My 2017 Annual Review (and 2018 Preview)
I have a New Year’s resolution problem.
Most people hate them or are, at the very least, highly cynical about change of any kind. Not me. I love New Year’s resolutions, this fabricated construct that says January 1st = a whole new world. For me, it’s a great heuristic – a great excuse to make changes.
In 2016, I made about 40 resolutions and kept around 10.
In 2017, I made 111 resolutions and kept 21.
Interestingly, I tend to hit all my major goals (i.e. fundraise $30K for charity in 2016, or get a New York literary agent and book deal in 2017) but I tend to flop so hard on the little ones (i.e. donate blood 4Xs.) For 2017 I made the intentional decision of publicly sharing my resolutions with a handful of close friends so I’d feel like an idiot if I didn’t reach my goals. Needless to say, I feel pretty dumb right now, but… onward.
A Year in Review
This post is inspired by many of the writers I follow. I’m fascinated by people’s goals, New Year’s resolutions, diets, budgets, schedules, and reading habits, and many of these writers do an annual review each year. I always gain ideas that inspire me for the year ahead. When my friend Dave McSporran sent me his resolutions two years ago, it shook me. I immediately stepped up my goal game. I hope this review doesn’t come across as narcissistic/etc. Hopefully there are some ideas in here that will inspire you the way others have inspired me.
2017 Word of the Year
My word for 2017 was “self-less,” inspired by Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but also for the interests of the others.” I’ve been trying to shift my mindset to caring less about me and more about the common good. I’d like to think the needle moved at least 4-5% this past year.
Wins in 2017
- I’m proud to say Michelle and I were the first financial supporters of FaithTech. James Kelly is doing some profoundly great work, and I cannot wait to see how this movement continues to go global. Check him out.
- We donated a decent amount to various charities this year, but I want my giving to a) increase and b) increase in effectiveness this coming year. I’ve ordered some books to gain insights on how to make this a reality.
- I partnered with an incredible guy named Aaron Alford to relaunch his website and publish a devotional for dudes called Bearded Gospel Men.
- While we fell far short of my goal (part of the reason is below), we did end up doing nearly 300 screenings of Over 18, reaching over 25,000 parents, teachers, and leaders.
- I got to speak several times, had about a dozen pieces published online, gave away 100-ish books, and did around 40 interviews. It’s a big honor to have others share their platforms with me, and I got to plant seeds in 100,000+ hearts/minds. Hopefully many flourish!
- Of all the contributions I got to make this year, my favorite was teaching Sunday school to 8 kids in Wales over the winter.
- I celebrated my 31st birthday in London, the only big city I adore.
- We spent a second winter in Wales, and are already booked for a third.
- Michelle and I enjoyed a one-week road trip through the north of England.
- This year was very U.K.-centric, as I spend a full month studying in Oxford in the fall.
- While spending a month in Boston, we took 4-5 weekend out-trips to explore the historical and gorgeous state of Massachusetts.
Don’t let all the travel fool you – when I’m on the grid, I work like a madman. But when I’m off, I fully detach and play hard! (And in total, it was only about 17 workdays missed for travel.)
- I read around 30 books this year, which is low for me. (Some book recommendations further down the page)
- Michelle and I finally got around to taking the Enneagram test. While not as helpful for me as the Myer’s Briggs, we’ve purchased two books to help us unpack our findings in the year ahead.
- My dad invited me to join him to hear Carey Nieuwhof speak. It was a learning highlight of the year.
- I had the great privilege of attending the legendary Columbia Publishing Course at Exeter College in Oxford for the month of September. Not only did I get to spend time in JRR Tolkien’s college with literary giants like Nigel Newton (the guy who discovered Harry Potter), but I met some wonderful people and got to explore a very storied city.
- #1, by far, was the birth of my first niece… Inez Joy Brock! Big congrats to my brother Ben and his wife Jo.
- I took my dad golfing, went camping with my father-in-law, and got in my two retreat weekends with “the boys.”
- We had around 50 people over to the trailer this year, which is low, because we were away a lot.
- For me, 2017 was definitely the most fun year of our marriage so far.
- Happy to say that I finally secured a great pair of NYC literary agents and another book deal. Only took 10 years.
- We finished editing our next documentary and ran our first test screening. Very excited for the May 15th launch.
- My incredible web designer renovated JaredBrock.com to better represent my body of work.
- After many years of working from home and coffeeshops, we finally found and rented an office!
- We also hired staff. This has been a huge growth curve, but we’re up to three part time employees who are all wonderful people.
- Not eating pizza for 365 days was, by far, the most difficult resolution I’ve ever succeeded at. (Thankfully, I had a friend to keep me feeling guilty/accountable.)
- I only gave blood twice (my goal was four), but not for a lack of trying. I’ve filed multiple requests for the clinic to be open past 6pm so that working stiffs like me have a better chance to get jabbed.
- Doing a monthly personal finance update is now a solidified habit in our lives. Better ten years late than never.
- While I haven’t yet stopped complaining, I’ve made some breakthroughs on the gratitude front. Stay tuned.
- My wife was very relieved that I finally stopped swearing this year. Big win.
- Following Brother Roger’s dictum to “read little and obey much” I’ve now contemplated a Verse of the Day for 321 days in a row. (The obeying part is far, far harder.)
- One resolution that’s been paying positivity dividends? Avoiding the news. I also installed a Kardashian/Trump filter, which makes the Internet a lot nicer, too.
- While we didn’t practice hospitality as much as we’d hoped (mostly due to us being away lots) we did host a half dozen sleepovers and 30ish dinners.
- I journaled 109 times, which I’m happy with, and concocted 640+ quotes, well over my goal of 365. A few include:
“Passion is a dangerous guide but an excellent porter.”
“Showers exist to remind us of the utter inferiority of baths.”
“If you wish to find a needle in a haystack, light a match.”
“Master your addictions as well as your ambitions.”
“Man cannot live on bread alone. He must have cheese.”
Despite its challenges, continuing to live simply (in a trailer, no cell phones, no debt, etc) has been a huge help in saving money, freeing up time for projects, and trying to make an impact.
Setbacks in 2017
I know this might seem trivial, but our trailer roof sprung a major leak while I was away at Oxford. My poor wife had to bail for nearly a month while we hired someone to repair it.
Hope for the Sold’s time with International Teams has come to an end, but we’re still waiting on the CRA to approve our charity status.
Real estate market
This is a big one. I’m very frustrated that our government refuses to be courageous and take wise steps to deflate this housing bubble. I’m committed to playing the long game and won’t buy into an overvalued property, but boy, would it be nice to not have to wait another 3-5 years for the market to simply burst itself. We’d love a bigger basecamp to serve as a home office, a place of hospitality, and home.
Sadly, my health declined even further this year. Trying to figure this one out.
As part of our rollout of our documentary, Over 18, we hired an outside screening consultant to help us facilitate live events. Things weren’t going well, and then her husband got cancer. It was a truly unfortunate series of events for all involved, and it cost us into the low five figures.
My biggest challenge/obstacle is unquestionably my health. I haven’t had a pain-free day in my adult life, as I have some sort of musculoskeletal problem that 50+ specialists have yet to solve. A big focus of 2018 will be finding ways to dull the pain and repair the problems so I can focus on my work.
2018 Word of the Year
My word for 2018 is “GIVE!” inspired by Matthew 10:8: “Freely you have received; freely give.” Still hoping to shift my mindset to caring less about me and more about the common good. I’d like the needle to move a little further this year.
Other career hopes include shooting my first short film and hopefully getting a contract for a business book on the need for intentional human community in a fragmented/digital age.
Travel-wise, I’m looking forward to my upcoming weeklong birthday road trip through the southwest of England, along with a few more days in London in the spring. We’re hoping to visit Finland this summer for our 10th anniversary (yay Air Miles!)
I’m making 68 New Year’s resolutions/goals for 2018
(Please stop laughing! It’s more than a third less than last year.) Here are a few:
- Donate blood 6Xs (you can give every 56 days. This will be a tough one.)
- Strategically give $(secret!)+ (Ideally to inspire/leverage 2+X that amount.)
- Save five figures (Michelle wants a home. I want a real estate crash first.)
- Effectively give away 1000 copies of my books (this will be a very difficult one. If you know a pastor/leader who’d consider preaching a series/leading a small group on either book, please let me know.)
- Getting up at 6:00am on weekdays (the hardest part will be going to bed at 9:00pm.)
Obviously I’m not in control of my life or destiny, but these are a few of the goals I’m hoping to reach this year. In all likelihood, many will crash and burn, but I find that publicly stating them helps me see a few through.
Starting Right Now
Today I’m excited to announce the launch of www.JaredABrock.com, which is my new site for entrepreneurs, writers, and personal development readers. To celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway for a chance to win five of my absolute favorite books.
I’ve also created a free e-letter as well. Subscribers will get a copy of my top 60 book recommendations, along with my new eBook The Effectiveness Equation: The Groundbreaking Hack Stack for Consistently Producing Great Work. If you’d like to receive all three, click here.