Year-End Review for 2021

The year-end review of 2020 was postponed, but the year-end review of 2021 is now recorded in my personal OKR. Unfortunately, the completion of my OKR has not been very high, and I can’t procrastinate anymore this time 😭. I conducted this year’s review following the concept of the “Wheel of Life.”

The “Wheel of Life” was a concept I only encountered in the second half of 2021. As a categorization standard, I didn’t strictly adhere to its classification criteria during actual use since it was quite detailed. Nevertheless, I believe it generally aligns with my aspirations.

Reflection is a highly personalized activity, and any methodology or standard can only serve as a reference rather than a complete solution. I’m still learning how to conduct effective reflections. After all, “what one learns on the paper is shallow; to truly understand, one must practice.”

Wheel of Life


My biggest realization this year is that “time is insufficient,” and I now have a deeper understanding of long-term and short-term planning. I used to find concepts like long-term and short-term plans and principles to be too idealistic. Even though I understood many concepts like compounding thinking, SMART goals, prioritizing important tasks, and starting with the end in mind, I struggled to implement them effectively. It’s the classic case of “knowing many principles but still not living life well.”

Once I recognized the problem of “implementation,” I experienced a period of anxiety and even a touch of compulsiveness, desperately seeking the correct and efficient path, fearing to waste time and energy by taking the wrong route. Later on, I realized this was a form of “procrastination.” Fortunately, after adjusting my mindset, I started making progress, finding my own rhythm and flow 🏃.

Why didn’t I wake up sooner? Time! Or, I should say, the pressure that comes with age. Suddenly, I felt that I could no longer use youth as an excuse and drift through life aimlessly. This realization is somewhat emotional, and it came after a considerable accumulation of experiences. Some things require time and life experience, just like brewing wine. It involves both the preparation of materials in the early stages and the passage of time in the later stages. Relying solely on one or the other won’t yield the desired results. Of course, there are different methods to expedite this process, and your experiences are just reference materials.

The second major realization is the “importance of reflection.” Most of my insights and gains come from reflection. It helps me avoid the cycle of working tirelessly on projects and experiencing one year of work over ten years. Currently, my reflection process lacks consistency. Sometimes it’s just a few sentences, and other times it’s a full article. Overall, I haven’t found a perfect template for reflection, which can lead to scattered thoughts during each review. I hope to improve my reflection efficiency in 2022 and will write a sharing article on the practice of reflection 🔮.

Lastly, let’s talk about “preference for tools” in my cognitive system. I believe that tools (in the sense of software or applications) are accelerators in the process of achieving goals. The main goal should be to enhance efficiency. It’s easy to fall into a cognitive bias when it comes to tools: using a particular tool might make you believe that you’ve gained a certain ability. This is particularly evident with some productivity tools like GTD. I fell into this trap as well, investing a lot of effort in learning popular tools, feeling like I had an arsenal at my disposal. However, reality can be harsh.

This year, I took a different approach with tools. The fragmentation between various tools made me realize the importance of an ecosystem 😨. Now, my reviews, quick thoughts, to-do lists, calendar, contacts, and even photos are all within Apple’s built-in software. Email is on Gmail, and notes are stored in Obsidian on iCloud (this allows me to search and view them directly on my phone without additional app downloads).

Yes, I’ve joined the Apple ecosystem. I have very few cross-platform needs, and this balance aligns with my expectations for user experience and efficiency. It allows me to focus more on activities beyond tools.

In summary, first, you need clear goals. Methods, skills, and tools are all means to achieve those goals. Everything should revolve around your objectives. Losing sight of your goals can lead to confusion, passive work, and eventually a loss of competitiveness. This isn’t meant to induce anxiety but to help you make choices that better suit your needs. Who said that going with the flow isn’t a choice?

Career Development

Towards the end of 2021, changes in the company’s business direction led to adjustments in my work focus.

The downside is that my past work didn’t achieve the expected results in terms of business outcomes, which may have some impact on future assessments 😣. However, this is a common occurrence in one’s career. Fortunately, I received valuable advice from a senior colleague during a casual conversation:

Ineffectiveness is quite normal.

Even if you see results after effort, it’s still considered good.

It’s already fortunate if your effort yields results.

Don’t try to eliminate ineffective efforts.

What matters is how you make your abilities visible among the ineffective efforts.

On the positive side, my responsibilities have expanded, and in 2022, I will dedicate more time, energy, and focus to team building, allowing me to have a broader perspective and think holistically. I also have the opportunity to learn and practice various knowledge and concepts, hoping to establish a positive feedback loop in new areas.

Regarding technical depth: I’ve been continuously organizing the working principles of middleware like Go source code, MySQL, Redis, Kafka, and others.

In terms of technical breadth: I’ve been consolidating knowledge in microservice design patterns, architectural design solutions, cloud-native concepts, and stability management.

From my cognitive perspective, there are only two types of professional knowledge: new things and new terms. I’ve come to understand that new things should be seen through their essence; they often describe something existing in a different system and fundamentally do not change.

Financial Situation

This year, I’ve continued to enhance my financial knowledge, albeit at a cost 📉.

I’ve redefined four types of money: liquid assets, stable assets (3 years), long-term assets (5 years), and insurance. My primary sources of learning include “Qieman,” “Youzhiyouxing,” “ETF Rescue the World,” and “Meng Yan.”

I’ve also reevaluated the allocation of family assets. Due to a significant planned expense within 3 years, stable assets have a higher allocation. Currently, liquid assets: stable assets: long-term assets = 2:6:2.

Because of a high allocation in Chinese concept stocks and the overall market downturn before Chinese New Year, 2021 was mostly in the red. I was impulsive before June but became more cautious in the latter half of the year, following a stress test schedule. Therefore, overall stress levels remain manageable, but the cost is still not low due to the majority of investments being made in the first half of the year. Remember, it’s not a loss until you sell 🍜!

Yield Curve

I’ve maintained the habit of keeping financial records throughout the year, using Money Pro for convenient asset overviews and detailed queries. This year’s major expenses were mostly related to essential expenditures, and my income structure remains single. I aim to diversify my income structure in 2022.

2021 Summary - Expenditure

2021 Summary - Income

I also gained knowledge about insurance this year: critical illness insurance, medical insurance, accident insurance, and life insurance. Before the February 1st insurance regulations, I arranged critical illness insurance for my family because of its excellent cost-effectiveness with preferential claims. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it for myself due to health issues 💉. In 2022, I plan to complete the remaining insurance coverage. For me, the primary purpose of insurance is to mitigate risks. Therefore, I only consider pure consumption-type insurance, excluding those with financial functions like refunds or dividends.

During the learning process, I gradually discovered that the sales approach in the insurance industry is shifting towards the internet. Compared to traditional offline channels, online customer acquisition costs are lower. More insurance agencies and individuals are moving towards online sales, and over time, people who grew up with the internet will constitute a higher percentage of customers. Online sales will undoubtedly become more prominent. Whether it’s offline or online, whether it’s a company or an individual agent, your insurance contract is signed with the insurance company and is subject to regulatory oversight by the CBIRC (China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission) 🏢.

Interpersonal Relationships

This area remains quite emotional for me. Sometimes I feel nervous, while at other times, I’m relaxed. Finding the right balance is challenging, and there are still instances where communication isn’t smooth due to nervousness or reluctance to express myself. In retrospect, I’ve missed many opportunities.

Overall, I’ve become more “Zen” in communication and interaction. I no longer enjoy arguing with people, especially when it’s about things unrelated to me. You can say 1+1=5 if you want.

Improving my Mandarin continues to be a goal. I can now differentiate between flat and retroflex sounds, but I still struggle with nasal tones. I’ll keep practicing. Thankfully, Chinese is a rich language, and you can often deduce the meaning from the context, so it doesn’t hinder communication much. It’s just that I still freeze when faced with tongue-twisters 😰.

In summary, I’ve written relatively little about this area. I’m an introverted person, but I’m sensitive and can practice empathy and non-violent communication. However, my expression falls short of my expectations, and I hope to continue improving in 2022.

Personal Well-being

This year, I addressed my most significant pain point: lower back pain. I used to experience noticeable soreness in the middle of my lower back, often starting around 2 PM at the office. After a bit of study and understanding of muscle activation principles, I explored some relief methods. Eventually, I even obtained a massage card and underwent half a year of massage therapy, combined with regular stretching and relaxation. Since the Chinese New Year, I haven’t experienced back pain again. I also tried chiropractic care a few times and felt comfortable!

During my conversations with the massage therapist, I learned that poor posture can lead to muscle imbalances, affecting spinal alignment (the most typical issue is curvature). This, in turn, results in persistent muscle imbalances due to spinal curvature, creating a vicious cycle.

Another posture-related factor contributing to back pain is “anterior pelvic tilt.” I never thought that lower back pain could be related to the muscles on the front of the thighs until I watched this video.

I’ve also relied on health education sources like Dingxiang Doctor and Shugui for health information, correcting many of my misconceptions. I also quit crossing my legs.

All these actions aimed to restore my body to its natural state. I haven’t engaged in aerobic exercises like running or swimming this year, and there’s been no anaerobic exercise either. Fortunately, my diet control has been good, and my weight hasn’t changed, but my face looks slimmer than last year. In 2022, I plan to undertake a comprehensive fitness training regimen, focusing on muscle development 💪, and aim for at least two swimming sessions per month 🏊.

During the 2022 Chinese New Year, I learned snowboarding for the first time. I struggled on my first attempt but hope to become an intermediate level rider by the 2023 Chinese New Year 🏂.