MJ.$ Year in Review and 37 Books

by Matt Jones, CPA

I decided to do a Year in Review instead of a New Year Resolution (which I don’t like making). My focus was on accomplishments, use of time vs. happiness, and books read. I did a financial Year in Review also and that will become several articles soon.


First on the list has to be becoming a dad (soon)! My son is due in early 2021 and he’s already made a huge impact on mine and my wife’s lives. So much excitement and planning has gone into his arrival. During a year full of ups and (mostly) downs, having our first child is a constant bright spot.

Launching this website has been an adventure in itself. Since February I’ve written 36 articles (below my goal of one article per week), expanded my network and been interviewed and presented a half dozen times. While it’s cost me several hundred dollars to build and maintain, it’s a fun hobby I hope to continue after my son is here and the chaos of life increases.

Adapting to remote work – we’re grateful to have jobs – was challenging, and making it work in our apartment was a win. Extra time with my wife is something I greatly appreciate and somehow we got along the whole time.

Calendar Review

I highly recommend reviewing your calendar from the prior twelve months as suggested here.

The process takes a few hours but it’s eye-opening. Go over your calendar and categorize meetings and events as having a positive or negative effect on you. The impact can be measured in terms of happiness, energy, health, finances, success or stress, etc.

The goal is simple: identify what to do more and what to do less in the coming year. For instance, many of our favorite evenings resulted from time with our siblings/cousins so we’re prioritizing more time with them in 2021.

The single most important moment of the year was my son’s ultrasound which, due to COVID-19, was the only medical appointment I could attend with my wife. This was a clear signal to me that I need to keep my family the number one priority in my life in 2021 and beyond.

Many of my meetings are for work, so I categorized all of them as adding to or subtracting from my progress and success professionally. I’m using this information to plan my days and weeks to achieve my sales goal.

Reviewing my time this way showed I’m better at balancing work and life than expected, enough so that I was interviewed about it by Engage! Cleveland on the subject. Having a supportive partner makes this simpler, along with working for a good company with great people.

This review process also identified things I want to do less of in 2021. There are events and commitments I need to cut back on. When you see just how much time and energy these take (by doing a review) the decision to decommit becomes easier. Saying no can be challenging, but having evidence and a good reason (“I need to prioritize my job, family, health, etc. right now”) makes it easier.


Reading is one of my favorite activities. 2020 was a good year for reading coming in at 37 books in the past 12 months. 1 Below is a list of the books I read/listened to by subject area, with my favorites bolded.

Thanks especially to those who made recommendations. I’d love to hear your recommendations as well. Please let me know if you’ve read any of the below and your thoughts in the comments.

You can find my recommended reading list here. I’m a big advocate of the Overdrive application to borrow free ebooks and audiobooks and used it for at least half of these books. **You can use the links below to see the books for sale on Amazon. You know the drill: if you use the links below Amazon might give me a small commission.**


Tim FerrissThe 4-Hour Workweek3rd time
Jim Paul and Brendan MoynihanWhat I Learned Losing a Million Dollars
Nassim Nicholas TalibAntifragile
Ray DalioPrinciples
Gary VaynerchukCrush It
Gary VaynerchukCrushing It
Peter DruckerThe Effective Executive
Mike IsaacSuper PumpedDid not finish
Eric RiesThe Lean StartupListened twice
Tien TzouSubscribedSteve Roesing Recommendedation
Shane SnowSmartcuts
Oliver BulloughMoneyland
Michael OvitzWho is Michael Ovitz?Leanne Zappia Recommendation
Richard KochThe 80/20 Principle
Ries and TroutThe 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
Verne HarnishScaling UpSteve Roesing Recommendation. Best business book I read this year by far


Frank HerbertDune
Frank HerbertDune Messiah
Frank HerbertChildren of Dune
Jonathan LethemMotherless BrooklynRecently adapted into a good movie

Growth and Improvement

Timothy KellerThe Reason for God
Jim MattisCall Sign ChaosZac Stanley Recommendation
Michael PollanHow to Change Your Mind
Greg McKeownEssentialism
Richard FeynmanSurely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!
Ibram X KendiHow to Be an AntiracistJune 2020 after riots
Angela DuckworthGritJoey Ellwood Recommendation
David EpsteinRange
Dale CarnegieHow to Win Friends and Influence PeopleRead for the 10th+ time
Ryan HolidayThe Obstacle is the WayRead again and gifted several times


Miller and PerkinsDad’s Guide to PregnancyHelpful
Thomas HillWhat to Expect When Your Wife is ExpandingFunny Gift

Personal Finance

Grant SabatierFinancial Freedom
Thomas J. StanleyThe Millionaire Next DoorReread
Dave RamseyThe Total Money Makeover
JL CollinsThe Simple Path to WealthExcellent, gifted several times
Cary SiegelWhy Didn’t They Teach Me This in School

That’s my year in review. I’d love to hear about yours!

1 comment

Ryan Mayer January 5, 2021 - 10:54 am

Mr. Jones – congrats on 37 books read, that is impressive!

My fave on the whole list is How to Win Friends and Influence People. I keep a copy right next to my desk. There were several others on the list that I’ve also read, and am excited to chat with you about them more in-depth.

In the meantime, keep up the great work – you never know who you might be inspiring!


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