My 2021: 6 Month Review


Well seems like as good a place as any as I’m relearning to blog from a place of care, creativity, and passion as opposed to SEO, analytics, and strict keyword lists. So first of all it’s worth taking a look at what I’ve already been lucky enough to do this year, what goals are up there, and how things are going to this point.

It sits right there on top of the book shelf on my work desk. I see it every single time I turn my head.

The sealed letter to my future self one year in the future actually was very successful from what I remembered…which made it strange that I then ditched it. Despite years of struggling to do anything of worth or value. Struggling to make any progress at all.

So right now I have the sealed letter, lots of goals to take advantage of the windfall received from 2020’s sale of the website I poured five plus years of my life into building. Had the surgery that drastically improved my health so I could actually often function at least on a basic level on a day to day level.

I’ll focus on those. On what I want to do, what I’ve done, and what hasn’t been done yet.

And that’s how I’ll back in to getting back to traditionally blogging once again as I take a deep breath and celebrate the wins along the way!

So What Are Some of the Goals I’m Focused On?

There are plenty. And truth be told there are always those I think about at the beginning of the year that just don’t matter later. So adjustments will be made, but it’s still worth looking over.

Blog Writing (Self-Employed Financial)

Hey I know long-term my best investment is in myself. My brother and I sold our website last year and my cut has led to the badly needed dental surgery, to being able to step away from severe burnout, and for actual focus on health and healing for the first time in many years.

And I really enjoy building up websites. Creating that monthly passive income before selling for a big pay off. Or maybe creating a bunch of sites to create a true passive income that gets me freedom. Or both.

Freedom, retirement, and a big pay-off all by my mid-40’s sounds pretty amazing. That’s not going to happen from any other way than some serious blogging…and no spending 5 years to get there this time around.

The goals are vague on this. Solidly I want over 100 solid blog posts. This would represent the most productive year my brother and I had COMBINED.

So if I could beat that in one year, I’d feel pretty good. If I could do that above and beyond my gaming group blog, even better! While I have “You can’t not be rich/you can’t not be full time if you do this much work” setups, the 600 blog post in 15 months is straight up impossible. But it’s still a great goal to reach for.

So how have I done?

December through May: 110 blog posts (and 41 small blog posts)j

Not bad. Now in fairness, the article sizes from the first blog tended to be twice as long about 70% of the time as I was trying out multiple new strategies. Even “adjusted” it’s north of 65 full sized blog posts. So on target and rocking. I don’t like the fact that’s spread over 7 websites instead of on 1-2 (and those numbers include the gaming blog), but it’s something.

TOTAL Blog Posts:

  • Assorted Meeples (gaming blog): 57 published posts
  • Niche Site 1: 45 published posts
  • Niche Site 2: 37 published posts
  • Niche Site 3: 19 published posts
  • Niche Site 4: 5 published posts
  • Starter Niche Site 1: 1 published post
  • Starter Niche Site 2: 1 published post
  • This Site: 1 published post (counting this one)

As much as there are criticisms I can level, at the end of the day I have some great seeds planted for the future. And my productivity in 6 months, despite a tired May where I took most the month off writing, was more blogging than I’ve ever done in an entire year.

Take a breath and be proud, Shane. At least on this point, you’ve earned it.

Weight Loss & Fitness

Quarantine has been rough. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve maintained most of my weight loss and even managed to shed a few more pounds. This journey started way before this year, and so it kind of blends together. So this is the “just getting up to date” numbers.

  • Heaviest: 469.9 lbs
  • Weight when starting latest push: 415.5 lbs
  • Current Weight: 368.8 lbs after vacation and two bad weeks.

So I’ve come a long, long way. And I have a long, long way to go.

But I’m fully vaccinated, I’m healthier than I’ve been in years, and I’m ready to go and push to that goal weight. 280 for the short term push. 220-230 for long-term.

Maybe I can get to a lower healthy weight, but I’m a big frame with a lot of muscle so I know I can look pretty amazing and be pretty in shape at that weight. So we’ll see what’s healthy for me at this age once we get there.

The walking will continue and the step numbers will explode. I free lift dumbbells, and new glasses and finishing off the dental surgeries are on the to-do list. Healthier happier life, here we come!

Learn New Skills

There are all kinds of skills I’ve wanted to learn for years, and all kinds that have come up recently. Some are business, some creative, some just fall under the “it would be cool” label. So it’s hard to figure out what qualifies as “good” here.

So skills I’m working on:

  • Video Editing – It’s a slow process and I’m definitely not a natural, but I’m getting there. This will be big on improving YouTube presence and also helping me get creative in another field.
  • Game Design/Programming – Taking the first steps to get there.
  • Dancing – Not going to happen this year.
  • Sketching/Drawing – Working on it. Going very poorly, but working on it, lol.
  • Hobby Skill – First steps taken.

Freelance Writing – Direct Income

Did a lot of great work in early 2020. Yeah, that is my luck, self-employed finally get unemployment (and bonus because 2020) and four weeks in I get work. Such is life. This is an interesting one because I did a lot of editing work January through April that I didn’t know was going to be there at first, and then ended a month earlier than expected.

But my thought that the job could get me exposure was right, and I received some interest to hire me for freelancing. While I don’t discuss numbers, they’re good rates that I’m working for.

$25 an hour would be a serious pay cut right now.

When I’m focused on my work my hourly rate would get me six figures in a year if I loaded myself up at the same rate.

But I’ve also learned something else….

I no longer like freelance writing.

In fact, I hate it.

While it’s tempting to load up hours and keep working, there’s a serious emotional, spiritual, and psychic penalty for doing something you once loved that now you hate – and I won’t pay that price.

I guess in one way that is serious growth on my part 🙂

This also means after years of working to get to very high end rates like this and finally achieving it, I’m walking away. Basically I no longer do content mill work, I no longer do mid-level work, and I don’t seek out any more high end clients.

I’m working with the few high paying clients I have for a limited amount of part-time work. It will pay the bills and allow me to spend most of my time on my health, my weight loss, training up new skills, and working on my blogging. And right now that’s more important to me.

Then at the end of the year I’m going to stop. Sink or swim. It’s time for something new.

So direct income goals for this year have changed radically based on priorities, but I’m actually happy to mark this one “Good enough for now.”

Creative Projects

There are some really cool ones in the works. Some require skills that I simply can’t work on this year. Only so much time in a day.

But some others are already beginning to come together and I am very excited about it. The fact that I’m even working on creative projects of any kind shows a major improvement over many recent years in the past.

Creative Writing

Hoping to finish the first draft of two novels. That is a touch ambitious though my backup goal would be 365 total pages of new fiction.

I’m behind as I haven’t hit the one page a day goal, but I have written nearly 100 pages total this year and am focused on putting out a page of fiction a day. Progress is being made.

While these are manuscripts that have been worked on for a long time, I have two novel manuscripts each over 100 pages in length and growing so some serious story development continues to unfold.

Habits/Improvement

I need to do better here. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made serious progress. I journal way more than I used to even if it’s just a little bit in the morning and a little at night.

I make my bed every single morning from instinct. I focus in really well for 45 minutes to an hour of work the moment I’m mentally awake in the morning (for me that’s really good). I use a timer to do work sprints. I do a lot of calf lifts every time I stand up to pace or distract myself.

But I’m not doing everything I was doing the beginning of the year after reading James Clear’s life-changing book Atomic Habits, and that is such an amazing blueprint for how anyone can build in at least some positive habits and changes that just snowball over time.

More than any other section, success depends on putting these into consistent improvement and practice.

I’m much better than where I was at. And I’ve been very good at Kaizen. If I get up I always look for one thing to do. Is there a piece of trash to throw away? Dishes to take downstairs? Some empty cans to take to recycling? One small thing to do to clean up clutter.

Now I need to get better at reviewing those.

And someone help me on the meditating because after over two years of struggling to get any traction from meditation…I’m still struggling to get any traction there.

Well, can’t win them all.

Debt/Financial

Honestly, I don’t expect much movement here for the rest of the year, though last year and early this year just killed it. My debt dropped over $10k. I paid for cash for $17k in surgeries and health related expenses. I have an emergency fund. My IRA has been funded and killing it.

My Net Worth changed over $20K between the two, and while it was a good year, it wasn’t so good to explain away that number. There were some past blessings or opportunities in youth I squandered because I didn’t know what I had.

That wasn’t going to happen again.

This year if the IRA can keep growing, the emergency fund can slowly grow and I get make minimal advancements on the debts, we’ll call it a win (assuming I’m an absolute beast on the other projects – since that’s the whole point of staying part-time right now).

I would love to see more progress than that…but I know the long-term success here depends on thriving in the other areas and that means using the time while I have it.

Miscellanea

There are probably all kinds of odds and ends I’m missing here or could put them in – but hey those can be for the next one.

I’m buying more books, focusing big time on the gaming group, new skills, and moving my blogs forward, and already pivoting to other skills and research to get out of the freelancing business.

I’m handling a lot of small things that have a big impact on quality of life and that is definitely something I hope continues in every small way – because those small things really do add up.

So How Can I Accomplish Goals I Can’t Re-Visit?

Considering the “main goals” are in a sealed envelope, how can I possibly meet all of them when I don’t have a copy of the letter?

creative dream journaling

Good question, but there actually are some good answers to it. I did this in the past and after opening the letter at year’s end was surprised how often an “inspired” creative project or push of effort turned out to checkmark something in the sealed letter.

On top of that journaling like to the left here helps. The letter was a complete brain dump first so this page doesn’t fully list everything, nor is it meant to.

But it shows that there are other ways to look at habits, goals, and creative projects and keep moving forward.

Let’s be honest, if by my next birthday I’m 100 lbs lighter, have a novel done, a good bank account, and am closer to the life I want I’m not going to care if the details of how I got there are a wee bit different.

So yeah.

And those all important questions at the bottom of the journal page…also a very, very good guide.

I would also suggest using Excel sheets. They are powerful.

I use Excel to track my debt and assets. I use an Excel sheet to track my exercises. My weight loss and gain. I have Excel sheets with all my URLs for my gaming group site, my SEO targets, my own blogs, and other projects.

In other words, use Excel as the multi-purpose tool it was meant to be. They really are incredible.

So What’s Next?

I’m not going to guarantee that I can update things every month or even every quarter, though I like the idea of two more after this for the year: one around the early fall and one right before the big reveal. Those seem like appropriate times, right?

But I’m very happy with how far I’ve come so far. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished.

And I’m not satisfied. No resting on my laurels, no taking a break. It’s time to double down and take advantage of the little “free” time I have.

This time I see the window of opportunity.

And I refuse to let it close.

Shane Dayton

Writer, gamer, outdoor enthusiast, adventurer, and depression survivor tired of all the ugliness. Doing my best to live a life worth living, having fun, creating stories, and hopefully doing my part to leave the world a touch better than what I found it. Hope you enjoy the site and find something entertaining, helpful, or useful that's your kind of jam.

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