The Importance of Reflecting at Year’s End

This time of year, specifically during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I always like to take a beat to reflect on the previous year and do some heavy planning for the upcoming year. It’s usually pretty quiet at work and at home (with the exception of school kids running around the house), but my headspace is usually pretty clear.

So, I wanted to talk through some of my own reflections in the hope that they might inspire your self-reflections as well.

IN THIS WEEK’S EPISODE

  • Some personal reflections on the past year
  • The importance of self-reflection
  • Goal setting for the upcoming year

The Importance of Reflecting at Year’s End

It’s been a busy year for us in our house.

Earlier in the year, we started making some moves to get a better handle a handle on Roth IRAs and straighten out some of our 401(k) accounts. It also meant diving into ETFs and taking more control over our investments, which was scary, but now that the year is wrapping up, it was exciting to compare our portfolios and see that the mix of investments we picked for our IRAs beat our more rigid 401(k) plans by 3% this year.

So that was fun.

We also launched a couple side hustles this year, including this podcast, to help us pour energy into things that Mrs. Modest and I are passionate about. 2018 should be an even busier year on that front, which is incredibly energizing.

Because of the our increased personal finance and entrepreneurial activity, we pulled the ripcord and finally hired a CPA to manage our tax strategy. We wave longingly goodbye to TurboTax; goodbye, dear friend.

This year, we’ve also started looking into alternative investment strategies as a means of diversifying our portfolio. We’ve looked into buy-and-hold real estate investing as a means of building equity and generating semi-passive income. Also, with the surge in popularity in cryptocurrency, we’ve dipped our pinky toe into those waters. It was a super small amount that will definitely not make us rich, but at least we can say we’re “in crypto.”

Let’s see, what else? Ever the random knowledge nerd, throughout the year I continued to add to the library of general, disconnected, arguably trivial knowledge that some day might serve me well in a trivia contest. I’ve found in years past that when I don’t find time for this general knowledge building that my work and entrepreneurial drive suffers a major lack of creativity. It forces my brain to make neural connections that didn’t previously exist, which I’m convinced allows me to think outside the box in other areas of life, even if the trivia is completely unrelated. Someday, ask me about how plasma lasers can vaporize trash in landfills.

All-in-all, there is a lot to feel good about this year, especially since Mrs. Modest and I were able to do this while juggling full-time jobs and three young kids.

But, are there things I would have done differently? Absolutely.

For example, our budgeting still isn’t perfect. I’m still learning the best way to make sure that the savings we set aside makes it to the appropriate investment accounts and not used discretionary purchases.

I’m also still learning how to best balance time for work, family, side hustles, podcasting, exercise, relaxation and more.

Finally, I’m still trying to be more mindful about the task at hand at any given time and to not be distracted with the many other things competing for brainspace.

Why you need to self-reflect

So, how as you think about looking back at your own 2017, how have you done?

Do you find yourself pushing yourself to ALWAYS be learning and improving?

Do you ALWAYS give yourself the opportunity to learn something new, even if doesn’t immediately serve your purposes today? You never know, that random learning experience might come in handy someday. Say “YES!” to more things. It might feel uncomfortable now and feel like you’re overcommitting, but it’s the experiences of life that allow us to continue to grow.

Make sure you spend some time over the next few days to find a quiet space and reflect on the past year. Did you hit all of your goals at work? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to at home with your family? How did you do with some of your personal development goals you set for yourself this year?

I hope you set some personal finance goals this year too. Did you set out to get a handle on your household budget? Did you aim to better understand how your work’s 401(k) plan works? Did you want to focus on getting rid of some debt? Did you set a goal to figure out what your freedom number is?

Write these things down and reflect on how you did, where you succeeded and how you can improve for next year.

What gets measured, gets improved, right?

Get out of the house, head to a coffee shop, just by yourself. Leave your spouse and kids at home and spend some time, just by yourself. You need to be able to reflect on yourself first, otherwise, reflecting as a team (like with your spouse or partner) won’t get you very far. It’s like in the airplane and they tell you to place your oxygen mask on first before helping others.

You need to be brutally honest with yourself. f you don’t get honest with yourself and reflect on how you can improve, you’ll find yourself in the exact same situation next year at this time, kicking yourself for not holding yourself accountable for the goals you set for your work, your family and your self.

Enjoy the self-reflection and come away from it energized and recharged to close out this year strong and launch head-first into the new year.

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