During the last few days of December, Taylor and I make it an effort to review the year to reflect on what was accomplished and to identify areas of opportunity to improve upon once January 1st. These last few days are full of excitement, goals are created, personal promises are made and a fresh start is born once come January 1st.
The goal is to capture the takeaways from the year, learn from them, and apply them to next year for continued growth and improvement. So here’s a breakdown of our year (2019) split into two categories: what we accomplished and areas of opportunity. After that, we jump into the takeaways from the year and our goals for growing our brand and travel blog.
Our 2019 Goals
Below are the 2019 goals for our brand that we originally prioritized in January. I measured the goals based on a percentage scale rather than binary. For example, goal number 7, increasing online and passive income, is marked only 50% complete. This is due to the face that we did increase our income, however not enough to replace our current jobs. We increased my passive income through travel hacking and real estate and we increased our online income from the travel course/blog compared to 2018, but it’s still not where we want to be.
Our 2019 Mathers On The Map Goals:
Out of my 9 goals for 2019, I unfortunately only completed 4 of them. This is due to a shift in our priorities throughout the year and lack of full commitment on my end.
However, now you know what our goals were and what progress we made towards those goals, so let’s break these down into two buckets, accomplishments and areas of opportunity.
Looking back at 2019, it’s exciting to see what we accomplished. But it’s even more exciting to think about what’s in store for 2020. Not all of the accomplishments below correlate directly to our written goals which is due to our shift in priorities.
Here are our 2019 accomplishments.
1. Traveled to 9 Countries
Traveling is our absolute favorite thing to do and it’s one of the reasons we started this blog. At the end of the day, we want to visit as many places as possible, and share them with you to help inspire others to get out there and see more of this amazing world!
You may be surprised that you didn’t see any travel related goals in the list above. However, we currently have a travel goal, “30 under 30”, which is to visit 30 countries before we turn 30 years old. At the time this post, we are currently 27 years old and have 15 countries under our belt so only 15 more to go! We decided to commit to “30 under 30” in 2019 as we weren’t expecting to go to 9 countries, but thanks to travel hacking and the great reward redemptions we had we made it possible without spending a lot of money.
The countries visited in 2019 include the following (we wrote several blog posts for most of the countries visited):
- United Kingdom
As you know, we used points and miles to fund our travel adventures, which saved us a lot of $$$, a whopping…
A big reason why this number is so big is due to the fact that we flew to Europe in business class each time other than once. We each took 5 one way business class flights (10 one way business flights total). If we paid cash for these 5 one way business class flights (10 total) it would have cost us $26,000 out of the +$34,000 saved.
If you’re interested in learning how to save money on your vacations and travel adventures, check out our travel hacking course. If you don’t think this will work for you, feel free to book a free 30 minute phone call with me to discuss more about the course and I can answer your questions.
2. Rebranded First Step Fortune
We decided to rebrand our blog from First Step Fortune into Mathers On The Map, shifting gears from the personal finance space moving more into the travel space. However, for those interested in personal finance content, do not worry! I still plan on creating content related to building an additional source of income aside from a w-2 job and will share how we continue to make money from our side hustles.
3. We Bought a Van
One of our favorite “adventures” of 2019 was buying a 2015 Mercedes Sprinter Van! We planned on buying a van by November of 2019, but we started looking during the summer to get a gauge on the price range. Luckily we found a really great deal on our van that we couldn’t pass up and decided to buy a lot earlier than expected. We bought the van on July 26th, however, we’re lucky we bought it when we did because converting a van into a mobile home with a kitchen, shower bathroom, full electrical system is a lot of time and effort especially when we both work full time. If we started the van build process in November we would be really behind schedule for our target completion date of June 1, 2020!
Also, this is one of the main reasons our goals shifted this year. Buying the van early meant starting the van build earlier as well, shifting our priorities focusing on building the van instead of some of our other goals that we wrote earlier in the year.
We started a youtube channel after we bought the van to document our van build process as well as our journey to hitting the road. Believe it or not I actually really enjoy creating the videos and showcasing how we do for the build and why. We get great feedback from viewers commenting on the videos, some constructive feedback as well which I appreciate since we want to ensure our van is built the proper way and I am certainly not a van conversion expert.
As we move into 2020 the youtube channel will definitely be a focus point and a goal of ours. After the van build is complete, we plan on documenting our journey on the road covering what it’s like to live in a van in North America! Check out at and consider subscribing if interested!
One of my goals in 2019 was to publish at least two times a week on the blog. That didn’t happen and it is much harder than it sounds. Instead, we did manage to publish around 2-4 blog posts per month helping us grow our blog traffic. We invested a lot of time and effort into this blog striving to improve our SEO strategy and create quality content for everyone.
Thankfully, our work paid off and our traffic significantly increased since January 2019. Looking at our Google Analytics, we almost hit 1,000 visitors in January, 2019 and to wrap 2019 up with a bang, we hit 5,000 visitors for the month of December.
This year I tackled one of my goals to write a guest post for another blogger. Looking back on the year I wish I wrote more guest posts for other bloggers as it is a great way to network with others and help grow promote each other’s blogs to a new audience.
Every year we as a family try to increase our side hustle income. In 2018, we bought our first property which is a duplex and we treat it as an owner occupied rental property. Many call this “house hacking” because you own a house, you live in it, but you also rent part of it out, in our case we rent out the other apartment unit in the building to help pay our mortgage. This year we had to deal with our first tenant screening process and I think it was a major success. Our current tenant is wonderful and we were able to increase the monthly rent from our previous tenants last lease to help give us additional income.
I also educated myself on other ways to make money with credit cards and I jumped a bit back into reselling, which stemmed from my 2017 side business which was selling private label products on amazon.
One of the more easily attainable goals from the list above revolves around reading. I set a goal to read at least 6 personal development and personal finance books in 2019, and was able to do that reading the following books below.
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This wraps up our accomplishments for Mathers On The Map for 2019. Now onto areas where we can improve.
Areas of Opportunity
Looking back at our goals in 2019, there are some areas of opportunity to improve. There are three goals in particular that I struggled with in 2019:
- Collaborate with other bloggers and appear on a podcasts
- Send out a weekly email to our email subscribers
- Continue to build social media presence
Top 4 Takeaways for 2020
The goal of this yearly reviewal exercise is to understand how we can improve ourselves for the year ahead, so we can get one step closer to where we truly want to be. After thoroughly reviewing last year I think we have 4 main takeaways that we want to bring into 2020.
After reviewing our 2019 goals, I realized that priorities can shift throughout the year and that the goals you originally planned may get altered. This is exactly what happened to us in 2019. So for 2020, the plan is to set quarterly goals instead of yearly. This will help us avoid procrastinating some of the goals we have in place and will help ensure we complete our goals.
We are also breaking them down into actionable items. For example if I say I want to post 6 blog posts by March 31st, I can say… I want to write 6 blog posts by March 31st, 2 per month, 1 every 2 weeks. Now I know I have to complete at least 2 blog posts per month in order to obtain my goal.
2019 was a year of growth for the blog and that is the result of staying consistent month after month. We are by no means where we want to be yet, however, we did increase the blog traffic from 1,000 monthly users in January 2019 to 5,000 monthly users in December 2019.
We plan to create content on a consistent basis across multiple platforms including the blog, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterests and we’re excited to see where what are metrics will be by December 2020.
Some of the goals we set out to do in 2019 took much longer than expected. These include but not limited too van build projects, writing quality blog posts, finding quality tenants. One way we were able to combat the unexpected time needed for specific tasks is to find a way to automate processes. For example, when we were trying to secure a tenant for our additional unit in our duplex, we used a bunch of different platforms to generate leads. However, we did not have an automated process to handle tenant screenings and inquiries. Instead we was bombarded with requests, questions from lots of people and found it very time consuming.
After we found our tenant, we looked back at our process and figured out a way to automate it, leveraging google form’s to automate the tenant screening process and help us funnel down who truly qualified for the unit before we engage in communication. This will help us reduce the amount of time allocated to screening spending our time on folks who truly qualify for the rental unit.
This is just one example of how you can fine efficiencies through automation. I am striving to look for efficiencies across all processes, for writing blog posts, real estate, youtube videos, and more. In 2020, I will look to continue to automate some of our processes to make our lives more efficient.
Taylor and I recently listened to a podcast, 125: How To Supercharge Your Morning Routine, by Rachel Hollis and she stressed the importance of a morning routine. Taylor and I are both morning people and have the most energy in the morning. She stresses that if you could wake up one hour earlier each morning than you will have an extra hour devoted time for yourself in which you are your best and have the most energy. We took this to heart and will take this into 2020 as well have our alarms set for 5:00AM each day to get our days kickstarted early in the morning knocking out things we love to do to help us get closer to our goal.
I understand not everyone is a morning person, but I ask you to give the episode a listen and see what ya think! The point of the episode is to determine when in your day you have the most energy and allocate the energy for things you love.
Now that you know our takeaways it’s time to put these together and share our goals for 2020 for Mathers On The Map.
Our 2020 Q1 Goals
To help keep us more accountable, we are sharing our 2020 goals with you! Below are the our 2020 Q1 goals for Mathers On The Map. We plan to allocate more time than 2019 to our brand to help further create more valuable content and build this brand into something bigger. Our Q1 goals cover a range of topics to help build our brand. We have a goal to cover our email subscriber list and newsletter, our youtube channel, our website content, an online course to improve our skills, and a goal around our van build to get us closer to our June 1 deadline.
Here are our 5 goals for Q1:
- Email Newsletter – Publish 6 emails, 2 per month (Jan, Feb, and March)
- Publish at least 6 YouTube videos, 2 per month
- Publish 12 blog post – 4 per month between me and Taylor
- Finish 3 units of our blogging course
- Finish van cabinetry by March 31st in preparation to test water lines