Every year, I conduct my Annual Review and share it publicly.
I find it helpful for me to reflect on my successes and failures of the previous 12 months, but also I hope you can learn something or be inspired reading my reviews as well.
Similar to my previousannual reviews, I will answer 4 questions in my 2015 Annual Review:
- What went well this year?
- What didn't go so well this year?
- What have been my biggest takeaways this year?
- What am I working toward?
Let's get into the details...
What Went Well This Year?
Strength Training. I started working with a fitness coach around March 2015 and have gotten a lot stronger with the 3 big lifts, especially the Squat.
My current records are:
- Back Squat - 130kg for 3 sets of 5 reps.
- Bench Press - 100kg for 1 set of 2 reps.
- Deadlift - 100kg for 1 set of 6 reps.
Those stats look very good considering my bodyweight is only at 65kg. However, because I want to strengthen and grow my upper body better, I'm planning on switching to a new program in 2016.
Relationships. My connections with the most important people in my life keeps getting stronger every year.
Because I live in a different city, I only saw my family a few times this year. During those times, I made it a point to spend lots of quality time and to really catch up with them.
I also called my mom and chat with my sister regularly to keep myself updated with the happenings at home.
I spent the majority of 2015 in Hanoi with my girlfriend and we had some great memories together.
While I mostly hung out with entrepreneurial friends from the Dynamite Circle during the year, I made sure to spend some good times with close friends I grew up with as well.
Adventures. I didn’t travel much in 2015 but had managed to make some good trips with friends and family.
Business. This year all my projects didn’t grow significantly, but my total income wasn’t bad at all.
After making some costly mistakes during the first half of 2015, I narrowed my focus back to what were working for me at the time, and things have been a lot better ever since.
I just sold my WordPress theme business in December for a nice mid 5-figure amount as well. The ROI was really good considering my total investment on the business was less than $3,000.
Although I’m grateful for what I’ve got in 2015, I’m committed to achieve much better results in 2016.
Finances. Making a good income with your business doesn’t matter, if you end up spending all of it and saving nothing for yourself.
They say the secret to wealth is to spend less than what you earn and invest the difference.
That means in order to create financial freedom, you need to learn and master your finances.
Fortunately, my saving account did grow a bit compared to the beginning of the year. But I still have a lot to learn about investing it properly, so that my money keeps growing.
What Didn't Go So Well This Year?
Tracking my numbers. I never keep track of anything. And this has been a recurring pattern in my life for years.
I personally believe this is one of the reasons I’m not achieving some of my major goals in fitness, finance and business.
I have to put an end to this in 2016. So if you have any advice for me, I’d love to read it in the comment section.
Fitness. While my strength has improved significantly, I’m still far from getting the physique that I’ve always wanted.
However, I’m pretty confident that I’ll achieve it in 2016 with the new program that I’m working on. I’ll share more about it in another article.
Sleep schedule. I’m a morning person and I’m most productive when I wake up before 7am. However, because I couldn't get work out of my head, my sleep schedule had been very inconsistent throughout 2015. As a result, my wake time suffered.
Growing Cloud Living. I only published 14 articles in 2015. Surprisingly, traffic still grew by 44% compared to 2014. But the good traffic numbers didn’t make up for the fact that reader engagement has dropped significantly.
However, everything will change soon as my core focus this year is to put out more content and grow the blog to where it should be.
What Have Been My Biggest Takeaways This Year?
Don't do it just for the money. I spent the first half of 2015 trying to make a fortune with Teespring. But the truth is that I never enjoyed it as a business model.
I was just in it for the money. I didn’t like the process of doing it at all. So I tried to hire a bunch of people to do the work for me. It didn’t work out well and I lost a lot of money.
No one succeeds alone. My biggest regret in 2015 was staying in Hanoi for too long and disconnecting myself with my entire network of great entrepreneurial friends in Saigon.
I also didn’t tell anyone about my problem with Teespring and felt embarrassed to admit it.
I was stuck and stressful for months. I had big insecurity and self-doubt.
Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and reached out to my friend Anton Kraly for some advice.
Here’s a part of the long email I sent him:
Sounds pretty depressed right? Turned out the quick call with Anton was a relief and helped me stop feeling bad about myself.
Then in September, I decided to come back to Saigon. That trip totally saved my life!
Being around my good friends, I started to feel the motivation to work again on projects that I loved. Then things started to get a lot better.
White-hat SEO is easy and effective. It took me a few years and a dozen of websites penalized to finally try building links with white hat SEO strategies.
I always thought that white hat SEO was expensive, time consuming, and unscalable. The idea of begging people via emails and waiting weeks just to get a few links never made sense to me.
But I tried it anyway with the help of my good friend Gael Breton from Authority Hacker. And the results blew my mind.
In the last 4 months, I’ve managed to earn a dozen of powerful links from established sites in my niche. Some of them are from top publications with Domain Authority of 80 and higher.
Here’s traffic growth from August to December 2015:
What Am I Working Toward?
Focus. In 2016, I deliberately choose to focus on just a few vital things and say NO to everything else.
In terms of business, I will only focus on 2 projects:
- Cloud Living - I’ll grow the blog by putting out more content and launching a new course AMZ Affiliate Bootcamp.
- Thank Your Skin - This is my current authority site which I’m building as part of the public case study here. It is growing significantly every month and has potentials to be a 6 figure business for me.
For health and fitness, I’ll focus on following this program closely and will be documenting my progress on the blog as well.
New content type. While written blog posts have been and still are working well for me, I’m going to produce more audio content in form of either videos or podcast episodes.
To be honest, this is completely out of my comfort zone at the moment, but making audio content is an important skill that I want to get better at.
I’ve gone a long way since publishing my first English article 5 years ago, so putting out a few imperfect videos wouldn’t be so bad.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it, my 2015 year in review. Overall, it was a good year with lots of great lessons and memories.
It’s a privilege to write for you. I have said many times that I'm not an expert and don't have it all figured out. I'm still young (21st) and have many years ahead.
The only thing for sure is that I will keep working hard to become better in every aspect of my life. And of course, I will be sharing what I learn along the way.
Thanks for following my journey. Hope you have a great 2016!
How about you? What were your biggest takeaways in 2015? What's your plan for a better 2016? Leave a comment below.
PS: If you have additional time, check out these annual reviews of my friends too. They're all very fun to read 🙂