a serial sketchbooker.

a visual archivist.

an art explorer.

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Behind The Scenes

2018 Annual Review + 2019 Plans and Word for the Year

by Pam Llaguno

Annual reviews are something that I’ve always done on a personal level and in the safe confines of my journal or planner. This year, I have decided to share my Annual Review to all of you because I have always been inspired by reading some of my personal role models’ annual reviews. Annual Reviews show me that everyone is “in progress” and everyone is working hard to grow, to improve, to be a little happier in the new year.

What happened in 2018?

Let’s start off this annual review by looking back at everything (or ya know, the highlights) that happened in 2018:



I drove to my dad’s place to spend the New Year with him and his side of the extended family. I don’t visit them often but it’s always a good time when I do.

I went on my first ever solo trip to my favorite country… Japan! This was actually jusy four-day layover on the way to the US. This little adventure truly opened my eyes as to how I want to live my life and has really shaped a lot of the decisions that I made towards the end of the year.

I flew to the US for my mom’s wedding! We had a simple ceremony at the San Francisco City Hall and an intimate dinner reception at the Argonaut Hotel. It was a very memorable day spent with my family, old and new alike.


I rekindled my relationship with my boyfriend / life partner, Nico. This time, we’re both in a better place mentally and emotionally. We also decided to go all-in and live together!

I’ve started to really make our house a home by redecorating and moving things around. I’m also starting to establish a household chore and cleaning routine.


I’m knee-deep in experimenting with video and doing vlogs. I’m having fun but I kind of set myself up to fail by challenging myself to upload a full-edited video EVERY DAY. What was I thinking?


Since I failed my video challenge, I tried and joined the 100 Day Challenge. And again, I set myself up to fail by doing this whole “different medium every 9 days” challenge. I started off really well though but I burned myself out very early into the process.

I went on a short overnight beach vacation with my dad’s side of the family. It was a great time just bonding with my nephews and generally helped me wind down.

I started working on Amateur Creatives! It started with a blank Google Doc and some journal sketches.


Nico coded up a Coming Soon page and I wrote a weekly newsletter going behind the scenes on how I built Amateur Creatives from scratch. You can read about the entire process of creating and launching the brand/website in this blogpost.

I’ve been pretty good at maintaining my yoga practice and managed to make good progress on my headstands / Sirasana I.


I’m still knee-deep in the creation of Amateur Creatives! So much writing, so much designing.

Nico and I also bought a Nintendo Switch and let Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild take over our entire life. Seriously, that game is just so impressive and immersive!


I got my huuuuge back tattoo done by Maan of Afrokush Studio.

I went on our annual girls day getaway – Tagaytay this time – for our friendship anniversary! I always love spending time with my high school best friends because they truly are my best-est and closest friends!


I finally visited Arete Museum at my alma mater, Ateneo.

I started feeling very tired and sick of my day job and really had no motivation to get up and go to work. So in…


I finally left my day job! I had a simple dinner and drinks with my team and my work friends. I will miss the Friday nights out + random weeknight karaoke, for sure.

I bought a mirrorless camera to improve the quality of my blog photos and future video content. I have really been enjoying playing around with the Canon EOS M6 and having the option of switching out the lenses has really changed the game for me!

Since I started working from home, I cleaned, decluttered and spruced up my old room and turned it into an office / art studio.

I started being more intentional about improving my drawing skills. I got myself a sketchbook, a reference book and started to practice drawing regularly.

The idea for Sketchbook Scientist, my creative sketchbook e-course, has started to take shape so I decided to make this my focus for the remainder of the year!


I opened up pre-orders for Sketchbook Scientist and started filming the course lessons for it.

I flew to Seoul, South Korea for my second solo trip! This was such an enjoyable, relaxing and inspiring trip for me as I really immersed myself into Korean history and culture. I’m still dreaming about the amazing sunset that I witnessed at Naksan Park.

While I was in South Korea, I also attended a print-making workshop where I learned the basics of linocut printing! I’m planning on doing a separate blogpost for this experience soon.


I worked some more on Sketchbook Scientist. I’ve had several issues that I needed to work on (which includes me stupidly deleting a lot of video footage for the course lessons).

I watched one of my all-time favorite k-pop groups live! iKON brought the house down and performed so well — they really know how to hype up the crowd and have fun on the stage.

Me and my high school bestfriends had a simple get-together at my home before I left for the States. We started watching the Haunting of Hill House!

Me and Nico flew to the US with a 16-hour layover at Seoul that we spent walking around my favorite area (Hongdae!) and eating korean bbq for lunch. So good!

We also went to Los Angeles as it was Nico’s first time. We did the usual tourist things – my favorite was going to Disneyland!


My birthday month! After coming back to San Jose from LA, we spent my birthday resting at home and having our favorite Boiling Crab shrimps for dinner.

We toured Nico around San Francisco, San Jose and Monterey.

I put up a Christmas tree at home for the first time in the last decade! It’s the first time in a loooong time I’ve been truly excited for Christmas.

What a rollercoaster this year was! If I had to choose three things that I’m proudest of this year, it would be: (1) quitting my day job and going all-in with my own biz, (2) rekindling old and new relationships and making the effort to maintain and nourish friendships and (3) traveling solo to Japan and South Korea.

Of course, there are still things I wish I did better at like money management (and debt crushin’), eating healthily and maintaining a daily yoga practice. I struggled a lot with self-control and found myself giving in to my impulses most of the time. I became very impatient and wanted to do great from the get go (which was quite ridiculous). Despite everything, I’m proud that I was more forgiving of myself since I know that 2018 was a year of changing and adapting to a new normal.

What’s my word / theme for 2019?

I’ve had this practice during my annual reviews of using ONE WORD to frame my entire year. I’ve read about having a theme/word in one of Arriane Serafico’s annual reviews and I really like how just one word can encapsulate the goals that I want to focus on and the overall theme of everything that I do in the new year.

Without further ado, my word/theme for 2019 is…

I want 2019 to be a year of building foundations for personal growth and finance as well as in my business. 2018 was unexpectedly full of changes and new chapters so I want to reign that in a bit and start setting a stable foundation for my new business and new life as a full-time entrepreneur.

With that said, I want to give you an overview of my plans for 2019!

01. Morning Pages

I’ve read a lot about morning pages but I haven’t fully tried it out. In a nutshell, it’s a daily morning practice where you fill three pages of “stream of consciousness” journaling. However, I’m going to commit to just one page a day while I drink my morning coffee as a way to wake up my brain and get all the messy, jumbled thoughts out of my headspace.

02. Bedtime = Kindle Time

Another daily habit that I want to start is reading from my Kindle (thanks for the birthday present, mom!) as a way of winding down and slowing down the thoughts on my brain to prepare myself for a good night’s sleep. I have a Kindle Paperwhite with a backlit screen so I know it’s not really the best for me but one thing that has worked for me is listening to an audio book instead of reading. The latest version of Kindle Paperwhite has Audible built in it so I’ve started listening to a couple of books before bedtime.

As you might have noticed, 2019 is looking like a year of habit-formation. This is very much in line with my word, Foundation, as I wanted to create a structure for my days and weeks this coming year. I have been all over the place since I left my day job and I really want to change that.

03. Draw Everyday Challenge

I’m a notorious Challenge Starter AND Challenge Quitter so this is going to be difficult for me however, I think I’m motivated enough this time as I have a specific goal in mind: t0 learn how to draw people. This challenge is simple: just draw everyday :)) Most of the drawings will most likely be sketches and studies as I am going through a couple of reference books but hopefully, by the end of the year I will be more confident about drawing humans!

04. Exercise (yoga + lifting weights) 4x a week

When I started yoga in 2017, I did a great job in doing a 1.5-hour yoga class almost 5x a week. When I let go of my yoga studio membership mid-2018, I found it really hard to maintain a frequent and consistent yoga practice and I really want to change that because has had a phenomenal effect on both my mental and physical wellness. This new year, I will be joining a new studio and I aim to attend classes 3x during the work week then at least once during the weekend.

05. Cut down our debt by 50%.

I have always had this goal every year but I’ve never really focused on it so of course, I never made any progress. In 2019, I want to stop feeling “less than” and limited by our (me and Nico, my boyfriend) debt and start a Savings Fund for our peace of mind. Cutting it down in half is a lofty goal but I want something intense to strive for. I will probably go into detail about this in a separate blogpost!

06. Quarterly Biz Goals

Q1 (Jan – Mar). Update the website to add important pages (About Me, Contact, and few more). Focus on content marketing by creating valuable and helpful blogposts, Youtuble videos and newsletters.

Q2 (Apr – Jun). Prepare for and fully launch Sketchbook Scientist (my creative sketchbook course) to the public. I had it up for pre-order in 2018 and I’m giving the pre-order students the complete course in January and I’m going to be asking them for feedback so that I can improve it and make it my first evergreen course/product offering.

Q3 (Jul – Sept). Work on a travel journal zine and hopefully, print and sell it! It has been my dream to turn one of my solo trips into a creative journal/zine so I am very excited for this one. It’ll be my 1-year biz anniversary at this time as well.

Q4 (Oct – Dec). Hopefully, at this point, Sketchbook Scientist will be bringing in monthly income (no matter how small) so I can start thinking of doing some of the physical products that I want to do. One of the things I want to do is related to one of the habits I mentioned above and it’s to take all of my drawings and sketches throughout the year into a zine.

HUUUUGE goals, I know, but I enjoy going after bigger and braver dreams that challenge me to work hard towards the life that I want for myself. After a year of breaking down every structure that I had in my life, I’m ready to start setting up the foundations of a new one.

How about you? As I told you already, I LOVE reading annual reviews so if you happen to have written one, share it with me on Twitter!


Here’s to a joyful and creativity-filled year!

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