My biggest disappointment in 2017 was pushing my mind and my body past their limits. At the age of 40, I no longer have the energy to do what I’ve been used to doing all my life, yet I worked more than I ever had before. I was a stubborn mule who couldn’t accept the fact that I had aged. As a result, I injured my ankle, back, elbow and quads.
I also had a breakdown one evening when I couldn’t put my son to bed after the third try at around midnight. Hearing my baby cry is a heart-stinging experience. After an hour and a half of singing and cradling, I gave up on giving my wife the rest she needed and texted her to relieve me.
I felt like such a failure. I had spent years building a lifestyle business in order to be able to be a good father. Yet I lost it because I was working way too much on the business instead of storing up energy reserves for the late night shift.
It was at this moment I realized that going down the path of full-time caretaker with my wife while also keeping Financial Samurai going at a fervent pace wasn’t going to work out. I was no longer my happy go lucky pleasant self. Here are some goals that will make life better in 2018!
Goals For 2018
1) Return to early retirement life. As this site has grown more people are reaching out for help or contacting me with business opportunities. It’s become overwhelming. No longer is Financial Samurai a casual, unknown site where I can say and do what I please.
I want to respond to everybody but I can’t. Therefore, I created a massive out of office e-mail with answers to my most frequent requests. But it was ineffective. One business partner e-mailed me on Dec 22, then again on Dec 26, then again on Jan 2. It’s good he’s hustling, but what happened to boundaries, especially during the holidays?
In 2018 two of my goals are to publish only 100 articles (from 175) and to start having more fun with the topics without stressing about the quality of the content. While the business component of this site is exciting, it has become too much. Just like with day job income, after you make a certain amount of business income, there is no more additional happiness. Instead, misery often ensues due to increased demands for your time.
Early retirement life is all about being carefree and only doing what I enjoy.
2) For six days a week, provide an average six hours of JOYFUL assistance to my wife. For the seventh day, provide four hours of joyful assistance for a total of 40 hours a week.
As a stay at home dad, I provided around eight hours of support a day to my wife in 2017. For example, I would always relieve her for 2-3 hours in the morning, depending on how difficult the night was so she could shower, go to the bathroom, catch up on reading, and do her own thing. Then I’d provide care for 2-3 hours in the afternoon, and another 3-4 hours in the evening. Often times her breaks were not breaks, but pumping sessions or things she had to get done for the business or for our baby e.g. bolt the TV to the wall.
After a while, I realized that a lot of my assistance was not 100% done with a smile because I was always tired and sometimes frustrated after having already worked so many hours that same day on the business. As a result, tension sometimes ensued. Thankfully, she started doing the entire night after the third month and things got better. And now that my publishing goal is 35% less, things should get even better.
Providing six hours a day of happy care is better than eight hours a day of grumpy care. I know I’m not alone with regards to relationship tension during the first year of a baby’s life. More than 80% of couples experience a huge drop (40% – 90%) in marital quality during the transition to parenthood. Research also says folks who are sleep deprived typically suffer a 91% loss in their ability to regulate strong emotions, while the decline in general cognitive skill is equally dramatic. Just think about how dangerous it is to drive drowsy.
3) Increase business productivity. In other words, find a way to do less and maximize my existing content to boost traffic and revenue. I will never spend more than four hours a day on the business in 2018. Further, I will cease responding to comment and e-mail questions whose answers are obviously discernible in the post and encourage readers to use the search box on my website for answers.
With time freed up from not responding to obvious questions, I plan on building new readership by answering questions on Quora, a Q&A social platform. I’ve always known about the benefits of Quora, but never bothered to try until the Christmas holiday when a reader asked whether I was sleep deprived in my 2017 review post even though that’s exactly what I wrote I was in my intro. Instead of answering his question, I responded to a question on Quora that ended up bringing new traffic.
I plan on building up my authority on everything San Francisco, Real Estate, and Investing related. Even though I’ve lived in San Francisco for 17 years, own SF real estate, worked in finance, consulted for startups, and have this site, very few people in the SF media have reached out. If I can become a go-to resource, then productivity should increase.
After 10 days of trying, Quora has ranked me as a “Most Viewed Writer” in Real Estate and San Francisco. The ranking only lasts for 30 days, but I’m sure with consistency, the results will grow.
4) Spend more time doing work in the hot tub. Through voice dictation, I’m actually writing this post in my hot tub right now. Yeah baby yeah! Not only am I utilizing my hot tub investment more, but I’m getting some stress relief while also producing work. Of course I’ll still have to do all the editing on the laptop, but this is a good way to really focus on living the early retirement lifestyle. Whenever I can knock out two or three things in one activity, I get very happy.
5) Aggressively spend more money on help. Until recently, we’ve always done all the lawn work, housecleaning, and childcare. There’s something therapeutic about gardening and cleaning. But now that we are tired parents, we need to prioritize! I really need help at this stage because my lower back is still tender. It’s kind of torturous to crawl around and chase a baby for a couple hours with a bad back.
6) Continue to help people of all types in different ways. This means publish two times a week, produce at least 30 podcasts, see my foster child mentee at least 24 times, coach high school tennis, and participate in more fundraising events. Actively helping others by getting involved in their lives is one of the best benefits of early retirement.
7) Stop feeling so damn guilty for not doing more. I have a tortured soul. Since I was 13, I’ve always had the belief that if I can, I must because a friend of mine died in a car accident and was never given the chance. But with this attitude, I feel a tremendous weight on my shoulders to be the financial provider and a caregiver for my son, even though my wife is a stay-at-home parent and we should have enough money.
I sought some advice about getting rid of guilt from a father who told me, “Raising a child is pretty easy if you can go away for 12 hours a day. Out of sight, out of mind.” In other words, he was suggesting that I find a day job like many fathers. But I don’t want to go that route.
Whenever I feel bad for not doing enough, I will remind myself that being able to provide my wife and me the freedom to take care of our son during his crucial first five years of life should count for a lot. There are many parents who reluctantly have to go back to work after 1-3 months.
8) Get regular physical checkups. One in three people will get cancer. And one in four people will die from cancer. The closest thing to curing cancer is early detection. However, most cancer is detected only after a patient feels symptoms. By stage three, only 8% of cancer patients live past five years. I bring up cancer because an old colleague of mine died of breast cancer at age 44. She leaves behind two children and a husband. I cannot imagine the pain of leaving Earth before I see my son grow up to be a strong and independent man who finds someone who loves him as much as we do.
As much as I hate full physicals, I will get one. And I will ask my doctor to do more blood work tests to see if they can find any anomalies. If I feel pain, I won’t be afraid to see the doctor. After all, I’m paying close to $700 a month for healthcare! Good thing I did some blood work in mid-2017 for my life insurance policy. After checking for 22 variables, the only anomaly was a slightly elevated cholesterol reading.
9) Find a way to grow net worth by $2 million. What’s a personal finance site without a concrete financial goal. With the estate tax threshold doubling to $22 million for couples, why not shoot for more wealth while taking things down a notch. The more you have, the more time and money you have to help other people. I assign only a 30% chance my investment returns plus savings will achieve this goal. Therefore, the only way to get a $2 million boost is if I invent something that takes off, get some kind of huge JV offer for my company, build a new revenue channel, or get really lucky with an investment. As always, I’ll be tracking my net worth closely to make sure my risk exposure is appropriate.
Excited About Early Retirement
One benefit about returning to the kick back early retirement lifestyle is that I’ll be writing more about early retirement. It’s really a wonderful stage that I think everybody should shoot for. It just didn’t last longer than a year for me due to my strong desire to maximize Financial Samurai’s potential.
2018 is the year I’ve been waiting for. To finally relax and be a present dad after spending so much time growing passive income and building a lifestyle business. Our little one is growing up so fast. We’ve got to cherish every moment. It’s highly likely he’ll be our only child given our advanced ages.
Here’s to letting go in 2018! May your money work hard for you so you don’t have to.
Update June 4, 2018: I’ve so far failed to let go. I continue to publish 3X a week on average and I’ve already produced over 30 podcasts. I’m checking in here to remind myself to take it easier during the summer and let my mind and body heal. It was rough going for about 5 weeks because our baby sitter, who provided about 15 hours of relief a week got sick/didn’t want to work.