This time last year I made the decision to be vulnerable, transparent, and up-front about my personal and professional life. The idea was essentially a replication (and re-packaging) of something James Clear, author of Atomic Habits had proposed and practiced.
I didn’t really want to do it if I’m honest. I felt it was an introspective, navel-gazing, personal post that surely wouldn’t contribute any value to my readers (or anyone else for that matter). Yet I was overwhelmed by the positive response – the LARGE positive response – from so many people.
I guess there is some value in the ‘expert’ being transparent. It provided an opportunity for you to look ‘under the hood’, so to speak, and see what’s going on in the life of the guy who talks the talk. Am I really walking the walk?
So again, this year I’m answering these three questions as I look at 2019 and prepare for 2020:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- What did we learn and what will we do with that learning?
A quick re-cap
Last year I was happy that 10 Things Every Parent Needs to Know was published, I wrote for the New York Times (twice), I spoke lots (134 talks at 100 venues), and reached millions (38 million) through my blog and my goalcast video on Facebook. I was having quarterly getaways with Kylie, reading lots, and felt settled in Brisbane after 2 years.
But things weren’t so good with one of my kids. It was downright horrible to be honest. Some parenting expert, right? I was supposed to be all over my teen girls book but with my daughter issues and so much work and travel, my writing was not progressing at all. I was barely riding my bike (5000kms) so fitness was low, and we were going backwards financially.
How was 2019? WAAAAAY better than 2018! It was actually tops. Here’s why:
What went well?
Let’s start with the professional and then move to the personal.
Last year my writing was not happening. I had pushed past (ignored) deadlines and my publisher was asking that I get on track. So I made the changes I needed to make, got stuff done, and have delivered my 4th book to Harper Collins (and my 6th book overall). Miss-Connection is being printed at the very moment I am writing this review. I have spent two solid years on it and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The book will officially launch on Jan 20 of 2020 so I can’t actually say how it will go, but early indications are positive.
I LOVE speaking. It might be my favourite thing to do. But it comes at a cost. The travel wears me down and it affects my family. As such, I have to be strategic about how much I take on in this regard.
In my last report I indicated that I had delivered 134 talks at 100 different venues. In 2019 I’ve scaled that back a touch, delivering 128 talks at 65 venues. This is a really pleasing outcome for me. I’m still reaching large audiences but am home more. There is still room to improve, but I’m feeling pleased with the progress.
Reach and influence
My goal is to reach as many people as possible to help make their families happier. And this year has been my best year ever in relation to reach and influence.
At the start of 2019 I had 60 000 Facebook followers. That has now risen to 115 148 people who have liked my page and 123, 789 people who follow the page. Wow! Just wow.
Instagram has risen from 4 052 followers to 13 896.
My weekly column continues in major newspapers across Australia, and my podcast which was barely visible last year, now receives around 15 000 monthly downloads.
My highlight, as always, remains the delightful feedback from people all over the world who appreciate what I write and share. It makes such an impact on my heart.
When I wrote the last review my Goalcast video had been viewed over 38 million times! Today we are tapping on the door of 75 million views!!! Holy Cow!!!
My team is expanding… again
With three employees and a number of contractors, we have become larger in 2019. And my team are dedicated and committed. I am grateful for them. They love my work as much as I do.
Quarterly getaways with Kylie
My success at work means nothing if my family is not successful.
At the start of 2016 Kylie and I realised we needed to invest more into our own relationship but with 6 kids and so much going on we didn’t know what to do. We had the idea of a quarterly getaway for recalibration and planning, and we had one! In 2017 we tried again and had one. Hmmm. In 2018 we took four 2-night getaways and used them well to reconnect, recalibrate, plan, and review our family goals and systems. This has been revolutionary for us. In 2019 we did not let those getaways slide. We took all four of them again. It was not without challenge, and we also made some mistakes in the way we ran them, but we had them, and we are on track. This is key to our happiness as a couple and as a family.
At the start of 2019 we took our 16-year-old on her “Sweet 16” getaway to Tasmania. This is a tradition we aim to continue for all of our children. A few nights to really talk about what matters in life and create memories… and it was a treat.
Our family holiday, courtesy of Club Med, was in Bali in May. We were grateful for that opportunity and hope to have several more like it.
In June/July we took our 15- and 16-year-old daughters to the USA to fulfil a promise we have made to each of the kids. That was a highlight.
And we camped… in tents… on North Stradbroke Island for a week from Christmas til New Years. I’ll write about that below.
We have struggled to have family holidays, but we feel that we are making important memories and it is worth the financial pain to make it happen. We look forward to improving on this in 2020.
My eldest daughter was married in May of 2019. The wedding was perfect. And our family feels so great, even though we miss our eldest daughter. She is now 7 months into her marriage and both she and her husband are thriving.
In 2018 I read 44 books from cover to cover. This past year with my focus on writing a book I haven’t quite hit that many… I’ve pulled up short at 43! But I did write a book too, so that counts for something. I’ll be writing a Top 10 list of those books so I won’t highlight it here, but keep your eyes out for it. I’ll mention all of my favourites.
What didn’t go so well
Ok, so let’s not gloss over the less positive things this year.
My PA tallied up 102 flights for work (plus about another 20 flights for personal reasons) meaning I am still on the road a lot. It is hard on me and hard on the family when I travel so much. I LOVE my work and I’m willing to pay that price so I can be with people, speaking and sharing ideas, but it is hard and something I need to reduce a little more.
In 2018 I exercised 197 days and rode or ran 5138 kms. This year I have not been active. I exercised just 126 days. But on the bright side I have ridden 5000 kms, run 167 kms, and started back at swimming just in the past few weeks. I ran a half marathon for kicks one day (1 hr 48 mins), did a PB for 1km at 3:53, and ran my best 5km (Park Run) at 20:14.
Beyond the fact that I’m travelling too much and need to ease up, it’s actually been a remarkably good 2019.
What I’ve learned
Gentleness and compassion are truly noble characteristics
I got into this whole “family relationships” thing because I was struggling as a father. I still struggle. I can be forceful and abrasive, particularly when I’m tired or stressed. But a conversation with a mum about how she didn’t feel “psychologically or emotionally safe” – for herself or her children – around her husband profoundly affected me. He wasn’t abusive. He was just unflinching. He “knew” what needed to happen. He lacked compassion.
As I’ve worked with so many families this year, and practiced gentleness and compassion the best I can at home, I have seen the power of this approach in new and beautiful ways that have affected my heart forever. How I wish I could teach every parent to be more gentle and compassionate with their children – and every spouse or partner to be more gentle and compassionate with their significant other. Gentleness and compassion are genuinely soul-expanding. They elevate us and those around us.
Pain is a friend when it leads to growth
I keep seeing parents try to protect their children from pain. One mum told me, “I don’t want my son to have to do anything he’s not comfortable doing.” He didn’t want to go on a one-night school camp (Grade 3). She wasn’t going to tell him he needed to.
But it’s by doing hard things that we become strong! It’s by pushing ourselves harder, through more challenging circumstances, that we build resilience. It’s how we grow. Whether it’s in parenting, or personally, I’ve learned and re-learned this lesson so many times this year (for myself and for others).
Too much judgment
Social media is a challenging place to base a business – particularly one based on helping. I have been chastened many times for “parent-shaming” in my articles and posts because I’m trying to help! It seems that no matter how I try, there are some people who think I’m out to judge. I can’t emphasise enough that advice I give is designed to help. That sometimes means I’ll highlight less effective behaviours that I’ve observed so I can point people in a more positive direction. But I’m not out to shame or judge… unfortunately our world has become hyper-sensitive and hyper-judgmental. A key learning this year is that I need to emphasise my intention every time I post!
Camping is better than I thought
Between Christmas and New Year we had a week in a tent on North Stradbroke Island. I always encourage parents to camp with their children… but I also emphasise that I hate camping. Except… this time I didn’t. We’ve never done 6 nights. But we planned. We prepped. And we nailed it. Camping – with friends – is a whole lot better than I thought it would be, and I can’t wait to do it more in 2020.
Our happiness is about our hearts, not our circumstances
I have a “faith” background. It’s important to me. And recently a leader at church stated, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.” This has resonated with me deeply. I find as my focus is on helping others, lifting and encouraging, and essentially not worrying so much about me two things happen. First, my circumstances become almost irrelevant. Second, I am not just happy. I’m joyful.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for following along on this beautiful journey as I try to help build stronger family relationships for you and those you love. It’s a privilege and a responsibility I don’t take lightly.
May 2020 be awesome for you.