2018 Year End Review!

Happy 2019 Everyone! Wow, it's crazy to say that, but here we are, another year has gone by! It's a  great time to reflect on what we've done and accomplished in the past 12 months, where I've been, how much money I earned, saved, and spent, as well as what my plans and goals for for next year. It's time to reflect, take account for where my life is, and be honest with myself about if my life is going in the right direction or not. I'll list my expenses, earnings, and share what worked and what didn't.

This is the mega post that will summarize an entire  year into one post and share lessons I've learned from each step. As a spoiler, this is the year that my income has been the lowest that it's been since I started working online as an entrepreneur in 2013, it's also the year where I gained the most weight, got out of shape, and over indulged on the good things in life. I've made some mistakes that have set me back both financially and physically this year. But if you ask me how i'm feeling as I'm sitting here typing this, I'm also the happiest and most content I've been in a long time. It's the year where I've really matured as a man and really stopped caring so much about what others think. It's the year where I really started putting myself first, and truly started understanding what actually matters in this life and more importantly, what and who doesn't. Here is my 2018 year in review and the lessons I've learned.

Monthly Breakdown 2018

It's been a crazy year, and it's highlighted by the fact that in order for me to remember all that I've done, I actually had to go back into my calendar to see where I was any given month. One of first lessons learned that I want to leave you with is that time both passes quickly and slowly at the same time, and that it's okay. If we feel like it's passing too quickly, we need to clear our schedules and make time to slow down. And if we ever feel like it's passing too slowly, it trick to to then plan more to do, set bigger goals and take on new projects. 

Here's everywhere I went and what I did during each month of last year including what I learned.

January 2018 - Chiang Mai, Thailand  

I hosted the largest Nomad Summit to date with over 400 attendees from around the world. Going to Tony Robbins' Date With Destiny the month before really inspired me to make the event as big and great as possible. I also learned that I needed a strong team and couldn't do it on my own. Huge thanks to Stephanie and Kara for everything they did as well as all of the other staff and volunteers.

Lesson Learned: Even though you technically can do it on your own, it's a disservice to the world if you don't hire amazing talent and make it as great as possible, whatever you do. Here's the aftermovie of how the event went.

February 2018 - Chiang Mai, Thailand

This was actually a really good month in terms of work/life balance. I would wake up every morning and go for a hike in the mountains of Chiang Mai to train for my upcoming trip to Nepal. I got into nature, got in decent shape, and really enjoyed life. For work, I focused on marketing my affiliate income/blogging course called Income Boss. It's a good choice and the marketing went well earning me over $3,000 during the month by pushing the course through facebook ads and webinars. 

However what I realized during the process is that helping people start a personal brand scratch, from the beginning takes a minimum of 6 months and up to 2 years before you have built enough traffic and trust to really monetize. That amount of time isn't something that most people are willing to stick with even if that's the correct way to do it. So even though the information in the course is super valuable, the course doesn't have enough mass market appeal which is why I don't mention it or advertise every often. I just leave it there for anyone who is looking for it to find it themselves. 

Lesson Learned: If I create another course in the future, there needs to be a measurable ROI to the customer within 2 months as that's the longest amount of time most people are willing to work before seeing money in their bank.

March 2018 - Kathmandu, Nepal

This was my first time in Nepal or anywhere close to India and it was a completely new experience. I spent the first new days in the capital city of Kathmandu buying supplies, eating local Nepalese food, and preparing for my trek. My original plan was to hike the entire Annapurna Circuit in 17 days and end in Pokhara to relax, but after just 5 days I got ill with a combination of a cold, flu, then altitude sickness. My body just wasn't prepared for the cold as I've spent most of the past 10 years in warm climates like Thailand. 

I also pushed myself too hard too fast as I was in good enough physical shape to go further, and I wanted to keep up with other travelers that I had met on the trek. However that was a terrible idea, 1/4 of the backpackers I met on the trek going up ended up getting evacuated back down the hill by 4x4 Jeep as they too went up too quickly.

Lesson Learned: Make a logical plan before hand and stick to it regardless of how rushed others are. Even if other people are time poor and in a rush to get things done, it doesn't mean you need to keep up. Slow down, enjoy the walk and stick to your own plans. 

April 2018 - Pokhara, Nepal 

After hiking back down from the circuit, I spent the next two weeks relaxing in Pokhara, recovering and planning my next move. I decided to do another trek while I was there, this time a shorter one that's highest altitude was only 3,210m/10,500ft instead of the insane 5,416m/17,769ft in elevation that the Annapurna or Everest Base Camp treks would have been. I decided to plan this trek properly and take 100% responsibility for myself instead of hiring or a guide or a porter, and taking as much time as I wanted to complete it.

This time around, I had a much better experience overall. It was more relaxed, healthier, and completely stress free, making the experience a hundred times better. I also realized that the only reason why I wanted to do the higher altitude trek was simply because would have been a cool, badass thing to say I've completed, but in reality, no one really cares and there's no reason to try to impress others.

Lesson Learned: Taking 100% personal responsibility instead of relying on others gives you control of both the good and the bad, and is often better. It doesn't mean you can't still hire a guide or have outside help, but it means you also do your own research instead of just blinding following them.

May 2018 - Santorini, Greece

Immediately after Nepal I flew to Malaga, Spain to board the Nomad Cruise which was a 12 day trip from Spain to Greece. It was a nice break from my time in Nepal and was really nice to be surrounded again by digital nomads and western society. Even though I enjoyed my time in Nepal, it was rough, and very rural. Time aboard the ship was the start of my overindulgence with buffet meals 3x a day and unlimited alcohol as the ship was open bar. 

I had a great time, make some great friends, and got to see Greece for the first time. But it was also a month of pure vacation without any actual work being done. I knew that I needed to get back into growth mode and start working again if I didn't want to see my income dip even more. Below is the talk I gave aboard the cruise on time management and Growth vs. Maintenance mode.

Lesson Learned: Swinging wildly from extremes of one side to another in regards to being super healthy, pushing your diet and exercise to an extreme to going crazy with over indulging in food, alcohol and zero physical activity is a huge net loss and takes a long time to recover from. Just like working too much then not working at all. The key is consistently maintaining what you've gained even during the rest or off periods.

June 2018 - Bansko, Bulgaria

After 5 months of doing almost zero work and traveling too much, I needed a place to get back into a routine. The little ski village of Bansko sounded perfect, and the coworking space there turned out to be exactly what I needed. It was a cheap, comfortable place to live for a month with a great working space, community and without distractions.

It was exactly what I needed, but honestly, it was way too boring for my tastes, especially without having a car. If you go, I'd read my blog post on Bansko before hand and either rent a car in the capital of Sofia beforehand or come as a couple as otherwise it's a bit too quiet of a place for many people including myself.

Lesson Learned: My beard looked terrible after growing it out for 5 months without shaving. It took a long time to go through the awkward and ugly growth stage. Trying new things are often the same way as things don't always come easily or naturally for everyone. But as long as you stick with it, you'll at least get to see for yourself instead of assuming you can't.

July 2018 - Odessa, Ukraine

After being completely bored for a month in Bansko, which honestly felt like an entire summer, it was time for me to go the opposite direction again. It was time to indulge again with partying, going out, steaks, beer, champagne and travel. My original plan was to just chill out in Odessa for a few months, start working again and get back in shape. But the travel bug bit me and I somehow ended up agreeing to meet Sam to do a road trip across Spain, which also led me to visiting some other places along the way.

Those places included the former USSR republic of Transnistria, Bologna in Italy, Portugal, and then through Lviv on my way back. The only positive was that I left my main luggage in Odessa which allowed me to travel light, making the trip a million times easier and  more pleasant.

Lesson Learned:  Know your priorities and stick to them. Just because it's cheap and easy to travel somewhere, doesn't mean you should. As a digital nomad, our choices become almost unlimited and if we always say yes to every opportunity there is to go somewhere else, we'll never have time to get into a proper routine and get anything done.

August 2018 - Los Angeles, CA

It was really nice being home again after almost a year of traveling. It was a welcome break to see friends and family back in California and to get back to an English speaking country after months of not being able to communicate easily.

But what I also got reminded of while being home is how expensive everything is and how much money people spend on eating out, drinks at bars, buying clothes, and everyday life. I realized that the reason why people don't have money to travel or to put into savings is because almost 100% of the money they earn, regardless of how much that is spent just as quickly.

Lesson Learned: California really is as great as the world portrays it to be, everything is nice, the weather is perfect, the food is great, and life is good. However, you pay for it and it's not cheap. Too many people live at or above their means which becomes a cycle that keeps you trapped.

Riding a Bird Scooter in in Los Angeles

September 2018 - Las Vegas, NV

For the past 4 months my priority and main project was putting together the first ever Nomad Summit conference in the United States. I wanted a way to help people who can't or aren't ready to travel all the way Thailand to have a way to get a taste of the digital nomad lifestyle as well as meet others who have already done it and been successful. It turned it the be extremely expensive to put on and difficult to market as the costs of everything in the US are much higher, especially in Vegas.

So after months of planning and preparation, the conference barely broke even and up until just a few days before, we were actually losing money. But even though financially it wasn't a success, the people I met and the stories they told me about how much they were inspired, got connected and reassured, made it all worth it. Below is a video from the event and some of the attendees.

Lesson Learned: When you are financially secure with savings or other streams of income, only then can you comfortably chances that may or may not pay off.

October 2018 - Bali, Indonesia 

My original plan was to head straight back to Chiang Mai, get back into routine and not travel at all for the rest of the year. But luckily at the last minute I decided to break that rule and go to Bali to attend the Dropship Lifestyle Retreat. It had skipped last year's event in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico as it didn't fit my travel schedule, but also because I had sold my dropshipping stores and wasn't actually that involved anymore.

But I'm so glad I went as without meeting the people in person, I often forget how many people's lives have changed since they found Anton's course, often though me mentioning it, and how successful people have become. The truth it, the most successful people hardly ever post online as they really don't have the reason to, nor the time to do so.  But getting to meet people like Amrit Atwal, the indian truck driver from Australia or Carla Cecchi the stay at home mom of three, and hearing their stories got me reinspired again to not only start another store again but also to continue to spread the word that it's the one dropshipping course that continues to create success.

Lesson Learned: The most successful people are usually those who don't have the time or energy to waste leaving comments online. The best place the meet successful entrepreneurs is at paid events.

At the Dropship Lifestyle Retreat in Bali

November 2018 - Chiang Mai, Thailand

Even though technically I been off and on in Chiang Mai since the end of October, this was my first full month in the city. It was also the month where I started really getting to work. I started the dropship partnership and had 7 people fly into Thailand to build new stores together. And I also hired a 3rd person to help organize the upcoming Nomad Summit. November was an amazing month productivity wise and it made me feel refreshed and invigorated again.

I've realized that for me to thrive, I need to work and build. Surrounding myself with entrepreneurs who were hungry to learn and put in the work was exciting, as is the prospect of building seven new dropshipping stores and the potential new income that it'll generate.

Lessons Learned: Even though sometimes we feel too tired to do the work or start a new project, just like going to the gym when we're tired, sometimes it's exactly what we need.

With the dropship partnership crew

December 2018 - Maldives

This is where this month's normal income and travel report would have started, but so much has happened to lead up to this point that it's why I love having these year end mega reports. This month I went to the Maldives to go scuba diving and had an amazing time aboard a liveaboard dive yacht for 12 nights. The funny thing is that even though my original plan was to go straight back to Chiang Mai after the trip, I ended up coming down to the islands of Koh Phangan then Koh Tao afterwards instead.

I met and started dating someone last month while she was traveling through Chiang Mai on her way to Burma, and we decided to meet up again in Bangkok before my Maldives trip started, then again here on the Thai islands for Christmas and New Years after. I have no idea what's going to end up happening after she leaves and continues her travels, but what I've learned is that we are blessed to be location independent and to be able to work from wherever we are. The fact that I'm able to sit on my balcony and write this from our beach resort while she is in the pool just meters away learning how to scuba dive is an amazing thing that's only possible via lifestyle design.

Lesson Learned: One of the biggest advantages of this lifestyle is the flexibility, we never know where life is going to take us, but the ability to give it a shot is a blessing. Having financial, time and location freedom is a luxury that few others have, make the most of it.

Income for 2018

The best thing about being an entrepreneur and working for yourself is being in complete control of how much or little money you earn. It allows us to work more and earn more, or work less and pursue other passions. This year wasn't about making as much money as possible. It was about new experiences, and going after passions and new ventures. It was the lowest income I've had in the last few years with a net profit of just under six figures at $97,534.86. To be fair, I have a few thousand more dollars that I technically earned in 2018 and haven't been paid for yes, and my total revenue itself was much higher than $100,000, but I'm going to be hard and honest with myself, I dropped the ball financially this year.

In 2015 I earned $153,517.48.
In 2016 I took home an insane $325,785.19
In 2017 I made a total of $178,376.49
In 2018 my income slipped to $97,534.86

The question everyone has is what happened? To be honest, my mind wasn't in the right place. I wasn't focused on working or building businesses and I got a bit little lazy and started enjoying life a bit too much. I needed a break and didn't want the responsibility of starting another dropshipping store. What the numbers above don't show you is that a big part of the totals are from selling stores that I had build in the years prior. This year I focused on launching the Nomad Summit in the US. And it ended up costing me 4 months with a profit of only $191.47. If anything we were losing money on it until just a few days before the event. It was a gamble but I don't regret it as even though it wasn't profitable, people loved the event and it set a foundation for the future.

But I don't want my income to continue to decrease as without earning at least $100K, I can't do things like take care of my parents, pay their property tax, or be generous to my friends. So I'm back on track and following Anton's method again to build more dropshipping stores. Keep an eye out in the next few months for the progress on that, but it's already started and 6 out of the 7 stores are already making sales. Thank goodness for the multiple streams of passive income that I've created these past few years as even without activity growing them, I still managed to have a dozen streams of income for the year.

My Income Streams from 2018

Expenses for 2018

Overall, my average costs of living for 2018 was between $1,300 a month while I was in Thailand, and just around $2,000 a month during my months in Europe. I pay for most meals and even for rent while in Thailand in cash so it's hard to track it, but in general by far my largest expense each year is on travel. My only real fixed expenses are my annual travel insurance which is $319 and some business web services like google drive, web hosting, and email software. Aside from that, I pay for no contract cell phone plans wherever I go, and for housing month to month either on Airbnb or through a local apartment.

Aside from travel, my second biggest expense is the $1,000 check I send to my parents every month which ends up being $12,000 a year, not including the extra $3,380.67 I paid for their property tax making the total over $15,380 this year in gifts to them. But it's honestly the best money I could have spent as it's the one truly selfless thing that really makes a big difference. This commitment also forces me to keep working hard and not let my income slip too far down as I'd hate to have to call my aging parents and cut them off in their time of need. It's my motivation in a world where I otherwise live like a minimalist and don't spend much.

My credit card spending habits for 2018

Wins/Losses for 2018

Even though it's probably not the right words for it, I'm a bit believer in measuring the net gains or losses of the year. This is time to be honest to myself and see if overall, if my life is in a overall better or worse place than it was last year. I'll breakdown each category and give myself a rating if I'm in a better place now at the end of the year, if it I was in a better place in the beginning of it. This is a great experience for you to do as well as you're following along.

The categories are physical health, mental health, finances, relationships, and experiences.

Physical Health - 

Net Loss. I started 2018 in decent shape as I was training for the Nepal trek, however, getting sick on the trail, then over indulging on food, alcohol, and taking a complete 180 degree turn after the trip was done set me back further than when I started. 

Lesson learned
- It's much better to have a simple diet and exercise routine that you do year round, than to do extreme things like train for crazy hikes then do nothing but indulge for 6 months after. 

Goals for 2019 - Follow the basics and just eat in moderation, exercise regularly, and stay consistent year round. No more extreme diets or exercise routines. Just the basics. 

My blog post about attempting a 17 day trek in Nepal

Mental Health - 

Net Positive. 2018 was a really good year for me in terms of becoming more comfortable with who I am as a man, what I like, what I dislike, and being comfortable with it all. I've realized a lot of my strengths and weaknesses and have learned not to take things personally. I wish I would have knew these things as an insecure teenager, but better late than never.

Lessons Learned - Attending the Tony Robbin's seminar the year prior has allowed me to really understand myself, others, and the why behind people's words and actions. It's learned that it's not always my battle to fight, and that most things people say or do have more to do with them and the struggles they're going through than the person they're reflecting on.

Goals for 2019 - Continue to focus on my own happiness and mental well being, while ignoring others who have negative intentions or energy.

Financial Health - 

Net Positive. Even though this wasn't one of my best year's income wise, at the end of the day, my total net worth has increased from the start of 2018 till the end. I earned more money than I spent, and invested enough to help grow it even more in the future. I also learned a ton this year co-hosting the invest like a boss podcast.

Lessons Learned - Even though I was a a small net positive at the end of the year financially. There was also a huge opportunity loss as I could have made a lot more. By not realizing my potential, I left money on the table.

Goals for 2019 - Grow the US based Nomad Summit to be profitable, focus on growing my new dropship partner stores, and if I have time start another one of my own to increase my income.

First ever Invest Like a Boss Podcast Meetup!

Relationship Health -

Net Positive. With relationships I like to think of them as three categories including friendships, family, and intimate. This year I got to spend a decent amount of time with my parents, sister, niece, nephew, and cousins in person, as well as some of my friends from back home. I wish I would have spend more time with close friends in person though especially during my months in Ukraine where sometimes it got a bit lonely not having close friends around. Romantically, I just started dating again seriously after getting back to Chiang Mai in September, and am happy to say that in November I met an amazing girl. It's still new and we have the issue of location and distance, but overall, it's a huge positive.

Lessons Learned - Dating is complicated. But finding someone special makes it all worth it. Even though it's not always easy, it's worth it to put yourself out there. There are great catches still out in the sea.

Goals for 2019 - Spend more time with close friends in each city and develop relationships instead of being too independent and traveling solo.

Life Experiences 

Net Positive - This is a category that I've focused on way too much which has ultimately hurt me in other categories including physical and a bit in the financial as well. At the end of the day, yes, I did some amazing things last year, ate some incredible food, drank fine wine, and did cool things. But unless I die tomorrow, I will regret some of it as everything comes as a cost. Whether it be excess calories from overindulging in food and drinks, or simply traveling too much to develop a routine and focus.

Lessons Learned - Don't travel just to travel. Just because you can go somewhere, doesn't mean that you should. When we have all of the freedom in the world, it's then up to us to decide if it's actually worth doing it and worth the downsides, recovery time, or other costs.

Goals for 2019 - My goal for the year is to travel less, and stay in each place for longer. My goal is to focus on both my mental and physical health and not beat myself up by moving around too quickly or too often.

Happy 2019, I hope this is an amazing year for all of us,

-Johnny FD

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  1. How was your year? Are you a net positive or loss in each category of finances, mental, physical, relationships and experiences?

  2. Great post Johnny, keep up the good work

  3. Nice round up Johnny. The biggest takeaway I got is how fast gains can be lost if you abandon them, e.g. the health/fitness points you raised. I have found I got very comfortable the last few years and getting out of your comfort zone again is well uncomfortable lol.
    Inspired me to do a similar write up.

  4. Appreciate your honesty as always mate! Keep up the good’re a true inspiration. Thank You.

  5. Nice blog post. The part about life in the US is so right on. I can't even imagine how people continue to put up with those ridiculous health care and housing costs.

    2018 was the best year of my life personally. I quit smoking Nov. of 2017 and remain smoke free today. I made significantly more income than the previous years and was able to stash 5 figures in the bank. I met a great group of fellow expat scuba divers here after years of being the only non-Korean at the dive resorts, and now manage an ex-pat diver group. I just started Anton's course right at the end of December.

    @018 was pretty great, and I am expecting 2019 to be even better in many ways. Cheers to the new year!

  6. Johnny it is always very ispiring reading your post. My 2018 was great in terms of business but not satisfactory in terms of phisical, experiences and relationships. I am planning to improve in 2019. In particular I need time for me and my family. Any advice?

  7. I love your positive vibes! such a joy to read your blog :)

    1. Thanks Miss Moss! I'm glad you have the same positive mentality! Here's to a fantastic 2019!

  8. Hey Giovanni, I'm glad you liked the post and the year end review. My advice would be to schedule time with them and make it a priority. It doesn't need to be anything fancy, just going to the park, or a picnic, lake, or camping is all great. But put it in the calendar and have it be a priority! Here's to a great 2019!

  9. Highly informative article. Here all information's are very useful and important for me and every one. Thank you very much for sharing.- it staffing company in chennai

    TeamPlus India

  10. Hi Johnny,
    You should try Romania as well.


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