2018 Year End Review and Setting 2019 Goals

Posted 26 Dec '18

by Nick Gentle on
Article appears under: Goal Setting, About Property Investment, Investment Strategy

Just like that 2018 is coming to a close. How did it go for you? Did you meet your goals? Did you have goals? Did you have goals and then forget them? Are you slightly suspicious of people who rave on about goal setting?

In this article I look back on how 2018 went for me and lay out a vision for next year. The point of this is to share my process. Between you and me, I avoid over-scheduling and making lists like the plague, so if I can do this stuff then anyone can.

SPOILER: There is a bunch of non-property stuff in this article because I like to set a vision for all parts of my life. Those who like their businessy articles to only contain businessy things can enjoy the rest of our content here.

The Method

In 2018 I not only set some goals, I took extra steps to make them more than some vague ideas that I would forget about by February. First, I wrote those suckers down, then committed to a group of friends that I was going to all this stuff and then agreed to regularly meet with them to see how we were all doing on our various projects. This structure is known as a mastermind group and I highly recommend it. Coming from someone who hates planning and scheduling so having some people call me on my bullsh*t excuses with regularity is a plus.

I had five separate areas of focus:

  1. Health
  2. Family
  3. Wealth (investing)
  4. Work (iFindProperty)
  5. Learning, experiences & fun

Before looking ahead to 2019 I wanted to review what worked and didn't this past year. Sometimes you set a goal and achieve it easily, others you find are not actually motivating or useful so you change or drop them, some can be too hard or not realistic and (as you'll see below) life will always get in the way of the best laid plans. 

Not all goals are a single big target. My health goals for example were all habit-based, such as exercise 3 times a week and eating well every day. My investing goals were milestones however, namely complete a large redevelopment project of two flats in a single building and set myself up for the next deal (either buy a property or be positioned to).

Over time, I've found I have more success with a habit focus and this idea is starting to become more mainstream (side note: James Clear is a really good writer and you should check out his book as well as articles he has published on his website). 

My Year End Review Process

My process is pretty simple. I ask myself what did and didn't go well and why. I want to keep the positives and change the negatives in 2019.

What went well


Drink less alcohol - nailed it by simply not having any in the house. The idea of changing your environment is well documented and moving from a walk to the fridge to a trip to the shops (feeling like a schmuck all the way) made the difference. I think I had zero drinks at home without guests from late January (when I started) to October, after which I loosened up just a little. 

Calorie tracking - pretty easy because there's an app for that! Check out MyFitnessPal if this is something you'd like to change. I found this natural do when I was exercising and a lot harder once I got hurt and couldn't exercise effectively. 

Exercise - I did great until I came unstuck and tore up my shoulder... more on that later


Spend more time with my son. The little lad wound up doing some form of camping for about 40 nights this year, spread over several trips with me and some with an outfit that runs camps for kids. More than 10% of your year spent outdoors with no screens is a win.

Paradise for kids

Two trips away (not camping!). This is hard because my wife runs a music school so her weekends are busy, while my son is in a soccer team and they have a lot on. Anyway, we got it done. 


I had a BIG redevelopment project to do this year that probably deserves a full case study. There were various problems that blew out the timeline and budget, which can be summarized as "once we got started the house was in a lot worse condition than first thought". HOWEVER... job done, COC passed, tenants moving in, still a seriously profitable project (just less so) and it looks mint. Since it was my 3rd project, the income from the other two paid the mortgage on this one while it was empty.  

I also received resource consent to add an extension (converting from a pokey 4-bedroom / 1-bathroom with tiny kitchen to a 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom, new and open-plan kitchen) to another property I already owned. That project is in full swing and I expect it to wrap up in February.

That was my second crack at securing resource consent to upgrade the second property, an expensive exercise in itself, so it was a relief to get that done.


Like any business we had several things we wanted to improve on and one of our biggest was coverage. We've wanted to cover more of New Zealand for you guys for a long time and are excited to grow our team.

For us it's not just a case of getting "someone" to work with us in new areas, it's getting someone who shares our team values. I'm lucky that I enjoy such a great relationship with my business partner Maree, we both love what we do and the people we work with. 

Learning, Experiences and Fun

I completed my first decent climbing trek, with an 8 hr. 3 peak traverse in the summer. I had planned a 3-day adventure before my shoulder injury put that on hold. 

I spent a lot of time on camp trips with friends and my son. I love being outdoors and this year was a blast. 

I visited the NZPIF conference in Dunedin, which was great. I learned some new things, had fun checking Dunedin out for the first time since I was a student and just generally enjoyed being around like-minded people. I highly recommend joining your local property investor's association (PIA) and making the time to attend the meetings as well as the annual conference. Next year it will be in Rotorua and our very own Debbie Van Den Broek will be the driving force behind it as head of the Rotorua PIA. 

A learned a ton working through my 3rd major redevelopment project in as many years (lots of lessons!).

What didn't go well


I had wanted to get into Yoga but couldn't make it stick. Will try again in 2019.

Other than yoga it was all going so well until it wasn't. In July I felt some pain in my shoulder while exercising, it worsened in August and long story short I wound up under the knife in November to repair a torn rotator cuff AND a torn labrum, both had apparently been building up for some time. Double whammy. 

I found after the surgery, not being able to exercise made the other health stuff such as calorie counting harder too. Something to be mindful of next year once I'm out of the sling and back on track. 

Sleeping with this on is no fun


Positive mindset is one thing but that was a tough project. It went $100K over budget and took 4 months longer than scheduled, so long in fact that the next renovation started and I had two properties under development at the same time for about 6 weeks, which really stretched the budget. 

I probably won't be ready to buy again until March-April 2019, 6 months later than estimated. If that's my biggest problem then life is pretty good.


Dunedin Property Finder! We are still looking for you! Also Christchurch and Tauranga...

Learning, experiences and fun

I had planned to do a 3-day cycle trip that was derailed by my injury. 

I didn't read enough this year. Usually I read 30 or more books. This year I was probably 10.

I didn't really master a new skill. When I tried to get specific about this nothing jumped out at me. 

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2019 Goals

Reflecting on the past year help me get good perspective on what I was able to do and what I struggled with. There is no point in setting huge goals that you have no chance to achieve, only to fall behind so far behind by the end of the summer that you essentially flag it for the year. 

I use the SMART goal framework where it makes sense to, however I don't always know what to aim for, so sometimes I commit to "step 1", whatever that might be, and take things from there.


Very simple really - complete shoulder rehab and gradually work back to full strength and mobility. I will have another go at joining yoga! Keep the no drinks at home going and also get the calorie counting back up and running after a fun slack last few weeks.

SMART goals:

  1. Use MyFitnessPal every day for a whole year
  2. I will set a fitness plan but need to speak with my physio first, right now reaching around to my back pocket is a battle.
  3. Complete a 2-day cycling trip.


I am due to complete the second remodel in February. After that I will revalue and refinance everything to see what powder I have in the tank because I'm interested in taking on another development project of some description. What that is I just don't know yet. I am interested in several things and will spend the next two months thinking about this.

My "step 1" goal is to finish the current project by February. It is a student rental and I want to have it tenanted during the peak summer season.

I will also research small developments, such as getting a site and putting townhouses on it. That is something I've been interested in for a while but I have never really studied all that is involved.

That will be enough for a couple of months because....


We're moving! Some of you will know that my family is based in Japan where my wife runs a successful music school business. I spend a several months each year in New Zealand (and on airplanes) however it's time to get some kiwi into my son so in January we're relocating to the Bay of Plenty for a year.

My wife will borrow from my play book and travel to Japan regularly, so I expect to be a single dad for long stretches. My main focus (along with shoulder rehab) is to make this a great experience for them both and travel around as much of NZ as we can fit in.

Anyway, my (probably not very SMART) goal this summer is to move and get settled in with one working arm and a 7-year old "helper". I'll add that I need to fill a house in Rotorua with stuff so if you're in the area and have surplus stuff get in touch. 


I think being permanently based in the same town as Maree will give us a lot more scope to improve our service and help you guys as well as our team in new ways. My goal is simply to dedicate one day every week solely to improving our business and to see what comes of that.

SMART goal: One day a week working on improving the business. 

Learning, Experience and Fun

I will learn something new! Hah! Next year I am going to focus on video content creation. I did a course this year and enjoyed it and I think we could make some really good material. By end of 2019 the property course will be video-based with more comprehensive lessons. SMART goal: Produce 10 hours of quality video content.

Reading: 40 books in 2019. Lock it in.

Other than that, I plan to take our little family all over our beautiful country. I'll even put a SMART goal here: 8 trips away and 4 to places we've never been.

Putting it all together.... what would an awesome year look like in hindsight?

By the end of 2019... if we have had a great time in the BOP, my shoulder is healed and I'm enjoying exercise again, my lad has caught up on English and likes kiwi school, we've done a few trips away, I've landed another large property project or two to work through, I've made some kick-ass videos and we've continued to grow and improve iFindProperty then that will have been a pretty good 12 months! I'll shoot for that.


I try to create a vision for what I want all parts of my life to be like because I'm prone to let time pass otherwise. I hope this is helpful for you. If you'd like some help setting property investment goals of your own, you're welcome to email me and I'll do my best to give you some good ideas.

Nick Gentle
Business Owner & Operations Manager
027 358 3855

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