Hope for your financial life and beyond

3 Big Victories and 3 Big Disappointments From 2014

2015 is just a stone’s throw away. I’m eagerly awaiting the start of the New Year and all the hope it promises. As always though, before I look ahead I’m usually looking in the rear view mirror at what’s behind.

rear view mirror imageLooking behind can be productive. It reminds me of where I’ve been, what I’ve accomplished, and what I’ve struggled with. It allows me to celebrate victories and analyze defeats. With both endeavors I’m looking to derive the best practices that can move me forward with greater productivity and passion in the future.

As I’m sure it did with you, 2014 provided me with some ups and downs. So in what has become an annually ritual on Luke1428, I’m highlighting three big victories and three big disappointments from this past year.

Hail to the Victors

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” – George S. Patton

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog throughout the year, these three victories should come as no surprise:

1. Down goes the mortgage

In February, we said goodbye to our mortgage and our lender Bank of America. The look of the bank representative was so sad when I went in and told her we’d be paying off our mortgage and closing our account with them.

We had some very good reasons why we chose to pay off our mortgage early, most notably our intense desire to be 100% debt free. For those who are still working through debt struggles I can assure you the journey is completely worth it. The release of pressure and peace that comes from owing no one is difficult to describe.

2. Man up at home

In May, I announced I’d be leaving my career in education to become a stay at home dad. This was the culmination of a four-year journey to remake how our family earns an income and manages life.

So far it’s paying off in ways that I could not have imagined. Being a stay at home dad does have its challenges but the rewards are far greater and make the obstacles worth fighting. Needless to say, I’m experiencing less stress, more family time, a greater focus on this blog and finding new opportunities not available to pursue before.

3. “It’s a major award!”

No I didn’t win a sexy leg lamp like Ralphie Parker’s old man in A Christmas Story. But in September, I did win a Plutus Award at FinCon14 for Best Religious Personal Finance Blog. This was unexpected as there were several other worthy nominees.

It did though bring a very welcome boost in confidence to be recognized by one’s peers. As a blogger you are always searching for feedback from your readers and other bloggers that they appreciate your work and are benefiting from it. Sometimes it’s hard to know if your work is even being noticed. This served as confirmation I’m at least moving in the right direction vis-à-vis Luke1428.

Epic Fails

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

1. Hanging up the shoes

For someone who spent two straight years running and completed two marathons and multiple other events, 2014 has been a huge bust. I’ve run very little this year due to multiple injuries to my feet and knees. I keep waiting for them to heal so I can get back to this but the body is just not responding as quickly as it did when I was 25.

Consequently my health has suffered a bit in that I have less energy, feel sluggish and have put on a little weight. It seems counterintuitive but exercise produces energy and brings stamina vital for the day’s activities. When I was running I could power through the day and was alert and focused. Now, I’m longing for that afternoon nap.

Needless to say returning to an exercise regiment of some kind is one of my primary goals for 2015.

2. Goal neglect

Speaking of goals, I had only two for 2014. Two! And one of those wasn’t really even a goal…it was just playing out the string of the final few months of teaching so I could quit my job in May.

The only other intentional goal I pursued in 2014 was completing my 31-day writing challenge in October.

As someone who has taught about the importance of setting goals, I’m really disappointed in myself for this. I’m unsure as to why I didn’t pursue more goals this year. Perhaps it was the uncertainty that comes with a big life transition – not knowing what to expect so being fearful to commit to something I couldn’t produce on. I don’t know…but this I do know – this has to change for 2015. I have to be shooting for something.

Oddly enough, looking back on 2014, I really did accomplish a lot…just very little that was intentional.

3. Saying goodbye to a pet

In March, we decided to put one of our dogs up for adoption. It’s hard to say goodbye to a pet but we simply could not take care of two big dogs with our busy lifestyle. Neither of them was connecting with us and the whole situation was becoming unmanageable.

This was a disappointment on several levels. One, because we had to say goodbye but two, because it was a reminder that we had made a poor decision in the first place in adopting two dogs ourselves. We should have only taken the one dog but we let our emotion sway us into making a wrong decision.

Despite the emotional disappointment, I’m happy to say that it all turned out for the best. The dog we gave up found a great home. The one we kept is receiving more attention and bonding more with us now.

2014’s Big Blog Moments

In case you missed it, these are the posts that knocked it out of the park in 2014. Huge views, comments and social sharing drove these to be the best of the best.

Confessing a Really Stupid Money Mistake

7 Unfortunate Reasons People Spew Hatred at Dave Ramsey

Why I’m Quitting My Job to Be a Stay at Home Dad

The Biggest Home Security Issue Everyone Is Missing

How to Pass the CPA Exam on the First Try

How Much We Pay Our Kids For Chores

Selling My Soul to the Devil: Why I’m Leasing a Car

4 Reasons Why We Paid Off Our Mortgage Early

Interview With a Centenarian: At 100 My Grandfather Reflects on Life, Faith and Finding Purpose

Should I Leave An Inheritance to My Children?

Here’s looking forward to a great 2015! Thank you to all who have been part of this community. I love interacting with you and appreciate your patronage of this site.

What victories did you have this year? What brought disappointment in 2014? What are you looking to change for the upcoming year? Have you set any goals yet for 2015?

Image courtesy of Holly Hayes at Flickr Creative Commons

Next Post: If You’ve Never Read the Christmas Story…

Prior Post: Pushing Against Evil: I Have My Basketball Goal Back!

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  1. Thanks for sharing your great accomplishments as well as your difficult times. For me, the major victory this past year was regaining my health. At the beginning of the year, I was suffering with congestive heart failure, and wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be here. I made some serious changes to my lifestyle as well as to my healthcare choices. Now I’m feeling better than I have in years. Not that there weren’t disappointments this year, but with that one victory, all else becomes possible.

    • That’s great news Gary! Sure puts my challenges in perspective. I can’t think of many challenges more difficult to face than dealing with the uncertainty that comes from a medical issue. Glad to hear things have turned around.

  2. Nice year! To me, it seems as though the victories outshine the challenges. Congrats on paying off your mortgage and achieving the stay-at-home Dad role. The long-term benefits of the latter will no doubt play out as your kids grow up. Finally, as C.S. Lewis said, “One fails forward toward success.” Go 2015!

  3. Sorry to hear about your dog. I’ve had to do the same thing once awhile back, but I tried to look at the positive side. The family had a lot more time for my dog and lots of more roaming space to run.

  4. Huge congrats on paying off your mortgage! That’s awesome. Sounds like all in all, you had a wonderful 2014!

    I’m sorry to hear about your running woes–I actually transitioned from running to yoga a few years ago due to knee pain, and it’s been a good switch for me. I do heated power yoga and the workout is intense, but with much lower impact on my joints.

    I hope you have a wonderfully merry Christmas with your family and a happy New Year!

    • Interesting…I didn’t know yoga could be that intense.

      • It totally can! Depends on the type of yoga, though. I do heated vinyasa flow power yoga, which is 90 mins of intense workout (lots of upper body, core, and leg strengthening). I’ve never been in better shape because it’s a whole-body workout whereas the stuff I was doing before was more isolated.

  5. Those are some great victories. I really admire what you’ve accomplished and how you and Kim have made goals realities. Even if you didn’t have any major ones for 2014, I think you’re probably still ahead of the game.

    • I feel like I just needed a breather and for life to settle down a bit with the transition to staying at home. It was more a more challenging transition than I anticipated.

  6. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    I feel sad reading that you gave up one of your dogs for adoption. I just wish you gave it to your neighbors or relatives so that you may still visit him. The thought of never seeing my pet saddens me.

  7. Despite the disappointments you mentioned, sounds like you had a great year. The biggest win for me was starting a new job that was a level above the position I was previously in. I think promotions can be the easiest way to increase income and made me think twice about how much time I’m devoting to side hustles.

    • “…promotions…” Cool DC! That has to feel good knowing you are being recognized for your hard work and accomplishments. Not looking at giving up YAM are you? 🙂

  8. Congrats on paying off the mortgage! Sounds like you had a pretty big year!

  9. I think there are some years where we are campers and some where we are climbers. Maybe this past year you just needed to camp a little to regroup and kick ass with some goals in 2015. Plus I do think sometimes we can OG ourselves (over goal). 🙂 I did some great personal things like learning ukulele and running…cough and walking some for a half marathon. Note to self: Hate long distance running. Check that off the list. lol! But financially I fell short…WAY short with the sudden loss of projects in July. Tough year financially but hanging in there!

    • “…some years where we are campers and some where we are climbers.” That’s a great way to put it Tonya! That’s exactly how I felt…a camper. Can I use that line going forward? 🙂

  10. Your three victories are huge Brian and you should feel really proud!! My biggest victory for 2014 was having my book published. I have set my goals for 2015, and I am excited about growing my business and making personal financial planning available to the masses. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  11. Sorry to hear about your dog. Even though it was probably the right thing to do, it would still be a tough thing to do.

    • It was tough, more so on the kids. But it’s turned out great. We’ve really noticed a difference in the behavior of our dog now. He is much more attached to us, which is what I think you want as an owner.

  12. You had some huge victories this year, Brian! Paying off the mortgage – I can’t even imagine how good that felt! 🙂 And I’m so glad you were able to make your dream to become a stay-at-home dad a reality. I definitely agree that as we get older our bodies don’t bounce back the way they used to. I take care good care of myself, but I feel those aches and creaks a lot harder than I did! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and have a wonderful holiday vacation!

    • Yeah, haha…that body doesn’t respond like it used to. When I get back to running I’m going to have to train smarter to compensate I think.

  13. Congrats again on the mortgage as well as the other things Brian – you guys had a pretty big year. 🙂 Our big thing for this year was getting back on the horse in terms of retirement and maxing out everything we could and growing the business. That said, my big takeaway from this year is only having a small number of goals so I can have better focus on each and, hopefully, more success with them.

    • “…having a small number of goals…” I think there is real merit to this idea John. In times past I’ve had too many big things going at once which made it difficult to do each one well. Perhaps I’ll do one or two big goals for the year and have smaller ones for each month. That might be less overwhelming.

  14. Good job on losing the mortgage debt and the Plutus award. Both big accomplishments! =)

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