Why Am I Writing This?
Ever since 2016, I started doing these yearly reviews to reflect on the past year. These are mostly for myself as a way to remember what has happened, what I have achieved, and prepare for the upcoming year. It is also a great place for me to express my gratitude for everything in the past year, as gratitude is a huge cornerstone of my reflection process.
For those of you who know me personally, you may know that I do daily, weekly, and monthly versions of this reflection process. I have daily journals to record my activities and thoughts of the day. I have a weekly review where I examine the highlights of my week as well as track my progress on personal goals. My monthly retrospectives focus mostly on big highlights and life lessons I’ve learned that month. This yearly reflection is a culmination of all three of those.
That’s also why it takes me almost 2 months to prepare this yearly post (mostly due to procrastination lol). I comb through my reflections to summarize my year into main highlights and share insights I’ve learned throughout the year.
My intent with making this public is to share what I’ve been up to, share some of my wins, be honest about my losses, keep myself accountable for my big goals, and hopefully inspire others to adopt a mindset of gratitude and reflection in their own lives.
Past Years In Review:
This year, I’ve also separated out my 2019 Life Lessons section into a separate post as a sort of addendum to this main post. Feel free to check it out if you want to hear about what I’ve learned this past year, both from books and from learning the hard way: experience.
For my yearly review, I traditionally use the B.A.G. format. The acronym stands for:
B = Blessings
A = Achievements
G = Goals
The idea is that to keep yourself happy and centered, you have to reach into your “BAG” every so often. This helps me focus on gratitude looking back, celebrate wins, and direct my focus for the future.
What I’m Grateful For
Parents – I’m always grateful for my parents. I’m blessed to have parents who not only love and support me, but they’ve been huge role models to me as how I want to be when I become a parent.
Siblings – I’m lucky to have three siblings that I adore. My baby brother always inspires me with his creativity, ingenuity, and energy. My little brother is a great example of hard work, discipline, and character. My older sister exudes more kindness and compassion than most people I know.
Auntie Caytha & Uncle Lawney – This year, I wanted to give special recognition to my aunt and uncle from the East Coast. My mom and I visited them last February, and then my aunt and my three cousins came to visit NorCal in late September. These two always treat me like their own son. They’re like my 2nd set of parents with their love, kindness, and generosity. When I lived in Washington, D.C. for a few months, they would drive almost 2 hours one way so I could stay with them for the weekend. It’s always a fun time when our families hang out. My aunt is a fierce momma bear always looking out for her kids, but also exudes generosity and fun when it comes to her family. My uncle and I get along so easily, probably because we have the same sense of humor. He’s the quintessential #GirlDad that I aspire to be like one day. They’re also easily two of my biggest role models when it comes to being parents.
Papa & Grandma Linda – We always try to visit my grandparents at least for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but this year we were lucky enough to visit for both! I’m so grateful to have such loving, Godly grandparents who always shower their kids and grandkids with love and hospitality whenever we visit. I honestly couldn’t ask for better grandparents. I know I’ve been saying this a lot, but these two are also two of my biggest role models.
Uncle Mike – I’ve been spending a lot more time with my uncle these days, which I’m thankful for. He’s a very successful man who is a great example of someone who is not only driven and ambitious, but also knows where his priorities are. As successful as he is, he knows that his family always comes first. I love how he’s constantly putting an emphasis on giving back to the younger generation of leaders, and I aspire to do the same when I’m at his level one day.
Meeting New Friends & Reconnecting with Old Friends
Meetup friends – This year, I met a lot of friends going to various Meetups events. These ranged from social events, book clubs, dinners, house parties, clubbing, board games, intellectual discussions, karaoke nights, holiday celebrations, escape rooms, and more. Naturally, some of them became friends of mine. Now, I’m blessed to have a good group of adventurous people who are always down to have fun and try new things.
Church friends – This past year I joined another small group. They’re a cool bunch and we’ve gone out to eat a few times. They’ve also supported me at my comedy show which meant a lot to me. I even started volunteering at my church and met a handful of new friends who also serve in different ministries. I’m grateful to be surrounded by more and more godly people.
Dance friends (Urmo, Koreos, KKAP) – I’ve had the pleasure of making new friends on two eras of Koreos (Firework & Megastuf), 9th & 10th Gen Urban Motus, and a handful of KKAP members I’ve danced with this year. It’s always good to make new dance friends who share common interests. I’m also grateful to dance with college students and feed off of their energy and passion for dance. It’s so reminiscent of my collegiate dance days that started 8-9 years ago.
High School friends – For my 10-Year HS reunion, I got to see a lot of my high school friends, most of whom I haven’t seen in 10 years! It was nice catching up and hearing about what they’re up to now. I’m super proud to be a part of such an amazing network of driven and humble individuals. I’m also glad none of them seem like they turned out to be jerks (like in that movie Central Intelligence with Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson lol).
This past year, I left my job at KBB, which I was at for about a year. A lot of aspects went into my decision to leave, but in a nutshell, it wasn’t the right place for me to stay long term. I also wanted to take a break from working full time to do some traveling, dance more, and work on some personal passion projects of mine.
I took a few months off to do all of that, but I also took this break to also work part time as a Sales Advisor at 24 Hour Fitness. Sales has been a long-time curiosity of mine and I’ve always wanted to do it for work, so I thought it was a good opportunity to try it out while on my break. While I was working there, the GM mentored me in sales as he had extensive experience on that end. I also met a lot of ambitious coworkers who were all into fitness, which was awesome.
After my break, I started to work full time again at my newest company Pacific Life. So far, it’s a great place to work and has a culture of constant learning and development. I’ve learned so much here compared to my last few companies, and I still continue to learn from team members way more experienced than me.
This year, dance played a huge part in my life. I haven’t danced this much since I was in college, and it’s been amazing. I realized that doing something you enjoy gives you more energy to do other things. That’s why dance doesn’t really tire me out, but rather allows me to have more energy to do other things.
This past year, I joined Koreos, a KPOP cover dance team out of UCLA. I was drawn to them because they produced such high quality work on YouTube in the kpop cover community. It’s been so much fun to dance with them! I’m so proud of all the covers I’ve been a part of this past year. Dancing with both Firework and Megastuf eras have given me so many wonderful memories to look back on and I’m thankful for all of the dance opportunities.
During the summer, I was able to form my own project again (this time named No Friends Alliance) and compete in the Irvine Korean Culture Festival KPOP dance competition. For the 3rd year in a row we placed! I’m grateful to be able to dance with a such a hardworking and talented group to win 1st/2nd place (we tied haha).
During UCI’s Welcome Week, I also had the opportunity to dance with Urban Motus and KKAP, two teams I helped start about 9 years ago when I was a 2nd year in college. It’s crazy to see how far they’ve come, but also to be able to dance on the same stages as I did so long ago.
Students / Mentorship Opportunities
This year was also a big year for me in mentorship opportunities. I’ve said this many times, but what I love most about being a dance teacher is not the dance aspect, but the teaching aspect. I love guiding students towards achieving their own goals by understanding their motivation and giving them insights I’ve learned along my own journey.
They say that the best way to learn is to teach, or that one in the room who learns the most is the teacher. As a person who commits to being a lifelong student, teaching is simply just an extension of me continuing my passion for learning.
I’ve been so blessed to have my own weekly BTS class at a KPOP studio I’ve been teaching at for 2 years now. My Wednesday night students motivate me to always do my best as a dancer and a teacher. Their passion for kpop dance constantly inspires me and gives me so much energy.
In addition, I’ve been able to teach private lessons for two of my students, Connie and Linden. I love one-on-one mentorship for a couple reasons. First, I get to train technique and foundation, something I cannot do during my weekday, 1.5hr class. Second, I’m able to coach them on mindset, which is much more important than dance technique. I’m a strong believer that if you can teach someone how to learn better and find their motivations to improve, you’ll help them become a better dancer in the long run because they’ll be able to improve faster and more effectively. I’m also grateful because Linden and Connie are two of the best students I could ever ask for. They’re so hardworking and driven to become better. They constantly inspire me to push myself even more.
For the 2nd year in a row, I was honored to be selected for Urban Motus’ alumni advisory board, Urban Council. I was stoked for the team this year because 10th Gen board (which we selected last year) has such a strong growth mindset and seemed really receptive to taking feedback and improving. I really enjoy being in mentorship roles especially when the mentees are really receptive to advice and actually want to grow.
Overall this year, I’ve been interacting with a lot of students, from middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students. I’ve had the good fortune to give mentorship and advice in group and one-on-one settings. Some of these students have been family members like little cousins. I really enjoy connecting with students at this point in their lives, listening to their concerns about the future, and then relating some of my personal experience to alleviate their worries. Many times, students at these ages just need reassurance from someone a bit further along that everything is going to be fine. I know that when I was that stage, that’s something I was always looking for.
This year, I was fortunate enough to be able to take two big trips. The last big trip I took was the end of 2017 to Tokyo, though I have taken plenty of domestic flights in 2018 and 2019 to Washington, NorCal, and the East Coast. However, I was able to go back to Japan in March with a friend. We visited Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka in a 10-day trip. I was glad to be able to see so many things in a short amount of time, and even visit a few friends.
At the end of December, I went on a 3-week trip to Europe through the tour company EF Ultimate Break. It was called “European Road Trip” and I had a blast with 40+ other adventurous people in their 20s. We went through, 6 countries (UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Italy) and through 11 cities. It was honestly a trip of a lifetime with so many great experiences and memories. I also made some awesome friends that I imagine I’ll travel with again someday.
Blessie and I plan to hopefully take an EF Ultimate Break trip together sometime near the end of the year or early next year (since I’ll be age ineligible when I turn 30 lol).
Relationships & Dating Life
To be honest, this year was a rollercoaster for my dating life. However, I’m still very grateful for each experience. Through these interactions and relationships, I’ve grown in both my understanding of relationships and my understanding of myself.
Out of respect for the other parties, I won’t name names or be too specific, but I just wanted to express my gratitude towards each of them. Though it may or may not have ended well, I genuinely hope we have learned and become better because of it.
For those interested, I’ve compiled all of my learnings about dating and relationships in a separate post linked down at the end of this blog post.👇🏽
Church Family & Faith
I mention this every year, but I’m so grateful for my faith and my church family. I’ve been a part of the same church bible study small group for over 4 years now, but I’ve also had the privilege of joining another small group during the summer. Unlike my first group, this group is more in my age demographic, so I feel like I can relate to them differently compared to the other. I still keep in constant contact with my original group, and we’ve been meeting up about once a month for dinners to catch up on each others’ lives and stay connected in our faith.
I’m also very grateful to be a part of an amazing church. I started volunteering in hospitality (greeting & ushering) and also the Student Ministry, helping out with the High School weekend service. I’m thankful that my church offers volunteering opportunities like these to give back to my church community which as already given me so much.
Embracing My Passion for Humor
One of the biggest things I’m grateful for this year was having several opportunities to pursue my curiosities in humor and comedy. I found an improv comedy group in Irvine that does weekly workshops in which they teach students the skills to do improv comedy. The troupe that runs the events and hosts their own shows are so talented and inspiring.
I’ve also had the good fortune of learning about a comedy theater that teaches standup comedy in a 5-week series. The owner/instructor Dan has been doing comedy for many years now and he’s so good at what he does. I learned so much during that series and even did several open mics, creating and performing my own set. It was such a trip to perform in front of my small group bible study friends during our graduation show, and I’ve made a commitment to making my pursuit of comedy one of my focuses for this year.
I know there’s something there for me in comedy, I just have to make a focused effort to pursue it and see where it leads.
Stats / Achievements
- Books read: 36 (3/month)
- Movies watched in theaters: 80 (via AMC A-List)
- TV Shows & Anime watched:
- The Office
- Designated Survivor
- One Punch Man
- Game of Thrones
- Code Geass
- My Hero Academia
- Demon Slayer
- Took beginning Korean Language classes
- Published 17 videos for Thought of the Day
- Donated blood 4 times
- Mar 14
- May 9
- Aug 22
- Nov 19
- Biggest trip: Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Yokohama, Osaka)
- New Dance Team: Koreos – Firework Era (midyears) & Megastuf Era
- New job: Pacific Life
- New job: 24 Hour Fitness (Sales Advisor)
- Started dance IG: @yolocruzdance
- Freestyle & class dance videos posted: 103
- KPOP classes & private lessons: 65+
- Official KPOP covers: 7
- Foodie photos posted: 260+
- Successful Escape Rooms: 4/4
- Re-joined Urban Council
- Visited family 8 times
- Feb (visit East Coast fam) – PA
- Apr (birthday weekend) – NorCal
- May (hang w/ cousins) – SD
- June (Sis & Mom birthday) – NorCal
- Sept (just because)
- Sept (HS reunion & East coast fam visit) – NorCal
- Nov (Thanksgiving) – NorCal
- Dec (Christmas) – NorCal
- Tied 1st/2nd Place @IKCF KPOP Battles 2019 w/ NFA (3 peat placing!)
- Started doing Standup Comedy @Amazing Comedy Theater
- Started doing Improv workshops at ImprovCity in Irvine
- Joke of the Day: 55+ jokes
- Started volunteering/serving at church (greeting, ushering, food service, High School Ministry)
- Karaoke: 18 times
- Dani & friends (Beach) 1/2
- KDA (Round 1) 1/6
- KPOP students (Beach) 1/23
- Meetup (Voko) 2/2
- KDA (Round 1) 2/11
- Koreos Retreat 2/16
- Grandma’s House – PA 2/22
- Aunt’s House – PA 2/23
- Japan 3/21
- San Diego w/ fam 5/7
- NFA (DDD) 5/31
- NFA (DDD) 7/19
- Meetup (Plush) 8/23
- Karaoke Crew (DDD) 10/5
- Jae’s Hangout (Zillers) 11/8
- Meetup: Kevin Karaoke (Old Vine) 12/20
- K10 Hangout 12/21
- Papa’s house 12/24
- Took 1st dance class in 6+ years
- Started monthly TFTI Parea dinners w/ Julie & Linda ❤
- Got my first donations to my blog
- Watched Frozen 2 in theaters 3x
- KDA Round 1
- Koreos Audition
- Urmo retreat
- 1st time Cosplaying at ALA
- Koreos Six Flags trip
- Judged for Tet Festival w/ Brian & Laura
- Koreos Firework photoshoot + retreat
- Visited fam in PA
- JAPAN TRIP
- VR escape room via Yelp Elite
- KFactor performance
- Visited NorCal for my birthday
- Solo – Jennie cover
- Boy With Luv – BTS covers x2
- Blackpink concert
- My Benihana birthday dinner w/ Lily
- KPOP Cover Dance Festival competition
- Korea Times Music Festival w/ the homie Mars
- Shalala – Pentagon cover
- Sister visited for a week + SD trip w/ Andre
- Irvine Korean Culture Festival ANX KPOP Battles
- Yo Mamma – Mother’s Day video gift w/ my sister
- Replay – SHINee cover
- Dinner & Karaoke w/ No Friends Alliance x2
- Firework Koreos banquet
- June NorCal trip (fams birthday)
- New Job @24 Hour Fitness
- New Job @Pacific Life
- Private lessons w/ Linden – mostly freestyle dance training
- Urmo showcase w/ John & Jo + hilarious Tokyo Table dinner
- 7-hour dinner & acai bowl catchup w/ Julie
- Seaside Session w/ Annie & Christy
- Created TikTok account: @yolocruztiktok
- Standup Comedy class graduation show with my small group (did a double length set and killed it)
- Started plant-based diet journey because of documentary The Game Changers
- UCI Welcome Week performances w/ KKAP & Urmo
- 10-Year HS reunion & fam reunion lunch
- Jopping – SuperM cover
- Six Flags w/ Eunice & Isabella
- Jacinta’s birthday wine tasting getaway in Paso Robles
- Halloween shenanigans (House Party & 17th Door Haunted House)
- Wine & Paint w/ Blessie
- Car broke down, skipped work, Spontaneous SPA day, learned 2 dances
- Tiffany Young Concert
- You Calling My Name – Got7 cover
- Thanksgiving NorCal trip
- Saw my student Emma’s nutcracker dance recital
- SAW TREVOR NOAH LIVE!
- NEW CAR: 2014 Crimson Honda Civic – “Rosie”
- HIT – Seventeen cover
- KM Newk10 Annual reunion (wine, charcuterie, karaoke)
- NorCal Holiday trips
- EF EUROPEAN ROAD TRIP
Goals from 2019
Theme for 2019: The Year of Being Prolific
- Freestyle Friday dance posts – mostly achieved!
- Weekly KPOP dance covers – not achieved
- 30-day kpop dance challenge – not achieved
- 1-hour KPOP learning videos – not achieved
- Explanation: I’ve done #FreestyleFriday posts consistently for a majority of the year, but did miss a handful of weeks. The goals around weekly covers and kpop learning videos were not achieved. I think I was taking on too much already in terms of dance. Being on Koreos this year wasn’t a huge time commitment, but juggling that with my weekly kpop classes and other activities pushed these goals out of my priority list.
- YouTube Channels:
- Start “Car Karaoke” YouTube channel (x1 / week) – not achieved
- Start “2-4 Week Experiments” YouTube channel (x10 / year) – not achieved
- Explanation: Again, these goals fell in priority. I didn’t make much progress on my youtube channel because I prioritized staring my podcast and coaching (both I also didn’t start), so I just kept putting it off. I actually started to film my first experiment with daily meditation, but I got stuck on the format of the series (one compilation video vs daily/weekly videos) and then just kept putting it off. I DID however start a TikTok this year because my brother showed me his and inspired me to make one myself. It’s very intuitive and easy to use, and easy to make fun, simple videos. I planned to do karaoke on that, but found that it’s more geared towards flashy, funny videos, and dances. Not necessarily karaoke. Or maybe it does? I need to experiment more or find an avenue for some sort of karaoke content.
- Yolocruz Book Club:
- 52 PDF book summary highlights – not achieved
- Thorough video digest of book notes (8-15 min videos) – not achieved
- Explanation: Again these goals fell behind in priority. I did keep up with all 36 book notes blog posts, as well as some book quotes on my IG. However, I didn’t make progress on these new initiatives. I think for the coming year, I want to focus more on the projects that excite me more (like my podcast and comedy) since this doesn’t really inspire any action in me at the moment.
- 1000Gurus Podcast:
- 6 Episodes published – not achieved
- Potential guests: Alan L, Brian K, Andy H, Julie H, Jayme H, Dominique Z, Rani B, Andre M.
- Explanation: This was probably my biggest hangup and the goal that I regret most not making progress towards. I have two episodes (4 hours) worth of content already recorded with 2 guests, but I kept getting hung up on the logistics/admin side of things, like where and how to host my content, how/if I should host on my current website vs host on a paid platform, etc. This was on my to-do pretty much every month, but I allowed myself to get blocked by a minuscule thing. It pretty much halted the entire project. This year, I’m making this only 1 of my 2 priority projects this year. I’m going to utilize a strategy I use at work called Work In Progress (WIP). It limits and focus my efforts on a smaller number of work items.
- Potential guests: Alan L, Brian K, Andy H, Julie H, Jayme H, Dominique Z, Rani B, Andre M.
- 6 Episodes published – not achieved
- Donate $2,500 – achieved!
- Plan: increase tithing, DonorsChoose, Omaze, Kiva, other charities
- Explanation: I actually exponentially increased my donations via tithing and DonorsChoose, and a few others like A21 (human trafficking) and charity water (clean water) organizations.
- 6-figure net worth – almost achieved
- Plan: maintain financial automation, get raise, diversify income sources
- Explanation: I would have achieved this goal if 1) I didn’t take off working a full time job for 4 months, 2) took a huge trip to Japan in March, 3) an even more costly trip to Europe at the end of December, 4) had to buy a new car after dropping $1500 repairing my old car only to find out it needed a $2k fix. However, all of these things were worth it, as the time off to relax, get myself together, travel, and finally get a new car after 12 years were things that have added to the quality of my life 🙂 Can’t put a price tag on amazing experiences, self-care, and investments in making your life a bit more convenient so you can focus on other things. I should actually be able to hit this goal before the halfway point of the year.
- Donate $2,500 – achieved!
- 10 handstand pushups – not achieved
- Plan: complete handstand course, practice daily (30-60 days)
- Explanation: I put off doing the course consistently as I think it just took too much time (20+ min each session) for my mind to accept and commit to a new habit. Plus I stopped going to the gym consistently so I wasn’t able to set aside as much time. But I have plans to get back into it as I’ll be gaining a new workout buddy.
- 10 muscle-ups
- Plan: ask for training advice from someone who can do it
- Explanation: Same thing here, my physical fitness goals got sidelined by all of the other things I’ve been doing, particularly dance. At least I’m still saying very active with dancing consistently and teaching.
- 10 handstand pushups – not achieved
Goals for 2020
Theme for 2020: The Year of Connection & Laughter
- Get 1st pref in Koreos cover casting (Rosé and/or V)
- Plan: learn dance early, work my f***ing a** off and get a TON of feedback from the person scoring the casting videos; bribery (last resort)
- Be in Blackpink cover as Rosé (sorta optional but not really)
- Plan: Push for a guy version of their next comeback + see above plan^
- Launch channel w/ Blessie
- Create consistent dance content (weekly covers, 1-hr learning videos, silly tutorials)
- Karaoke content
- Funny content
- Plan: set aside weekly time (Saturdays) to brainstorm, film, and produce the content we want. It seems like we have the same ideas of what we want to do.
- Launch podcast! (name, brand, website, hosting, equipment)
- Publish 12 interviews with various guests
- Plan: Do this early on. Choose hosting platform, create cover artwork, buy equipment, schedule, plan, & host interviews
- Weekly standup shows (perform 50 times)
- Plan: Literally just sign up for a show every week at ACT (Mon/Tues) and probably another venue in OC to change it up
- Weekly improv classes
- Plan: Weekly classes on Mondays
- Join IrvineCity Improv troupe (stretch goal)
- 6-figure net worth
- Plan: Don’t go crazy and make any big purchases, and I’ll be fine
- Start real estate license
- Plan: Start taking courses, which my friend Kurtis says might take a couple years to complete until the end
- Own property (or at least have the process officially started)
- Plan: Get pre-qualified for mortgage (1st time homeowners?), shop for properties (Irvine, Costa Mesa, Santa Ana), start process for home-buying process
- 90% plant-based diet by end of 2020
- Plan: Veestro meal service? Be diligent with choosing non-meat options when going out
- Free-handstand for 30 seconds
- Stretch: 5 handstand pushups
- Plan: Practice handstands as a daily practice, maybe after meditating for 5 minutes (habit stacking)
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I’ve created a separate addendum to this main post that goes into the my lessons learned for 2019. Click on the header above to be redirected.
Below are the main categories that I separated my extensive list of insights I’ve compiled for the year.
- Principles of Life and Growth
- What I’ve Learned About Myself
- People Skills & Leadership
- Dating & Relationships