8 min read

My Annual Review (2022): The Year We Moved to Puerto Rico

2022 was an incredible year, filled with hard work and hard-to-believe adventures.

As long as I can remember, Tennessee was home.

That’s where I got hair on my chest, peed my pants at a Halo party, and married my best friend. It’s where I bought my first house, built my first three businesses, and buried my dad.

In October, we sold that first house along with two of the businesses, packed our bags (and kids) in a plane, and moved 1,720 miles from Columbia, Tennessee to San Germán, Puerto Rico.

When people ask why we moved, it’s hard to give a short answer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love telling people that “my wife and I own property on a small island in the Caribbean” because it sounds so fancy 🤌

Truthfully, we felt spiritually called to redefine our kinda rich and rebuild a life to match it.

For the first time, we took advantage of our entrepreneurial freedom to live anywhere. We get to introduce our kids to a new culture and language while they’re young! It helps that both my wife and I are fully bilingual with college degrees in Spanish.

2022 was an incredible year, filled with hard work and hard-to-believe adventures.

Annual Reviews - John Meese 🤓 Thrive School
Every year I publish an Annual Review to evaluate a snapshot of my health, wealth, and relationships publicly. I hope you find this useful like I do!

☀️ Health: What Went Well 😁

Since moving to Puerto Rico, I have far more energy each day!

My wife noticed the same change in herself, and I think it has a lot to do with the daily dose of sunshine and the constant fresh air (we never close our windows, day or night).

Despite a packed year with new challenges month-after-month, I managed my stress fairly well with daily prayer plus The Daily Stoic.

I also started The Happy Body, a daily diet & exercise routine that fits the mold of what I was looking for. Created by olympian athletes, The Happy Body is simple to start, sustain, and scale towards peak physical health!

☀️ Health: What Did Not Go Well 😢

I came dangerously close to burnout or breakdown mid-year.

I overworked myself and I wasn’t sleeping or sweating enough. I ate whatever was in front of me, without a thought about what I was putting into my body.

After last year’s injury, I still have not rebuilt the habit of regular Jiu-Jitsu training and I hit my max weight to date of 222 pounds.

Even worse, my back pain became intolerable and then I developed carpal tunnel syndrome too.

☀️ Health: What I’m Doing Next 😎

  1. More Happy Body. I started The Happy Body at level 1 in the fall, and I plan to keep leveling up gradually to lose fat, gain muscle, and improve my overall strength. When I do this daily, I feel strong and my back doesn't hurt.
  2. Eat Happy Body. Besides the daily workouts, The Happy Body includes a nutrition plan which will reduce inflammation while helping me gain muscle and lose fat. It is time to start that, to complete the full body program and improve my overall health.
  3. Train Jiu-Jitsu. One of the top three Jiu-Jitsu trainers in Puerto Rico owns a gym ten minutes from my house! I just went to my first class, and signed my boys and I up to go twice per week.

💰 Wealth: What Went Well 😁

2022 gave me wonderfully weird wealth, because I had three separate six figure years 🤯

Let me explain:

  • Cowork Inc earned $116,033.14 before I sold the company for $172,800 in September.
  • NotablePress earned $21,916.24 before I sold the company for $80,000 in October.
  • Thrive School earned $129,804.72 while I transitioned to products from services.

In each case, I am 100% responsible for sales (including both acquisitions) which means that I earned $520,554.10 in 2022 🤑

To be clear, I did not personally earn half a million dollars last year.

Most of that money went towards operating expenses plus paying off business partners and outstanding debt when I sold each business. I’m still waiting on the tax bill, too.

Still, my wife and I maxed out our Roth IRAs, opened stock accounts for our kids, and paid off all personal debt for the third time in our 9 years of marriage.

Better yet, I freed myself from two businesses which had distracted me from my core business as an author and coach.

Within Thrive School, I launched a group coaching program and membership site which allowed me to eliminate 1-on-1 client work completely!

I woke up on new year’s day with $120,744 in Annual Recurring Revenue.

💰 Wealth: What Did Not Go Well 😢

  1. I overspent on payroll all year with a mix of contractors and employees in each company. I love working with people, but I was disappointed by the resulting impact on profit. Ultimately, I let almost everyone go (and scaled back the rest).
  2. I overspent on expensive coaching programs without clear ROI. I still want to keep learning and growing, but last year I spent more than $20,000 on coaching programs with big promises that didn’t come true.
  3. I ended my advisorship roles after a year of supporting four different companies led to zero results. I am uncomfortable leaving my income up to other entrepreneurs, so gave back my equity and royalty rights.
  4. Moving to Puerto Rico cost much more than I expected both in terms of reduced revenue and relocation costs. The biggest surprise was we had to increase our mortgage down payment from 5% to 20% with 5 days notice!
  5. For all the reasons above, my wife and I sold off most of our investments and still racked up $62,514.45 in unsecured debt very quickly. That’s a heavy weight on the new year, which puts a serious damper on our wealth wins.

💰  Wealth: What I’m Doing Next 😎

I’m building wealth by building my core business, Thrive School—primarily through my Seven Figure School Accelerator and Thrive School PRO.

I am working on books that will generate some royalty revenue, but those are primarily designed to help me acquire new customers and sell other products.

Now that our biggest relocation expenses are behind us (and we own 20% of our house), I plan to hyperfocus on paying off debt. We already paid off $10K in January!

Once we’ve paid off our debts, I plan to maximize my Solo 401(K) with Ocho and continue using Qube Money to manage our personal finances.

A big perk of moving to Puerto Rico is that we will pay very little in taxes (2% - 4% of profit) so I plan to spend the next few years in wealth building mode to maximize that perk.

❤️ Relationships: What Went Well 😁

I'm grateful to be married to my best friend, and together we have created my other best friends who are with us on this grand adventure in Puerto Rico.

In my last annual review, I called 2021 “the sexiest year of my life, so far” so you may not be surprised to learn that we are expecting another baby this April. We can’t wait to meet him!

Before moving to Puerto Rico, Rachel turned down a high-paying job to commit to homeschooling and family life full time. We didn't know it, but that later made our relocation to Puerto Rico possible!

I also managed to travel more this year than the last five years combined:

🕺 I went to my friend Mike Kim’s conference in Denver, CO and stayed with my brother in April.

🏝️ I surprised my sister Mary with a trip to Puerto Rico for her 16th birthday in May! That was my first time on the island, and doubled as a secret scouting trip (obviously successful).

🐬 As soon as I got home from Puerto Rico, my wife and I loaded the kids in the van and drove south to Dauphin Island, AL for a family vacation.

✈️  In June, I flew to Boise, ID for a VIP mastermind meetup hosted by ConvertKit and then straight to Hartford, CT to meet up with my wife for her birthday at her best friend’s wedding celebration! We rented a convertible Mustang make it extra fun.

🏝️ In July, I took Rachel to Puerto Rico for the first time. We bought a 5-passenger car and then two days later found out we were pregnant—so later we had to buy another car 🤪

🏝️ In August, I took my sister Rebekah to Puerto Rico with my oldest son Damien to try and buy a house. The house hunt didn’t work out, but my sister met a Puerto Rican boy and they’re pretty serious about each other, six months later—so it was a fruitful trip!

🧱 On our one-way trip to Puerto Rico in October, we spent a one week layover living at LEGOLAND! That’s our second year at LEGOLAND, we’re officially a LEGO family now 🤓

🏝️ We moved to Puerto Rico. Did I mention that?

🎄 My mom and sisters came to visit us in Puerto Rico for Christmas, and we all had an incredible time exploring the island we now call home.

📹  We started a family vlog called Meese Amores to share our adventures!

☦️  We bought a house across the lawn from a beautiful Church community, and we have been welcomed into the friendship and family of the Misión Ortodoxa San Juan Clímaco completely.

❤️ Relationships: What Did Not Go Well 😢

  1. Despite the loving send-off, it was hard to leave countless friends behind after three decades in Tennessee. When we first moved to Puerto Rico, we were lonely.
  2. I hired good friends as employees and contractors this year, which was fun at first—but when we missed revenue goals or project deadlines, it felt personal.
  3. I did not spend much time with friends outside of work, and I spent no time on hobbies other than the occasional video game.

❤️ Relationships: What I’m Doing Next 😎

This year, we want to develop more screen-free hobbies as a family!

We all love building LEGO sets, and for Christmas we got our boys their own musical instruments and also brought my ukulele and Rachel's guitar from Tennessee.

We’ve started a Sunday tradition of going to the beach after Church, and inviting anyone who wants to come. I hope that will create a rhythm of adventurous play and also help us build deep relationships in our Church community, too.

January has already been a rich, rewarding month of life in Puerto Rico, and I'm excited for the coming year of new life (both figuratively and literally).

I wrote this annual review primarily for my own benefit, but I always appreciate the kind notes I get from people who read my annual reviews and find them inspiring or useful.

I’ve built up quite a collection, so if you enjoyed this annual review please read my previous annual reviews to get the full story. Keep up the good work!

Annual Reviews - John Meese 🤓 Thrive School
Every year I publish an Annual Review to evaluate a snapshot of my health, wealth, and relationships publicly. I hope you find this useful like I do!