Lessons from 2018

Lessons from 2018:  

Looking back, there were numerous times throughout the year that I felt I was going around in circles. I felt flat, and it was like mentally a thick fog had rolled in. I couldn’t even see the next step to take. It’s interesting because when I sit and write a list of what I have done, there is still a lot to be proud of, but I didn’t have the sense of satisfaction I have had other years. This has shaped my theme for the year going forward.

The theme for 2019: A year of Appreciation. Stop and appreciate the moments I have, who I am, where I am and who I am with. Don’t discount these moments by spending time in the future always thinking of more things to do and comparing my achievements to others.

 Here are my key takeaways for 2018:

  • Start each day on purpose; before going to sleep jot down the key commitments. Talk to Katie about this plan too so we are on the same page.
  • Write lists of what I have achieved so far and what I have to be thankful for (and then read them regularly).
  • When things are swirling around in my head, clarify exactly what I am struggling with by writing it down; be specific (explaining these verbally to a close friend also helps).
  • Pray (or meditate if you’re not into praying) – this helps me realize I am not in control of everything and gives me more peace about the things I cannot change.
  • Be purposeful in making time with Katie to talk about us/the boys and develop strategies to deal with whatever we are currently facing.
  • When I am feeling foggy or flat, go for a walk, run, or bike ride. Sit down somewhere, enjoy the view, and pray. When I get back, write down all the things that popped into my mind.

As this last year is still fresh and current, I have included some of the extra notes such as my questions and list of achievements.

What are the things that worked well this year?

  • Back to basics – finding 1 little thing to do (like cleaning my desk) focusing on 1 small step. When I was overwhelmed or not motivated, finding a little task to keep going (just 1-minute philosophy),
  • Writing lists of stuff to be thankful for.
  • Writing lists of what’s stressing me out. Then asking myself, “What can I change, and what do I have to accept won’t change.”
  • Focusing on finishing off current projects rather than starting new ones, both at home and at work.
  • Using cash (vs cards) – we went back to taking out cash each week and using envelopes to dedicate to each budget item, groceries, petrol, etc. This forced us to think about what we are spending.

 What worked well with our family?

  • Separating work and home, getting an official work office, and making a point of not doing work at home. Getting a home cell phone number so I wasn’t taking work with me 24/7. Setting a up a personal email address for same reason.
  • Making time to talk about parenting and strategies rather than just reacting

How did I learn to be better with my time?

  • Using Google calendar more, making a point to schedule the things that I actually want to do, such as gym, reading, study. Then before committing to things, checking it regularly and treating those events like any other commitment.
  • Keeping my schedule loose between meetings, avoiding back to back meetings wherever possible, and allowing time directly after the meeting to follow up on whatever was discussed.
  • I went back to using my 3B1 notebooks way more. I noticed the days where I didn’t wake up without a clear daily to do (written the night before) were chaos. I would go around in circles for half the morning. Loosely plan the day and key items before sleeping (see photo).
  • Pulling out of big commitments that are overwhelming me or stressing me out. I got excited and committed to a big mountain race, the Aorangi undulator. I then started a training plan, and it instantly felt like a chore and that I had taken on more than I could currently handle. I could have done it if I really forced myself but made the decision to withdraw, and I’m so glad I did.

What worked well for health & fitness?

  • Filling up a drink bottle with water and taking it with me = drinking more water.
  • Getting my gym clothes, or running shoes out the night before significantly improves my chance of actually exercising.
  • My running routine this year – I will elaborate more on this in another email.

What didn’t work so well this year?

At the start of the year, I procrastinated doing a yearly review. In hindsight, I was trying to make it more than it was, some mystical built-up thing. I thought it needed to be more, bigger, complex when really, I just needed to make a coffee, write some stuff down, and get on with it.

I didn’t have a list of things to achieve on the back of the toilet door. The year before I had a really clear list of things I wanted to achieve that year, like sell the Spoon, pay off debts, etc., etc. Whereas this year’s writing was more airy-fairy, this is ok, but I kept telling myself I would write a list of things to do this year.

Beer consumption ramped up slightly near the end of the year. I started counting how many beers I was having about 10 weeks ago and it’s now averaging about 15ish beers a week. While I never went out and got hammered this year (I have a self-imposed 4 drinks in one evening rule), it’s amazing how a couple of beers here and there adds up. I am going to get this back under 10 beers a week.

Budget got a bit out of control as we moved away from having a regular income,

I got bogged down with Kiwi Homes at the start of the year, and it started to become hard to see the forest from the trees.

My list of 2018 achievements

I think it’s important to stop and reflect on the things we achieve, big and small. Often when I am feeling down, or having a tough week I pull these lists out and remind myself that it’s not all bad. Here is the 2018 list.


Turned 33

12 awesome years of marriage

Jacob turned 6, his first full year of school

Levi turned 2, off to kindy near the end of the year

Started hot chocolate Wednesdays with the boys before school/kindy

Completed 2 more papers at Massey (Investment and Organizational Behavior)

Bought a nice suit for a wedding, and also wore it out once for dinner with Katie.

Made about 8 beers

Some great BBQs with friends


Over a full year of not owning the Spoon, I often forget we even used to have it

Ups and downs at Kiwi Homes but finished on a good note, excited for the next year

Hired Leonard, and got him set up with another truck, phone, checklists, etc

I have now sold 27 homes with Kiwi


Spending was getting out of control slightly so we chopped up the credit card

Ramped up mortgage payments to the maximum

Made our first term deposit

Went back to cash envelopes

Paid off the mortgage

Opened the kids’ Investment accounts

Purchased shares on the market


River Trail Half Marathon

Run to the airport from Upper Hutt – first 42km

Skiing lessons with Katie (first time Skiing after years of snowboarding)

A few snowboarding trips to Ohakune 🙂 Hit the kickers at Turoa (thanks Luke H)

26km Hill run, training for Mukamuka

Mukamuka munter – 32km Trail Race

The Long way to the Pub – An Epic Bike ride 112km to Petone for a beer.


Peka Peka with usual summer crew

Sofitel Wellington with Katie

Auckland Mike Banks Wedding

Taupo with Brewertons & Williamsons

Queenstown Skiing with Katie

Gold coast with Kelly and Leonard



Books: Got back into reading

Principles by Ray Dalio 

Less: A Visual Guide to Minimalism by Rachel Aust 

Out of the Maze (Who moved my cheese sequel) by Dr Spencer Johnson 

Year of Living Biblically by A.J Jacobs 

Thanks a Thousand by A.J Jacobs 

Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

McDonald’s, Behind the Scenes by John F. Love 

The Way of the Wolf by Jordan Belfort 

Tough Love by Peter Lyndon-James

Small House Living by Catherine Foster

Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss 

The Decision Book by M Krogerus and R Tschäpperler (re-read)

Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss (re-read)

Things I made:

Finished off the 4th bedroom

Wardrobe doors in the new room

Jacob’s wardrobe

New Laundry

Made a beer handle

A tree house out of recycled timber from building sites

Moved the playhouse to the front

Fence and privacy screen backyard

Spa pool pad

Outdoor furniture