On my journey to keep a public journal about annual goals and reflections, this article highlights my year in review. I base it on this guidebook—it's a great place to start if you want to hold yourself accountable and maintain a running record of accomplishments, memories, failures, and growth throughout life. I started the process for a few reasons:
- Hold myself responsible for declarations I made at the start of the year.
- The value in looking back when directing the future—investigating why and how goals were accomplished or not.
- Nostalgia—owning a binder full of annual reflections 20 years from now sounds pretty cool.
Here is my annual reflection for 2021/22. I always start by looking back at the year passed; then, share some commitments for the future.
Describe a Theme for 2021 (in one run-on sentence)
A year of degrading discipline and mindfulness due to various factors, BUT lots of growth in relationships and finance and a ton of education about the world of money.
Peak Accomplishments and Habits in 2021
- Saving and taking my investments into my own hands: At the end of 2020, my savings account was pretty menial, and everything I kept went into a professionally managed mutual fund with a year-over-year return of less than 6%. I ended 2020 with a spark of interest in crypto, and in 2021, that spark became a roaring fire. The journey of learning about investing in crypto led to learning more about investments in general, and since then, I've taken all of my savings into my own hands. Investing is now my primary hobby, and my net worth has quadrupled. These are not results I expect every year, but it's a powerful lesson to see how much I left on the table by paying "professionals" to manage my money. Although it's more time-consuming, it's empowering to invest in things I genuinely like and believe in. Finally, I've realized a natural desire to learn about finance and a passion for helping others discover the same thing I did—investing is not as scary as financial advisors would have you think. Many of their strategies are outdated in today's landscape, translating to inadequate portfolio performance.
- Writing 24 articles and 7 book summaries: My primary goal for 2021 was to improve my writing. Although I have a long way to go, I believe I accomplished this and then some. I hired a writing coach, published 30 articles, 52 weekly newsletter journals, wrote a 5,000-word mini guidebook, and 7 (goal was 10) book summaries. 2021 is just the beginning, 2022 I'll continue it, but I'm happy I stuck with writing. It wasn't always easy to sit down and stare at a blank page until ideas flowed, but it felt fantastic after having written something.
- Closing GoStrive: Last year GoStrive was one of my accomplishments, and it started solid this year selling multiple products on Etsy and GoStrive.co (now closed), but I realized something near the end of this year. Selling physical products costs more time and energy than the profit received. Profit is negligible unless you can produce and sell at scale. My primary focus was writing, so marketing and overseeing a physical e-commerce brand split my attention and reduced results on both.
- Meeting my Niece: 2021 was a big year for our family because, after many trials, my sister and husband successfully adopted Arya and brought her into our family. Due to COVID, it wasn't easy to travel and visit them at first, but once it happened, it was so clear Arya found the perfect fit, and as a family, we're blessed and grateful to have her.
Some Areas to Improve On...
- Gratitude: I've been starring at the grass on the other side of the lawn too much recently, and I can feel it negatively affecting my mental state. Simply put, I have an incredible family and life. There is so much to be grateful for, and I can do myself a service by bringing my attention to the have's rather than the don't have's.
- A Service Mentality: My sister taught me an incredible lesson this year. I told her about some anxiety I regularly experience about my future and career progress. She told me that she, too, feels anxiety, but when she does, it's a result of her perspective being too self-serving. What am I getting out of the world, how is my outer world seeing me, or what can it offer me? The anxiety dissipates if she shifts focus to providing for the world and serving those around her. Suddenly, minor actions become the antidote. It taught me that most of my desires sprout from the outside in, instead of inside out—what do I want the outer world to see when it sees me (status, money, lifestyle, family) instead of how best can I serve my community or family. The former, on how the world sees me, is a bottomless pit filled with anxiety and desire. As soon as I succeed, the achievement will be replaced by higher ambitions, and new sources of anxiety will emerge. Only when I shift my focus to serving my relationship, community, or family will the circumstances feel within my control, and then actions become sufficient and fulfilling.
- Narrowing focus: Last year, the first bullet was to eliminate distractions. I can say I was successful in this category only to a small extent. I learned throughout 2021 that what I thought was eliminating distractions still wasn't enough. It wasn't singular, and it needed to be. This year, I can improve my rate of progress by continuing to narrow focus and eliminate distractions.
- Optimizing for high-energy timeframes: Late-night work sessions just aren't cutting it. It's becoming more challenging to work after work when energy is low, and my body is in wind-down mode. I'm most productive in the morning, so I should be working on the important stuff then. Last year I had a good habit of waking up early, but at some point, I lost it. One of the highest value habits I can start this year is waking up early.
- Audience growth: I succeeded in consistently writing in 2021, but I failed to use that content to generate a larger audience. I missed my audience growth targets in a big way in 2021 and completely lost focus on the actions that would have provided growth. It's disappointing because a big motivation to write is sharing ideas with others, but it seems all for not if nobody is reading the work. If I narrow my focus this year and eliminate distracting factors (e-commerce and the writing that's not producing growth), I see the results being much better in 2022.
Describe Theme I want 2022 to Represent
The year of becoming a sound source of financial and investment advice online. A year of growth in my relationships, income stream, and audience.
Habits, Goals, and Skills to Develop in 2022
- Writing: This was number one last year, and I've seen the benefits it's had to my thinking and the opportunities it can provide for my career. My goal in 2022 is to strengthen the writing skillset through continued practice and several publishing goals:
I) Publish 24 articles.
II) Write at least 10 book or podcast summaries.
III) Write and release another short-form helpful guide.
IV) Complete a one-month writing challenge.
V)Take a course or hire an editor or coach.
VI) Tweet consistently.
2. Grow my audience: Same as last year. My goals that align with this:
I) The above writing objectives.
II) Invest in advertising & growth.
3. Investing: This has been a source of much success in 2021. I've also discovered a passion for it; I already enjoy digging into companies (I'm an accountant by trade), and investing is an exciting extension of that. I'll double down on investing by:
I) Continuing to learn fundamentals and technical analysis of trading both equities and crypto-assets.
II) Taking a course in both (fundamental investing & technical analysis).
III) Write about my learnings.
IV) Practice with my own capital and paper funds (fake).
4. Breathing: Another one from last year. Proper breathing leads to numerous advantages in performance and overall health. It's a slight adjustment but a critical one. The goals I have around this is:
I) Take a breathing course.
II) Complete a 1-month breathing exercise challenge.
5. Yoga/Stretching: I injured my back in May and have not fully recovered. The injury shocked me with the realization that I can no longer get away with reckless fitness training. I have to take full-body movement, health, and recovery seriously. I've started this by including stretching and yoga into my workouts but I'd like to double down on the effort in 2022 to get back into a healthy state. I'll do this by:
I) Including a yoga flow in workouts 3 times per week.
II) Completing a 30-day yoga challenge.
III) Emphasize callisthenic (bodyweight) exercises and flow yoga into my exercise routine.
Well, that's it. Another year came and gone, seemingly at light speed. Here's to your continued growth in yours and a healthy year for those we love.