2016 was quite a year for the Ragland crew. Becoming a parent changes everything, just like any parent will tell you, and 2016 was our first full calendar year with a child.
Don’t worry, this entire review isn’t going to be jammed with cute baby pictures, just this one!
In these annual reviews I “self-interview” with several questions. I found last year it led to a better format than simply telling you what happened. Ready?
Biggest life change and surprise: we bought a house
A baby in 2015, a house in 2016. This ties in with my biggest surprises, that we bought the house in Nashville at all! We love Nashville, the energy, the people, the music, plus a great community and family nearby. But if you had told 2013 Matt he’d be buying a house in Nashville, he would give you an odd look and obsess over the reason for days.
Most exciting work development: ConvertKit’s growth
Some of you may have seen me post this on social media, but at the end of 2015 ConvertKit had 1,760 customers and $99,578 in MRR. I set a goal of helping us make it to 500k MRR in 2016, and on New Year’s Eve, this is what happened.
It is incredibly rewarding to work on such a motivated and smart team. What’s crazy is that we truly could have done even more, and the stage is set for continued growth once we put more healthy systems in place for growth.
Best new habit: waking up early
When you become a parent, it just sort of happens. At least it did to me. I enjoy “me time” and the only time to count on that happening is early. Like 5-6 AM early, or today at 4:15 AM early. Here’s why:
- 6:30 AM or 7ish, Canaan is up.
- 8:00 AM, work starts.
- 6:00 PM, shift to family time.
- 7:00 PM, quality time with Morgan.
- 9:30 PM, bed.
I did spend many nights staying up late after Morgan went to bed, but I didn’t like that as much. I had a difficult time turning off my “work brain” and it affected my time with Morgan. I basically waited for her to go to bed so I could start working again.
Let me tell you the key to waking up early. Go to bed early. If you’re an adult, and especially if you have kids, there are very few reasons to stay up late. Go to bed. Here are a few tips for knocking off early.
1. Stop with large screens ~ one hour before “bedtime”. That means computers, tablets, maybe even television.
2. Drink a calming tea. I go with chamomile, Sleepytime, or this apple cider vinegar concoction.
3. If you still need a chill pill, as I often do, try these: melatonin at 1-2 mcg, or 1 Onnit New Mood. I’m not a doctor, so ask yours before taking anything, ok?
If you’d like to see a longer post about evening and morning “rituals”, hit reply and let me know!
Lost habit: reading
Not lost, but much less than previous years. I tore through books in 2016 partly because Canaan (my son) was so young and I could read while holding him. Not so anymore!
In past years, I’ve listed all the books I read, and will do so on Facebook/Instagram or something. It takes a while for me to gather and list each book and is the main reason this review is so late. Here are the standouts…
Favorite books of 2016
- Shoe Dog (the best)
- The Name of the Wind (best fiction)
- Extreme Ownership (business)
- Ego is the Enemy (personal)
Total books read: 15, give or take
Canaan does love to be read to, so if you count his books I’ve read hundreds in the past year! His favorites include such classics as Dog Wants to Play, Go Dog Go, Farm Friends, Guess How Much I Love You, and The Jesus Storybook Bible.
Where I traveled: 4 cities and states
Portland: I attended the World Domination Summit with several members of the ConvertKit team, and it was fantastic. The standard when it comes to production, quality, speaker lineup, and overall happiness.
Boise: Our first ConvertKit team retreat was there, and it was the first time we had all gathered as a team before! As a remote company, we only gather twice each year, so this time was special.
Jacksonville: My entire family is in Jax, so we fly down 2-3 times each year. 2016 contained my Dad’s 60th birthday, a week at the beach, and Thanksgiving. Love seeing all of them.
Asheville: We only made it to the mountains a couple times, one trip was for the Black Mountain Marathon that Morgan ran in. She’s a beast!
How I moved
Movement and exercise continued to be a challenge in 2016 and I didn’t hit all the goals I set for the year. I did run the StumpJump 50K (yay) but didn’t PR (boo). We did re-join Climb Nashville during the summer and I ended up climbing a lot, which I’ve loved.
Two things helped me continue to stay active. One is trying to have a small practice throughout the day, no matter what I’m wearing or where I am. I can do pushups, stretch, sometimes “air squats” or slow burpees in most places. Especially working from home.
The second is that Morgan and I have a friendly competition going on this Spring. Whoever accumulates the most points over 10 weeks gets to buy something they’ve been putting off for a variety of reasons. If I win, I get to buy the GoPro Hero5 Session, woohoo!
I haven’t included this section before and I think it’s a disservice to you reading this. I’ve been blessed in so many ways and it’s easy to think I have everything together.
I don’t. There are so many days I wake up and meditate a little or just pray for help through the day. My struggles from the past year are all interconnected, as you’ll see.
As noted above, I struggled with a regular sleep schedule in 2016. Besides the damage it did to my relationship with Morgan at times, it affects everything else when I don’t sleep enough.
I also had to constantly watch my work/life balance, with spotty success. It ties in to my other struggle (being present) of being present at home or with friends. I found myself often thinking of the work to be done, a side project I had going on, or just anything else.
It’s easy to think work was the culprit of all this, but I can say that’s not true. I’m the culprit, I’m the common denominator in each part. I need to take better care of myself and my family in 2017, and a lot of that will come from being more disciplined with my schedule and sleep.
Improvements and Systems in 2017
I’ll run through a list here then expand a bit below:
- Sleep at least 7 hours each night
- Take a 5 day trip with only Morgan
- Pay off $36,000 in debt
- Compete in a Spartan Race at the Elite level
- Create a new sketchnote each week
- Ship a new blog post each week
- Try out vlogging, starting with a video every day in February
At first glance, it seems like a lot! Remember this is just in addition to normal life at home and work. The good news is all of these connect, and I do see a few linchpin habits that start the dominos falling.
If I sleep enough and wake up early as I have been the past week, it gives me a couple crucial hours to exercise, create, or begin work.
All of the “creating” systems play off one another. A sketchnote or video can be the primary content for the blog post. I can also take a written post and create a video or sketchnote to support it. For example, I plan on creating a video for this year in review then checking both boxes!
Let’s talk about it for a moment. Between school, a car, and a scattering of credit cards, we have a good chunk of debt that we are responsible for. Paying down $36,000 this year would be a giant step towards financial independence. I picked that number because it covers half the student loans, the car, and credit card debt.
That’s still a sizeable amount for a year, and yes we do have a plan! Here’s a look at how the finances can work.
- Rent our home in Nashville = (+)1,000/month = $12,000/year
- Sell our home in Jacksonville = (+)5,000 one-time
- Cancel our Climb membership = (+)$1,550/year
- Reduce food spending by $300/month = $3,600/year
- Rent a smaller home, saving $500/month = $6,000/year
That gets us to $28,150 for the year with some variables in there. We may not make $5,000 on the sale of the home or save $500 on renting. But we could also rent the Nashville home for more, or spend less on food. So how to close the final gap to $36,000?
Work. Hard. Work. (and travel nursing)
The biggest lever we can pull for income right now is for Morgan to take on travel nursing assignments. The first is in Chattanooga this spring, and we’re very excited! The pay is great, in fact close to double what she was making before. The secret sauce for us is this:
Travel nurse pay + rental income + savings on smaller housing
Her additional income is over $2,000/month when on assignment, and most of that will go to debt payments. Now she won’t always be on assignment, most span 13 week. There are also expenses we’ll incur with switching homes and moving. So I can’t say it’s easy to automatically apply the $2k/month rule for the year, but it will be a huge driver.
My courses and products
Another source of income I want to grow in 2017 is personal products and courses. I finally created my sketchnote course in November and 20 people signed up! In addition to building out the course further, I also want to create another 5-6 smaller products in the $10-20 range.
There’s a possibility for a blogger specific course that focuses on creating funnels, but I want to get more feedback first.
Altogether, we have work to do! But I do believe it’s achievable and there’s a plan in place for making progress.
That’s a wrap!
Thanks for catching up on the year with me! I’m looking forward to this year and everything it brings. If you wrote or recorded a 2016 review, will you send me a link?
Have a great day 😀