As part of my journaling practice I do a yearly review.
I do it at the start of every year and I review the past year and set intentions for the upcoming year.
The process has grown over the years and is intensive. It now spans across a few days as I review my monthly highlights to gather my favorite moments from the year, milestones and my biggest wins.
I also answer a few prompts and review my long-form entries to look for patterns, themes and lessons.
Finally, I look at the intentions I set and see how I did with them before setting new intentions for the upcoming year.
If I had to sum it up in one long, run-on sentence. In 2021 I...
Became more clear and confident around my purpose of bringing self-awareness to people through journaling, which led me to quit "working" and throughout the process of it all I was deeply triggered more than I have been in my entire life, which was hard, but so rewarding in what it taught me about myself.
For the more detailed, non-run-on version, read on...
Top 12 Highlights of 2021
This has been on my bucket list since I created it in 2010, which is why this experience was extra sweet. Caught 2 trigger fish, which we turned into delicious ceviche.
I spent my 35th birthday in quarantine waiting to get back into Bali, but it was made so much better by a surprise birthday call set up by my partner, Christina. You can see me blindfolded in the top left.
Back to Bali
After one of the most stressful trips, we made it back into Bali! After arriving we walked down to the beach for sunset and took a moment to breathe and reflect on how grateful and fortunate we were.
Launching Journal Anyway
Not an April fools joke. I officially launched the first version of Journal Anyway—a program to help you start a journaling habit—and welcomed everyone into the experience with this journaling view.
For my birthday gift, Christina organized motorcycle lessons for us and then we took them out to Pasut Beach to have a sunset photoshoot while riding them on the beach.
Living Tantra Retreat
For Christina's Birthday I bought us tickets for a week-long Tantra Retreat. It. Was. Transformative. I learned so much about myself, as well as powerful tools for my relationship and emotional development.
1 Year Anniversary with Christina
My favorite part of this was reflecting back on the year together and each of us writing powerful notes for each other.
Magic Hills Trip
We took a trip with some friends to an amazing villa up in Sideman and one of my favorite memories was the last morning walking through the rice paddy hills with Christina and talking about our vision for the future.
Solo Trip to Uluwatu
Towards the end of 2021 I was facing some big transitions so I took a solo trip down to Uluwatu for a week to get away from technology & back to nature and to help me make some hard decisions.
Nusa Penida Trip
For as long as I have been coming to Bali I have never visited Nusa Penida. So we took a long weekend trip, rented a scooter and explored the island. I loved the sunset views and riding through nature on the scooter with Christina on the back.
Christmas Eve Dinner
This is the second year in a row I've missed Christmas at home with my family, so we held a Christmas Eve dinner in Bali with a great crew. I felt so grateful for Christina and the people who came, but missed home so much.
A Perfect Last Day of the year
I hit a new best of 25 meters (82 feet) on my freediving, got an epic drone video of the villa we were staying, and had NYE dinner with a solid crew up in Amed before ending the evening with Rosella Kombucha cheers, private fireworks and conscious connection about what we’re leaving in 2021.
Top 3 Wins
Win 1 - Jumping out on my Own
For the past 6 years I have funded my life on the road as a remote freelancer working as an online marketer, mainly with the amazing Thrive Themes, but also with companies like WODprep and Carla Biesinger.
I was good at what did and I loved the people I worked with along the way, but I've always wanted to build my own thing. It's one of the reasons I started this website.
But this website has been on hold as I freelanced for these other companies. Honing my skills, but also becoming too comfortable. As hard as it was, this year I decided to say goodbye to the freelance life and use all the extra time to build my own thing.
Win 2 - Launching 4 versions of Journal Anyway
Towards the end of 2020 and throughout 2021 I started getting little pushes and nudges to start building something around my passion for documentation. This eventually turned into Journal Anyway, which is a program for helping you build a journaling habit for yourself.
Journaling is something I have done every day since I left on my trip around the world in 2012 and it's the best habit I've ever created for myself, so I'm very passionate about it, so my goal is to bring the practice of self-reflection to as many people as I can.
So in 2021 I ended up testing out a bunch of different formats and ideas for the project and while it hasn't hit the immediate success I dreamed of, it has been so fun creating and learning. I can't wait to see how it grows in 2022.
Win 3 - Deepening my Understanding of Myself
In a journal entry I wrote this year I said that "2021 was the year of the trigger" for me.
I have never released and let my body deeply feel as many emotions as I have this year: grief, sadness, rage, fear, frustration, pride and joy.
Through my relationship with Christina, the Tantra Retreat, an acting workshop, a public speaking workshop, launching Journal Anyway and letting go of my freelance gigs...so many deep, deep things started to surface for me.
Much of the details are still too tender and vulnerable to share publicly, but I hope to write about them in the future. It was a powerful year.
Top 5 Lessons Learned
Lesson 1 - the life i want requires a deeper understanding of myself
One of the things I noticed this year was how little I understood my own wants, needs and desires. This led me to realize the key to unlocking the life I want is to know myself deeper & deeper.
Lesson 2 - my Body needs to express the things I'm feeling
I have spent many years seeking to improve my emotional development. Journaling and Meditation are two of the tools I have been using for this, and they are great tools for bringing a mental awareness and the ability to witness feelings and emotions as an observer.
However, I have done little to develop my body's nervous system when it comes to these feelings and emotions. Because of this, I freeze and disassociate when intense feelings like anger or sadness arise.
Learning how to incorporate my body into my emotional development has led to many breakthroughs in releasing stuck emotions and healthy communication.
Lesson 3 - The Money in my life Correlates to how deeply i understand the game
Chess is a game with a set of rules. Everyone who plays is constrained by the same set of rules.
However, some people have a much deeper understanding of those rules and how to play within them to win. If I were to play a grandmaster, they would beat me every single time. They aren't cheating, they have just taken the time to understand the game at a much deeper level than me.
Money is also a game with a set of rules, and how much of it I have directly correlates with how deeply I understand the game.
Lesson 4 - Nature is a powerful reset and teacher
Time in nature, distraction free is a powerful tool for illuminating what's important to me and how to get there.
I want to use it more.
Lesson 5 - I can give what i long for to myself
2021 showed me the darker side of my people-pleasing tendencies. It can lead to me subconsciously doing things because I want something in return. Most of the time it's acknowledgement or praise and when I don't get them it leaves me feeling resentful.
However, I learned I can be the one to provide the acknowledgement, praise or whatever else I'm looking for and it's even more powerful than someone else giving them to me.
2021 Intentions vs. What Actually Happened
Word for the Year: Share
I chose this word because of the realizations I had in 2020 around my own perfectionism and fear of being seen. In 2021 I wanted to push through these by sharing more of my life with the world and those closest to me, but also speaking my mind about how I'm feeling instead of hiding emotions for the sake of others.
I did really well with this, I think. The tantra retreat was a great catalyst as it helped me become aware of darker shadows and triggers.
Because I was aware of them I was able to more openly share and express them during disagreements. This awareness also helped me express things BEFORE it turned nasty as well as being able to ask for space to process and physically emotionally release before coming back to finish a conversation in a healthier headspace.
On top of this I also got more involved in getting in front of the camera by joining a public speaking workshop as well as creating video content and trainings for Journal Anyway.
Publish an Online Course on TQ4A
This was accomplished through FOUR shipped versions of Journal Anyway!
Post an Underwater Photo I Took
Even though I didn't get an underwater housing or take an underwater photo I’m actually going to count this as completed.
The idea behind this intention was to get creative and produce different types of content, and instead of going the underwater route I ended up buying a drone and got really into flying it and was able to produce and share a few videos.
Donate to a Cause I Care About Every Month
Causes donated to include: Sea Legacy, Destiny Rescue and Feed Bali
Perform a Stadler Press, Freestanding Handstand Pushup & One-Armed Chin-Up
Made much more progress on this on the second half of the year as I worked with specific programming to train these movements. Still got a while to go though...
Get TQ4A to $5k/mo Revenue
Didn’t get very close on this one, but was at least able to launch Journal Anyway and make some sales.
Complete Wave 3 of Freediving
Didn’t make much progress on this, but was able to get in 2 lessons where I increased my dive to 25m, and got the feedback from the instructor that I’m definitely ready for Wave 2.
Word for the Year: Inspire
I chose this word because...it feels like the next evolution of my growth. There were a few other words coming up as possible words, like engage or ease...and while they resonated with me, they didn't hit (with a bit of terror) like inspire did.
Intentions Around this Word
- Grow a paying audience of at least 99 customers who are interested in journaling and help them successfully create their own journaling habit.
Other Intentions for 2022
- Get to know my dad better.
- Create at least 3 memorable experiences for me/people in my life.
- Visit a new country
- Stadler Press, Freestanding handstand pushup and one-armed chin up.
Cheers to 2022. Let me know what you think in the comments below
Congrats to you Dave on a great year complete with launching your course, spearfishing and hitting 25 meters on the dive line! I also got back into freediving the first week of 2022 with an adventure course in the kelp forests near Cape Town. Will be sport diving at Lake Guinas here in Namibia come April too. Loved your 2021 recap and will definitely be setting 2022 goals for review in 2023 myself now so thanks for the insight!
Thank you Matt! I’m glad it was insightful and inspiring for you to do for 2022 💪🏼
I might be heading towards Cape Town towards the end of July so might have to get your contact for the adventure course as it sounds amazing.
Hope all is well brother, congrats on the new TA release. I know how hard you’ve been working on it. I haven’t had a chance to play around with it yet, but looking forward to get into dripping for the upcoming versions of Journal Anyway!