Why do I / we write these kind of posts?
For everybody it’s a bit different.
For Chris, it’s because it helps him conquer big goals (he also inspired me to get started!).
For Matt, it’s because the internet makes him do it.
For James, writing an annual review helps him think about how the life he’s living now is building toward a bigger mission.
For me, writing an annual review is therapy.
A few weeks ago, I read a note in the Wandering Aimfully Slack channel from Stef Osofsky about taking a damn minute to reflect what we’ve accomplished before we move onto our next goals. She noted we’re always getting/going somewhere ELSE and, I’d guess that’s what leads me to never be truly HERE.
Nothing breeds dissatisfaction with life (despite progress) like constantly pushing.
I went through some bad spots in 2018 (which I’ll highlight below) because of pushing like this for years on end.
I have to write these yearly reviews because, in Stef’s words:
The version of you that you’ll come to know in the next year, depends on it.
My Current Projects
If you’re new to me or my site, here’s a helpful list of everything I worked on in 2018:
- I’m the SEO Director at Clique Studios where I help big companies solve big SEO problems.
- I do my own SEO consulting where I help small-medium businesses get more traffic and leads from their websites.
- I run Photo MBA that teaches photographers how to get my clients from their website.
- I host the Entrepreneurs and Coffee podcast which saw the kickoff of Season 3 in December of this year.
- Finally, I have a YouTube channel where I published a few videos on in 2018.
What Didn’t Go Well This Year
2018 started as a colossal fucking mess.
I was struggling.
Struggling with mental health is a weird curveball. To be honest, I’ve always solved for stress in my life with vice.
This took a lot of forms throughout the last decade, and what I’ve learned about myself is that it doesn’t matter what way I choose to distract myself or self-medicate.
When you blame the vice (like alcohol, for instance), and don’t look inward, it seems like an easy solution to just eliminate them all and call it a day.
But what happens when you’ve eliminated all of your vices, accomplished everything you’ve ever wanted to personally and professionally, and nothing changes?
You’re just left with….
This year, I was really pushing. I was pushing professionally and also personally, working with a diet/nutrition coach to attempt to achieve something I felt was a force multiplier in my life: fitness.
And so I tracked everything I ate for months on end. It’s a smart tactic, but ultimately one that caused so much of a rift mentally it wasn’t worth it to pursue physically.
I don’t mean to be vague here so please understand what I’m describing is being wholly obsessed with food. While tracking and reviewing anything is effective towards improving it (that IS what we’re doing here in this review, isn’t it?), making food the sole focus of your life can be monumentally damaging to yourself and others.
And so I stopped, and frankly, felt better almost immediately.
However, I then exchanged obsessing about food with obsessing about business and eating everything I could get my hands on. I weighed myself this morning and I’ve gained a solid 45lbs. in 2018.
I’m not a small human at 6’1”, but that’s still a lot of weight to put on your body within a year.
Taking one major stressor out of my life and replacing it with others leaves one with a feeling of no significant progress.
In fact, I’ve thought about, written and (poorly) edited this entire review to the one song on repeat: “Shallow” from A Star is Born.
A film about two artists struggling with getting everything they ever wanted.
Wrapping up, the thing that went the worst this year is that I’m just fucking exhausted.
And not in a good way.
Like a “I stayed up too late watching Netflix too many nights in a row and I’m eating junk food all day and now I can’t focus or be productive.”
Some other not-great things happened, too. One of my kids became frighteningly sick for an extended period of time. I blew deadlines. I lost clients as I learned how to be a better communicator.
It’s been a whole year of that. So the fact that I got ANYTHING decent done (especially everything to follow in this review) is a wonder for the ages.
What Went Well This Year
I like to break this section down into two parts, both completely related, but worth seeing as separate for added clarity: Hustle & Heart.
First, we’ll dive into what went well with my work (my “Hustle”) and then with family / friends (my “Heart”).
What Went Well This Year (Hustle)
I’ve always felt better writers were better thinkers and thus, I’ve often used writing as a sort of therapy to work out thoughts.
This is why, in February of this year, I committed to starting a writing habit because, simply, I couldn’t not start one. Things were bad.
From May to October, I wrote 25 weekly email newsletters went out, without fail, every Monday at 8am.
In that same vein, I also wrapped up a few YouTube videos I made because I just had to get them out of me.
That’s a ton of typo-ridden emails and videos with great content and the worst audio on Earth. But again, that’s a big theme for this year: I made these because I had to and couldn’t bare waiting to proofread (which is amateur, but whatever) and do audio/video.
Here’s a few other things that went well this year:
I deleted (almost) everything from Medium.com. It just didn’t make sense for me to post anything on their website. The idea that “Medium has a built-in audience” has been thoroughly debunked and I’m not going to waste my headspace creating content to build somebody else’s platform. I even made a video about it:
I made more money. Nothing crazy, but more than I had before. And that matters. God have me a lot of opportunities and I went after them. As you’ve read, it wasn’t always in the best way. What I find interesting is how much of my old reviews were focused on income and now its barely a byline.
I kept talking to smart people and investing in relationships. Working on the internet is weird and I took every opportunity to get together with peers and those I respect.
I also taught a few workshops on SEO for Creative Class, Wandering Aimfully, and Kim Doyal’s Content Creators.
Additionally, I taught courses at the University of Chicago on Analytics and SEO.
And just a few days ago, I launched Season 3 of my podcast as a lead up to the launch of my SEO course in 2019.
Maybe most important in 2018, I celebrated a full calendar year at Clique Studios.
Here’s the “Yearning Octopus” from Tim Urban, a brilliant analogy for all of the things we yearn for in a career:
and here’s what how my work at Clique lines up with it:
and the things that don’t have checks are things I don’t really think even need to be checked by your career. I’m days removed from my 1.5 year review and I couldn’t be happier with how things are going, where the path ahead leads for me and how my team at Clique and I will travel that path.
What Went Well This Year (Heart)
There’s a new human in our house! Rohan James Hufford was born on August 8th, about 5 weeks earlier than we expected.
I’m grateful we have access to incredible medical care just two minutes from our house, and the ability to pay medical bills without issue. It continues to weigh on me the importance of being a proper steward for all we’re given.
My oldest son and I visited my dad in New York. There’s something special about traveling with your children, especially one-on-one.
Finally, I celebrated my 10-year anniversary. I used to think people were so corny and stupid when they said they’d married their best friend and what I’ve realized after ten years of marriage is it doesn’t work if they’re not. A best friend knows every single one of your faults, chooses to love you anyways, and supports you in the way you need to be supported (often putting you before themselves).
Articles I Wrote This Year:
Letters to my Sons ← this is very special to me. ~20 short letters to my sons to read should I not be able to tell them these things face to face. Originally written on Medium as separate posts, I combined and formatted these into one piece. Fitting it should follow in this list after posts about mental health and mortality. It paints a very accurate picture of my mindset around that time.
On other websites:
What Did I Learn?
Recovery is non-negotiable. The bill always comes due. Push yourself hard and you’ll have to take it easy at some point. – James Clear
I have a lot to be happy about but having a lot to be happy about doesn’t always make you happy.
And that’s OK. It is. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
But you can’t redline it forever.
You can’t win a race by going full throttle the entire time.
In fact, flooring it will be more likely to put you into a wall at 300mph than it will put you across the finish line.
And that’s where James’ quote above comes in.
The bill always comes due. You have to take care of yourself.
In my 2015 review, I wrote:
My weight also increased to the highest that it’s been in over a decade.
In my 2016 review, I wrote:
I let my diet and strength training go for most of the year.
I don’t take care of myself. Period.
What I learned is that in the short term I get fat and feel tired. In the long-term I stop being able to regulate emotions and I feel super fucking sad all the time. It’s not a good look and there are parts of that that I can work on.
Josh Bridges, an athlete and Navy Seal that I find wisdom from, also shares something important regarding fitness, and goals:
You don’t own your fitness. You rent it. You have to pay the man to keep your fitness and you don’t get to rely on past accomplishments.
God has blessed me with good health and I need to see that with the same stewardship that I see our finances. It’s time for me to look at recovery and health as my most important goals going forward in 2019.
My 2018 Goals and Thoughts on 2019:
I always hesitate and hedge in this section of the review.
The first time I tried to project what was going to happen during the year was absolutely foolish. I got better over time and ended up accomplishing at two of my goals for 2018:
Family vacation – We weren’t able to take a full-family vacation, but Evan and I did go to NY making it two years in a row that I’ve made it out there.
Start a Bible study – We not only started a small group bible study, but also ended up finding a new church. One that is inclusive, cares more about outreach than politics, and is doing the work I believe can be done by those who believe as I do.
So what’s ahead for 2019?
I have two things planned out for the first six months of the year:
January 2019 – I will sell “SEO for the Rest of Us,” my first ever SEO course, taught in four live online workshops. I think the content that I’ll be putting out around the launch will be helpful for you if you’ve ever been overwhelmed by SEO or tried to do it yourself and found underwhelming results. Want first notice of when it goes live? Subscribe here.
February 2019 – July 2019 – I’ll be producing a daily video, podcast, and blog post around a critical piece of SEO content for 100 straight week days. Get ready for…
📈100 Days of SEO 📈
That’s 20 weeks (5 months) worth of content. I’ll be publishing more about this shortly.
Across both of those will be a strong focus on my health: sleep, training, etc. It’s fortunate that my extended family has challenged me to a weight loss competition. I’ve always thrived in competition and plan to win. I’ll let you know how it goes.