2014 Year in Review

It’s time to look back and reflect on 2014. I’ve done this for the past two years now. The reason I started doing it was because I never did it. If I wanted to get different results in life, I needed to do different things. An annual review seemed like a great idea because I could review what went well and what didn’t go as well.

Therefore the next, I could continue to do more of what was working well and less of what wasn’t.

If you’ve never done one before, I encourage you to answer those two questions.

If you want to go more in depth in your year in review, I’ve created a free worksheet that has questions to help you review your year and plan for the next. By filling it out, you will learn a lot about yourself.

Download it, print it out and find a quiet time to complete it. Don’t rush through it. These questions will really make you think. Be honest with your answers. These are just for yourself.

If you find it that you don’t have much to write down, then next year make sure you consciously do more. It could be because you’re in your comfort zone too much. Make it a goal for next year to be stretch yourself and take more risks.

If you’ve never done a year in review, try it this year. You’ll learn more about yourself. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Don’t just fill this out and put it away. I encourage you to put it in a place where you can access it and refer back to it throughout the year. Because you need to remember the parts of your life you said you needed to eliminate or improve.

Download the worksheet now (right click to save)

What went well in 2014

Working for myself

This was the first time in my life I began and ended this year as an online entrepreneur. I didn’t realize that until I began writing this.

That’s a huge accomplishment for me and a dream I’ve had since probably 2005. It’s a great feeling to know that I did that. Last year was the beginning of this new chapter.

In June 2013, I quit my full time job finally and went all in with my online business. It was scary to take that leap before I was financially ready, but I just could not take wasting my time doing a job I hated. It was scary and went through some low points before finally seeing the results of the hard work pay off at the end of 2013. 

That momentum carried in 2014 and this year has been my best year yet.

Being my own boss is great but it also means that I need to get myself to do the work. I don’t have anyone telling me what I should be doing. For the most part I’ve done a pretty good job of that this year. The results have shown that.

Travel

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One of the reasons I’ve always wanted to have my own online business is to be able to travel when I wanted. This year I took full advantage of that.

Last year, my wife and I didn’t travel much after June because I wasn’t getting a steady paycheck anymore and living off savings until the online income went up. So we cut back on spending in many areas of our life, including travel.

We hated that because we love traveling, but we had to.

This year we made up for it.

Febuary started off with a trip to London and Paris thanks to a mistake fare that was published a few months before. We were able to get roundtrip tickets for $400 per person. A bargain we could not turn down especially we had been dreaming about going to those cities.

We stayed two weeks total and used a combination of hotel points, cash, and Airbnb for our hotels.

[If you want to learn more about how to travel in luxury without paying full price, here is a guide created by Chris Guillebeau. He inspired me to start travel hacking and I’ve been loving it ever since.]

On the way back we stopped in New York City for three nights. Got to try out the tallest hotel in North America which recently opened. I booked one night with points and one night with cash.

Got  upgraded to a corner room with a priceless view of Central Park.

After that the traveling continued.

  • April – Long Beach to visit family
  • April to June – Taipei
  • July – Portland for World Domination Summit
  • July – Las Vegas for my birthday
  • August – Dallas for Podcasting Movement
  • September – Chicago to play tourist
  • September – Denver to watch a Broncos game
  • October – Jamaica for our three year anniversary
  • November – I didn’t go anywhere but my wife went to New York for a week to meet a friend who visited from Taiwan
  • December – Amtrak ride from Denver to San Francisco. Then flew to Minneapolis to see the Mall of America

What helped us save so much money this year was having the Southwest companion pass which I earned in early 2014. What that allows is when I book a ticket, my wife flies almost for free! She has to pay like $5 for fee but that’s it. That’s why we decided to go to so many places this year.

Early 2015 is the best time to get the companion pass. Why? Because when you qualify for it, Southwest gives it to you the rest of the year and then next year. So my companion pass was good for this year and all of 2015! And Southwest now flies internationally and the pass can be used for that too. That’s why we went to Jamaica for our anniversary.

Here is a great blog post that explains more and helped me earn the companion pass. 

Teespring.com

IMG_1184At the beginning of the year, I had no idea that I’d make more money than I ever have by selling t-shirts online. 

I knew about Teespring in 2013 but didn’t understand how it could turn into a business until earlier this year when I learned that people were making lots of money. I decided to try it out because I’ve always wanted to design t-shirts. I can remember reading the 4 Hour Work week in 2007 and the idea of buying a printing machine and doing it in my garage crossed my mind. Just seemed too much to invest upfront and I had no idea how to get people to see my shirt.

Now that dream is possible thanks to Teespring and Facebook. At the end of this year I’ve been paid out by Teespring $195,000+.

It’s given me more confidence that I can do even more in life. Now I’m thinking bigger

In December when we went to San Francisco, I was able to stop by the Teespring offices to get a tour and meet some of the amazing people behind it.

Launched the podcast

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Last year I was disappointed I didn’t launch the Get Busy Living podcast. I had wanted to but put it aside in order to focus on making money. I’m glad I did because I now realize how much time goes into podcasting. This year though I wanted to finally launch it.

Since I did in January I’ve had 195,000 downloads! I was featured in New and Noteworthy and climbed as high as #56 overall in the whole iTunes podcast section and #4 in the self help category. Even more important was getting feedback about how much you enjoy it.

I thought it’d be easy to just hit record and talk. It was the second episode that I realized it wasn’t. That episode took hours to finish. I kept messing up with sentences so I’d have to stop, delete what I just recorded and do it again. I almost wanted to give up. I was sweating and just tired. So the next few episodes I typed out every single word I would say. I read those episodes to sound as natural as possible.

I don’t know when the shift began but now when I record an episode I don’t have to read every single words and feel more comfortable talking in front of a mic. That just came from practice.

It’s an important lesson to remember that you’re going to be a beginner when you start and it’s going to be ugly. You’ll get better when repetition.

FOX News

This was a complete surprise.

Not only was I surprised that I ended up on FOX News, but I was surprised how fast it happened.

You can read the whole story here. but this is how it looked on live TV. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. And I’m still shocked that she thought my game and Candy Crush looked similar.

What didn’t go so well

Writing

Unfortunately this is a repeat of last year. Last year I put writing aside because I was spending most of my free time on reskinning apps. This year I’ve been selling on Teespring and podcasting. I knew something had to go and it was writing.

I hate that it’s not in the section above because I didn’t do a better job of making it a priority. Could I have made more time for it? Of course. Even 30 minutes a day was possible, but I think the problem was that it wasn’t made a regular part of my day like brushing my teeth.

When I had free time, I would do something else. Instead I need to do my writing at the same time every day. That way I have a routine.

I’m going to do a better job and find a way to get this into the section above one year from now. Two years in a row in this section is not good.

Podcasting

I had to put podcasting in the corner as well. I started off great and in a rhythm with one episode a week. Then Teespring came along and took up a lot of my time. Then a new episode would come out once every two weeks maybe. I didn’t have a set schedule and I feel bad about that. That’s not what the top podcasters do.

If I’m serious about it, I have to treat it more than just a hobby.

I enjoy podcasting, despite someone trying to sabotage my podcast, so I will keep doing it. In fact, I want to do another podcast as crazy as that seems.

What will I do in 2015 to improve? I’m thinking of choosing a day and making it my podcast day. So I know every week on that day it’s time to record. Also being a few episodes ahead is important.

Gonna improve so podcasting will not be in this section next year.

My health

I’ve been up and down with my level of fittnes year. Most of the year has been down. With all the traveling came a lot of eating and not much exercising. The negatives I’ve seen of it have been occassional headaches and disappointment in how I feel. It’s not the number on the scale mainly but more of how I feel.

I did do a 21 day cleanse after we came back from London, Paris and NYC. I had enough of eating too much and feeling like crap. The 21 days were tough, but I did it. I felt amazing. I felt lighter. I had more confidence. Clothes were looser. I felt great, but slowly I went back to old habits.

I’d love to be more consistent with it but the problem is that I love to eat too much. I know I have to control how much I eat, but that can be hard when traveling.

This is going to be a challenge in 2015, but I don’t want to feel this same way.

Distractions

Though my results were amazing this year, I know I could have done more. I didn’t track it but I bet I wasted a lot of time by multitasking, checking email, and having interruptions. But at the same time, it shows that I’m not perfect but was still able to have a great year.

In fact, I just went off and did ten other things before I realized I was in the middle of writing this section. Crazy! It’s second nature to me and I’m sure many of you.

Finding ways to stay more focused and minimize distractions is important for me. That way I’ll have enough time for Teespring, writing, podcasting, and whatever else I work on in 2015.

What’s next for 2015?

To be honest, I don’t know yet. I’m going to continue with Teespring for sure. I don’t plan creating any new apps. I didn’t do any in 2014. I want to read more books too. Again it’s a thing I just have to make time for.

I’d love to self publish a book on Kindle so that’s a goal I’d love to say I did one year for now. In January, I’m going to set aside time and figure out what I want to prioritize in the year.

I always want to make the next year even better than the previous year. 2014 was my best year yet so I have a lot of work to do to achieve that. I do believe it’s possible though.

We will do as much traveling as we can in 2015. It’s the last year for the Southwest Companion pass so we want to use it. In February, we’re going back to Taipei. Book business class seats on Cathay Pacific. A few hundred dollars out of pocket only and the rest came from points collected from credit cards. Excited about that.

It’s not going to be all pleasure next year. I know if I want to keep this level of success, I’ve still go to put in the work.

I look forward to one year from now and doing an annual review and reflecting back on what a great year it was. 2014 was full of surprises so I’m looking forward to what good surprises 2015 has.

Thank you for following along in 2014.

What about you? What went well for you and what do you want to accomplish in 2015?

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  • Benny, I have to say that I had quite the year, too, full of lots of ups and a few downs. 2015 will be even better!

    Thanks for the Year In Review sheet. I plan on completing it tonight.

    My business at Wording Well is improving, too. I am picking up new clients and am going to be a certified business soon as well, since I was just approved for a program for women entrepreneurs, who are giving me $2000 to put into my business. 🙂

    I am very grateful for your help over the past 1.5 years, Benny, and will never forget how kind you’ve been to me.

    May you and your family be blessed with good health, much wealth, and tons of happiness in 2015!

  • Wow, big bucks selling t shirts mate!

    Question: From the post, your featured T-shirt says “Get Busy Living, Or Get Busy Dying.” Isn’t that what Morgan Freeman said in Shawshank Redemption? If so, is it OK to make cool t-shirts with different slogans from famous movies and stuff? If so, I’m on it! 🙂

    Sam

    • Thanks! yeah who knew shirts would be a full time business for me! As for quotes, typically they are fine. I’ve seen quotes from movies on shirts. I’m not a lawyer though so don’t hold it against me if you run into trouble! 🙂

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  • Naveen Kulkarni

    Benny,
    It seems you had a great year ! Keep up the great work and have even successful 2015 !

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