My 2021 Year-in-Review: The James Clear Method

Let’s dive into the James Clear method and assess how I did last year, aka the YEAR IN REVIEW! Haha, yes, I’m a tad excited (and scared), as I love evaluating how I’m doing in order to see what I can be doing better.

James Clear, author of the bestseller Atomic Habits, has a simple method, just answer these 3 questions:

  • What went well this year?
  • What didn’t go well this year?
  • What did I learn this year?

What went well.

Email stats for my Venture Out newsletter

Entrepreneur. Been proud of how Venture Out has been performing. And by performing, I mean the perceived quality of my writing + the open rate of emails. To me, the increase in open rates means that what I’m producing is resonating more and more with you. At the end of the day, Venture Out is a passion project, so seeing it finally take a foothold and gaining is extremely gratifying. Like Gladwell asserted in Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours to be expert at something. I’ve calculated I’m roughly at 1,000 hours total, with 300+ added this year alone. Not that it’s about statistics and numbers, but it does represent something… I hope.

Risk taking. This year, both in my day job and in Venture Out, I’ve been trying to push myself and take on more risk. I’ve partly been able to do this because of a mental shift towards, “what’s the worst that can happen?” Most of the time, the fear is imaginary but the reward is very real. So, both at work and here, I’ve been trying to address more controversial topics and be more vulnerable.

Adventuring. Visited Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for the first time this year. Loved hanging out at the spacious expanse at sunset and trying our best to spot wolves and other wildlife. Went to Kauai, Hawaii for the first time, experienced some beautiful beaches and loved the Hawaii colors and rain chains. Finally, did some proper adventuring with two hikes in the Rocky Mountains, successfully climbing 2 14’ers, Mt. Beirstadt and Quandary. Big thanks to my friends who waited for me (I’m the slowest!) and pushed me on to achieve.

Look who I found while driving through Yellowstone National Park.

What didn’t go well.

In reviewing my assessment of last year, my big lesson was that I needed to do better long-term planning for my aging parents. This year proved to be a big fat failure. No change in what’ll happen to my parents, just another year passed with my dad falling several times throughout (no major injuries, thankfully) and my mom getting weaker. And why did this happen? Let’s be honest, confronting this is a lot of stress and human nature won out by taking the path of least resistance.

My dad.

My injuries. Halfway through this year my right shoulder started hurting, prob from my once a week tennis matches. Kinda pathetic though, just once a week for just one set of tennis. But I have played tennis all my life, and I did not properly warm up each time. On top of that, because of the pandemic and no weight lifting, I haven’t been able to maintain/build my shoulder and rotator cuff muscles. It’s been way too long, took me way too long to see my doctor and rehab, and it’s still not healed up. Let this be the wake-up call to me to start taking care of my body more seriously if I want to achieve peak performance as I get older.

Developing a life skill. My Epic Life Planner that I abide by each year calls for setting at least 1 goal related to developing a skill that’ll be useful for the rest of my life’s enjoyment. This year I made that photography and astronomy. And what have I learned or advanced? Notta. I’m still taking pictures mainly on Automatic and I still can’t name any star in the night sky.

What I learned.

Patience is still not my strong suit. It became more evident this year during stressful times and I found myself at the edge WAY too quickly. Despite years of meditation (this year has been lacking), I found my mind too unfocused, distractible, and ultimately impatient. I’d like to find a way to blame social media and texting. What is it about sitting focused on something for a long duration that is so difficult these days, with my hand constantly wandering towards my phone. Like the hand in the Addams family, I’ve had to slap my other hand to stop it!

Autonomy is important to me. I’ve picked up on a trend this year that whenever something encroached on my ability to manage my own time or do things per my preference, I was quick to get defensive. If you’re reading this, then I know you also value your time immensely. That’s not the point though. It’s my reaction to when that gets violated that opened my eye to how big a deal this is now to me.


The James Clear method provides a simple, effective way to assess the year… as long as we are brutally honest with ourselves. Once again, I’ll do my best to be proud of my achievements and to address what didn’t go well. Like Andy Puddecombe of Headspace would advise us, be kind to yourself when criticizing. We wouldn’t chastise a close friend, so why would you verbally abuse yourself? Bottomline, I will hopefully do more good stuff this year, take care of my parents and myself better, and be mindful of my attitude.



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Johnny T. Nguyen

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. 🔅