Laguna lake

In the last nine-ish years, I have published an annual review. In recent years, I used three questions to guide my review:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What didn’t go so well this year?
  3. What am I working toward?

I picked these questions from James Clear.

Last year, I added a fourth:

  1. What did I learn this year?

In 2021, I learned a lot about building a life management system that I decided to use an entirely different template to write this review. This article is the culmination of a week-long process of reflecting on the past year and the aggregation of tiny reviews I did throughout 2021.

The process goes this way:

  1. I use five major life areas to review (life system, physical health, mental health, relationships, sustenance, life work).
  2. On each life area, I review the goals I set last year and review whether or not I accomplished them and why.
  3. Then, I share the other goals and projects that emerged throughout last year on that particular area.
  4. Finally, I share the new goals I set on each area.

Let’s dive right into it.

Life management system

Develop life system and philosophy. Setting this goal in 2021 was me telling myself I want to pursue philosophy. I want to use my mind and life as the center of my life work. Little did I know that a life system—which I now more accurately call a “life management system”—is an intricate thing built slowly. A life philosophy is even more complex as I need to continue to ask myself whether or not such a thing is even needed to live a good life. This is a goal I wasn’t able to achieve in 2021 nor will I achieve it in 2022. It is a work for a lifetime. What I was able to do this year was articulate the concept of a life management system better and try things out for myself. One of these is establishing a note-writing system.

Establish a note-writing system and develop at least 300 fully developed notes. This was perhaps my biggest achievement in 2021. I was able to establish a minimum viable zettelkasten system and practice I modified and called Talahardin. This system also involved establishing a daily note-writing practice, which I was able to consistently perform most days of the year when I wasn’t working. I continued to dedicate time practicing, using, researching, and improving this system. That said, I wasn’t able to arrive at 300 notes. I am currently below 200. I realize along the way that the system will inevitably grow in size, but it should happen organically and there has to be a premium on quality over quantity.

Overall, I am happy about what I achieve in this area. This area is perhaps the area I really worked on last year that I am quite surprised I am only able to list three achievements here. This only shows that building a life management system takes time and dedication, and the process for getting it right is something we cannot hasten.

Other goals in this area that came to me this year:

  • I was able to improve my digital security this year. This was a reaction to a card fraud event that happened to me in 2020, which was, thankfully, averted. I took action in securing my digital passwords, installing a VPN, and purchasing an antimalware software.

My goal for this area in 2022 consists of one thing:

  • I want to articulate my purpose, values, and big picture vision for my life to make it easier for me to make decisions.

Physical heath

Get to normal weight. Entering 2021, I set a goal to achieve a normal weight dropping from 192.7 lbs to 178 lbs in the first quarter. This meant losing 14.7 lbs in about seven weeks. I failed terribly in this goal. Not only did I not achieve my goal, I even increased my weight at the end of the year. By December 31, I was 196.4 lbs. I tried to implement good eating habits when I transferred to Los Baños earlier this year and that actually led to the lowest and closest weight I had to my goal on March 27, 2021. That day, I weighed 182.5 lbs—4.5 lbs short of my goal. From that day, however, I increased my weight, decreasing once more around June but increasing around October. Maintaining a healthy weight is difficult and I seriously need to do more reflection on what worked or did not work for me in this project.

Prevent LPR onset. LPR stands for laryngopharyngeal reflux, a condition where acid and contents of the stomach return to the esophagus and throat where they wreak havoc. I suffered from LPR in 2020, which was the original impetus for losing weight. In 2021, I was determined to prevent another relapse so that my throat could heal. I had several LPR relapses, but nothing serious and by about November to December this year, I almost can’t feel the tear in my throat. I was definitely able to improve my digestion through avoiding unhealthy foods, eating more probiotics, especially yogurt, and taking supplements like essential enzymes and pepsin.

Heal eardrum perforation. I would admit that among the health goals I set last 2021, this was the most difficult and perhaps even impossible. According to studies, there is a very slight chance that an adult’s eardrum with a large perforation caused by infection would heal back on its own. But due to the possible complications of the surgery, one of which is the possible worsening of my tinnitus, I chose to wait and delay. I was already habituating to my tinnitus that I didn’t see the need for surgery for it to get better. I was afraid to make my tinnitus worse that I could not habituate to it so I opted to wait and see if the eardrum heals back. My goal was to only help heal my eardrum to close to about 75%. I was only able to heal my eardrum back to about 50%.

Other goals in this area that came to me this year:

  • I was able to establish a daily walking habit early in January 2021. This was to compensate with the bike rides I used to have in Pangasinan. Walking not only became my main form of exercise; it has now become an integral part of my life work.
  • I was able to establish a simple system for purchasing and cooking my own food. I learned several recipes myself. It isn’t perfect though, and I need to do a better job eating the right food.

Overall, my intention entering 2021 was not to have a serious health issue as I experienced in 2020. Although I am not yet fully healed from all my health issues, I enjoyed a generally healthy existence throughout 2021, so I think I succeeded in achieving the general standard of this life area.

My main physical health goals this 2022 are:

  • To establish a better sleeping habit (eight hours a day from 11 PM to 7 AM).
  • To establish a healthy, sustainable, time-efficient, and cost-effective nutrition system that will improve my overall well-being.
  • To have my throat completely heal.

Mental health

Tapering antidepressant. This is a goal I was able to achieve. I continued to take half a pill of the only antidepressant I have been taking (sertraline) since my diagnosis in 2011 without experiencing adverse effects. I am ready to continue with the tapering and reduce my dosage further to a quarter of a pill for another year.

Other goals in this area that came to me this year:

  • After almost two months of surveying, I found the perfect apartment to settle in in Los Baños. Located in a quiet neighborhood, I am currently enjoying peaceful neighbors and fresh air at the foot of Mt. Makiling. This space has profoundly improved my mental health and creative energy.
  • After settling it, I did my best to make the house liveable and established systems to maintain and manage it. It was challenging to maintain a larger space given that I was alone (with my cats). But I learned a lot living by myself.
  • I have built a workspace that supports my creative work. I invested on a 24” monitor, a standing desk, and an ergonomic chair. These three are the best purchases I made in 2021.

Overall, I am definitely happy with my general mental health. There were down days, of course. I usually feel blue during the start of the rainy season. But my mental health improved by a notch for two reasons: a nurturing environment and proximity to friends.

My mental health goals this 2022 are:

  • To further taper my sertraline dosage to 1/4 pill a day.
  • To transform my simple abode into a welcoming home for the important people in my life—people who I invite for meaningful and transformational conversations and camaraderie.


Nurturing more relationships. This is an area of my life in which I think I made a lot of progress this year. I took the PERMA test when I got to Los Baños around the first quarter and compared it to my results from 2020 and I noticed a steeped rise in my happiness level due to a subjective satisfaction in my relationships. In Los Baños I was able to meet new friends and establish closer relationships with old friends. These relationships, in turn, challenged me and encouraged me in thinking about my life work and the life I want to build in general.

Building relationships to help me in my life work. I wasn’t able to accomplish this because I realized early on that I have to articulate to myself first what kind of work exactly I want to accomplish. That will help me identify the exact people to connect to.

Other goals in this area that came to me this year:

  • I transferred to Los Baños, which profoundly improved my relationships. I have great neighbors, great friends, and I am closer to Lear while I’m here.
  • I was able to make my apartment more welcoming to my new friends and hosted one event.
  • While staying in my transient space, I was visited by two stray cats. I fed them and that is why they returned. I was simply reciprocating how LB people are treating their animals. When I was about to transfer to my new place, I decided to bring them with me. I am happy with my decision—although sometimes regret it when I call Champy and she doesn’t come.
  • Speaking of pets, my oldest dog Doji died in Pangasinan while I was away. This actually prompted me to finally visit home after eight months. I decided to transition Kako, my other dog back there, to organic food to improve her health.
  • More on pets: I learned how to solve a flea infestation after we had a bad one last November.
  • I was able to make large strides in my relationship with Lea. I met her mom and relatives. I was able to introduce her to mine. Everything is really going well with the two of us.

My relationship goals in 2022 are:

  • To help Lea be accountable to her goal of saving for her emergency fund.
  • To support Lea in her goal of becoming her healthiest self.
  • To articulate for myself clearly what kind of people I want to bring into my life and inner circle.
  • To proactively search for my ideal people and nurture my relationships with them.
  • To reunite my entire family at least once this year.


Reviewing my beliefs on money. Early in 2021, I wanted to see if there are other ideas aside from those I learned from Your Money or Your Life and Early Retirement Extreme that could guide how I see personal finance. I wasn’t able to pursue this project because I focused on setting the foundation for the more basic and obvious changes in my current resource management system.

Restructure my resource management system. I call it a resource management system instead of a financial management system because I see that the non-financial materials that we use in our lives are tightly connected with how we use our money. In 2021, I put a lot of time into setting up the foundation for a better system. First, I transferred all my emergency funds to online banks, which have higher interest rates than normal banks. Bye, bye BPI and EastWest. Hello CIMB and Tonik! Next, I learned passive investing and invested the majority of my savings to both the Philippine Stock Market and the international stock markets. I’m totally new in the game, but I am happy to have started.

Look for a second source of stable income. I was making enough money as a freelance English editor by the beginning of 2021, but the resilience thinking I learned from reading ERE convinced me that I need to start or look for a second source of income that could compensate for my main source in the case, for an unforeseen event, that source disappears. Unfortunately, I was too preoccupied with the previous goal that I lost steam on this one.

Reconsider entrepreneurship to find sustenance work closer to joy. I wasn’t able to follow through with this goal because I was exposed to the patronage model many times in 2021: Andy Matuschak, Craig Mod, and Hundred Rabbits. I decided to explore the patronage model. I contemplated whether establishing patrons instead of a business would suit me better. I am convinced that it would, given the nature of the work I want to do. However, it seems a more difficult thing to build than a business and so I remain open to either.

Other goals in this area that came to me this year:

  • I studied insurance and bought myself an HMO card for the first time.
  • I built my own financial tracker through spreadsheets and transfer my monthly financial review there.
  • I started exploring the idea of outsourcing my editing work to someone

My sustenance goals in 2022 are:

  • To create a budgeting system to use every month, while I haven’t yet improve my financial system.
  • To reevaluate my understanding, values, and general philosophy of money and the material world.
  • To reevaluate my editing work and decide whether to improve my editing skills or learn a new skill altogether.
  • To reevaluate whether to outsource my editing work or not.
  • To find a second source of stable income online.
  • To invest in high risk, high reward investment instruments.
  • To learn Linux and consider an opensource lifestyle.

Life work

Connect with independent thinkers building their own philosophical systems. My transfer to Los Baños sucked me into the local community of artists and creatives. Although I enjoy our camaraderie, there is no denying that I need a community that is exactly parallel with the work I want to build (contemplation and philosophy). I was able to establish a friendship with one such person in 2021, even started a dialogue with him. But this isn’t enough. Being an introvert, socialization is not really my strong suit and I need to exert more effort to put a dent in this goal.

Have a first draft manuscript of my translation of Thoreau’s journals. I wasn’t able to achieve this goal. But I like it that way. Thoreau has been a profound influence on how I see the world and live my life that going back to his works and slowly doing the translation is the pace I want to take. I did manage to do many translations in 2021. But I will not force myself to release a book. I plan on building a site of my translations though (Update: I have done this! Check out the site at

Other goals in this area that came to me this year:

  • I was able to revisit all my past notes about my life work and uncovered important data on my tendencies and preferences. I have started to define my life work better. I am not completely there but I am making progress (link to notes on life work)
  • In 2021, I commemorated the 10th year of my depressive episode—the single most life-changing experience I had. I released a series of vignettes about my episode, which I later discontinued.
  • I released two seasons of a newsletter I called Lilim. It was the first newsletter I was able to consistently release weekly (except for twice I think). It was a newsletter inspired by my new love of walking, my never-ending philosophical questions, and my desire to improve my voice as a writer.
  • I deepened my photography skills. I took a course in iPhone photography, joined Craig Mod’s membership club for a month, read the Teju Cole’s column in the New York Times, and went to lots of walks to take photos. I volunteered to document events and took portraits of my friends. Learning photography has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I had in 2021.
  • I took lots of walks. Almost everyday, I walked. I discovered every little street in Los Baños and went to several longer walks discovering new places in town.
  • My research on Zettelkasten, knowledge management, and life management has really deepen that I was able to create and conduct a workshop.

My life work goals in 2022 are:

  • To study web design and create a new minimum viable design for
  • To study web development to apply the new design for
  • To learn coding.
  • To continue translating a sizable amount of Thoreau’s journal quotes.
  • To build a website for my Thoreau translations.
  • To establish a regular habit of reaching out and conversing with my ideal audience: audience, peers, and mentors.
  • To research individuals who asked the question “How to Live?” and have studied how they study, live, share, connect, and facilitate their ideas to others.
  • To clearly articulate my Talahardin system using inspiration from Zettelkasten, Evergreen note-taking system, and BASB.
  • To design a beta version of an app for my Talahardin.
  • To plan, perform, and write about at least one long philosophical walk.