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Financial Independence Retire Early. Good, Bad & Ugly Report 2019

Updated: Jun 4

Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. Before the crowds

Well friends, 2019 is now dry cement.


However before we embark on our plans for 2020 I’d like to share the ups and downs, successes and failures of the 2019 that was.


My Good Bad Ugly Report is 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 out of your 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 2019?

As I like to begin on a positive let’s cover the wins of 2019. Here’s what went well in the year that was.


Travel: 2019 was a standout year for travel.. 


Iguazu Falls. Border of Brazil and Argentina
Iguazu Falls. Border of Brazil and Argentina

We got to experience South America i.e. Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. This was a big bucket list travel experience and one that we will never forget..


Thanks to Rosalind, Blake our travel agent and our many tour guides. There were several highlights including a weeklong stay in tree house stay deep in the Amazon jungle, Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Copacabana beach, Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ Redeemer, experiencing the Trans-Andean railway, a Tango show in Buenos Aires and a salubrious Chilean wine tour.  


Finances: I am happy to say we are seeing a turnaround in our financial position. 


Emotional investing
Investing as is love and life, be like a roller coaster baby

Both the Australian and international investment markets have increased significantly over the last twelve months up between 10-20%, resulting in solid increases to our listed investments.


Sydney property prices also look to have stabilised from their 20% declines in 2017-2018. The current supply of properties on the market remains limited and the properties that are selling seem to be selling due to more reasonable vendor expectations. As such the Sydney residential real estate is looking like some life is being breathed back into the residential market. At long last.


In late 2018 our apartment in Sydney was un-tenanted for over three months. This required our savings to be re-directed towards covering holding costs while no additional rental income came in to cover these outgoing expenses.  However as of April 2019 the property finally was rented out again. We are now back on track with our regular savings, investing and building on our financial independence outside of our business.


Business: 2019 Awards. We were blessed with industry recognitions in 2019. Beginning with our entry into the Top 10 of Personal Financial Blogs in Australia. Being a finalist for the IFA (Independent Financial Adviser Magazine) Excellence Awards in two categories Holistic Adviser and Holistic Advice Firm of the Year.


One of the Best Financial Service Firm in Cairns by Three Best and being highly commended for Excellence in Professional Standards by Infocus Money Management.

IFA Excellence Awards
One of many awards received in 2019

Despite the teething problems facing financial planners across the industry on our journey to transition into a profession, we remain optimistic and encouraged by what we are experiencing day to day in our business. Our client relationships are deepening, customers appreciate our unique skill set and the way we demonstrate adding significant value to their lives. And we continue to welcome great clients into our business.


Lifestyle: I truly believe Cairns is the lifestyle capital city of Australia. With the Great Barrier Reef at our front door and the Daintree Rainforest at our back. An international airport that is 10 min drive from the CBD and with the national Broadband now rolled out. Life is good.


Clifton Beach Queensland Australia
Early morning walk in the backyard. Clifton Beach Queensland Australia

It’s hard to believe that we are soon to begin our fifth year in this tropical paradise. 2019 we continued to welcome a stream of family and friends to this paradise and we look forward to seeing more.


The stresses at work quickly dissolve with a stroll on the sand of the never crowded Clifton Beach. You’ll also often find us there with a glass of wine and cheese/fruit platter at sunset. On weekends we take the opportunity to head up to Port Douglas (30 min drive) and ride our bikes, go to the markets and enjoy a local’s rate staying at one of the many luxury hotels. Life is very good up here.


Clarity: With all the uncertainty that financial planners are experiencing right now; one could ask why and how on earth clarity could be on my gone well list for 2019. My answer is really quite simple. Either you’re in or you’re out!


If you’re out? Then move on. If you’re in? Then move forward. Listen less to the industry noise, get on with business and see this as an opportunity to have a better business, deeper client relationships, more committed staff and improved processes as a result.


As for me I’m staying. In fact I even wrote a blog about my 10 Reasons why.


What didn’t go so well this year?

2019 wasn’t all smooth sailing. New legislation, changes to business process and more made for many interesting and challenging times.


Health:  Fatman! At my heaviest I tipped the scales back over 90kg. Actually 91.5kg 23/11/2019. At the beginning of 2019 I weighed in at a healthy 82kg. Currently I’m 90kg and facing the challenge to lose weight over Christmas and the New Year. Doh!!!!


Malaysian Hawker Food
Malaysia Hawker Food is the best cuisine in the world!

In truth my weight piled back on whilst seeking the comfort and escapism of food and booze. Looking back this was my reactive unplanned way to sooth the anxieties and fears about the future of the financial planning industry and how it may impact me (because I was tuning into industry noise instead of listening to clients). What if it all turned to s#*t, and even more worrying, what if it really does, what next?


The good news is that stepping back on to the scales (my intervention) was to be my wake up call. This along with my decision to commit to the journey ahead as a financial planner albeit requiring additional funding and time for studies, incurring increased business costs, introducing additional (less efficient) processes into the business etc has thrust my reality into full clarity. I am now ready to pay the price and move forward.


As they say “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.”

 

Exercise: I had intended to run a marathon. However the combination of my increased girth, emotional exhaustion from worry along with maintaining a poor diet had totally white anted my goal of completing a marathon from ever becoming my reality.


The disappointment I have towards myself runs bitter and deep. In fact the unintended consequence of acknowledging this has brought me clarity. Continuing to harbour this disappointment is in fact sucking my every motivation to achieve my goals and aspirations. The past is dry cement! Time to cut this emotional weight of judgment from my self-talk dialog and move forward with more conviction and confidence.


Cairns Property:

In April 2019 Paradise palms Golf Course closed and the current owner is seeking to redevelop the land into a housing estate. This is a problem because the property we own and live in is a resort attached to the golf course. The result being property prices across the precinct have dropped significantly.


Paradise Palms Golf Course Closed. Soon to be The Palms
Closure of Paradise Palms Golf Course. Devastated

The developer’s plans are currently lodged with council and awaiting community feedback. Given the community backlash it’s likely to be a long battle ahead for all. While this plays out, I predict the only activity on the golf course will be growing weeds.


The upside is we have the swimming pool and facilities pretty much to ourselves since we have less tourists and guests. So there is a sliver of a silver lining (lifestyle wise) to the current drak clouds above..


Book: In 2016 I set myself a goal to author my first book. While this goal sits on the sideline gathering dust, my inner flame to write still burns bright. The result being pent up frustrations, feeding into denial, self-loathing, poor diet, booze, lack of exercise and little still accomplished.


I wish I could let go of this book inside of me however I simply can’t. The message is too important and beneficial to millions of us hurting in silence.


What am I going to do better?

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


Firstly it holds a mirror up to my recent successes and failures. It also reveals to me the repeating patterns of my successes and failures. It also helps me to clarify my wanted future goals, if they are wishes or are they truly important enough to me to become lifelong habits.


Secondly my hope is that sharing with you my past years successes, failures and future goals also helps you on your own journey while encouraging you to keep moving toward achieving a better future for yourself and those important to you.


Do the work: Importantly this is not the achievement of any goal I may set. It is the commitment to do the work i.e. small, regular, repeatable actions and by doing so the probability of me achieving my goal is heightened, without the added pressure of overbearing expectations and judgement.


Enjoy the process: In short; enjoy doing the work, trust the process and let go of the outcome. It also means turning up, not giving up, maintaining focus on the task at hand and not being distracted by the noise of others airing their frustrations and fears. It’s letting go of the past successes and failures and being more present, so to be in a better place, state of mind and readiness to face the future.


Value myself more: As the famous John West add says ‘it’s the fish that John West rejects, that makes John West the best”. No longer can our business or my health afford continuing to be all things to all people. No longer can we afford to service disengaged clients. Our time like our clients is important and I must invest it where it is most appreciated i.e. engaged clients.


Be Better not Bigger: Since 2014 this has become my mantra. With all the changes in financial planning there is no better time than now to re-evaluate how and where we can be better. Most importantly we need to acknowledge and reinvest back into our paying clients because of who they truly are i.e. direct investors in us. Without our clients we have no business. Reinvesting in our clients is not an option, it’s mandatory for both our and our client’s future.


If these experiences and aspirations of mine 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. 


And so draws the close on 2019. 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 2020 with you. Have a fantastic year ahead.

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