I’ve been putting off making a year in review post for the longest time.
As 2016 ended, I wanted to make one too.
Then it was 2017. January. February. March.
Ah, it’s too late. It’s already April and it won’t make sense to be writing about 2016 at this point.
Isn’t this how we all feel with a majority of our goals and dreams?
We put things off. We say “we’ll do it one day”. We don’t take any action on them and instead, use our time distracted by the day to day – not looking at the bigger picture.
We’re all guilty of this, especially me.
But this year, it was different. I tried to break that habit apart and actually take the time to chase down my goals.
From materialistic dreams of owning a really great laptop to work more efficiently . . . to more intangible ones like helping my mom stress less about paying the bills by taking care of some of them . . .
They became a reality for me this year . . . but they came at a cost.
Here’s my shot at looking back at what happened this year in different parts of my life, to reflect on what I did good, what I can improve, and how I plan to improve it as a new year comes in 30 minutes.
Time Check: 11:31PM
It’s been a roller-coaster ride career-wise, but thankfully, that roller-coaster has been mostly up.
(It’s a different story for my mental and emotional state at times in the year though.)
I’m a Facebook Advertising Consultant, and I’ve been doing this for almost 1.5 years at this point. I started focusing on Facebook Ads around May 2016, and got my first few clients within a few months.
I started the year with 2 local clients, and 1 US-based client. These were the same clients I had from 2016 – I didn’t try to get new ones as the year started.
On top of these consulting clients that work with me personally, I’ve been subcontracting with a US-based social media marketing agency since 2016 as well, and that’s been going well.
The downside of all this was that I was initially burned out from all the work.
I Quit That Job Twice (And Failed).
As 2016 ended, I actually almost quit my job at this agency even if it supplied almost 70% of my income.
There was a week where I logged almost 30 hours of work, when I usually do 15 hours. As a full-time student with a big project to pass at the end of that week, I broke down on Friday morning and just cried on my bed.
Mentally and emotionally fatigued, I couldn’t do it anymore.
Thankfully, my amazing girlfriend came to the rescue helped me with the project while I did all my work.
We got it done, and the succeeding weeks my workload went back to its usual 15 hours. Even then, I knew I couldn’t keep doing this anymore.
I sent an email, giving them two options.
Option 1 was to resign, and Option 2 was to find someone to work with me while I took a more advisory or managerial role.
Thankfully, the team trusted me enough to pick option 2. I made my first hire for the company, and he’s an awesome, talented dude who continues to work with us today.
This is a story from 2016, so why am I bringing it up in a review of 2017?
Because it happened again this year, on May 2017.
In the degree I’m taking, we’re required to take a 240 hour internship to graduate. As the internship approached, I remembered the incident in 2016.
I knew I couldn’t do a full 8 hour/day internship while staying committed to the agency. Without hesitation, I sent them an email titled “my resignation :(“.
It was a suuuuper long email. It had a step by step plan on how to replace me and all, and even the profile of 3 people I interviewed for the position.
I was 100% ready to quit.
I didn’t want to go through the mental and emotional breakdown I did last 2016.
But once again, the team wanted to keep me on-board and I found someone to take over some of my responsibilities.
Lesson: Take the time to build a real relationship with the people you work with. On top of that, be the most human person you can be.
Especially when working remote, the real x-factor is trust.
Of course, you have to kick-ass with whatever you do. Work hard to ensure quality. When you fail, be open about it. You’ll be surprised by the support people are willing to give out – even if you screw up hard. 🙂
Today, my workload is much lower than before since we’re now 3 people on our team.
We work together to support the company’s advertising department, and we do it pretty well if you ask me. 😉
I Lost My 2 Local Clients . . . But Got 2 More.
I stopped working with 2 of the local clients I started 2017 with. As I matured in the industry, I started to learn that these clients weren’t ready for the services I offered.
I signed on a new client in May, because I thought I’d stop work with the agency and because I knew I could bring him results.
On October, our advertising on Facebook generated him $11,247 in sales with just an advertising spend of $888.65. That’s an ROI of 800%+.
I also started working with a new local client later in 2017. They’re a really known local brand, and in the same way, I knew I could bring them results given the planned working engagement.
I’m Taking It Slow For 2018 (At First).
That puts me at 2 US-based clients, a single local client, and the subcontracted role in that US-based agency.
Since I’ve picked the right clients to work with, and said no to ones I knew wasn’t a right fit – my work isn’t as stressful as before.
That’s one of the things I learned this year. What you have to offer isn’t for everyone. If you try to fit in to what everyone needs, you’re going to burn out.
There’s always going to a portion of the market that will be the perfect fit of what you have to offer. Find that segment of the market, and serve them with the highest quality you can. You’ll not only be less stressed, you’ll earn more too.
One of these “ideal clients” of mine came up at the later part of the year. We were really close to signing a lucrative contract that would be mutually beneficial.
I stepped back a bit before making that decision. I knew that the first 3 months of 2018 would be an absolute blood bath of focus for my life as a student.
It would be my last push, and hopefully, I could close this chapter of my life in 3-4 months if I give it my all.
With that thought, I made the tough decision and said no.
Another thing I learned:
Focus isn’t about knowing which opportunities to say yes to. It’s about turning down the 99% of opportunities that come way your way to say “HELL FUCKING YES” to the 1% that will make you happy and will make the most impact to your long-term goals.
Time Check: 1/1/2018, 1:04 AM. Couldn’t finish it on time. Will finish tomorrow!
Another big event career-wise in 2017 was the creation of Orange Tree.
It’s a long story how my great friend and co-founder Fran and I got here and why we chose to start Orange Tree. It’s one that I’d like to go into, but will save for a later post. 🙂
Looking back, Orange Tree impacted me the most by pushing the limits in terms of what I believed I could do.
Marketing was my forte at this point, but I’ve always dabbled a bit in programming, and even design.
Through Orange Tree, I was able to push the limits of that “dabble” and actually jumped right in and did my best to learn how to create in these fields.
All our material – from presentations, workbooks, social media posts, our logo, colors, eBooks – I created by aggressively learning and implementing what it took to be a great designer.
In fact, I realized that design is actually learn-able. You don’t have to be “naturally creative” to become good at it.
Design is learnable. I’ve always thought you have to be “naturally creative” to do do any sort of design work.
Not true. Although naturally talented people do have a head start in terms of their output’s quality, anyone else can reach that level will practice.
— Reinart Bacalso (@ReinartBacalso) December 26, 2017
In terms of programming, I ended up manually programming and writing the code of the entire web page we used to promote our Investment Workshop.
(I thought I saved a screenshot but can’t seem to find it. I’ll be back with it!)
Above all through, starting Orange Tree helped me see the realities that people face every day with their money.
There’s still so much to be done. At Orange Tree, we want to achieve this (initially, at least) through objective, unbiased, and actionable financial advise that speaks to the every day Filipino.
As I shift my focus for the first quarter of the year to finish school, Fran and I have agreed to slow down our activity at Orange Tree.
We plan to ramp up around June/July 2018 . . . so if you wanna be the first to know when that happens, you can subscribe to our Facebook Messenger Chatbot by clicking here:
To be honest, academics have slid in terms of my priorities in the last year. It didn’t matter as much to me anymore.
I wasn’t as anxious about being present in classes, and when I was present, I spent most of my time on my laptop working anyway.
It helped that as 2017 started, it was the end of my 4th year in college. The subjects were much more do-able compared to the previous semester.
As my 5th (and last) year as a student started on June 2017, the workload decreased even more. Especially in this last semester, which started last November 2017. Look at our schedule!
I don’t have classes on MWF, and this has allowed me to finally start going to the gym (more on that below), spend more time working on my consulting, while still having time to rest a bit.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend time on school, or that it isn’t something worth spending effort on. Before I started working as a freelancer/consultant, putting in the work for my academics helped me get large discounts in my tuition.
This was indirectly a way of “earning money”, because it saved the family money.
But with my work, I needed to shift my priorities towards what gave me the highest positive net benefit. In this case, it was my work since it not only earned me more than the tuition discount, it allowed me to experience freedom in other aspects in my life as well.
I talk more about what I learned on priorities near the end of this post. 🙂
Hopefully I can close this chapter of my life by April 2018. It was a fun ride, full of ups and downs, but it just wasn’t “me”.
Coming Soon . . .
Family, Close Friends, Relationships.
To start the year, I was constantly crushed with time. Found myself working even during the weekends, when I wanted to spend that time with family.
I think it was around the middle of the year that I decided it was a bad habit. I made it a point not to be doing any work when i’m out with family or my girlfriend.
In the same way, I’ve focused on maintaining a smaller group of friends. Not only was it easier to manage, it also made me happier.
As the year came to a close, I learned to make it a point to always schedule time on my calendar for time with family, time with my girlfriend, or time with friends.
It’s not something you schedule as an afterthought. You schedule it first, then the whirlwind of work can be scheduled outside that time.
Oh – I Couldn’t Stand For A Whole Day This Year.
Yup. One day, I just got up my bed (with absolutely no physical activity at all before that) and a jolt of pain rushed from the heels of my feet to the middle of my lower back.
Crazy shit. I couldn’t stand because whenever my feet touch the floor, that jolt of pain goes up my back.
I found myself on the bed for at least 2 days, and when it was finally bearable, we visited a doctor and I was advised to take an MRI.
Thankfully, nothing was wrong.
<IMAGES OF MRI>
My lifestyle (sitting 7 to 8 hours a day) just made my back really weak. I was advised to go to the rehab gym in Perpetual Succor Hospital to get conditioned.
I did, and have been going to the gym as consistently as I can for the last 3-4 months.
One of the things I realized is that living a healthy life is fucking expensive.
Quick thought: it’s undeniably expensive to live healthy
— Reinart Bacalso (@ReinartBacalso) November 9, 2017
From paying for a gym membership, or buying equipment to workout at home, or even eating healthy food – it’s expensive.
People argue and say:
“Reinart you can always workout without equipment or go to the market, find healthy ingredients, and cook your own healthy food.”
Yes, that’s true. But you see, “expensive” isn’t just about monetary loss. It includes your expense of time.
Cooking your own food, working out without equipment or guidance from a physical therapist in a gym/rehab clinic – these paths are doable, but will take you longer than the other route.
With all the work I’ve done this year, I’m grateful to be able to say that I’m in a good place financially. Nothing amazing, but enough to sustain the lifestyle (a healthy one) I want to live.
Books, Books, and More Books.
Part of that lifestyle is one that includes a LOT of reading.
I love reading. In the past, there were always too many books that I liked that my wallet could handle.
This year, that changed. I spent exactly ₱18,467.49 on books and ₱26,986.46 on online courses/education this year.
But, they’re all just sitting there.
That’s the ironic thing about it.
My work has helped me acquire as many books my heart desires, but I had almost no time to read any of them.
I probably read less than 3-4 books out of 15+ I got this year, and none of the courses I got have been completed.
I tried to commit to it mid-way through the year, but failed.
✅ New Goals ✅
⭕️ Read 1 book a week.
⭕️ Make a book review every 2 weeks.
⭕️ Do a book giveaway every month.
Halfway through this one! 👍 pic.twitter.com/Ki8L4S6A9B
— Reinart Bacalso (@ReinartBacalso) May 17, 2017
I’m trying to change that now (I finished reading 2 books in December 2017), but overall, there was a pattern emerging.
It wasn’t only limited to my reading, but in other parts of my life as well.
You See, This Year Came With A Lot of Sacrifice.
The biggest irony is that although I’m financially in a good place to spend (within good reason) on things I want . . . I now have no time to enjoy these things.
With the money I’ve saved, I can now afford to bring my mom to new restaurants or dessert places without worrying about other things we have to pay for (bills, etc.).
But as a full time student, a lot of my work bleed into weekends since I go to class on weekdays. The result? I don’t always have the time to go out with my mom.
With my girlfriend, the time I used to spend talking with her at night was now drained with Skype meetings, unfinished work, and other work-related things.
I used to complain about the slow internet and how I couldn’t download Supernatural Episodes quicker.
Now, we’re on PLDT Fibr, but I literally had no time to watch a single Supernatural Episode (or any other downloaded movie/TV show) in 2017.
Do you see how fucked up that is?
As I look back, this really boiled down to understanding three concepts:
Trade-offs, compromise, and priorities.
Every decision you make has a cost. It has a trade-off. Most of the time, the costs are clear for easy, short-term decisions.
If you buy this book, you lose X amount of pesos. If you go to this event, you lose X amount of time.
For the harder decisions in life, especially ones that affect you long-term, it’s much harder.
Should I go out with my friends, or should I stay at home to finish my work? I haven’t seen my friends in a while . . . but if I don’t finish work, I might make a bad impression on my clients.
There’s so much personal satisfaction to spend a night out with friends. In the short-term, it feels really good.
But long-term, the trade-off you make for not finishing work today might cost you the relationships you have with the people you work with.
I went through a LOT of situations like this, a most of them involved choosing between my professional career and spending time with friends/family.
The result of all these trade-offs is that you have to crafty with what you’re really willing to lose to be able to get what you want out of life. This is where compromise came in.
For example, during my internship, I had to compromise my sleep to be able to work and finish everything I had to do daily while completing my 8 hours at the internship.
There was a week where I slept 12am on most days, got up by 5:30am, worked until 7:00am, then proceeded to where I had my internship from 8:30am to 5:30pm.
This is a screenshot of my calendar at the end of May. On these same days, I worked until 11pm of that night too. I was unable to sustain this for long, but I did when it mattered.
Without a doubt, if you really want something in life, you need to understand the trade-offs and the compromise you will face.
To understand what things you’re willing to compromise on, you need to be very clear with what your priorities are.
Personally, for 2017, my top priority was to work my ass off.
Some people will think this is crazy, and that I’m a workaholic and I’m a boring dude who doesn’t know how to have fun.
That could be true.
But ultimately, I’m thinking much farther than a single year.
When I made all those compromises, I’m not thinking about what could happen in a year. I wasn’t even thinking only about what could happen in 3 years.
I’m playing the long-game.
I know I don’t want to be stuck in an office job after I graduate.
I know 3 years after I graduate, I want to be able to support the household to a point where my mom can retire – even if she isn’t at retirement age yet.
I know that when I have kids one day, I want to be there to bring them to school, and bring them back home. When they have problems, I don’t want to be stressed as fuck from work that I don’t listen to them.
I know that by the time I’m 30, I want to be able to do whatever the hell I want without thinking about money.
I know that when I grow old, I don’t want to depend on anyone (like my kids) to help me stay alive.
Every action (especially in 2017), every compromise, and every priority I set – was taken to push me towards this overarching long-term vision.
I used to think I was busy. I think when some people see me and what I do, they think I’m busy as well.
What I learned over time is that no one is ever busy. We all just have different priorities. Things don’t get into your schedule not because you’re busy, but because you don’t prioritize it.
This is why I was willing to miss a few nights with friends/family, not watch a single Supernatural Episode in 2017, not read a book every week like I wanted to, and I even stopped mid-way my Run 20km in 12 Months Challenge.
I was very clear with my priorities, and I followed through.
Key Takeaways From 2017
Coming Soon . . .
Link to RescueTime Year in Review
Goals For 2018
Here’s the thing. So far, there’s only goal in 2018. Because if I don’t get this right, I literally can’t move forward to do anything else.
Not really in a literal sense though. I can always continue working. But without this finished, there will always be a mental load that will be dragging me down.
What is it?
Graduate by April 12, 2018.
That’s it for now. I’m honestly not so sure what’s going to happen after April 2018.
I do have a planned goal in terms of my consulting though. I kinda came close to hitting it this year, but didn’t really give it that push it needed.
7 figures in revenue.
Other than that, I know I’m going to take a break for a month or two (won’t stop working . . . just won’t find new clients) – but I don’t know what’s next.
Will I scale my consulting? Place more focus on Orange Tree? Build an agency of my own? Go all-in on my passion for programming?
A year is a long time.
As I wrote this piece, I realized I can’t even remember what I wanted from 2017. So much time has passed by, and priorities change.
What was relevant to me at the start of the year no longer is relevant today.
This is probably why a lot of people say that goal setting should only be done within 90 days. Goals longer than that are useless because too many things can change from 90 days and beyond.
If you want to visualize how you see yourself after 90 days, think longer-term. Try 25 years. This is how Facebook does it. They set goals on a really short term basis (I forgot if it was 6 months or 90 days), and then make sure all their goals are aligned towards a 25 year vision.
April isn’t even within the next 90 days, so I’m leaving the possibilities open. 🙂
P.S. As you can see, I never finished this post on time. Hell, I couldn’t get it fully done and it’s already January 4, 2018.
It’s a better way to put yourself on the spot to get stuff done. You subconsciously get anxious because you know people will see your unfinished work.
If you wanna know when it’s complete, you can sign-up on the green popup thing that should be at the bottom of your screen. 🙂