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2017 was a wonderful year for this blog.
My readership grew, I connected with countless individuals who also love personal finance, and I did work that made me proud.
Here are 5 valuable life lessons I learned through blogging this year.
1. It’s always better to be on the field than on the sidelines.
Sharing my personal thoughts, life events, and finances online can be a little scary. I never know how people will react. Fortunately, I have learned that the upside to sharing my financial and personal journey far outweighs the downside.
When I share content online, I always get one of three reactions:
- People agree with my thoughts and opinions. This is always encouraging.
- People disagree with some or all of my opinions and offer counterarguments to my points. These comments are wonderful because they open my mind to other possibilities and lines of thinking.
- People respond with hate or unjustified criticism. This is rare, but it happens. I largely ignore these comments and emails. An open letter of hate says much more about the person dishing it out than the person receiving it.
I have learned that both online and in person, my thoughts and contributions won’t always be well-received. Nor will people agree with everything I say. That’s okay. Choosing to be bold and share my thoughts opens up the door for connection and meaningful conversations.
2. Tracking my goals once per month is best for me.
I used to check my blog traffic every day, sometimes several times per day. Now I might glance at it once a month.
I used to check my financial account balances every day. Now I only check them on the first of the month.
I believe in the power of tracking progress. However, there’s a fine line between diligence and obsession.
Tracking something too often is more harmful than helpful. On the flip side, tracking something too infrequently isn’t effective.
Monitoring my progress once per quarter wouldn’t be frequent enough for me to make micro-adjustments.
Monitoring my progress on a daily basis makes me anxious.
Monitoring my progress once per month is just right.
3. Get to the point.
If I can get my point across in one sentence, I shouldn’t use a paragraph. Both in person and online I have learned to communicate more concisely.
4. Do what is most important first thing in the morning.
I only have so much creative energy to use each day. This has led me to develop a morning writing habit.
I find that if I spend too much time looking at emails or social media when I wake up, my mind begins to wander too much to focus on my writing.
If I put off writing until the evening, after a long day at work and at the gym, I don’t have the energy to write an article.
By writing first thing in the morning, I’m using all of my energy and focus on the one thing I consider most important.
5. Do less.
I no longer try to go viral on Pinterest. I don’t have a Facebook or Instagram page for this site. I stopped taking affiliate marketing courses. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, they’re just not priorities for me.
I spend the bulk of my time writing. This helps me produce meaningful work. I spend some time on Twitter. This helps me connect with people.
I no longer strive to do everything. I just try to do a few things really well.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
Although the bulk of his net worth is invested in index funds, his favorite place to invest in individual stocks is M1 Finance, a site that allows you to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer.