Why Am I Writing This?
It’s that time of year again. I actually really enjoy doing these retrospectives. I’ve been preparing for this post all year since writing my 2016 review post the same time last year. Since then, I’ve been taking notes on the lessons I’ve learned along the way in order to revisit these insights at the end of the year.
My goal is to have an archive of the lessons learned each year so I can look back on all of the accumulated knowledge throughout the years.
This will also be a great resource when I start drafting the book I’m going to write. One of my end goals would be to take this knowledge and examples and compile them into a work that captures all of my “lessons learned”.
My first book will probably be part autobiography/memoir, part collection of powerful life lessons that my readers can learn from, apply, and get tremendous value from.
Overall, this year has been such a blessing. So many new chapters in my life, new adventures, lots of expected and unexpected changes, challenges that helped me grow, and new friendships.
2017 has been so amazing, which is primarily why I’m excited to write this post.
Again, I’ll be using the B.A.G. format for this post, which stands for:
- Blessings: what I’m grateful for and memorable moments
- Achievements: what I’ve accomplished
- Goals: revisiting last year’s goals and making new goals for this next year
Lastly, I’ll wrap up this post with my themes & lessons from 2017.
What I’m Grateful For:
As always, I’m extremely grateful for my family. They are the rock and foundation that made me who I am today. I know it sounds a bit cliche, but I would be amiss to not be grateful for their impact on my life. I visited them only a handful of times this year, but each time is always treasured time.
I’m grateful to be able to spend time with my baby brother Daniel and watch him grow up into such an energetic, passionate, and fun little kid who can’t stop dancing, loves to play, is super loud and full of life, and is developing such a kind heart. I’m also grateful that he loves playing video games with me (mostly letting me play because he wants me to beat it for him), and he acts silly with my sister and I.
Thankful for my parents. My mom for being one of my biggest role models for compassion, generosity, grace, and empathy. Literally my angel. Loves her children more than anything and constantly demonstrates immeasurable strength and resilience. My dad for also being one of my biggest role models. He constantly shows the virtue of having high standards, striving to be the best, and constantly improving and reinventing yourself. He has unending generosity, the ability to be liked by everyone, and make everyone laugh. My stepmom for being the epitome of compassion as well, she just oozes out love and grace. I’m blessed to have two great moms that pour their love into their children.
Grateful for my little brother Jacob. Even though he’s becoming a “too cool pre-teen”, all of the photos of us three (me, jacob, and my sister) keep popping up on Facebook from 5-6 years ago when he was younger. I’m grateful that he’s a hard worker, a team player, caring, and makes us super proud.
Appreciative of my older sister who always hosts me when I visit the bay area, and always driving me around. Most importantly, for having the same sense of humor as me so that we’re always laughing about something stupid that only we find funny xD.
Thankful for my coworkers, who always make coming to work super fun. For several months now, it has become a tradition to play board/card games like Monopoly Deal, Antidote, Coup, Resistance, Secret Hitler, and various other games at lunch. Since we started this, we’ve definitely become closer as a team and have more fun at work, which I believe increased our communication and productivity levels. Even our bosses/supervisors join in with us, which is awesome. Our lunchtime games can get super “spicy” and I frequently find myself dying of laughter as we manipulate, deceive, and playfully yell at each other x).
We’ve also been getting in the habit of working out together (now that a handful of us have Planet Fitness gym memberships). I’m grateful that we get to do fun things together as well as get healthier together. But also eat a ton of diabetes together at work.
Also grateful in general that work is such a fun place to be, thanks to our directors and everyone for contributing to our work culture.
Grateful for Diana, my other half and partner in crime. Living together this past year has been awesome as we learn to manage our living space together, adapt to each other’s schedules, and go together to almost every outing we have. We’ve traveled outside of the country twice (Mexico and Japan) and it was a blast both times. I’d say we travel well together, which I think is a characteristic of good compatibility, haha.
I tell her this all the time, but she’s usually the best part of my day when I come home from work. We tease and bug each other all the time just because we can, and that’s another hallmark of our relationship.
Appreciative for my housemates as they’re literally the best housemates I could have ever asked for. Not only are they very considerate and clean, they’re also some of the nicest people ever. I’ve especially enjoyed the times we went out to KBBQ and AYCE sushi together for their first time.
So blessed for my career as is, to be able to move to my current company, work with a great team, develop myself as a leader, and head in a great direction that I’m excited about. I’m also grateful that my company encourages and supports my personal career development as I went to my first company-sponsored training last month.
Thankful for my finances, which used to scare me back in the day. I never knew where my money went and was scared I would end up broke one day. Now, however, truly feel like I have a good handle on my finances from top to bottom. After learning how to automate my finances and investments, as well as tracking everything in my Mint app, I was able to review my finances over the past year. I found out that I did way better than I thought with my savings, investments, and overall income vs expenses.
Lastly, I’m extremely grateful for my faith and constantly growing it. I’ve learned that faith is something to constantly be strengthened through daily discipline and interaction with God. After the last couple years of incorporating my daily prayer into my routine, I can tell that my faith has come a long way from what it was before. I’ve also learned that faith replaces fear. Therefore, the more faith you have, the less fearful you’ll be. And the less fear you have, the less stress you’ll have. Constantly strengthening my faith is a life-long, ongoing process.
- Went to the Grand Canyon for the first time (Janurary)
- Got the best travel credit card ever – Chase Sapphire Reserved (Janurary)
- Best Valentine’s celebration wine tasting/tour ever at Miramonte Winery (February)
- Moonwalking battle with my 6 year old brother (March)
- Won tickets to Six Flags and went for the first time since I was a kid (March)
- Flew on a private jet to Las Vegas for a prime rib lunch on a Friday during work (March)
- Went on a Dreamtrip to Marival Residences in Nuevo Vallarta, 4-diamond all-inclusive resort. This was on my list bucket list for 3 years! (March)
- Went to Brandywine Commons at UCI with my freshman-year roommates before it closed permanently
- Placed 3rd as KKAP Pink at IKCF ANX KPOP Battles (May)
- Trip to NorCal for San Mateo County Fair as KKAP Black (June)
- Fun Vegas trip with LVO friends (July)
- Car broke down, had to replace AC compressor (July)
- Awesome snorkeling day-trip to Key West, Florida with mom (July)
- Attended KCON for the first time (August)
- Attended OC Night Market first time (August)
- Started playing card games at work with coworkers, a tradition we continue everyday at lunch (September)
- Found out I was at risk for hypertension (high BP), so I started to do more cardio
- Attended KM 25th anniversary gala with my awesome Kaba Modern K10 class (September)
- Got my top wisdom teeth removed (September)
- Won at Coup 3x in a row while dressed up as an Assassin on Halloween (October)
- Successfully did 3 escape rooms in 3 days (October)
- Adventurous 8-day Tokyo trip with Diana (November)
- Thrilling 4.5-hour Maricar tour around Tokyo (November)
- Visited One Piece theme park!! (November)
- Ate deliciously fresh (“legit” lol) sushi at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market (November)
- Finally visited Tokyo Disneysea (on my bucket list for 8 years!) (November)
- Celebrated my 5-year anniversary with Diana via a wine tour & cruise around Newport Harbor (December)
- Went to some awesome company Holiday parties (December)
- Learned how to ride on my baby brother’s hover board
Accomplishments & Stats:
- Read 37 books
- Began new career as a Project Manager / Scrum Master (Janurary)
- Got TSA PreCheck – a must-have for frequent travelers! (January)
- Stuck to Keto Diet for 9 months (January – September)
- Completed 13 out of 14 escape rooms
- Survived 6 weeks of OC Fit’s bootcamp (April)
- Traveled outside of country 2 times (March & November)
- Took 19 of flights
- Became Yelp Elite! (June)
- Joined a DietBet, lost 6lbs, and won $45 (August)
- 14+ theater movies watched via MoviePass (September – December)
- Started Kynergy Dance Cover Group with my awesome teammates Diana and Karen! (September)
- Released our first cover dance video to BTS’ DNA (October)
- Became substitute instructor at OC KPOP Academy (October)
- Finished 1st online training course with business partner (November)
- Became a Certified Scrum Master (December)
- Completed “December fitness challenge” = 3000 squats x 3000 pushups x 3000 mountain climbers x 1500 pullups in 30 days (December)
Goals from 2017:
–Build a healthy, 2nd income.
Status: In progress. I have made some extra money from teaching KPOP dance classes, but a few of my secondary income projects are almost complete. I expect to see the fruition of the work I’ve done the past year sometime early this year.
–Travel out of country at least twice.
Status: Achieved! Went to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico in March on a Dreamtrip for a week, and then went to Tokyo, Japan in November for 8 days.
–6 minute mile, 10 muscle ups, and 10 handstand push-ups.
Status: In progress. My cardio game hasn’t been consistent this past year, as there were times I would run every week, but some months I didn’t run at all. With my December fitness challenge, I was able to get to a point where I could do 25 pull ups straight and 75 pushups straight, so I’m building a good foundation to achieve this goal this year.
–8% body fat.
Status: In progress. This past year I joined and completed a DietBet, which required getting a scale so I could track my body fat and weight. My new diet around the same time of adding more leafy greens and alkaline has also helped slim me down and keep extra fat off since then. All I need to do is stay consistent with my diet, combined with starting a new workout regimen, intermittent fasting, and hiring a fitness coach, and I should be able to hit this by the end of the year.
Status: Achieved/In progress. Last year I began to weave meditation into my daily schedule via the Meditation app and calendar events on my phone. Part of the year I was consistent, and then I fell off in the 3rd quarter, but then picked it back up near the end of the year. Meditating actually helps me fall asleep within 10 minutes which has been awesome. I’ve found that meditating before I sleep puts me into a deep sleep, which makes me feel super refreshed the next day. The past month I’ve been very consistent with my night time meditations. This year, I plan to add a consistent morning meditation session along with my night time session.
–Write a blog post every week (changed to) “Consistent book reviews”
Status: Achieved! I will preface this that I pivoted this goal to being consistent with my 3 book reviews per month, which I have done this past year. Right now I believe my book notes posts number around 60-70.
–Donate a total of $1000.
Status: In progress. I actually hit closer to $700 since I increased my weekly donations halfway in the year. However, I’m on track to hit this goal in 2018.
–Show more kindness, compassion, empathy, and patience to others.
Status: Always in progress. I think I definitely achieved this in a sense that I do feel like I’ve been more patient and displayed more empathy. My relationships have improved this past year and continued to improve. I also feel little to no stress, which I feel like is a directly correlated to the quality of my relationships. As a manager at work, I’ve been cultivating the skill of empathizing and showing patience when it would be easy not to. Not only that, but learning how to work with others effectively and manage up has helped me grow tremendously.
Goals for 2018:
THEME FOR 2018: Ultimate Health and Fitness
- 1 minute handstand hold
- Game plan: Either practice 3-4 times a week, or utilize my handstand training video course on Cody App
- 1 muscle up
- Game plan: A least 30 pull-ups and 50 front dips per day, get some tips from someone who can do it.
- Stretch: handstand pushup
- 8% body fat
- Game plan: fitness coaching, lift 3x per week, intermittent fasting (eating within an 8hr window), consistent cardio and intervals (2-3x per week)
- Daily meditation (day and/or night) 5-10 minutes per session
- Game plan: schedule in session before sleep and when waking up
- Consistent gym schedule, 3-4 times per week
- Game plan: Consistent workout buddy(ies), work with trainer, or fitness challenges
- Double my net worth
- Game plan: continue automated finances for investing, saving, and developing income from side projects
Giving & Charity:
- Donate $1000
- Game plan: up my automated giving to $20/week (already done and on-track)
- Give away $500 worth of gifts
- Game plan: set up automated savings account, and make sure to empty the entire account by December 31, 2018.
- Transfer website to self-hosted + weekly email newsletter
- Game plan: purchase self-hosting domain and consult with someone experienced to migrate website
- Bi-monthly dance covers by Kynergy (24 total)
- Game plan: Learn new dance and upload cover (or practice video) every 2 weeks
- Monthly retrospectives
- Game plan: Schedule reviews at the end of each month
- Weekly HHN posts (52 posts, once per week, every monday or friday)
- Game plan: draft posts consistently, review and release on same day
- Make 5 sales for LL
- Game plan: follow up with current funnel, get feedback and promote
Big Themes & Lessons of 2017:
Managing expectations. I learned the hard way that setting expectations is a surefire way to cause unnecessary stress, worries, and sadness if things don’t go exactly the right way. I made the mistake of setting expectations on something I had no control over, which put me down in the dumps for a few weeks.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Again, another hard lesson I learned this year was making the mistake of comparing myself to others, especially in terms of their success and achievements. As the saying goes…
“The only person you should compare yourself to is your past self”
I had to remind myself that we’re all on different chapters of different journeys, and it makes no sense to relate my journey with someone else’s.
Paying for convenience and expertise to save time. Using money to solve problems best suited for someone else or to save time allows you to focus on other important things. In fact, it’s more effective to delegate certain aspects of your live to others, and not needing to control or do everything on your own. This is why busy people like CEOs have assistants and specials who can handle those aspects, while they spend more time on high value, decision making responsibilities. Paying for specialized services on Fiverr this year were some of the best decisions I made. Another example was getting TSA Pre-check, which is well worth the amount paid for it in the time savings and convenience.
Taking the side streets and road less traveled has less traffic and less headaches. This might not be a big lesson, but after making some tweaks to my commute, I’ve found that there are several side street paths that significantly reduce the amount of time I spent. Because most people opt for the simple route (aka the freeway), the side streets usually have less traffic.
Just ASK! I learned from the fantastic book Rejection Proof, that people are nicer than you’d think and you’d be surprised how much you can get if you just ask. There were several times this year when simply asking and not being afraid of rejection benefitted me greatly. Some real examples: free 10% off poke ($1), free icee ($6), discount on Baskin Robbins from invalid coupon ($2).
Spending on experiences is always worth it. This has been in my core philosophy for the past 3-4 years as I prioritize and allocate my resources for experiences instead of things. For example, traveling regularly throughout the year, not saying no to a fun and new experience even if its a bit pricy, and almost anything involving spending quality time with friends and family. I cut back on buying material objects in order to allocate more funds to peak life experiences.
Powerful lessons on willpower from Willpower Instinct – For example, I learned that taking care of yourself (eating right, getting adequate sleep, exercising, reducing stress, and meditating) will increase your willpower. Moreover, understanding the effect of social proof and having strong self-awareness will help increase individual willpower.
The power of long-term commitments. This is where you find mastery and fulfillment, especially in relationships and developing your craft/artistry. Short term is usually opposite from long term and less fulfilling. In the book Principles, Ray Dalio explains how 1st-order consequences (short term results) will deliver less value than 2nd and 3rd-order consequences. The book The Game and the documentary The Defiant Ones explore this theme in depth as well.
Paying attention to how different foods make you FEEL. I’ve started to notice how certain foods like chips made me feel like crap. When I’m sick, I lose my appetite for sugary and processed foods as they don’t make me feel better. However, salads, greens, and raw food makes me feel good, gives me energy, and doesn’t make me feel bloated. Moreover, making the decision to eat healthy also helps build good decision making muscles.
Take advantage of inspiration and form building blocks to create a habit. When you have a surge of motivation or energy to change from a source of inspiration externally, take action quickly and get the ball rolling. Maintain this momentum and form the habits like building blocks. My personal example is when I had a fitness and nutritional overhaul in the beginning of August. I was inspired to make a change due to having a risk for pre-hypertension, and subsequently developed a new diet and workout regimen that I stuck to for a few months and improved my health.
Giving a gift is 10x more enjoyable than getting them. I gained this insight during my trip back to NorCal for the holidays. Obviously, kids love getting gifts. Now that I’m older, however, I realized that the joy of giving someone a gift was exponentially greater than anticipating or receiving a gift. Sure, getting gifts are nice and makes you feel appreciated by someone. I appreciate any gift regardless of what it is now compared to when I was younger. Now, I more enjoy to be able to give and make others happy. It also promotes the mindset of abundance, as Tony Robbins frequently says about giving.