3 min read

2016 Annual Review

Periodic reflections on your life status are enlightening and can help clarify goals for the future. Here's an overview of how my 2016 went.

In public I reflect on my yearly goals and analyze my year through that lens. Privately I conduct a more thorough analysis for myself using Alex Vermeer's Guide. I highly recommend you carve out time to do the same.

2016 Goals

  • Learn Cantonese to basic conversational level before traveling to Hong Kong
  • Qualify for the American Open (Weightlifting)
  • Move up to 69kg weight class while <15% BF
  • Setup daily photography practice
  • Get rid of one thing a day
  • Read 12 books


  • Barely know basic Cantonese Phrases
  • Did not qualify for the American Open
  • Now weigh 76kg with too much bodyfat


Make sure you have a system.A flurry of events meant that my regular weightlifting training schedule fell apart. I can make excuses all day but it all comes down to a lack of a system. Before, I could lean on my coaches and teammates to keep me in check; this year I program-hopped, went on breaks, and never stuck to a real training schedule. I dirty-bulked to 69kg and then continued to eat poorly all the way to 76kg. If I had setup a plan and a system, none of this would have happened.

With no systems in place, my weightlifting progress went no where this year. Pound-for-pound I'm actually weaker. Things are looking up though; for the past month I've been training 3 days a week and I've been steadily reducing my sugar intake.

Make sure you have a stick. I had a system in place to learn Cantonese, but no consequence for failure. While I was diligent with audio podcasts during my commute, I didn't implement the other forms of study necessary for speaking. I figured a planned trip to Hong Kong would be enough of a motivator, but in the back of my head I knew I could lean on my girlfriend's Cantonese. The result: I can blab random phrases about the weather or liking ice cream, but can't hold a real conversation.

Cantonese is on hold for now. Next time I pick it up I'll set up a good stick.

I'll be experimenting with Beeminder and stickK in 2017. These tools are progress trackers that also take your money if you don't keep up. You can even set up stickK to donate to your least favorite charity. Yikes!


  • Posted 152 photos to my #53at53 project
  • Pared down my things. Mid-year I reached a point where I felt I didn't have excess.
  • Read 27 books out of my goal of 12

Having a daily publish schedule for my photography really forced me to get out and practice. Implementing minimalism in my life removed a lot of unnecessary clutter and stress. And reading always will have one of the best ROI's of any activity--gaining someone's best insights for $9.99 and a few hours is a helluva steal.

Other Positives

  • Did a lot of learning from books, podcasts, blogs - I now have a better set of heuristics for behavioral psychology, business, habit-forming, Stoicism, Weightlifting, and more.
  • Completed Andrew Ng's Machine Learning Course
  • Fun trips - Hong Kong
  • Fun concerts - Porter Robinson & Madeon's Shelter tour was wonderful
  • Better relationship with my phone - I check it less often and don't feel the need to fill downtime with it.
  • Rekindled friendships and made some new ones

On failure

It's important to fail often. One should aim to fail sometimes otherwise there probably isn't any growth. But a 50% failure rate on major year goals is too high. ~20% is probably ideal*. A better ideal: fail a lot on the way to accomplishing 100% of your major goals.

What's next?

I did a lot of learning this year but didn't turn much of that knowledge into practice.

My theme for 2017 will be 'Take Action'. I plan to focus on doing much more than learning.

Thank you all for reading my little blog this year. Here's to a great 2017!

*The idea of a planned failure rate is from Charles Chu

How was your 2016? I'm always interested in seeing my reader's progress, so let me know.