Brian Tan

@btantheman

5 Lessons Learned from My Best Year of Personal Growth

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2016 has been the most exciting, fulfilling, and productive year of my 19 years alive so far.

To give you some context, here are just some of the things I’ve accomplished this year:

  1. Averaged a QPI of 3.81/4.00 (QPI is like a GPA)
  2. Helped organize 6 student-focused startup events, such as TechClash 2016, HealthHacks 2016, and the ASES Summit Manila 2016.
  3. Read 5 Non-Academic Books, with my favorite being David Kadavy’s Design for Hackers
  4. Listened to over 40 episodes of The Tim Ferriss Show, the #1 business podcast on iTunes
  5. Published 6 Medium posts, which generated 2423 views, 1698 reads, and 96 recommends (that’s a lot already for me!)
  6. Coded 3 websites, with my best being HealthHacks PH’s landing page
  7. Watched 20+ videos of DevTips tutorials, Gary Vaynerchuk’s motivating videos, Casey Neistat’s Vlogs, and Ximo Pierto’s NBA Highlights (probably my biggest accomplishment this year).

But accomplishments aside, what I wanted to share today was the lessons I learned this year, which was my best year in terms of personal growth and happiness. Everyone wants to grow, and I know you do too. I hope you’ll benefit from reading these lessons, so you don’t have to fall into doing the same mistakes I did.

1. Focus on creating “enduring” products.

After helping organize 6 events this year, I’ve realized that organizing events is frickin’ hard. Months of work is spent just to create a smooth-sailing few days for your participants. Don’t get me wrong though. Some events are still worth organizing, especially if they are value-adding to your participants (workshops, talks, conferences).

But over time, organizing events wasn’t value-adding to me anymore; I had learned everything I could about it. Moreover, I would rather have spent all that effort creating “enduring” products — such as blog posts, templates, or videos. That way, people can use your products again and again, and you could probably create dozens of them in the time it takes to create one event. So this 2017, creating enduring products is something I’m going to focus on more, and I hope you do too.

2. Don’t just take notes — take insightful and actionable notes.

I heard this from my former boss at ZAP, Terence Lok. He’s developed the habit of taking useful, actionable notes from every book he reads or video he watches. Then he makes sure to act on them.

This hit me hard. After all, I’ve already read so many books and listened to so many podcasts, and I rarely took any notes from them. Had I wasted all the insights and inspiration for action from all of them? That’s something I’m not going to let happen anymore, and I hope to integrate more tips and tricks from the books I read into my life this 2017.

3. Make time to share your learnings more.

Over the past year, I’ve had dozens of ideas on possible articles or content I could make to help other people. And yet, I was only able to write 6 articles — 3 of which I first submitted as schoolwork (lol).

I always made excuses and delayed doing any writing. I found myself wasting so much time on YouTube, time I could have spent on writing. Late this year, I got addicted to YouTube so much that I had to install this Chrome extension to help me stop watching unnecessary videos (it’s pretty effective!). This 2017 though, I hope to write more articles and push more content. The satisfaction I gain from hearing people liking my content is incredibly fulfilling to me, so that’s something I want to do more next year.

4. Find activities that are both fun and value-adding, and use them to de-stress.

Aside from doing work all the time, it’s still important to de-stress and have fun. But if you’re a crazy productivity-lover like me, I’d recommend you find activities that are both fun and value-adding for you. To me, that was watching all sorts of YouTube videos, TV episodes, and documentaries that were both engaging to watch and useful, such as GaryVee keynotes and episodes of Silicon Valley.

Early this year, I felt burnt out quite often, but I’ve since learned to always have time to de-stress every day. Everyone needs a break, and so do you. But while everyone else is watching some random TV series, maybe you can stay ahead by watching useful, value-adding videos.

5. Don’t forget to care for and be there for your close friends and family.

This is a lesson I will probably find hard to integrate to my life, but I hope you get to integrate it to yours. In our quest to fulfill all our deepest ambitions in life, sometimes we forget to catch up with friends we used to talk to a lot. Or we forget to care and spend time with our families when they want us to.

But if you truly care about your close friends and family, then you have to make time for them. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but make it enough to show that you are there for them and still care for them. A simple thank you note or late-night chat can go a long way.

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I hope these lessons help you live a happier and more productive year this 2017. I know I’m going to make 2017 an even better year in terms of personal growth, so I challenge you to do the same. If you liked this article, please click that heart button or leave a comment below! :)

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