TL;DR 2021 in a nutshell
This year I managed to progress in pretty much all the areas of my life that I care about. Of course, there is always room for improvement—I fell short of many goals after all. But so many fantastic, unexpected things happened that it’s difficult to see this year as anything but positive.
Career & Finance
Become Senior PM by mid-2021
- Write 3 product blog posts/essays ❌
- Achieve an “Excellent” performance review ✅
- Get promoted! ✅
In June 2021 I finally got my promotion to Senior Product Manager! I also got some sweet sweet equity in Typeform by going the extra mile. I was also very happy to be accepted into the Reforge program, and have already completed their Product Strategy and Growth Series courses.
Whilst I didn’t write any new blog posts, I did take part in a remote panel discussion for ProductTank Malta about The Role of the Product Manager.
Take advantage of remote work capabilities
- Work remotely from another city for 1 month (Canary Islands, South Africa, Mexico) 🥑
This happened by accident and I wouldn’t say it was entirely completed (hence the half-avocado which you’ll see spread throughout this post). My girlfriend and I had to travel to Mexico last minute for personal reasons. Whilst we didn’t work from a glammed-up beachside hut, we did work remotely for a couple of weeks. We started and finished work much earlier than usual, but that gave us a lot of time to explore in the afternoons. Working remotely and at odd hours is definitely a viable way of exploring a new place and I’d love to try it again in some of the other locations on my bucket list.
Achieve Financial Freedom by
2025 age 35
- Earn €1000 from a new source of income ❌
Whilst I didn’t manage to focus on generating new sources of income, I did take advantage of opportunities that came my way organically. Thanks to a case-study I collaborated on with Notion, I was approached by several Expert Network/Knowledge-On-demand firms, such as AlphaSights, to take part in phone consultations and surveys regarding several SaaS tools. In total I made just over €200 from a couple of short calls. More recently, I also contributed to another case-study with Miro. I took part in the case-studies because I love using both Notion and Miro, but it’s nice to see what unexpected, positive effects can come from just saying ‘yes’ more often to opportunities.
Even though I didn’t make any money from new products or services that I sold, I did start getting more involved in the bootstrapping and solopreneur space. I did the introductory course for Bubble.io, a no-code app builder, and even built a prototype for a new feature at Typeform. I also joined the IndieHackers community and got back on Twitter. I hope to become more active in these communities next year and make some real progress towards this goal.
Personal Development & Learning
Feel like a local in Spain
- Achieve Spanish B2 🥑
- Visit 3 other Spanish Cities / Regions 🥑
I didn’t fully achieve either of these key results, but I didn’t fully fail at them either. Whilst I didn’t manage to get to B2 level, my Spanish has improved significantly (no doubt helped by my 3 weeks in Mexico speaking with Karla’s abuela), and is probably hovering just above the B1 level. I did manage to visit 2/3 new Spanish cities having been Girona and Valencia in the spring.
Become a productivity machine (again)
- Wake up on time every day—average 80% success over the year 🥑
- Journal every day—average 80% success over the year 🥑
- Review goals every month—average 100% success over the year 🥑
This one was a bit difficult to judge. I used a habit tracking app to track whether I was following my intended routines. For a couple of months I did manage to reach the thresholds for success, but for the majority of the year I did not. The thing is, I didn’t feel unproductive during the off-months time. I just accomplished what I wanted through other means, or just didn’t want to accomplish certain things anymore. I feel like I’ve definitely proven that I’m able to be more productive using small, consistent habits.
Some of the productive things I did include
- Listened to to 22 [educational] podcast episodes
- Watched 9 documentaries
- Completed 2 product management courses
- Read 11 books
Start traveling again
- Go on another long-distance trek ✅
- Go on at least 1 solo trip ❌
- Go on at least 1 couple’s trip ✅
With the Covid vaccine came the chance to explore the world a bit more again. I visited several new places including Girona and Valencia, Mexico, Sardegna, and Greece.
Whilst in Greece, my oldest friends and I went on a 2-day hiking trip to the summit of Mount Olympus.
Improve my outdoor skills
- Go mountain biking at least once ❌
- Do a mountaineering course ❌
- Get my Freediving level 2 or Open Water Diver Advanced certifications ❌
In the first half of the year, before the vaccine, Covid did make it tough to go to exotic and wild places to work on some outdoor skills. We weren’t allowed out of Barcelona during the mountaineering season and when we were near the coast in Mexico we had incredibly bad weather, preventing us from diving.
I did manage to squeeze in some fun new activities though. Whilst in Malta, I played laser tag in an old prison and I gave playing Japanese taiko drums a chance.
As a lover of food, the highlights of my culinary experiences this year included dining at Koy Shunka and ABaC. Koy Shunka is a 1 star Michelin restaurant and the first Michelin star restaurant I’ve ever been to (barring Bahia and Noni in Malta which received theirs after I ate there). For my birthday, Karla took me to ABaC one of only two 3 star Michelin restaurants in Barcelona. What can I say, eating at a Michelin star restaurant is an experience. Whilst not everything is as delicious as your favourite pasta dish, everything is definitely interesting. The tastes, the presentation, the service—everything is unique and exciting. Eating at such a restaurant is something I’d recommend to anyone who gets the chance, they are worth every penny!
Health & Fitness
Make taking care of my Mental Health part of my routine
- Meditate every day—average 80% success over the year ❌
More holistic fitness
- Perform a freestanding handstand 🥑
- Be able to place my palms flat on the floor 🥑
- Be able to do a one-armed pull-up ❌
- Be able to do 20 pull-ups ❌
- Be able to do 50 pushups in a row ✅
I did manage to do a handstand by starting from a wall, but I’ve still got a way to go until I manage one from the floor. I followed a stretching routine for a while and improved my mobility significantly, but ended up stopping short of the goal. Whilst I didn’t manage to commit to the routine needed to progress in my fitness goals, I’m glad that I still exercise regularly and am generally fit. A ruptured thigh muscle from football towards the end of the year reminded me that I’m getting older and need to pay more attention to warming up, stretching, and overall flexibility.
Help the Environment
- Attend a beach cleaning or tree planting event ❌
Do some Social good
- Donate blood x2 ❌
Not much to add here other than I just didn’t work hard enough at findings ways to make these happen. I’ll try and do better next year!
Social Life & Relationships
Set the foundations for a healthy long-term relationship
- Create a list of things to do together ✅
- Go on a date at least once per week—average 80% success over the year ✅
- Create a routine of talking about our relationship at least once per month—average 80% success over the year ✅
Knocked this one out of the park we did. Karla moved in with me in February. It was sooner than we were planning, but the timing seemed right and I’m glad we did it. Whilst the apartment definitely feels a little bit cramped at time with both of us working from home, that’s what it feels like now, a home.
Find a regular after work/weekend social activity
- Attend an event at least once per week——average 80% success over the year ❌
I had just started going to football on Tuesdays when I busted my leg as mentioned before. Since I like to be outside and active with other people, this kinda put an end to this goal for the rest of the year.
Apart from the above, I also attended 3 weddings in Malta and watched 1 remotely. It was an honour to be at my friends’ special days (some of whom I’ve known for 20 years!). Last but not least, I’m also grateful for when my friends honoured me by being part of my small birthday celebrations (which I have to thank Karla for organising once again)
If you’ve read this far you’re probably my mum. Hi ma!
Seriously though, I wanted to take a moment to talk about gratitude—I’m extremely thankful for the life I’m leading. I’m especially thankful for the people in my life. Without them, all of the above wouldn’t be possible. Even if it was, it wouldn’t be meaningful.
So a big thank you to my parents (and grandparents), my partner, my friends, and all the rest. I wouldn’t be here without you and I wouldn’t want to be ❤️
- Principles by Ray Dalio
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
- The Almanack of Raval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson
- Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday
- The Art of Action by Stephen Bungay
- Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres
- How to Make Sense of Any Mess by Abby Covert
- Validating Product Ideas Handbook by Itamar Gilad
- Shape Up by Ryan Singer