Annual Review 2021

A long-ish introduction

I have never made an annual review in my life. Tho I believe myself to be a conscientious and responsible person who is a fan of making lists and recording all sorts of metrics, I have yet to challenge myself on tracking solid goals systems.

I know precisely why this is. So much of my mindset has been shaped by the many years I have been sick and hospitalized. I always felt like I wasn’t going to be fit long enough to accomplish long term goals—so I didn’t make any.

However, this 2022, I’m turning 35 and I would like to at least have some parts of my life figured out. Like solidifying my identity based on the habits I do such as working out, writing for Public, and having a fasting-focused lifestyle.

One of the biggest help I am employing this year is a guidebook which I’ve had since its release in October 2019: Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’ve used the methods from the book a handful of times. But now that I’ve reread it, I want to make better systems and more consistent implementations.

Let’s dive into the review.

What went well this year?

Health. 2021 was a testament to the direct correlation between lifestyle and health. The results were obvious: living a fasting-focused lifestyle produced a certain weight and health results (normal blood tests). Working out consistently not only made my body stronger but added confidence when I needed to be fit for emergency situations where more was demanded of my body than normal. Falling out of track from this lifestyle also produced the opposite result—weight gain and poor blood test results (high LDL and triglycerides).

The whole family’s health was a lot better this year compared to the previous years. Mom was sick from the last quarter of 2020 until the first quarter of 2021, but during the next half of the year, she started improving especially after getting off tuberculosis meds. Dad lost a considerable amount of weight because he became more physically active as he was hands-on with our house renovations (more on this later).

Stress. Honestly, I’m am very grateful to end the year with a peaceful, happy feeling. 2021 had been turbulent, to say the least. We were decided to move to the province, we had one permit left to be approved when my parents decided to pull out. Apart from the huge adjustments we had to make with our lifestyle (i.e. trips to the hospital, cooking, grocery shopping, etc.), I was also worried about the relationships I would lose in Manila but that sorted itself out— who are meant to stay in my life stayed, those who are meant to pass by left or would leave regardless if I stayed or moved to the province.

Work. Work has been plentiful this year and that’s great compared to 2020. We started with a new insurance company and I’ve gotten more hands-on with that.

Relationships. I got new friends, friends of my best friend who became my friend, an old friend who became a closer brotherly friend. I think I also got better at letting things be, letting people go—although admittedly, there were a handful of difficult moments to get to that point. Relationship with work is as steady as always and I think I got to know my boss’s other family members who are working in their company better.

Home Renovations. Although both stressful and tiring, much has been accomplished with our home renovations. Initially, I felt that it was unnecessary and is a big hassle. But after the 6 months since we started, I feel that having a cleaner/more organized room made a huge difference in my headspace. I’m also looking forward to having more people come over once this pandemic is under control. I am hopeful that will happen. I’ve always felt like my home is a space where my friends can visit and be fed.

What didn’t go so well this year.

Working out. I had a consistent workout routine from December 2020 up until July 2021. July was when the home renovations started and my routine stopped. Unfortunately, working out with my coach proved too stressful on top of the home renovations. I also felt that what he was asking me to do was beyond the ability which my body can do. And the workout, being online, meant that I suffered and continue to do incorrect techniques, which was only corrected when I did a few sessions with a different one-on-one coach.

Creation. I created negligible amounts of video and writing alike. This is very unfortunate since these two things are activities that get me into the flow state. I have failed to double down on my strengths. There’s also the Podcast, which I have effectively abandoned. There was an issue of it being insensitive when there was a Covid surge happening in the country. Or maybe that was just an excuse.

Fasting. This is my most inconsistent year of fasting since I started the lifestyle. Again, the reason was the home renovations. The kitchen has been displaced, people need to be fed, which meant that my environment was a schedule of eating. Our carpenters were stay-in for a least three months and that meant breakfast-miryenda-lunch-miryenda-dinner on the clock. Aside from that, there was a period when I slept in my mom’s room and that meant I was exposed to her dinner routines. Previously, I would not join or see my parents after lunch, and that meant there were no temptation to eat. It goes to show that the environment has a huge effect on behaviour.

Spending. I think I have a problem. It’s not that I borrow money to spend or spend more than my means. It’s more that I still spend on things I don’t have to spend on, i.e. that time I got silicone menstrual cups but am still too uncomfortable to use them (TMI sorry), or paper products and other bits and bobs.

Distractions. This year, I got six new gadgets—three of them given to me unexpectedly by my family members. To balance this out, I’ve sold and given away so much of my stuff. I’ve sold most of my camera lenses and gear and I’m only left with my favourites. Bags, fountain pens, and many other things were sold or given away and no longer repurchased. The problem is that I’m still frequently distracted with my stuff, especially the tech gadgets (in particular, the Nintendo Switch which I intentionally had not gotten for myself knowing it’s a distraction but my brother had gifted me despite my protest).

I’ve yet mastered being the master of my things. Or really it’s that I have more than I can handle.

What am I working toward?

Habits = Identity. Solidifying my identity with the habits I do.

I told my best friend Isay that I always saw myself as a messy person and I was fine with it because I thrived regardless. Rereading Atomic Habits made me realize that this was an identity I clung to because it was easy (path of least resistance) but something I can still change. This year, I’m going to do my bed in the morning and clean up my workspace after I log off. I’ve started doing it already and realized, it doesn’t take much to it. Just a handful of consistent repetitions and it would eventually become automatic.

On health. I want to edit my environment so that I would choose to eat better by default. I’m going to stop buying two things: 1. Cheetos, 2. Cake/Cookies and many forms of processed carbohydrates. I’m going back to Fasting, and I’m going to be mindful of what I’m eating. Need a plan for this.

Workout. I’m going to have to show up consistently for at least three weeks before I start doing programs. STANDARDIZE before you OPTIMIZE. Again, I will have to write up a plan for this.

On work. I want to improve the systems we have at work. I haven’t done an in-depth review on the things we do well and things we can improve on. Although our weekly meeting has been great the whole of 2021 since we implemented the Rocks and Spreadsheet to track our tasks.

On creating. Creating is one of the most enjoyable and fruitful activities I do. I always get in the zone whenever I make videos, take and edit photos, and write. I really want to do more of that and I think I can.

On things. Less things. More curated stuff in my life. More intentional.

Here’s to a hopeful and bright 2022!

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