The goal behind this and future review posts is to put my work out there, build in public, share my learnings, failures, and wins with all my readers. As a creator, a writer, and a generalist, I hope to relate with others who are in a similar situation.
🔎 Looking back and reflecting on your past self is an amazing opportunity to:
Quickly find areas you can improve.
Prioritize things important to you.
Discard things that don’t vibe with you.
And, introduce new habits to level up in the coming year.
At the end of this post, I’ll also share links to the 3 templates I used (and highly recommend) to do an annual review.
In order to make this review as concise as possible, I’ll start with different themes of my life.
1. Health & Fitness
In 2021, I had a goal to lose weight in part so that I could keep travelling and be in great shape for long treks. So I bought a 6-month membership to a gym. However, I couldn't keep up with it and stopped going after about a month.
Having other pressing priorities during the first half of 2021 didn't help either. As a result, health and fitness took a backseat.
Around June - July, I was in a position where I could take better care of my diet and prioritize my physical health. This time, I fully realized I am too lazy to hit the gym. However, I enjoy walking in parks and I never really took it seriously. Also, I find it very motivating when someone is with me. So I began taking walks with my mom in the evenings in the nearby park. There's an outdoor gym, lots of greenery, and you can even enjoy bird watching if you visit the park before the sun sets.
Taking these walks with my mom helped me improve our relationship. We were able to spend some quality time together.
However, after a month, I wasn't able to keep up with my work schedule, so I dropped it. I realized I needed to plan my day better to avoid feeling demotivated by the time it is 4.30 PM.
In spite of that, I continued my Keto diet and lost 13 kilos by the end of 2021. 🙌🏻
I haven’t done much physical activity at home. Because I love to cook, it was easy for me to follow the Keto diet and experiment with new recipes. When I cook, I am more mindful of what I consume.
The key to maintaining a healthy diet is to make your food interesting!🥗🍕❤️
In terms of my health this year, I'd give it an 8 out of 10. I’m pretty happy with the changes I made after a half-yearly review on July 1st.
2. Work & Side Projects
I left my job as a Junior Data Scientist in March of 2021. I didn't have a plan other than "finding work that wouldn't burn me out". I also realized that I wasn't getting paid enough and my work wasn't nearly as challenging.
The only source of income was from my newsletter and it was not more than $150-$200/mo.
I talk about No-Code and Low-Code with Santosh on YouTube Live (also my first appearance on YouTube).
However, I was unable to complete several projects I had planned at the beginning of 2021. After creating a Newsletter Checklist for a talk I presented at HelloMeets, I promised to my readers and to myself to release a Newsletter Guide. I couldn’t prioritize it due to my day job which took a huge chunk of my energy and time.
As Growth Marketer at Swapstack, I learned a lot about newsletters and now I am better prepared to create the newsletter guide I was planning.
I’m also creating a running list of no-code projects I’d like to ship in 2022. The plan is to ship them quickly and learn to use tools such as Bubble and Webflow.
It was a mini roller coaster ride when it comes to my work and side projects. I enjoyed exploring my interests and trying to find my ikigai. Overall, I would rate 8 out of 10 for this part of my life.
If you’re unhappy with your job, this is your gentle reminder that you need to give yourself permission to explore things you like. You would be surprised at what you could accomplish if you put your 100% into something you love. 🙂
3. Friends & Community
It has been a great start to 2021 when it comes to joining online communities and making friends. I was an active member of Newsletter Crew’s Discord community but then I gradually became inactive.
My journey as a creator led me to become more active on Twitter by building in public. Twitter gives me the added advantage of reaching more people while also providing value for my readers.
In the last quarter of 2021, I met Anangsha, one of my team members at Swapstack. She’s amazing! ❤️
I joined Ness Labs in August but couldn’t keep up with it. In 2022, one of my goals is to be more active in Ness Labs and connect with book lovers, newsletter writers, digital nomads, and travellers. ❤️
Although I’m glad for the connections I made and the support I received from my newsletter readers, I wish to be more present and give back to the community. Overall, I’d rate 3 out of 10 for my efforts at trying to be active in communities.
4. Personal Life & Family
Thanks to my half-yearly review, I quickly learned I wasn't spending enough quality time with my mom. I planned our evening walks so that we could have some time together and bond over common interests.
One of the things I wish I hadn't done was have fights with people I am close to. However, I made significant progress when it came to conversing with them again after a huge fight.
I’d rate 8 out of 10 for my efforts when it comes to building and rebuilding relationships with people in my personal life. ❤️
5. Learning & Knowledge
2021 was all about learning by doing.
Few things I explored:
SEO optimized blog writing
I’m also pursuing my second Bachelors in Data Science from IIT Madras. I realized that the best way to learn is by experimenting, tinkering, and building in public. You can explore my projects page to see how I put those skills into action.
I wish to be more prolific when it comes to learning and shipping something in 2022.
6. Mental Health & Spirituality
In the first quarter of 2021, I was burned out.
That’s when I decided to give myself permission to pursue my interests. That decision impacted my life for the rest of the year. My newsletter grew to more than 1000 subscribers, I built strong relationships, I shipped small projects, and I eventually landed a job that I'm proud of doing every day.
That single decision to explore my interests changed my outlook on life. I was relatively stress-free for the second half of 2021.
However, I questioned many things. I think it's my brain trying to put me in constant "stress" mode when everything is going well in my life. This led to an existential crisis. It also led to a lot of fights with my friends. I am not sure what caused those fights. Was it me? Or was it them?
This year, I want to prioritize my mental health above everything else by seeking professional help.
Understanding how my mental health impacts my work and personal life is important to me. In order to improve my productivity, I intend to take better care of my mental health. I also want to learn how I can regulate my emotions so I can handle the situation better when something goes wrong.
If I’m being honest, I’d only give 4 out of 10 when it comes to my mental health. It wasn't too bad, but there's still a lot of room for improvement.
7. Travel & Culture
Last year during this time, I was just getting back to Hyderabad from Goa.
Unfortunately, I was unable to travel in India due to the second wave of COVID. I cancelled one of my April trips.
This year, I’m planning to visit Delhi and Raithal in February. I cannot wait to start my temporary digital nomad life. 😁
8. Hobbies & Creativity
2021 was the year when I started doodling. Procreate is an amazing app if you’re looking to start digital art or illustrations.
I plan to continue with illustrations. Especially for the blog posts I intend to write.
My newsletter started as a hobby in 2020 but it eventually became one of my side-hustles.
I didn’t read a lot of books in 2021 but picked up quite a few and finished them in December.
As 2021 drew to a close, I developed a few habits I had been ignoring for the entire year. Book reading and Morning Pages are definitely among them.
I’m also keen to re-start bullet journaling in 2022. Thanks to Vensy for gifting me with a beautiful bullet journal. ❤️
9. Money & Finances
This year, I reached a financial goal that I didn’t even plan to reach. Now, I earn anywhere between $3k to $4k per month as a creator, growth marketer, no-code web designer, and content writer.
By the end of 2022, I hope to earn at least twice as much as I do now, for at least 2 months. That may seem ambitious, but I have a plan. Follow my build in public journey on Twitter if you’re curious about this plan.
I also started learning a bit about mutual funds, the stock market, and crypto. I was never really interested in these topics, but ever since I started my journey as a creator, I've been more than eager to explore areas I had never ever touched because they were considered "too risky".
While scrolling through my Morning Pages from the beginning of 2021 yesterday, I found a line that says, "I feel confident that I'll buy a new house soon".
At the time I wrote it and when I only had one source of income, I did not realize the weight of that sentence. In fact, I did not know how expensive owning a house was. By the end of 2021, I began researching more about investing in real estate. To me, buying a new home is a project and an experience one must go through at least once in their adult life.
I plan to continue working on my side projects, work with clients I resonate with, and give my 100% to Swapstack so I can help newsletter creators.
I have also started a Finance Tracker (I'll soon release a Notion Template for it) to keep tabs on my spending. While it didn't help me to cut down my expenses, it helped me redirect my spending towards the right kind of things. As an example, I cut my junk food expenses and invested that money into more healthy (also expensive) groceries so I could cook good food at home.
One of the best things I did at the end of 2021 was to pledge to donate 50% of my Buy Me Coffee earnings or any kind of support I receive from my readers to Charitism.com.
Hopefully, I can increase this to 75% by end of 2022.
My happiness level with money and finances is 10 out of 10. 🙂
Annual Life Audit
Wondering why I was scoring myself in every category of life? Here’s why 👇🏻
As you can clearly see, there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to Community, Mental Health, Lifestyle, and Spirituality.
Tweet daily (need not be threads) and publish at least one blog post every month.
Be consistent with evening walks (or any kind of physical activity really).
Improve my mental health and seek professional help. Book at least 1 appointment per month with my therapist.
Once I completed my annual review, I was surprised to discover that "earning more money" was not among my top 3 goals. Eventually, I realized these three goals would positively impact my life and help me to achieve the other goals I had planned for 2022.
I’m also looking forward to sharing my learnings as a creator and income reports every month. I tend to not make any strong commitments because I scare myself easily.
Ready to do an Annual Review?
The following templates will help you reflect, grow, and plan for 2022:
Personal Annual Review Workbook by Vensy Krishna. I used this template for both my half-yearly review and annual review. One of the things I love about using the Annual Review Workbook is that it’s neatly sectioned as ‘Reflect, Grow, and Plan’. I especially love the ‘Plan’ section. You can re-use it for the rest of the year and plan to reach your goals! 🙌🏻
Year in Review Google Slides template by Anne-Laure Le Cunff. This is a simple template that lets you reflect on what went well, what didn’t go well, and what will you focus on next year.
Annual Review Template by Todoist. If you love Todoist or want to review your year with the help of an app and prompts, choose this one! Fadeke Adegbuyi did an excellent job in explaining how you should do an annual review and what you need for it.