. I’ve built an incredible community, great products, and I have all the marketing know-how to make it happen. Now it’s just a matter of building the systems, committing to it, and making it a priority.
2) Play 20 top 100 golf courses
This year I played some phenomenal golf courses. Including one of such a caliber that when walking out to the first tee, the member who I was with said “oh look, there’s Chuck Schwab and his wife.” This top 100 quest has become a big thing for me, and over the last year has become even more important than my original bucket list. I’ve made a lot of progress, but I need to continue doing so if I’m going to reach my goal of playing the top 100 in the US by the time I’m 35.
3) Grow the email list by 20,000
I have a pretty good sense of how my email offers convert, so one of the best things I can do to grow the business, is to grow the email list (and continue testing it! See how these things come full circle..) There’s a lot that can be done it help with this, but it will require both minor and major adjustments that need to become a priority for 2016. This is the only metric I’m going to focus on aside from revenue.
4) Visit 5 new countries
While I made it to 5 countries this year, I only made it to 2 new ones. So next year I’d like to make sure I’m continuing to adventure out and experience some entirely new places.
5) Build recurring revenue of $5k a month into business
In the past I’ve talked about why I didn’t initially pursue a recurring revenue model with Location Rebel. While I still think this is the right move, it’s time to create some additional services that will help a different segment of people, while also adding some predictability to my income stream.
2016 and Beyond
Every year for the past 6 years I’ve said, “man, I don’t know how next year will top this one.” Yet pretty much every year has surpassed the previous in terms of business success, personal growth, and incredible experiences. Despite plenty of things I need to improve upon, I feel the same way this year. I have no idea how 2016 will be able to top the last 12 months, but I know I’m going to keep doing everything I can to “do the stuff most people just talk about doing,” while trying to help as many people as possible achieve their goals in the process. I’d love to hear what some of your big measurable goals are for 2016. Shoot me an email, or even better, share them with us in the comments!