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Financial Independence Retire Early. Good, Bad & Ugly Report 2017

Updated: Jun 4

Sintra Portugal, Castelo dos Mouros
Sintra Portugal, Castelo dos Mouros

Well friends, 2017 is now dry cement.

However before we embark on our plans for 2018 I’d like to share the ups and downs, successes and failures of the 2017 that was, in my Good Bad and Ugly Report.

I do this at the start and end of each year to keep myself accountable and inspired on this journey called life.

The past maybe dry cement, but I believe it’s also important to also celebrate how far we’ve come, reflect on where we could have done better and put myself out there publicly as a form of motivation to do the work I need to do in making my plans a reality.

I hope that you find my wins, stumbles, and insights help you on your own journey to getting the most in life. 

Each year I ask and I answer three basic questions.


  1. What went well?

  2. What didn’t go well?

  3. What to do better?

Feel free to apply a similar format and use for your own journal.

What went well in 2017?

Camel Riding in the Moroccan Sahara Desert
Camel Riding in the Moroccan Sahara Desert

As I like to begin on a positive let’s cover the wins of 2017. Here’s what went well in the year that was.

Health: Lose weight, feel great! I started Dry July with a visit to a book store and came across a Tony Robins Book. Anyway let me save you 420 pages of reading.

“Success is simple. First, you decide what you want specifically; and second you decide if you’re willing to pay the price to make it happen- and then you pay the price.”

With this wisdom I committed myself to losing some long held pounds via extreme starvation (identifying and paying the price) and not eat for 14 days. I then slowly reintroduced healthy foods back into my system along with some light exercise.

A month later I am eating my regular three meals a day, but now much healthier foods. You can read my blog The Price of Success about this experience and how I lost over twelve kilograms within a six week period.

Finances: Building on the success of 2016 I am happy to report our financial position continues to improve. Both the Australian and international investment markets have increased significantly over the last twelve months, resulting in an increase to our listed investments net worth.

We also continue to find new ways to save on our fixed expenses. Approximately $5,000 in savings were identified and cut. The majority savings found across internet, phone, health and general insurance expenses, allowing us to pay down our debts faster.

Showing our confidence in the Cairns property market we purchased an investment property at $120,000 (40%) below the original sale price back in 2009. Who says property prices always go up?

Business: Uniqueness attracts. From organic growth and acquisition our financial planning business continues to grow. This growth has been helped by community and industry acknowledgement awards we received throughout the year Finalist for Professional Services in Cairns as well as Lower North Shore in Sydney and the Best Financial Service in Cairns. Confirming us as the leading financial planning business in Cairns.

A change in staff has also improved the vibe within the business with a much friendlier atmosphere and a can do/try attitude.

In short we continue to exceed our client’s expectations as their investments grow, their debts reduce and they tell us they have greater confidence to achieve their goals and continue to meet their living expenses.

We continue to grow our online presence with media contributions and blogs. A big thanks to our reader’s comments of appreciation. Knowing your thoughts resonate with you lifts our spirits and lets us know our publishing efforts are not in vein.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if I write for myself, friends, a big or small audience. The modus operandi is the same. Are the posts and articles authentic, relevant and do they add value. I promise to continue writing articles to help you achieve your goals sooner.

Relationships: I believe you get back what you put in. In 2017 Team Horsfield continues. Helped by discovering, trusting more and experiencing new things together as well as being true to our uniqueness and authenticity. Regardless of our external outlook, we are learning that it’s our core values that unite us.

Our social circle continues to expand. We are truly humbled to have the opportunity and meet with amazing couples who have achieved incredible success in their lives, here in Cairns and globally. The support, wisdom and insights you have encouraged us to keep pushing forward, whist remaining true to who we are and realising the important goal, of living your ideal life, worry free.

Having a small business with your spouse is 24/7 discussions, planning, actioning and accountability is an environment with nowhere to hide. As such, accepting our different personalities and getting on with the job at hand is paramount i.e. running a business, supporting and leveraging each our strengths and coming together in overcoming each of our lesser abilities. By doing so we continue to ensure nothing falls through the cracks and at the same time bring more peace and certainty to our relationship.

Our faith, desire for financial security, sense of adventure and a need for our own space are all core values that continue to enrich our experiences and quality of life.

Travel: 2017 was another big year full of travel. A long held goal to travel to Morocco was achieved. I rode a camel, I got food poisoning and along the way collected many more memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. 

Another long held bucket list countries we traveled to was Portugal. The Portuguese would have to be some of the friendliest people and craziest drivers in the world.

A quick trip of 500km over the boarder to Seville I got a haircut “from the Barber of Saville” as well as being awed by the Spanish/ Portuguese and their world dominance in the 16th-18th centuries.

We had two trips to  wonderful Japan. In winter we experienced skiing powder snow up to our waists; incredible! and again in Autumn where Roz to her joy rented a kimono for the day and walked around Gion in Kyoto.

Domestically we travelled quarterly up and down the east coast of Australia seeing our valued clients and family and friends.

Spirituality: I am realising more and more that our purpose is to celebrate life and by doing so give rightful glory to our maker. I wake up happy almost every day. Blessed by being surrounded by the rainforest, tropical fruits and wildlife. How can I not celebrate and give glory to our creator? Doing so helps me to remove my many self-doubts and personal guilt, while at the same time support and celebrate the unearned gift that “life” is.

On weekends we continue to mountain bike and collect the fruits from Natures Pantry (as we like to call it). Wild mango’s, coconuts, jackfruit, passionfruit, bananas and lychees are just a few of the fruits we freely collect. Also our home has fresh wild flowers, Bird of Paradise, Ginger and Orchids, all free to cut bring home.  

I’m beginning to suspect God is a big fan of reality TV i.e. he/she likes to place two diametrically opposed personalities together, both who still have the same core values. Then enjoying watching how they interact and experience life in all its ups and downs. What a prankster and master of the universe.

What didn’t go so well this year?

2017 wasn’t all smooth sailing. Changes in staff, acquiring business and more made for many interesting and challenging times.

Jail break. Old prison in Isle de Pine, Vanuatu
Jail break. Old prison in Isle de Pine, Vanuatu

Negotiations: 2017 was the year when negotiations ended in frustration and disappointment. Now with some clear air between now and then I can look back and assess these events less emotionally. The lesson I learnt? Often the best outcome is when no party is happy.

Whist this is counter to my ever optimistic belief of win/win/win negotiations; when we take our own broken life stories into negotiations these have the potential to cloud our better judgement, for better and for worse.

Frustrations: Financial planning is a highly regulated industry and with good reason because of its importance within the community.

Positives and negatives that come from increased regulation i.e. less competition, better advisors and improved advice, however doing so has a direct increase on costs, aside from the negative media reports and fragmentation across the industry, which continues to undermine the public's trust of advisers and the value the financial advice industry offers.

Regardless of these challenges, it’s both an honour and a privilege to be in a position of trust and help to people. Helping others facilitate and clarify what’s important to them and improve their quality of life.

Blog Posts: My goal was the same in 2016 i.e. to write a post per week. Again in 2017 this goal was missed. Again I began the year motivated, however my posts soon ran to fortnightly then monthly, then every now and then……. Distracted by staff changes, business acquisition and software integration my blogging naturally took a back seat. These distractions is now behind me and I can once again get back to writing more blogs for both you and me.

Promises: I had quietly told myself that 2017 was the year I would complete my first book. Today I can publicly tell you that I have failed to deliver on this promise. Doh! I could give a whole list of excuses however they won’t change the outcome.

Fortunately with the help of some good friends I am back on track and can say that I look forward to publishing and sharing my first book in the later part of 2018 with you. More to come….

Public Events: In 2017 it was my intention to start free public events. This never became a reality. Instead our focus continued to be about adding more value to our existing clients and improving business process efficiencies.

In retrospect my enthusiasm for holding public was also battered by my fear of putting a step wrong and the general public’s distrust of financial advisers being fuelled by industry scandals played out daily across the media. So instead of get out and promoting our value it was easier to avoid the rejection, cost and effort.

What am I going to do better?

The value of sharing my success, failures and intentions is layered.

Playing Dress up Samurai at Osaka Castle Japan
Playing Dress up Samurai at Osaka Castle Japan

Firstly it holds me accountable to doing the activities I need to do in make my intentions a reality A.K.A. “this time next year!” Secondly I face similar day to day problems just like you and thirdly it ensures greater authenticity as  I do the actions aligned to my core values. 

If my experiences can help you realise a better quality of life and go on to help others, then we’ve all done our part in making the world a better place. This may sound cheesy, however it’s the lens I choose to see life through. 

Delivery: A completed book, holding free public events and of course regular personal blog posts. No more excuses or valid distractions my time has arrived to deliver. I already have all the pieces I now need to put them together.

Permission: To be even more authentic and genuine. Finding strength through my vulnerabilities and developing deeper relationships.

Maintenance: In 2017 I experienced a major change to lifestyle, diet and spiritual awareness. The next 12 months my intention is to maintain my improved lifestyle and continue deepening my spiritual relationship and brothers and sisters in Christ, for his glory.

New Experiences: Currently we are planning to visit Peru, Chile and yet to be agreed Argentina or Brazil at the end of 2018. We also intend to head back to Hawaii and stay on the Big Island (Kona), Maui and Oahu, albeit this is not a new adventure for us we haven’t been back to the Big Island since 2001 and there is plenty more we still want to experience

Certainty: Knowing what we stand for is empowering and satisfying. It enhances efficiencies, adds value and attracts likeminded people who place a higher value on what we do versus our competition.

We give clients the evidence they are on track or can maintain their financial independence worry free is our calling and we can quantify this with their evidence of More Money, More Time and an improved Quality of Life, this is our point of difference.

And so draws the close on 2017. Thank you for reading my posts throughout the past year and I look forward to sharing more of what I have learnt along the way throughout 2018 with you. Have a fantastic year ahead.

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