My 2020 Year In Review

Get ready folks, today I take a personal look back on how the past year went. I’ll be using the two techniques to conduct an annual review that was described in my writeup, Never Has It Been More Important to Plan for Next Year.

Snapped this picture while climbing Pikes Peak, which now hangs on my wall.

But first, without even having to do much reflecting, by far the greatest positive game-changer has been getting married to the most amazing woman. Feels like we have an amazing foundation built on the right ingredients, and it’s allowed me to grow as a person.

So, I hope you enjoy my personal review of last year and can take away something from it too. It’s a bit personal, but I encourage you to also take a moment to reflect before jumping into next year. And stay tuned, my next email will be planning for 2021.

Selfie while hiking the Alum Cave Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Past Year Review by Tim Ferriss, as described here, starts with two columns where I list all the major positives and negatives from this year. Here’s mine:

Next step is to do more of the positives, and less of the negatives. So here’s what I’m eyeballing for 2021:


  • Figure out a long-term plan for the parents. Luckily I have siblings, but it’s a matter of discussing a topic no one wants to address.
  • Combine risk-taking mindset with next step strategy for Venture Out.
  • Aggressively look out for other’s careers and what can help them in their journey.
  • Break past the 9 min/mile pace consistently -> More fit for my next mountain adventure.


  • Less social media and news scrolling before bedtime. That consumes like 20–30 min each night before my head hits the pillow! Less of that means more sleep, which means more time the next day to do things!
  • Override my emotional reaction of assuming negative intent in others to always assume positive. There’s way less of a downside in doing this.

The second method I discussed is by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, who suggests answering these 3 questions:

What went well this year?

  • Venture Out — I got seed innovation funding for this passion project! I’ve consistently sent out 2 emails per week, with the quality of each improving (at least I think so!). As a result, I’ve never been in a better position to increase the impact of Venture Out and offer more… so thank you!
  • Adventure & Mountaineering — Although I didn’t summit any mountains this year, I’m happy that I at least got out to Colorado just before the pandemic ramped up, and since then I’ve been working on improving my cardio.

What didn’t go so well this year?

  • Family frustrations — As much as I preach positivity and productivity, it’s hilarious how quickly that all goes out the window with it comes to family. But clearly I shouldn’t be only mindful with others but then revert to an impetuous child due to all the emotional baggage that comes with family. I’ll need to figure out a way to override my non-helpful attitude.
  • Photography — I meant to progress my photography skills, but simply ran out of time to devote to it. I’ve been happy with my photos and using Lightroom to better stylize them artistically. But lots more advanced techniques to learn.
  • Sustainability — Another goal of mine for 2020 was to increase my sustainability for the environment. I purchased a compost bucket and was religious in putting organic scraps in it, and then filling my composter in my backyard. To be honest, it’s a complete science experiment. I don’t know what’s growing inside my composter and I’m afraid to open and look inside.

What did I learn?

  • I attribute the success this year to a better decision making framework. I wrote about it here, and the single biggest ‘hack’ is to sit with the decision. Analyze but don’t over-analyze. Instead, make the decision mentally, sit with it, and if it feels right, then go make it happen. If it doesn’t sit well, then that means there’s more to figure out.

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All about the adventure of positivity & productivity. I’ve turned into my parents and now wake up before 6 AM… & crush it. 🔅

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Johnny T. Nguyen

All about the adventure of positivity & productivity. I’ve turned into my parents and now wake up before 6 AM… & crush it. 🔅