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  • Writer's picturePeter

Financial Independence Retire Early. Good, Bad & Ugly Report 2023

Updated: Jun 4

Bye Bye Cairns. Hello World!


Well friends, the curtain has now drawn to a close on 2023, let’s take a pause looks back over the past year, and benchmark our progress before planning the next year ahead. 

Here's a cut and paste from my 2022 Good Bad Ugly report 'While 2022 was more skoshi stu tsu (little by little) I’m confident 2023 will be one of, no holding back'. And wow what a year 2023 was!

I do this to keep myself accountable and inspired on this journey called life and one of achieving financial independence and to retire early. As a reference point click the previous years links at the end of this report.

Whilst he past maybe dry cement, I believe it’s also important to celebrate how far we’ve come, reflect on where I could have done better and put myself out there publicly as a form of motivation, whilst continuing to do the work needed ensuring any future plans have a higher probability to become 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.

Here’s what went well in the year that was.

The Good. What went well in 2023?

What a year!

Business Sale. What a ride. Twenty five years ago I started with a dream of achieving my own financial independence founded on three core principles. First, help others to become or continue to be financially independent.

Secondly, to continue learning about personal finance and investments. Thirdly apply my findings to my own finances, ensuring I was truly walking my talk when helping others. Jump forward to February 2023 I have nothing but thanks and praise to those that trusted, invested and believed in me.

I also believe we found the best adviser to continue supporting and putting our clients first, because in truth I believe its only from helping others first that we are given the best opportunity to achieve our own successes in life too. 

Nice to be acknowledged. Thank you :)

I graduated again. It's with mixed emotions I celebrate this milestone. Whist I initially graduated as a financial advisor in 1999, I also did further studies and attained the highest industry qualification at the time, Certified Financial Planner (CFP) in 2004, of course there were many other certificates and ongoing learnings also attained over the following years, however in 2018 the Royal Commission Recommendations changed life for everyone. So on top of helping clients, and managing a small business I went back to school.

Meanwhile forty percent of advisers departed the industry and client fees went up over two hundred percent. The result? Many people seeking advice and help were not able to do so. Whist I still believe the financial planning profession has a bright future, my concern is that the industry is still struggling in its transition and its current growing pains.

Kaplan Graduation
Graduate Diploma of Financial Planning Completion

Purchased and renovated a small apartment in Japan. Wow! What an experience. I'm one week away from heading back to Japan (3rd time in the last 12 months) and I look forward to sharing with you some of the finished renovation photos.

I wrote earlier in 2023 about the challenges of renovating an overseas property, different languages, cultures, expectations etc however that past is now dry cement. I'm looking froward to enjoy the current ski season where I will be until mid March 2024, skiing, onsens, sake, practicing Japanese and waking up in awe of how beautiful the Japanese Alps are and being humbled by the reality that now this is my second home, it still feels like a dream.

Echigo Yuzawa
Alpine views from my living room

Finished Sydney apartment renovations. I cannot take any credit for this, since I was busy with finishing studies, renovating Japan and relocating from Cairns back to Sydney, however after eighteen months, from gutting the apartment down to its bones, budget blowouts, buckets of tears and much, much more pain and frustration, renovations are finished.

So for the moment plans are to enjoy the Sydney summer the festive season and sunset drinks, whist planning 2024, where we will be, what we will do and who we will be spending it with.

NYE Fireworks Sydney
2023 NYE Fireworks. Milsons Point.

Travel, travel and more travel. With more time on my hands, no small business to manage, nor additional finishing studies, post the relocating back from Cairns to Sydney, dealing with the process and realities of early retirement and renovations in two countries, I travelled.

In fact in 2023 I spent over six month outside of Australia, which has always been my aspirational ideal life plan after achieving lasting financial independence. And I hope it continues to be my new normal as I bounce between Australia, Japan, Malaysia and elsewhere.

Langkawi Island Malaysia
Malaysia just one of the many countries visited in 2023

The Bad. What didn’t go so well in 2023?

Just as 2023 was filled with Good, it also had its measure of bad!

Relationship. Deciding to sell your business and loosing your identity whilst embarking on two renovations in different countries was always going to be a big challenge, even more so when one person wants to get the job at hand done, and the other has a perfectionist mentality.

Delays, cost blowouts and frustration I believe are just part of the course, however, add loosing my own identity by selling the business, finishing studies, relocating interstate, and also being overseas for extended periods of time hasn't helped.

Whist I'm still finding my feet in retirement I also am learning to stand taller, value myself more and live my life more courageously instead of living in fear. To be continued..

American Village Okinawa
Dah, Dah, Da Da Da Da

Relocation. I was speaking with a friend about the challenges moving back to a big city after eight years in Cairns. 'Sound like you've been countryfied (pronounced in an Australian drawl)' he said. And to that I wholeheartedly agree. WOKE is not a big thing in Cairns, nor is traffic, doing things to always fit in or constantly impress others.

In Cairns you just BE. You enjoy a crowd less beach, picnic on an island, eat tropical fruit and fish, walk in beautiful rainforests and talk about the last or next cyclone. Things don't change fast in Cairns and I find that nice.

So moving back to Sydney is a bit of a culture shock to me. I'm certainly not WOKE, I value people for who they are rather than what they have (I no longer do things to impress others), going shopping is like preparing for battle, and having the same conversations over and over about property prices and their unaffordability bores me to tears. So in short I'm still struggling with returning to Sydney.

Boxes & boxes everywhere

Burnout. A state of complete mental (tick), physical (tick) and emotional exhaustion (tick). I guess its to be expected given I left nothing on the table for myself, whist being a financial planner, owning a small practice, all the regulation changes, market ups and downs, covid, renovations, relocation etc, etc.

All I can say is that I'm still recovering and healing. One day at a time whist continuing to learn how to just be, instead of burdening myself activities with my own expectations stemming from me buying into the expectations others so that I feel worthy enough myself in having met their expectations. 

Koloa Zip Line
Happy, Not Happy Ziplining in Kauai, Hawaii.

The Ugly? What am I going to do better in 2024?

Working it, ain’t never pretty, hence the ugly! And there’s a lot of work ahead in 2024.

Finish and Publish Book. No more excuses, no more distractions, its time to finish what I have long told myself I said I would do. Whilst I did start writing and have completed approximately twenty five percent, everything came to a grinding halt after returning to Sydney.

Jump forward to today, 2024 and now with less pressing matters on my plate, finishing and publishing this book is my sole focus between now and April (aside from skiing). I'm going old school, no AI help, just pen, paper and my trusty old keyboard/ pc. My book written in simple language, along with simple to apply strategies and discoveries written to help others achieve what's most important to them, how to make more, work less and how you to leave the grind behind! Its title? FREE YOUR WAY! 

Wish me luck and see you on the other side. 

Improve my Japanese. Whilst I can get by with the assistance of google translation and pointing gestures hen in Japan, speaking and reading Japanese is both more efficient for the day to day matters as well as building and maintaining relationships. Plus given that I intend to be in Japan for more than 4 months each year and where I live I'm the only gaijin (foreigner) in the building my need to learn Japanese is even more imperative. JPLT has five levels so my goal is to be at least N3 (intermediate level) by years end.

Atami Castle Japan
Konichiwa from Japan

Decide and commit to what to do next. With all the busyness of 2023, and beyond deciding to finish my book and learn more Japanese I've yet to decide what's next.

There are opportunities on the horizon in Malaysia, so too are are there passion projects I am considering in Japan, then again I'm also happy travelling, writing and enjoying retirement. However ultimately I know I need to decide, so I plan to make 2024 the year to clarify this. To be continued..

Okinawa Beach

While 2023 was a year of no holding back, I foresee 2024 will be a year of work, creativity, celebration and growth. A year of recalibration and new frontiers along with all its challenges and clarifications it brings. 

There will be time’s I fail, but I know I will be doing so falling forward. The past is dry cement, but the future is not. One step at a time, do the work, and trust the process, continues to be my mantra. As they say, ‘An inch of action will take you further than miles of good intentions, every time’.

Bring on 2024.

Why do I do this?

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 toward achieving a better future for yourself and those important to you.

Do the work: Success comes from the commitment to do the work i.e., small, regular, repeatable actions, simply doing the work, increases our probability of success. Nothing more, nothing less.

Enjoy the process: In short; enjoy doing the work, trust the process and let go of the outcome.

It also means turning up, and not giving up. Maintaining focus on the task at hand and not being distracted by the noise of others airing their frustrations and fears.

Let go of the past successes and failures and be more present, so that you will be in a better place, state of mind and readiness to face the future. 

Value you more: As the famous John West add says ‘it’s the fish that John West rejects, that makes John West the best”. So with this front of my mind I also encourage you keep what helps you move forward whist also letting go of the things that hold us back.

Trying to Be Better not Bigger: Since 2014.

If these experiences and aspirations of mine help you realise a better quality of life and go on to help others, then we’ve both 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, as we begin 2024. Thank you for reading my posts throughout the past years and I look forward to sharing more of my experiences, learnings and insights throughout 2024.

Have a fantastic year ahead.

Cheers Peter

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