Year in Review

My review of the last year, with a special focus on Top Three Guide and how it influenced me. This review is based on a template from Ness Labs.

For each of the below subjects, I’ll try to elaborate on three things that went well, three things that didn’t go so well and one to three points of focus for next year. Why just one? When priorities become multiple, it’s harder to focus. Yet, some fields are very ample, like health and fitness, so I think I should be able to focus on multiple, non-overlapping, goals.

Work and Business

What went well?

  1. For the first time, I had the courage to get my name out there and start something personal. I launched my blog www.arewordsjustwords.com back in March, and I’ve turned it into a business website now.
  2. I linked up with Loki to start another project; this one. We did some initial investments, another barrier I crossed.
  3. I’ve been more consistent with online writing jobs and I’ve even found a couple of new clients last year.

What didn’t go so well?

  1. Top Three Guide didn’t really turn out as we would’ve hoped. We overestimated the original impact this could have and so we’ve lost motivation quite early on.
  2. We didn’t take the required risk from the start. We’ve leant back and watched how things developed. We’ve been waiting for things to happen for us. I’ve learned that this isn’t how it works by now. We learned many things, actually, but we rarely acted on them. Now, we each have other important things to focus on. So my lesson here is that it’s very important to act on inspiration and to not be afraid to promote yourself and throw some money at it. If you don’t invest in yourself first? Who will?
  3. I got a new job in February (and lost it again in August). What went wrong was actually the wage deal. I had worked for this employer before and the first time, they told me what my net income would be. So, the second time, I expected the offer to be the same. Only this time, they told me what my gross income would be. I didn’t ask until after the contract was signed, though. A mistake I’ll never make again.

What will I focus on next year?

  1. Getting a full income from freelance writing. Hire me! Hehe.

Health and Fitness

What went well?

  1. I started doing daily exercise in May and followed through until last week. Because of travels and adapting to a new climate, I’ve not been consistent in the last week. I plan to pick it back up soon.
  2. I’ve not had any serious illness and I have not had COVID-19 yet. So, I’m thankful for my good health and that of my family.
  3. I’ve drunk fewer alcoholic beverages and eaten less fast food than in previous years. As I didn’t leave the house very often and didn’t have many social engagements, there were fewer urges to drink a cold beer once in a while. We also had loads of free time to cook at home so we got very little takeaway food. We almost wholly eliminated street food as well because of hygiene concerns.

What didn’t go so well?

  1. I did very little cardio exercise. I used to play and coach football every day. Since March, however, I only played football three times in total and did not do any other cardio exercise.
  2. Although we ate home-cooked meals most of the time, they weren’t necessarily healthy. I didn’t eat as many veggies and fruits as I would want to.
  3. I got a bit of a coffee addiction. I’m sure many people are heavier drinkers than I am, but I tried to set a limit at two cups per day and I would often find myself drinking three cups before noon and then another after lunch.

What will I focus on next year?

  1. I won’t be in charge of cooking next year, so it’s going to be hard but I want to control my carb intake.
  2. I am going to focus on drinking less coffee and soda. I’ll try to drink more pure water instead.
  3. In terms of fitness, I want to increase my body mass with bodyweight exercise and reduce my fat percentage by doing more cardio.

Personal Life and Family

What went well?

  1. I’m going to be a dad!
  2. I had more time to focus on myself, and experiment with meditation, stretching and journaling. I also dedicated more time to language practise. I’m currently on a 260-day streak on Duolingo.
  3. Did I mention I’m going to be a dad in March!?

What didn’t go so well?

  1. I’m going to be a dad. Just kidding. This is amazing. Due to varying COVID-measures, our plans for the next one or two years got quite mixed up, though. It’s funny how a difference of a couple of months can affect up to two years. I guess we were a bit naive thinking that having a baby wouldn’t influence our plans too much.
  2. My family lives in Europe. I live in South-America. The time difference makes it more difficult to stay in touch. However, I’m just not always the best son. While my girlfriend calls her parents each day, I call mine at best twice a week, mostly just once.
  3. Work is one of two things that often lead to conflict between me and my partner. She, sometimes, thinks I work too much. I often don’t consider it work, though. There are many things I like doing. I, on the other hand, feel that she thinks money just streams in naturally. She forgets that I need to get some work done to pay for her fancy meals, haha.

What will I focus on next year?

  1. I will focus on being the best possible dad in the world. Any serious parenting advice is welcome!

Learning and Knowledge

What went well?

  1. I learned a lot thanks to To Three Guide. I learned a lot about the practical things about setting up a website and building a brand. There’s still a lot to learn, though.
  2. In preparing the articles with top three tips, I learned a lot about a wide range of topics. I especially learned much about the flow state.
  3. I got very organised in terms of newsletters. I subscribed and unsubscribed to various and set up automatic rules for my inbox. Here’s a list of my most recommended ones. I also started sharing my discoveries in my own newsletter.

What didn’t go so well?

  1. I have an ever-growing list of podcasts. I try to become more selective each time but the playlist just keeps on growing. I need to figure something out soon. Tips?
  2. I mainly read fiction this year. There’s nothing wrong with fiction, but I strive to have a balance between fiction and non-fiction.
  3. I have a fear of paying for ebooks. When I put money down, even virtual money, I want a physical book. Yet, where I’m living now, I still don’t have good access to physical books. My reading list is well over 50 books by now, so I guess I’ll have to start buying a couple of ebooks if I want to start shrinking that list.

What will I focus on next year?

  1. I will focus on curating more knowledge and building my newsletter: Top Three Thursday. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Money and Finance

What went well?

  1. I was able to make a couple of investments when the market was down.
  2. Despite losing my job in August, I saved more money this year than I was able to save in any other year of my life.
  3. I was able to make money from a range of income sources.

What didn’t go so well?

  1. I still like spending on things I don’t need.
  2. It’s difficult to control what I spend on coffee, snacks and desserts.
  3. I’m struggling to earn what I feel I deserve in each job. A lot of clients get turned off by my prices, while I’m charging well below the average. I guess I need to find a better audience.

What will I focus on next year?

  1. Try to save a fixed amount of money each month and set aside money for my baby girl.

Other

Below topics either don’t interest me very much or were affected by COVID-19 and related measured.

Travel and Culture

I am happy I got to know two new cities in January: Malaga and Prague. I don’t want to talk about the lack of travel and culture I experienced in the other eleven months.

Emotions and Spirituality

I’ve tried to work a lot on controlling my emotions. I feel I am quite good at not losing my temper or arguing with people. However, I still need to improve my temper around loved ones.

Friends and Community

What fiends? I’ve been locked up for most of the year. Besides, I was never good at making many friends. I’m still in touch with my friends from back home, which is awesome but I should call them way more often.

In general, I’ve tried to stay in touch with all my friends from all over the world, and now that I live in Peru I hope I will be able to do the same with my Bolivian friends. However, over the years, I’ve doubtlessly lost many along the way.

Hobbies and Creativity

I did some painting back in April or May. I quite like it but don’t really have the patience for it. I don’t have any other hobbies, apart from writing. Yet, when I write, I don’t really consider that a hobby. Hopefully, I can find the right mindset to write fiction sometime next year. That would be a hobby.

Summary

Proudest Accomplishments

  1. In case you missed it, I’m going to be a dad soon. That was always going to be the main goal in my life. As it’s getting really close now, I feel like I’ve already accomplished this one.
  2. I’ve overcome my fear to speak to strangers. I reached out to several people on Twitter or other channels. I had a huge phobia for things like this but it’s gotten a lot better. Actually, there’s nothing to it.
  3. In times of stress and job loss, I’ve found a way to set up a new source of income and I even managed to earn more than I was earning at my job.

Biggest Challenges

My biggest challenge is still to believe in myself. Even though I’ve improved a lot in this, I am still afraid of losing face. I feel like failing once, means I won’t get another opportunity. My conscious knows that’s a lie but my subconscious is still pondering it.

Main Goals for Next Year

  1. Earn enough money online to provide for my family.
  2. Set up a respectable writing business so I can move to Europe in 2022 and still earn enough money.
  3. Turn Top Three Thursday into a newsletter with an active following of at least 500 subscribers. On 16 now and I don’t know all of them personally, which is a good sign, ha!

Kjell VDV

Kjell Vandevyvere is a coaching and teaching enthusiast. He's always been fond of reading and writing. In Top Three Guide, he combines all his passions. A few months ago he could be found around Cochabamba’s classrooms and soccer pitches 7/7. Now, he’s living a monks life behind his computer. Some say he never stops learning or writing. Learn more about Loki and myself on the about us page.

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