2017 Letter of Review

What went well, what wrong wrong, and what I learned in 2017

It’s officially my second year publishing a blog post every week on this site. This blog and community started with a simple idea but has turned into something more than just the idea itself.

It’s the home of my thoughts and the lessons I learned. At the same time, it has become the source of inspiration for many others. Before I start going through what has happened to me in 2017, I want to thank you for being a part of this community!

At the end of every year, I spend a great deal of time reflecting on and reviewing what has happened and what I have done over the year. In fact, I’m doing this weekly but this annual review is slightly different. It focuses more on the big picture. And instead of being tactical, it’s more emotional on purpose.

What went well?

Here is the list of things that went well for me in 2017:

  • Got selected as Quora Top Writer 2017.
  • Got to work with Noah Kagan on OkDork and Sumo.
  • Had a trip to Penang Island with my girlfriend. We planned this trip back in 2016, and we basically roamed around Penang for food and some tourist sites.
  • End of my coffee shop. I consider the end of it as a good thing.
  • Helped organize and run a local TEDx event.
  • Pre-launched the Focus Workshop.
  • Got better at writing. (More to improve)
  • Gained more clarity on advancing my career and business.
  • Improved my financial health significantly.
  • Bought and took two very useful courses from CreativeLive. One of them is about public speaking and another one is about health and fitness.
  • Adopted a few critical and useful insights about work and life.
  • Started learning Spanish and can see myself getting fluent in a year or two.
  • Read and summarized 15 books.

What went wrong?

Here is the list of a few things that went out of my expectations in 2017:

  • The coffee shop business became financially impractical to pursue any further. So I decided to shut it down in the middle of this year.
  • Failed in hitting the subscriber goal for my blog.
  • Failed to meditate consistently.
  • Caught myself losing focus frequently when having too much on the plate at the same time.

Progress rating

I split my life into four different parts that are important to me: business & career (work), personal development, health and fitness, and relationships. These are the four main pieces that made up my life.

Business and career 9/10

2017 was a happening year for me in business and career. There was so much going on this year that it shifted my focus entirely.

  1. I got selected as a Quora Top Writer. It is an honor and recognition that drastically increased my self-confidence in writing. It also serves as a significant reputation boost for me as a writer. The only less ideal thing was that I didn’t manage to attend the Quora Top Writer events this year and missed the opportunity to meet many amazing writers and team members of Quora. I will definitely plan to attend the events next year.
  2. Shutting down my coffee shop. I didn’t discuss much about the coffee shop business here. In fact, I didn’t discuss about it with anyone. It feels like a job instead of a business because I was stuck in it. I decided to shut it down because it was not practical to pursue any further. The truth is, I almost fell prey to the Sunk Cost Fallacy.
  3. Got a position at Sumo and OkDork. I am super grateful for the opportunity to work with Noah Kagan and the Sumo team. I’ve been Noah’s reader for a long time. It’s always great to work and learn from people who are better than you, while at the same time, contribute to the company you believe in. This position also helps me to pave a career path in digital marketing and expose my blog to more people.
  4. The launch of Focus Workshop. Last year, I launched a course called Procrastination Workshop. It basically flopped with only a small number of enrollments and very little engagement from the students. In hindsight, teaching people who procrastinate to break procrastination is counterproductive because the people who need the most help are the ones who procrastinate the most. So this year, I pivoted and launched the Focus Workshop instead. So far I’ve got a good number of students from a pre-launch and a Black Friday launch. These launches act as a validation of the idea and I will spend some more time to develop the Focus Workshop further next year.

Personal growth 7/10

I read fewer books this year compared to the previous year. However, I still managed to complete 15 books in 2017. And many of them were not what I usually read. They were challenging but they also further expanded my views in different areas of work and life.

Instead of just reading, I spent a great deal of time thinking and actually implementing what I read and learned. I became a lot more conscious of the information I’m consuming and did my best to filter out information that I couldn’t utilize immediately. It reduced the number of new things I learned overall but largely improved the depth of things I chose to pursue

Two things stood out to me in term of my personal development.

  1. I now see work in a new light. I stopped seeing work as the process to accomplish a particular goal. Instead, I think the work itself provides enormous positive value even if it doesn’t bring any external rewards. What we gain—money, reputation, fame—are all the result of doing great work.
  2. I embrace serendipity better. I believe that extreme ownership is the key to achieving success. But it’s easy for us to assume that we can control everything when we adopt the mindset. Extreme ownership only means to own our circumstances and choose our reaction consciously. What is out of our control will always be out of our control.

One more thing that is also worth mentioning is that beginning in November started learning a new language — Spanish., It’s fun and I’m looking forward to practicing every day.

Health + fitness 5/10

Similar to the previous year, I wasn’t pushing myself very hard in term of fitness. I always tried to maintain an optimal level of health both physically and mentally because that is the foundation of everything we do in work and life. Without great health, we simply can’t do much even if we want to or have the resources to.

I gained the best results from strength training in the past two years and I have stuck to it ever since. It gradually became a problem because I’m not challenging my body enough and exposing myself to other training methods. The same goes for my diet where I stuck to 16/8 intermittent fasting for a long time.

My body got used to both of these routines and I stopped getting the positive results I wanted. My strength level grew at a snail-pace and my body fat percentage became stagnant (where I wanted to get lower). But I was too overwhelmed to change them because I was focusing on other areas of my life.

I haven’t come up with a clear plan on how to scramble up my training and diet routine but here is the brief idea of it:

  • Train periodically. I’m going to switch my training routine up every 12 to 16 weeks starting next year where each stage focuses on different elements of fitness. They are mainly (1) Strength, (2) Power and Speed, and (3) Hypertrophy and Conditioning.
  • Skills mastery. While training periodically, I aim to master three movements: dip, chin-up, and handstand. There are more but I’ve decided to focus on only three for 2018 because I don’t see myself making fitness as the primary focus next year as well.
  • Monthly and annual fasting. I have wanted to implement green juice into my diet for a long time but I can’t fit it in with the 16/8 fasting protocol. I will start exploring other fasting protocols next year and probably do a longer fast monthly and annually instead of the daily 16-hour fasting.

Relationships 8/10

I view my relationships in three different parts: (1) relationships with my family members, (2) relationship with my girlfriend, (3) friends and professional relationships. These relationships with others are a critical part of my life that is happening in the background. I’d say all of them went pretty well for 2017.

The best part of this was that I got to know more professional friends by volunteering in the TEDx event and joining Sumo as a part of the team. I didn’t do much to develop these relationships further this year and it’s something I want to place more focus on next year.

Thank you

As an end of this 2017 review and report, I like to take the opportunity to thank a few people who made the year great for me.

  • Yeong Tuck Choy and Ong Guat Theng. My parents who had supported me in many ways.
  • Ku Hui Wen. My girlfriend who shared many great and bad moments together. She shows me how to worry less about things.
  • Yeong Kar Kit. My brother, who at the same time is a great friend to talk to about almost everything in work and life.
  • Peggy Kong and Rein Tan. Close friends whom I spent fun moments together. They are great teachers, showing me how to be less serious.
  • Ron Thiam Hook. A great friend who taught me how to be persistent and how to contribute without expecting returns.
  • Lana Gits. A reader of my blog and then a friend who helped me so much in proofreading and editing everything I’ve ever written.
  • Noah Kagan. The man who gave me an opportunity to grow beyond myself. The most important thing I learned from Noah is how to be a good person and not losing myself in the pursuit of my career and financial goals.
  • David Kelly and Chris Von Wilpert. Two awesome colleagues I work closely with at Sumo and OkDork. I’ve learned so much about—not just the work itself—but also the work ethic to become great at what I do.
  • Dustin W. Stout. I’ve learned so much about blogging and building an online business from Dustin. Plus, he’s a great community builder I look up to.
  • Ramit Sethi & Ryan Holiday. I don’t know them personally but Ramit and Ryan are two authors and bloggers who inspired me. Their works influence my beliefs and behaviors positively in a significant way.
  • Maverick Foo. A local entrepreneur who inspired me and made me proud of being a creator in Malaysia.
  • The TEDx team. People who volunteered to contribute their time and effort to bring something meaningful to the local community.
  • Every Patreon contributor. People who believe in my work and contribute an important part to grow the blog.

And lastly, you. Yes, you! You who read this review until the very end. This blog wouldn’t be possible without you. Thank you!


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