My Year-End Review of 2013

Now that the Year is Finished, It’s Time to Review My 2013

I think it’s kind of strange to review the past year before January 1, 2014 because the year isn’t over yet. Before I can review my year of miscues and triumphs, I feel the need to finish out the year first. I guess it’s from my background in sports (and watching sports on TV) that the winners play all the game, not just three-quarters of the game. Winners never give part of their efforts, but their best efforts always (IMHO). This year was no exception. I started out with creating change and I finished the year with improving my life. 2013 was a great year for me. Here’s why.

 I Moved Into a New Apartment

I moved into a new apartment in March 2013. This was both a HUGE triumph and a big psychological boost for me. No one helped me move because I had to start at 6am. I had no time off from my j.o.b. (which will be left intentionally nameless…for now). I had every reason not to move, but I did it anyway. I now have a new office, new neighbors, and a new prosperous environment to live in.

I Became a Profitable FOREX Trader

First, I had to become a FOREX trader. I lost my first account in 2008. I lost my second account in 2009 and swore I’d never trade again. Then I gave it another go. I invested a few hundred dollars into my third FOREX account in 2012, and nothing happened. Then I started trading. I traded unprofitably from December 2012 until about March 2013. Then in April 2013, my first account became profitable. I was so excited, and I still am excited!

I Got Good at Trading the FOREX Markets

I turned my small investment over about 6 times in six months with a total return of 480% only to lose about $1200. It’s OK. I still had a return of 226% return for the year. I also had to use some of my earnings to pay my rent in November when the j.o.b. proved its namesake. My account is not as sizable as it was, but I accept the challenge of rebuilding it.

I Had the Worst Income Month since June 2012

This was a wake-up call and a good thing! My sole source of income at the time was my j.o.b. The job that I had taken in June 2012 that had markedly improved my lifestyle took a turn south in September 2013. This was scary because I wasn’t ready to move forward on new projects. It proved to me that this job wouldn’t last forever, and that a job with a pay scale that relied on business walking in the door was not going to continue to take care of me. I will have to take care of myself.

I Got Serious About My New Businesses

I had worked on the groundwork for a couple of new businesses, but I was allowing delays and learning to hold me back. I was treating my business start-ups like a correspondence course, learning at my pace. The slow month in September 2013 woke me up a little, and sped things up a notch too. I promised myself that by the time that January rolled around, I would be ready to launch a new business. Little did I know I will be launching two businesses. It’s not a good thing; it’s a great thing!

Bring On 2014!

All in all, 2013 was a great year! I took a few new risks and made some great gains. I did some new things that I didn’t know what the outcome would be or if the outcome would turn to my favor. I set up a lot of groundwork for more great gains in 2014, and I am definitely looking forward to the new year!

DISCLAIMER: Forex trading is one of the riskiest forms of investment available and may not be suitable for all traders. You can read a full risk disclaimer at one of my favorite FOREX brokerage firms IBFX.com.

Additional disclosure on trading the FOREX markets: I am a former Series Three broker with about 15 years of research going into the Currencies and Commodities Options and Futures markets. Only trade these markets with discretionary funds or money you can afford to lose.

My Sober Date Four Years Later

I joined the ranks of the sober on May 5, 2009.  I had always envisioned myself as the brash, hard-drinking, hard-smoking business guy.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  The truth was that I was living in a very small apartment (long-term motel room) as I had for the last 7 or so years, drinking at least a six-pack of beer every night at home.  I  no longer could afford the bar tabs that I generated.  I used to call it “networking” when I went out to justify my drinking (even though, sometimes, I really was networking).    I would go for stretches without drinking, usually lasting about 45 days.  This was just long enough to convince myself I didn’t have a problem.  Then, I’d celebrate the little successes I had over those 45 days, usually erasing my successes and returning to the troubled things as they were. This time, after a four-day bender, I was laying in bed, feeling the pounding in my chest and feeling like hell.  I wondered that my heart was going to stop or explode.  All I could think about was everything I had not accomplished.

On May 5, 2013, I celebrated four years sober.  My life is much different now than it was before I started living my life sober.  I’m not writing this to anyone in particular, but if someone out there is considering making this lifestyle adjustment, here is how my life has improved over the last four years sober.

I live in a Nicer Apartment

I live in a nice apartment for the first time in about 13 years.  I don’t have any roommates, and I pay the rent on time.  I was living in a long-term motel for about 6 years since I moved to Atlanta.  I once lived on a picnic table in Coral Springs, FL for about 2 months.  The apartment I recently moved into is a huge improvement.

I Have Fewer Problems  When I am Sober

I was never in trouble with the law, but I did have problems that would just appear out of nowhere.  I have noticed that I have fewer problems happening than I did when I was drinking.  Life is no longer about battling from one problem to the next, but is stable and getting more enjoyable.

I Have a Clearer Sense of Direction Sober

I know what the next thing I need to work on is when working on personal and business goals.  I have a better idea of where I am going and what I am doing.

I Don’t Feel Compelled to Drink Alcohol Anymore

I actually tried this recently.  I went to a bar after work with some friends and didn’t drink alcohol.  I had my long-time favorite Coca-Cola.  I had a lot of them.  No one made fun of me, and no one shunned me.  The bartender was actually very friendly, but I also tip very well under those circumstances.  I don’t frequent bars, but I no longer fear attending social functions where other people are drinking.

I Get a Lot More Done Sober

If you ever are wondering about where you are going in life, track your time and your money.  This will lead to your greatest priorities.  The question then, is “Is my time and my money going to my greatest priorities?”  I tried this little experiment in late 2008 and discovered that my life’s purpose was drinking instead of what I thought it was.  I don’t spend a few hours every night drinking and a few more hours every morning recovering physically.  If you want a different perspective, doing that equates to the same amount of time a part-time job takes.

I like Myself a Lot More Sober

I like myself a lot more.  This is more like a net result of all the other things I have mentioned already, but I genuinely like myself a lot more.  I am building a few new web sites and working on building some business concepts and doing what I have always wanted to do.

My life, in general, is a lot better sober.  If you think that you would like to try living sober, then I highly recommend it.

 

Turn Resolutions Into Goals

The New Year 2012 has begun and it’s a great time for positive change, optimism and encouragement.  I used to hear about the resolutions that everyone had written down for the New Year.  Recently I have noticed that it’s not something I hear other people talking about anymore.  Maybe with the new tools people have these days, it’s because everyone would rather Tweet, post on Facebook or blog about them (like I’m doing now). This year, I didn’t have too any resolutions.  I’ll explain why.

According to the US Government (wow, I didn’t realize the government did this too), the most common resolutions look like this:

  • Drink Less Alcohol
  • Eat Healthy Food
  • Get a Better Education
  • Get a Better Job
  • Get Fit
  • Lose Weight
  • Manage Debt
  • Manage Stress
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
  • Save Money
  • Take a Trip
  • Volunteer to Help Others

I have actually crossed a few of these off my resolutions list like these:

  • Quit Smoking
  • Quit drinking alcohol
  • Get fit
  • Manage Debt Better

I’ve got a few more to go…alright a LOT more to go.  I want to focus on a little known trick I did to do this.  It’s really not little known or even a secret.  It’s called turning resolutions into goals.

What is a resolution?  The way I’ve seen resolutions made in the past, it’s something you start saying after you’ve got a few drinks of champagne (enter your favorite alcoholic beverage here, if applicable) and you’re going along with the crowd.  This year’s going to be different!  “I’m going to finally quit smoking, drinking, beating the dog, beating the kids, whatever…”  Statistics show that by the 20th of January, it’s a wash.  Depending on whether your paying attention to, by January 20th somewhere between 80%-92% of resolutions are not followed through on until completion.  You still doing the same things you were doing before the New Year’s Eve party you can now barely remember.

This is my challenge to you.  Do something different this year.  Get serious about your resolutions.  Write them down.  Chart your progress. Make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Tangible and achieve them!  Amaze your friends!  Here’s the real secret: commit to your resolutions and make them goals!

I do want to give you a warning, though…if you get really good at achieving your goals, you might have to get a new set of friends!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Ignorance as an Enemy

Ignorance has a tendency to breed a particularly stubborn brand of arrogance.

It is a quality that I’ve seen in others on several occasions in business (and other walks of life).  Sometimes it can serve as an advantage, like the first time you rode a bicycle or jumped of the high dive…or when you took on a competitive giant in business.  Ignorance works to your advantage when you suddenly pull off what others deemed “impossible,” when you are come off as a shining star or a wunderkind of sorts, even if you’re not so much of a kind anymore.

 When you have the cold-staring slap of reality that shows that today, you are not the shining star, you are not the wunderkind, but that a strange sort of awakening is due today…and that you’re right on time for that awakening.

 I got that feeling today when I have been staring at the market for a business idea , trying to figure out why Emerson’s mousetrap wasn’t gaining any attention …much less selling.   Then I realized that it wasn’t the mousetrap but rather my communications, me as communicator that wasn’t cutting it.

 It’s time for a change.  Marketing requires executing a plan and facing the realization that I don’t have one is the first step to correcting that.  Ignorance breeds arrogance in marketing.  Communicating well is how to overcome the ignorance and get better results.

 

The Best Christmas Present

This morning, I awoke to the seeming Monday morning feeling of a Tuesday after the long holiday weekend and did something I haven’t done recently-  count my blessings.  I know I should do it everyday, but I’m human, I get caught up in the rush of the challenges of the day and the goals of what’s to get accomplished this week.

Not to sound selfish at all, but I have already given myself the best Christmas present of all and that is my health and some new(er) good habits that I started a few years ago.  I am grateful that I have another day with which to do something neat and wonderful…or at least to just have the opportunity for a better tomorrow.

Just a short note this morning, but on two great topics to share with others- gratitude and good health.

The Best “Failure” I’ve Ever Had

In the past, when I stopped a business that I had been working on, the results were disastrous.  This time, not so much. 

I was incredibly fortunate to have been involved in the last business I got into and I met  some really great people.  I was challenged to do things I’ve never done before…like move to Atlanta with no financial backing and visit Oklahoma City for a weekend convention.  The business opportunity that I got involved in made me grow.  I accepted challenges that I would have never done by myself.

 Without taking a chance, I would have never quit drinking and smoking.  I would have never realized that the money I was wasting on cigarettes and alcohol could have been invested in my well-being and personal growth and personal development.  I am a better typist, a better writer and a better businessman.  I am now accepting new challenges and meeting them.  I have new business concerns and new contacts. 

The best thing that I’ve encountered in this “failure,” is the knowledge that I am just getting started!

Shouldn’t every day be Thanksgiving?

It’s been a long Thanksgiving weekend and I was off for the first time in years.  I don’t remember the last time that I’ve had this much time off for Thanksgiving.  I am very thankful for it and for everything that I have in my life right now.  It is giving me time to read and to catch up on my “slacking.”  It’s also given me time to plan out what is next.  I began to make my list of what I am thankful for, besides the time off, turkey and five consecutive days of college football.

In reading the annual Thanksgiving blog post from the late Jim Rohn originally written a few years before he passed away.  I remembered a phrase that I’m surprised I haven’t heard more people say over the holidays.  That phrase is an “Attitude of Gratitude.”   An “Attitude of Gratitude” means that no matter what is happening in your life that you are thankful for what you have.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t want more.  If things are going well, then of course you can be thankful.  If things aren’t going so well, then you can be thankful for the challenges you have.  Challenges make us stronger and better as individuals and give us something to be thankful for when things turn around.

We can always be thankful for the friends we have.  We can be thankful that we have enough to eat, another breath to breathe and another day with which we can help another person grow and become better.

Shouldn’t we count our blessings everyday?

Why I’m Doing Better Than I Was Three Years Ago

This is a note to all the politicians and the people that think that government will help you out.

First, the question that is a campaign tool for many politicians is “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” I am a fiscally conservative single heterosexual man who is doing better than he was four years ago. I even had to spend a weekend or two at a local homeless shelter here in downtown Atlanta as early as August 2007 and April 2008. So now, it’s July 2011. How did I accomplish this miracle of improving my life in the midst of a financial crisis that is actually still going on?

The government didn’t have a thing to do with it. I didn’t get a stimulus check and I had business losses that gave my Federal tax benefits. I did not and do not see how the government did anything towards my personal progress except giving me the freedom to do it.

Perhaps, one of my best friends said it best: “You pulled yourself up by your bootstraps and pulled your head out of your ass.”

1) I stopped drinking alcohol
2) I stopped smoking cigarettes
3) I took responsibillity for the results of my life
4) I invested in my mind and my continuing education
5) I read positive things, listened to positive things and started exercising
6) I started using Quicken software to better control my expenditures
7) I stopped wasting money on pipe dreams and “businesses” that I didn’t have time to execute on.

Philosophically speaking, I came across “The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rohn and “The Psychology of Winning” by Denis Waitley. I listened to them. I took notes. I red Atlas Shrugged because Jim challenged me to. I started pushing the limits of who I was into a new definition of Who I can be. I quit investing in a business that was doomed from the get-go and investing into more productive areas. I started paying off my debts and investing in me.

The bottom line is that I started accepting responsibility for my life. It’s the only way to create change in your life.

My challenge to you is “Are you taking more responsibility for yourself than you were four years ago?”

My Identity Crisis Continues…

If you’ve ever read that I blog for my own benefit and not yours, this is one of those posts.

So who the hell am I and why should you read this (another great question posed by Carol Roth)? She didn’t ask me personally, but I’m going to try to answer this question for my own benefit.

In addition to buying the wrong plan in life, I had the wrong friends i.e. a group of attorneys and businesspeople in my hometown who frequently confused the activities “networking” and “alcoholism.” It was the late 1990′s and everyone was making money and times were good. I was waiting tables at the time (and still do, but hey, the bills are getting paid).

What was the first thing I did when I got out of the Navy, i.e. entered the “real” world? I started my own business and failed miserably. Upon recent investigation, I never had a business, but donated my money to someone else’s “get-rich-quick” scheme. They didn’t. They went bankrupt.

What did I do then? I got a job as a salesman in a retail jewelry business which doesn’t exist anymore. I got my first taste of sales and I was pretty good at it. I made a litle bit of money and got my first taste of corporate politics that ultimately got me fired. That was over 20 years ago and I still detest politics, whether it is on TV or in my face.

Why did I go into sales when my background was in a highly technical field (nuclear power plant operation)? Because I wanted to become successful in business and someone convinced me that you HAVE to have a college degree to succeed in business or in life, for that matter. It was the early 1990′s and the internet revolution hadn’t quite made it to where I was living yet. Education was a lot more expensive than it is today. I am CERTAINLY not advocating dropping out of college for the sheer hell of it, but I am saying that there are other sources of education (i.e. Amazon.com). This has been a fallacy that I have to counter every day of my life. Of all the erroneous beliefs that have held me back in life, this has to be the most damaging.

Why didn’t I go back to college? I was trying to make it in sales early in my sales career and I was surrounded by other sales people that didn’t have degrees. Guess what “advice” I got? “You don’t need to go back to college, just make taht next sale.”

What am I doing about it?

At last something to work on with some merit…

Hwæt! OMG, LOL make Oxford English Dictionary

Remember the high dive that terrified you as a kid?  You were scared silly of jumping off of it, but one day came that you jumped off anyway.  You return as an adult and realize that the “high dive” that once was a part of your nightmares was only six feet off the water and no big deal at all.  I remember the daunting site of the Oxford English Dictionary sitting in the school library.  It was kind of a hallowed place that we looked up words only if we wanted to re-write the paper we were working on.  For me, the American dictionary worked just fine…which might explain a few of my literary short comings (LOL).
Well, the standard for “proper” words of the English language has been updated and there are a few additions that surprised me, additions that criticizing them makes me sound like my parents and my teachers.  The additions that are most notable arrived from the digital age and are text lingo such as OMG and LOL.  I can’t say that I was a stickler for perfection in my English classes, but I guess I am getting older.

Then again let’s think about it.  I also studied Latin and it a given taht the Latin language was what is termed a “dead language,” not because all the Romans were dead, but because there were no new words created in the evolution of the language.

Here is the difference between a living language and a dead language:

Hwæt! We Gardena        in geardagum,
þeodcyninga,        þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas       ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing       sceaþena þreatum,

5
monegum mægþum,       meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas.        Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden,        he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum,        weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc        þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade        hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan.        þæt wæs god cyning!

 

Translation (I guess):

LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve
till before him the folk, both far and near,

who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
gave him gifts: a good king he!
This is epic poem Beowulf from 4th Century ad England.  I copied and pasted this from another web site, and I don’t speak Old English.  No body does, anymore that’s why they call it Old English.  I have no idea if this is a valid translation or not…but it is close.

I guess we should be thankful that our language and our culture are changing and (I guess) growing.  One could also argue that are culture is now in decline, as our language is becoming over-simplified.  It also is a challenge that I hold dear that I can communicate with people who hold the traditional English language dear to their hearts and at least be able to understand what people are intending to mean when they say something stupid like “O-M-G” (typed, yes-  spoken, personally not a fan).

I guess the good news is that “WTF” didn’t make the Oxford English Dictionary…or did it?

MBN

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