| Real Life Strategies for Building Wealth


I’ve done my annual review every year since 2012. The end of December is my time to reflect on what has gone well in my life and what needs improvement, what I’d like in my life and what I’d rather bid farewell.

If you are interested in my annual reviews, and to see how I’ve done these, you can check them out here:

Annual review 2012

Annual review 2013

Annual review 2014

Annual review 2015

Annual review 2016

Annual review 2017

Oh, what a year 2013 was – reading my annual review made me ask who this superwoman is.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice, however, that things started to fizzle out by 2017. You could taste the loss of zest for life – a combination of broader developments in the UK and my stage of life.

(I won’t get all political here, but the Brexit vote knocked me for six. There are problems with globalisation, and these are problems of neo-liberal capitalism, keeping wages at home low and exporting production to low-income countries. It is not, in my mind a reason to reject openness, humanitarianism, freedom of movement and access to one of the most affluent markets in the world. I spent my youth fighting – yes, fighting on the streets – for these values to see them revoked in my adoptive country. Hard, this is.)

You would have also noticed that last year I didn’t do this kind of annual review – I found dealing with narratives impossible. So, I did a ‘facts and figures’ review of our money. I’ll do one of these again this year – found it useful to chart progress and focus on the bigger picture.

Now, let me tell you what went well and what can do with improvement during 2019.

This is what went well in 2019

I had to think very hard about this one, which tells you the state of mind I find myself. I even told John that 2019 for me was flatter and harder than a loaf of bread with no yeast.

‘Rubbish’ – he said. ‘You always say that.’

Well, thinking back, this is a bit of an exaggeration; not much. It is the positive part of my annual review, so I’ll get on with it.

Things went rather well in my academic career.

  • I delivered the keynote lecture at an STS conference (Science and Technology Studies). This is very interesting because I didn’t even realise that my work influences research in this field. The lecture was a success (judging by how people engaged with the ideas I shared).
  • A paper, co-authored with colleagues and drawing on my theory, was published to a very positive reception. (Again, judging by the intellectual uptake.)
  • My professorship at the University of Lund (the additional one) was renewed.
  • I have reduced my main professorship to 50%. Finally took the plunge and decided to swap money for time. (I’ll share what I intend to do with this time later.) It is probably the best thing I did in 2019 – my quality of life is already better.

On the blogging side:

annual review 2019

  • I learned a lot about SEO and applied this knowledge to target specific areas of personal finance. You know me well enough, so you know that for me, life is about learning. When learning is applied, things are even better.
  • I have been writing and helping people in money trouble. Again, one of the things I saw this year is that for me supporting people to become the best they could be (and want to be) is very important. The Money Principle allows me to do that by linking money and life.
  • I started writing for other websites. Let’s say that I enjoy it; it pays a bit and allows me to hone my craft.
  • I started dipping my foot publishing on Medium. One of my posts was curated (and I earned £0.48. Sounds funny, I know, but I’m so pleased – this is money earned because people read what I wrote).

And the big one:

  • Joined Slimming World and will end 2019 over 10kg lighter than I started. (Probably more but this is ‘since records began.’) Feels great and I have started running again and being more active.

This is what didn’t go well in 2019

Many things were sub-optimal in 2019 but I’ll tell you about the big stuff.

  • I still spent too much time escaping. Looking back, I’ve always needed time to ‘get my sh*t together’ and regroup after something unfavourable happens. It is usually an extended period of ‘escapism’ – mainly reading novels, and my son would say ‘chilling’. It doesn’t seem too bad but when it lasts a long time…
  • My life seems to have become grey. You probably know what I mean (and I’m not talking about depression, this is black). There is not enough colour and excitement in my life – to a degree because I’ve been holding my breath looking at the ‘big picture’. Now I’m ready to exhale get on with my life – it is true what they say – the bad news is better than uncertainty.
  • Yeah, right. I’ve been drifting a bit (maybe I needed it).
  • I haven’t completed much of what I was aiming to complete. It is a natural consequence of the previous three issues.

Now what?

One day last week, I woke up and wrote in my diary:

‘When did I start expecting so little of myself?’

You know what? I was already starting to reconsider my drifting, lack of meaning, and focus, by the time my pen formed the words.

Things are going to change around here, and this is how I intend to do it.

Words for the New 2020: focus, persistence, and results

I looked back at my words for the year.

(Remember, I very rarely make New Year’s resolutions or define goals for the year.)

They are great words. Like creativity, passion, influence, and abundance. Powerful, motivational, fancy words.

This time, I don’t want powerful and motivational. I’m going for words that will help me gather the fragments my life has become and make them into a beautiful mosaic.

First, the easy part – come up with a strategy and decide on a plan. (This is not easy; it is easy for me.)

After that, I need the stamina, and accountability, to see my plans through.

Hence my words for 2020 are:

Focus, persistence, and results.

At the end of 2020, I don’t want to be muttering about the books I’ll write: I’ll hold the books in my hands (or on my screen).

I don’t want to be halfway to a decision to leave England: I’ll have a destination and key arrangements in place.

And you, my friends, will keep me accountable – I’ll share with you my progress and hope you don’t mind.

Things to complete in 2020

Over the next year, I will:

  • Complete my book on how to pay off debt fast (and with little sacrifice of joy).
  • Complete my book on research fields and spaces (academic one).
  • Transform my on-line operation from side hustle to a prosperous business.

Final thoughts

Gosh, it feels good to look back on your life and be honest with yourself (and others).

Now, the only way is up, I suppose. Wish me luck.

Look back on 2019 and share your achievements, disappointments, and intentions with us. We can help each other!