As the year is winding down, I’ve been reflecting on 2017. Like with any year, there are a multitude of ups and a multitude of downs.

In 2017, I failed multiple times. To be honest with you, I should have failed more.

The more I read and learn about successful people, I see that their success includes failure. They failed multiple times. Sometimes their failures were small, other times they were large. Regardless of the size or impact of the failure, successful people learn to move past it.

They adopt a growth mindset. To simplify, they think to themselves, “So what I failed?” Everyone who tries to do anything will fail, and they view each failure an opportunity to learn something new.

Trying and failing is always better than never trying at all.

Here are my my biggest failures of 2017, and what I learned in the process.

New Year’s Resolutions

Let’s start with my New Years Resolutions.

In 2016 and 2017, I emailed myself my New Year’s Resolutions. I will continue to do so moving forward into 2018 and beyond.

For 2017, I split up my New Year’s Resolutions into three categories – Financial, Career and Personal. Here’s what I attempted to accomplish:

  • Financially
    • Max Out Roth 401(k) (18,000)
    • Max out Roth IRA (5,000) [Should be 5,500]
    • Savings to $5k
    • Invest $200/month into [Schwab] Brokerage account
  • Career
    • Obtain a new job in the medical device field
    • Be ramped up 50% faster than expected
  • Personal
    • 210 [kg] total @ 77kg
    • Read 1 book a month
      • Make reading a habit.

Out of the 8 resolutions I had, I completed two of them – I was able to Max out my Roth IRA and read 1 book a month.

For the remaining 6 incomplete resolutions, I have no excuses. I failed.

Financially

  • Maxing out my Roth 401(k)

As of writing this, I’ve contributed more than $12,600 to my Roth 401(k). I’m roughly $5,400 off from the $18,000 max limit. I thought it could have been doable, but never crunched the numbers on what % of my income I needed to contribute to actually fulfill this. Lesson learned for next year – do the math to figure out the maximum possible contribution given my salary.

  • Savings up to $5k

In 2017, I started the year off with about $5,000 in credit card debt. To solve this problem, I sold off my Employee Stocks and paid off my credit card. It seemed like a great idea and I vowed to be better.

However, I reneged on my vow and amassed an additional $9,500 in credit card debt. This time, I had no stocks to sell off to save me. I did however buy myself time by doing a balance transfer with a credit card that offers 0% interest for the first 15 billing cycles. It’s definitely not something I’m proud of, but it is a huge financial failure by any standards.

When I realize how much credit card debt I have.

I’m telling you all this because when I started 2017, my savings balance was at $1,188.81, and right now it’s only a mere $1,426.06.

I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, how can this be? Well, here’s how…

Over the course of the year, I looked to my savings to bail me out during financial hiccups. I withdrew money 6 times totaling a value of $4491.91. If I had been financially wiser, I would have easily exceeded my goal of saving $5,000, and I could have upped my 401(k) contribution for the remainder of the year.

It’s obvious to see that I lacked financial discipline and mental fortitude to stop spending so much money and save. I also failed to calculate whether or not this goal was possible at saving 10% per paycheck. Lastly, I treated the savings account as a cash reserve instead of thinking of it as cash for something like a future down payment for a property.

  • Invest $200/month into [Schwab] Brokerage account

Originally, I started investing $200 per month into my Schwab Brokerage account. As the year progressed, I made the mistake of using this brokerage money to help with my credit card debt. Additionally, I decided to consolidate my funds into my Roth IRA. This was a big step towards maxing out my Roth IRA.

Similarly to my savings mishap, there was a lot of money left on the table, had I exerted more self-control.

Career

  • Obtain a new job in the medical device field
  • Be ramped up 50% faster than expected

Some of you may not know, but I obtained my B.S. and M.S. in Biomedical engineering. However, now I sell software. At the beginning of 2017, I had dreams of having a job in the medical device field.

I wanted to explore the path of medical device sales, so I hit the ground running. I paid for a membership to a medical device sales network, reached out to recruiters directly, and leveraged anyone in my network I could.

I had a few phone calls and even made it to the final stages for one company. However, that company decided to go with another candidate. I was crushed.

I stopped pursuing the medical device field after about 4 months and reevaluated what I really want in life, thus I was never able to see if I could fulfill my goal of “being ramped up 50% quicker than expected.”

Retrospectively, I now understand that the reason I decided to briefly move in that direction was because I wanted a sense of fulfillment. I thought by working in the medical device field, I would get that. From the college friends I spoke to, it sounds like they get fulfillment from what they do because of the products they support.

I’m thankful for getting rejected by that company. It empowered me to explore other areas where I can get fulfillment, such as the blog.

While I was bummed about getting rejected, it turned out for the better and solidified my vision for turning this blog into a business.

Personal

  • 210 @ 77kg

December 2016 was the last time I participated in a weightlifting competition. That was fantastic competition for me; I set a number of personal records. I totaled 200 kg @ a body weight of 81.03 kg.

Coming off of the momentum of that competition, my form was getting better, my coach’s programming was working out very well and I wanted to strive for more. I was inspired to lift more weight, while weighing less. I knew it was doable, and at the time, it seemed like a no-brainer.

Them came the injuries.

In Feb 2017, I strained my shoulder. It took 3 months of Physical Therapy to heal me. Then two weeks after my healed shoulder, I strained my back. It took about 4 weeks of Physical Therapy to get me up and lifting. Then about a month after that, I hurt my wrist pretty badly.

Towards the end of the year, during flu season, I got hit with the flu. While I was over the flu in about a week, it took my lungs about two additional weeks to recover because of my asthma.

In terms of weightlifting, I’ve started back from square one 4 times this year.

2017 wasn’t a good gym year for me. I’m still determined to compete in 2018, but mostly, I want to stay healthy – getting injured sucks!

Because most of my injuries were a result of muscle imbalances within the body, it was a painful lesson in remembering the finer details of the body a.k.a. remember to do accessory work.

The blog

I started the blog in February 2017. Since then I had two things that I wanted to do by the end of the year:

  • Publish an article every week
  • Get 100 page views

I’m happy to tell you that I failed both of those, miserably!

  • Publish an article every week

I envisioned publishing an article every week, since the inception of the blog. I figured that by consistently posting, people would magically show up, read my content and I would be a star. None of these fantasies came to fruition.

I have multiple excuses as to why this objective was not completed, but then I’m going to give you all full transparency.

I stopped blogging for a little while because I felt defeated and lost motivation. At one point, where I was posting twice a week, but I felt like I had nothing to show for it.

I had 4 people who subscribed to my newsletter, and my page views were, on average, in the single-digits.

I wanted external validation to fuel my ego and sense of entitlement thinking that it would further motivate me to move forward and keep grinding.

Once I remembered that I was creating this blog to inspire others, and inspire myself, it sparked a new found motivation. I’m going to keep reading because I love it, and I’m constantly learning new things.

The blog articles are a byproduct of my reading addiction. I believe in what I’m writing, and I hope to inspire you with the information I’m disseminating.

  • Get 100 page views

100 page views was an arbitrary number that I thought would signify that I was finally doing something right. I figured, if I could get 100 page views, then I could get 200, then 300, etc.

Unfortunately, the most page views I’ve received is 95.

The key takeaway here is that growth takes time and a plan. I did not have a plan for driving traffic. I approached the blog with an air of entitlement. I was quickly humbled.

For the blog, I had attempted to accomplish two goals, and failed twice. Yes!

Public Speaking/Toastmasters

I joined Toastmasters in April of 2017 with the intention of refining my public speaking skills. Things were going very well and I gained a lot of momentum with my first 6 speeches. I’ve posted each of those speeches on this blog as well with the hopes increasing my reach for feedback.

Related: Speech 1, Speech 2, Speech 3, Speech 4, Speech 5, and Humorous Speech (first round)

Then an opportunity presented itself to test my public speaking talents – I volunteered to compete in my first Toastmasters competition. My objective was to deliver a humorous speech.

The first round of the competition, I competed against other speakers in my club; I won. The second round of the competition, I competed against 2 speakers from 2 other clubs; I won. The third round of the competition, I competed against 4 other speakers from 15 or so other Toastmasters clubs in the area.

I lost in the third round. I did not get 3rd place. I refined my speech and delivered it as best as possible, yet I still lost.

This failure hit me harder than I was willing to admit. It was a dose of reality. I started questioning my public speaking abilities. Maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was. I haven’t even rewatched my performance because I lost so badly.

The loss sucked a ton of motivation out of me to attend Toastmasters. I know I’m blowing this out of proportion, but it sucked to not even place.Whenever I decide to watch the speech, I’ll share it with you all.

The simple lesson is to accept failure and move on. I should not treat each failure as a final step. Rather, I’m going to look at it as another memory down my journey towards success.

The only thing stopping my momentum with Toastmasters is my own ego. My pride was damaged in the loss, but so what? Is my ego worth not attending Toastmasters? It’s a club designed to better me as a public speaker.

When I remember that I’m there to learn, it lessens the blow of the loss and reinvigorates my desire to be a better speaker.

My morning routine

If I had to rank my failures, amassing almost $10,000 in credit card debt is my number one. A close second is losing my morning routine.

I believe so strongly in the power of morning routines, and in the first half of 2017, my morning routine was solid.

I woke up at 5 am, meditated for 10-20 minutes, stretched for another 20, read 30 pages and journaled for 10 minutes before my cup of coffee.

I don’t remember the exact moment when my routine went to shit, but I do know that sleeping late and not planning the night before were cancerous to maintaining my super productive morning routine.

Once my routine got screwed up, I found myself scrambling to prioritize my schedule and complete objectives.

Fulfilling my morning routine created massive momentum for me that I carried with me throughout the day.

I learned that I lacked the discipline to sleep early and plan. I prioritized poorly, and failed to recognize the huge positive impact my morning routine had on my days.

Failures are opportunities to learn

When I reflect on failures, a couple things become apparent. I realized that the biggest reason I failed is that I had no plan. All of the “goals” I had were in fact just dreams. None of my goals and objectives were backed with a plan to accomplish them.

I flew by the seat of my pants and hoped for the best. Well, now I know better and for each goal that I have in mind moving forward, I know that I will need a plan.

Another lesson I learned is to accept failures as not fulfilling a goal, and not view them as a reflection of myself as a person. Just because I failed, that does not mean I’m a failure.

I’ve had to remind myself time and time again this year, that every successful person has failed. That’s what makes them great – they look failure right in the face and still give it their all.

I failed a good amount of times this year, and I’m glad I did. Next year, I’m looking to try more and willing to accept that I will fail. When I do, I’ll let you know how it turns out and what new insights I garner.

Keep dreaming. Keep doing. Keep failing.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho

Readers, how did you fail this year? What did you learn from your failures? Remember, by not trying, you automatically fail! If you need help goal setting, finding your vision and creating a plan for success, I’d love to help! Let’s not let the fear of failure stop us from achieving success!

-KG