2014 Goals: 3X KickoffLabs, Travel, Read, Write, & Simplify

What if you could triple your income, work less, & travel to spend more time with your family? It’s possible.

2014 Water

Triple KickoffLabs monthly recurring revenue. Over the last year we grew MRR by 73%. Our work in 2013 went into building a product that’s now ready to handle a much wider set of use cases and greatly increase the lifetime value of a customer. Follow us in 2014 to see exactly how.

Expand our international work-life integration adventure to two months. In 2013 we spent exactly one month living and working in Ireland. It was extremely rewarding. That month even ended up being one of the best for business in 2013. We’re going to take what we learned and expand this adventure to two months in 2014.

Read 12 books. I feel like I replaced a lot of crap TV in 2013 with crappy social media. Did staring at my TV get replaced by staring at my phone? I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling. The quality of media you consume has an enormous impact on the quality work you produce.

So far so good. I bought a Kindle Paperwhite and I’m 27% of the way through the Steve Jobs biography. The best Kindle feature… not having Twitter and Facebook apps.

Write and publish a book. My goal to write more in 2013 just wasn’t inspiring enough. Having a huge target… a published book that generates revenue… is extremely exiting and motivating. There’s an english major in our family so you’d think this would have already happened. Guess I’m going to have to pick up the slack here. :)

Continue to simplify. Last years challenge still applies with some bullets.

  • End 2014 with less “stuff” than we started with. Continue selling and donating things we don’t wear or use regularly.
  • Simplify my garden. The last couple of years I’ve converted our front yard into a vegetable/fruit garden. Last year we weren’t around to enjoy the late harvest anyway. Just berries & quick growing cherry tomatoes this year.
  • Digitally I’d like to reduce the amount of photos in our library by at least 50% by removing the crap.

Outsourcing 2014

  • I’m looking at you 2014 Christmas lights. :) Gabe and I are going to design what we want on an iPad and have professionals install them because “I’m worried daddy is going to fall off the ladder and I can’t catch him.” – Said Gabe.
  • Leverage a meal planning and preparation service. I love cooking… but only so many times in a week.
  • Get a pool guy until Gabe is old enough to clean the hot tub. Make sure he isn’t too attractive.

If you wondered how I did on 2013 goals you can read this. What are your goals for 2014?

Grading my 2013 Resolutions

I made a lot of resolutions public on this blog for 2013. Lets see how I did…

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Move my family to Ireland for at least a month

This fell under the concept of scaring yourself with one big goal for the year. My big goal was to try out the “New Rich” concepts of location independent work + life experiences. Easy if you are single… a lot more challenging with a family. How did it go?

We spent a month living and working in Ireland and it was a blast. There’s going to be a similar goal set for 2014 if we can ever decide on a location. Of course there are improvements that could be made, it could be done cheaper, but what we did was approachable for just about anyone.

I’ll give myself a solid A- on this goal.

Simplify life in 2013

In order to make room for big goals we have to let go of the physical and mental distractions that keep us from making real progress. I’m going to say I succeeded here with room for improvement in 2014.

I killed off virtual distractions

  • Killed off the Evolvingwe and Ledgards.com websites and simplified down to this domain and blog. I also killed those email accounts.
  • I have 50% fewer apps installed on my phone.
  • I stopped selling my app development training series and now just give away the iPhone apps I developed. For some reason I couldn’t let go enough to sell those businesses.
  • We no longer have cable TV in the house.
  • I unsubscribed from the blogs, newsletters, and searches I had setup to monitor our competitors. I care about our success and if they do something interesting my customers tell me about it anyway. :)

We finished 2013 with less physical stuff than we started with

This was no small feat with two small children that are showered with presents on Christmas, birthdays, and other random events, but I believe we did it.

  • We donated a good percentage of our clothing and found it liberating.
  • We sold off Skis, Snowboards, TVs, TV Stands, baby stuff, and just about anything we could find in our house that didn’t have a purpose.
  • We employed friends and relatives to focus their gift giving on higher quality toys with a higher lifetime value like legos.
  • We cleaned out our kitchen and sold/donated anything that hadn’t been used in months. Same for the garage and the utility room. This makes what we do have easier to find. :)

I’d like to go further in the next year. Living with fewer, higher quality, things is liberating. I’ll give myself a solid B here.

Outsourcing life in 2013

My goal to outsource more personal and professional tasks in 2013 was a mixed bag.

On one hand KickoffLabs was able to hire a great support engineer, designer, and someone to help with marketing by the second half of the year. Without this my trip to Ireland would have been a LOT more difficult.

On the other hand personal outsourcing didn’t go well at all. We did find a friend to handle some of the initial research on our trip to Ireland, but ended up doing too much of the work ourselves. My “honey-do” list remained a “honey-do” list and is still a distraction.

Professionally I’ll give myself a B for removing myself from a lot of basic tasks. Personally I’ll have to give myself a D-.

Learning Writing, Photography, & Guitar in 2013

This set of goals would have been better off unspoken.

Writing?

You can tell I didn’t write much on my blog and the general goal of “publishing” something every day just became un-interesting. Yes, I wrote a LOT of copy and marketing emails for KickoffLabs, but I don’t think it was a big or specific enough goal to be motivated. Just wait for the updated version of this goal in 2014.

Photography

I didn’t end up taking a class. I did take a lot of great pictures throughout the year and I’m enjoying seeing people create KickoffLabs pages with some of my shots as background images.

We did a great job taking pictures around Ireland… but the concepts of shooting in raw mode, post production in lightroom, etc just became overwhelming. Not sure what I’ll do here.

Guitar – Finishing Rocksmith

The less I write here the better.

Bonus Goal Achieved – Better Health

I was sick for months at a time last winter and topped out at 17% body fat. I resolved that something had to change so I could survive having two small children that are effectively mini-biological weapons living in our house.

No more diet soda

Or soda of any kind really. Working with Scott has the effect of becoming a better eater through osmosis. The big thing was just to realize that crap in is crap out. Most sodas are crap and diet sodas aren’t healthy for you at all. I’m onto teas, coconut water, and just more water in general.

Switch to more high intensity workouts

Last winter I topped out around 17% body fat and I’ve made it down to around 13%. A lot of this probably comes from eating a little better… but honestly I haven’t changed my diet much other than the soda change and perhaps being a little more “paleo”.

It’s not that I wasn’t putting in the time to workout so I decided to change HOW I worked out. A crossfit box opened up down the street and the research on high intensity workouts was compelling.

The difference in muscle strength and endurance is simply amazing from three to four 5 to 15 minute workouts combined with some lifting every week. For example: I was lucky to have been able to hit 3 proper pull-ups at a time before and now can knock out 20-35 without assistance in most workouts.

That’s it. Look forward to seeing my 2014 goals soon. Did you look back on your goals for 2013? How did you do?

Everyone Needs a Rabbit

I don’t know George, but he goes to the same Crossfit gym I’ve been frequenting. Competition, if you didn’t know, is a part of the Crossfit culture. Everyones scores for the days workout are posted on the whiteboard and on Facebook for everyone to see.

What I know about George is that he consistently puts up times that are 1 minute, 10% better, or just ahead of what I can manage. Everyday I show up and he has set a score for me to beat.

Rabbit

For all I know George is some sort of bionic superman out of a military experiment.

 

I really don’t care if he’s real or not. George is my Crossfit rabbit and I’m going to take him down one day.

It’s important for everyone to have a few rabbits in their life. It’s particularly important if you are running your own business. You need to know who your rabbits are, how you compare, and leverage them as motivation to improve your own offering. It’s important to benchmark, but there are a few things you should know about these rabbits.

  1. There is always a Rabbit. I don’t care who you are there is always someone better than you at what you are doing.
  2. They don’t give a fuck about you and you can’t obsess over them.
  3. You need to run your own race. You can’t beat a rabbit at the rabbits game.
  4. You probably can’t out-sprint the rabbit, but perhaps you can out-wit, out-lift, or outlast them to change the game into one you can win.
  5. If you “catch” one rabbit there is always another one just ahead of you.

Scare yourself in 2013 with one big goal

In college I had my George Costanza moment. It’s not that every decision I’d ever made was wrong, I just realized if I never challenged myself to do anything differently my life was never going to progress. I decided to take classes that pushed me, buy cloths in styles I never saw myself in, turn down a Microsoft internship for one with a smaller company that offered more opportunity, etc.

Scaring yourself in order to grow is something you have to constantly work on. Three years ago we had Gabe. Two years ago I left a great job to start KickoffLabs with Scott. Last year we added Cora to our family. So, without an easy win this year what am I going to do?

Move the family to Ireland for at least a month

That’s it. One big goal. To start trying out the “New Rich” concepts of location independent work + life experiences. This is simple if you’re single… but we’re going to figure out what it means with a family.

I was scared to even tell Gretchen that I wanted to do something like this. That was dumb. She got it and was 100% onboard and we’re pushing each other to make it possible.

It’s going to be a grand experiment in life simplification. Our goal is to live in a city without all the amenities we currently call home.

  • My job can be done anywhere with wifi.
  • Gretchen wants to spend more time with the kids.
  • It’s just as hard to travel with a family of four for a week as it is for any longer period of time.
  • When you compare short term rentals internationally you can get great deals compared to Hotel stays.
  • Our kids are young enough now that we aren’t tied down.

It’s going to require some of my other 2013 goals to get accomplished in order to make this possible and repeatable if we like it. This goal has already proven to be a great motivational tool for Gretchen and I to start doing things we’ve been putting off for too long.

We may have added kids to our lives, but we aren’t going to wait for retirement to start “living” again. We’re going to live more, now, as a family than we did before we had kids.