Tré Wee
Tré Wee
Dec 29, 2016 · 13 min read

The results of a year-long experiment in 2016 where I’ve recorded all of my learnings (456 in total).

Image By John Flores

The Beginning Of The End

A brief thought on reflecting effectively

One of the reasons why I love year-ends is because the “end” of anything always gives rise to opportunities for reflection. We may build an understanding of the world through our experiences, but it’s only through the process of reflection that we develop our understanding more deeply, and make our intuitive knowledge more applicable.

There’s only one problem: The first step to effective reflection is accurate recall and the human memory is inherently faulty and unreliable, partly because we’re biologically susceptible to a whole host of cognitive biases.

For example, the recency bias is the phenomenon which makes it easier for you to remember last weekend’s events than what happened during the second weekend of February earlier this year. Another one is the misinformation effect, a memory bias in which we subconsciously incorporate new information to distort memory of the original event.

The list goes on.

Together, the cumulative implications of these biases impede our ability to form the accurate and complete picture needed for effective reflection.

Since one of the key purposes of reflection is to learn from previous experiences, to do it effectively means that we need to do two things,

  1. Remember as accurately as possible what has happened, at the point of reflection.
  2. Assimilate the information from the reflection in a way that we can remember it in the future.

Which brings us to…

Drawing Circles

How might we remember better?

I want you to imagine each year as a circle. One that we draw continuously with each passing minute, day and month. One which we’ll complete at the end of the year; a full circle so to speak.

If the goal is to have a fuller, richer, and more durable memory that we can draw from, then, doesn’t it make sense to supplement our memory, in addition to the few big and easy to recall events, with a collection of little moments that would otherwise be lost in our stream of consciousness.

Here’s the central question I was trying to answer:

If it’s a circle we’re drawing, how can we draw a more circular circle?What if our circle, instead of being drawn from connecting 15 points, was drawn from connecting 50, 200, or more points?

Image via

Since association is a proven strategy in improving memory, I was also interested to find out if I could use these “points” as cues to trigger the specific moments of my life which I had recorded them — my state of mind and emotions I was experiencing at the time.

Time to experiment.

The hypothesis: By investing a miniscule amount of time (30–60 seconds) to record every interesting learning I come across, I would be able to encapsulate them into a fuller and more contextual story which I can thenretrieve more easily, and therefore be able to use.

In essence, a mental timelapse of my year in learning.

As of the time I’m writing this, 28/12/16, the total tally: 456 learnings.

Mostly they come in the form of quotes and pieces of thinking from books and podcasts, and occasionally through conversations and articles. Sometimes it’s a piece of learning from myself, no doubt somehow inspired from another piece of thinking elsewhere.

Without further ado, here’re my favorites for 2016.

52 Key Learnings In 52 Weeks

I’ve added notes to my favorites among the lot.

Note: Don’t outsource your happiness to the future; choose to be happy now. Check out this podcast Naval did with Tim Ferriss.

Note: Never forget.

Note: Took my breath away.

Note: Even when we think we’re listening, we’re always constructing what we want to say next in our mind that we fail to give our total attention and presence.

Note: Negative space is not something we see intuitively, but cultivating empty pockets of space is hugely important in our live if we want to become more creative and effective. Full poem on Fire by Judy Brown here

Note: The bridgewater principles is one of the best texts I’ve read this year. I highly encourage you check it out.

Note: Practice like you play and you will play like you practice.

Note: Tim Ferriss’ Podcast is quite possibly the best free thing on the Internet if you’re interested in these topics: peak performance, routines and habits, and time-management.

Note :Contrary to popular belief, passion doesn’t fall into our laps. As we become better at something, we begin to enjoy it more.

Note: Life does not unfold linearly. It doesn’t care about our plans. Enjoy the ride.

Note: Action informs theory; assume a bias towards action. Check out the mind-bending Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Note: The instant hack to becoming smarter. The essentialist’s approach towards anything.

Note: Cultivate a diligent approach towards ruthless prioritization.

Note: You can only lead a horse to the river, not make it drink.

Note :Haters’ gonna hate. Always expend your energy and focus on finding your tribe.

Note: Watch: Tony Robbin: I Am Not Your Guru.

Note: Awesome read — How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Note: Read — The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck:

Note :A profound piece of wisdom that’s immensely useful and practical.

Note: Suggested reading — Paul Graham on keeping your identity small

Note: This hit me in the face like a roundhouse kick.

Note: Excellent read — Never Split The Difference.

Note: He’s the coach I wish I had the chance to learn under. Here’s one of his (and now one of mine) favorite poems The Road Ahead or The Road Behind. I read this everyday last year for 3 months, through a trying period.

Note: I love this, quite possibly my favorite quote on adopting an abundant mindset when it comes to relationships.

Note: Made me LOL. What a great way to put it.

Note : Shun shallowness and seek out depth. When you find it, embrace it, let it engulf you, let it surprise you.

Note: Knowing is better than not knowing, but knowing without doing is as good as not knowing.

Note: Don’t make the mistake of judging everyone by the consensus, narrow view of success. Some people aren’t playing the same game, or the game at all. Try not to project your own ideas onto someone else. Derek Sivers is awesome, check out his site for more.

Note: One of my personal directives Growth without ego.

Note: I don’t need your approval. Inspired by Nayyirah Waheed.

Note: Our beliefs should be tentative and not permanent; they are right until proven wrong. One of my favorite reads in the last 2 years — Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character:

Note: An obscure quote shared by Adam Robinson in one of the latest Tim Ferriss podcasts, Becoming the Best Version of You. Wonderfully sums up why I love the struggle in the process of creating good work — it’s a chance to develop character.

Bonus round! Because who doesn’t like good surprises.

8 of my favorites that didn’t make the list

Note: Tattoo worthy. James has one of the most authentic voices in the personal growth arena. Highly recommend that you check out for more.

Note: Don’t feel the need to surround yourself with people all the time. Go do things alone from time to time: movies, dinners, bars. It’s both enjoyable and delightfully uncomfortable.

Note: Beware of the narrative fallacy.

Note: Immensely undervalued piece of wisdom.

Note: Recommended to me by a friend, I haven't read much poetry but her book Salt is fantastic. Raw and real.

Note: Check out his latest book (I’m halfway in, superb thus far) Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers

Circling back to the beginning

So did I succeed? Did I manage to draw a more circular circle?


It sounds counterintuitive but I remember more (in greater details and more vividity) despite having much more things to remember. I suspect it’s because I took the time and effort to deepen my connections with them.

An unexpected discovery is that the combined learnings reflect what 2016 has meant for me, thematically speaking. This is interesting because this is essentially what my intuition has been telling me as I’ve been mentally wrapping up the past year.

Conclusion: I can tell you with confidence that drawing more connections have dramatically increased what I remember, and they also serve as effective triggers in helping me to remember how I felt.

Most of the things I do, including this experiment, is driven by a spectacular strain of laziness. I’m always on the lookout for things that might deliver asymmetrically high payoffs but require only modest investments on my part.

And since I can speak from experience now, I highly recommend you do it for 2017. Plus, it’ll also gently push you to seek out and notice interesting learnings.

Guide To Doing-It-Yourself

How I do it and how you can do it

How I do it

I use three apps for this, IFTTT’s Do Button, Evernote and Google Sheets, all of which are free and available across multi-platforms.

My workflow

  1. I save a piece of learning on Do Button, which automatically saves it to a timestamped note on Evernote.
  2. I transfer my weekly learnings into Google Sheet, where I discuss it with my accountability buddy, Silje, during our weekly call, and highlight my favorite learning weekly in a separate tab in the spreadsheet.

How you can do it

Step 1 — Pick a tool.

It should be easily accessible at all times whether you choose a physical notebook or an app. I use an app because I’m paranoid that I’ll lose the notebook. Also I instantaneously get a little depressed whenever I see my handwriting (often as I’m writing) which looks like the scribbles of a 3 year-old.

I recommend creating a recipe on Do Button which saves to Evernote since it’s ridiculously convenient. And it also encodes the timestamps, which is very helpful.

If you prefer to use a physical notebook, I’d recommend using a special notebook specifically for this.

Step 2 — Pick a backup tool.

If your primary tool fails you. I use a note app on my iphone. Or I scribble it on a piece of paper.

Step 3Do it with a friend.

It’s more fun and it keeps you accountable.

Step 4 — Set a time of the week where you’ll review your learning.

Pick out your favorite. Bonus if you elaborate (mentally, vocally, or written) in 1–2 lines what it means for you and how you relate to it.

Protip: The key to building any habits is to make it simple so that it makes it easy for you to do it consistently. It’s important to jot them down as soon as you’ve have it otherwise you might lose it. I usually drop whatever I’m doing just to record a thought. If I’m running on the treadmill listening to a podcast I’ll stop. If I’m biking outside I’ll stop by the junction to record it. If I’m talking to someone I’ll shout at them to shut up. Just kidding. I ask nicely. In all seriousness, I have excused myself during conversations to record a thought. Totally worth it.

Which ones above are your favorites? What are some of your own? Drop me a line, I’ll love to know!

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Thanks to Samuel Weckström for providing his valuable feedback on drafts on this post, and to my accountability buddy, Silje, for doing this with me this year.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

Tré Wee

Written by

Tré Wee

Human in perpetual beta 彡 Thinking and tinkering.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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