Year in Review 2021 – My Learnings & More

Himanshu Gupta
Himanshu Gupta

At the beginning of every year, I look back at the past year, do a reflection and share what I’ve learned. This has become a tradition now. I’ve been doing this since 2018. If you want to learn about my journey, feel free to read my previous year in the reviews – 2018, 2019, 2020.

On a side note, I’d recommend everyone to try this exercise. Trust me there’s not a better way to start a year than doing a year in review. You don’t need to publicly share this (as I’ve done). The idea should be to derive learnings from it and apply them in your life. 

So, without further ado, let’s dive into my learnings and highlights from the past year. 

Don’t use the pandemic as an excuse

Like everyone, I assumed 2021 will be a better year. And it looked like it. With the COVID cases decreasing, it seemed we were over the pandemic. However, that wasn’t true. The month of April and May were horrifying. I’m lucky to have survived this and my heart goes out to all the families that have lost their loved ones.

That being said, it doesn’t seem that the pandemic is going away any time soon. Love it or hate it, we need to live with it. Hence, whether you have an idea in mind for a side project, want to start your own blog, do daily exercises, or change your job, don’t use the pandemic as an excuse.

While taking precautions is critical, you’ll need to take some calculated risks.

So, whatever plans you’ve in mind that you’ve been constantly pushing because of the pandemic, make it happen this year.

Overcoming my fear of the camera and starting a YouTube channel

In the middle of last year, I started creating YouTube videos. YouTube is not something new to me but I never put a lot of thought into creating a video. It was usually firing up Loom or similar software and just speaking my mind.  This meant that the video wasn’t professional and had a lot of filler words mostly because it lacked a proper script.

So, after buying my first camera (Sony A6400) I knew I needed to use it to create some amazing YouTube videos. The larger goal was to learn the art of creating videos/storytelling and after 7 months now, I can confidently say that I’ve come a long way and I’m now more comfortable recording myself.

In a short span of 4 months, I had about 800 views, 26 hours of watch time, and I added about 34 subscribers. The numbers might look small but just the fact that people have spent about 27 hours watching my videos is mind-boggling. Not only that, I received a lot of positive comments from my viewers, colleagues, and friends.

I’m not at a stage to share my learnings (I think there’s a lot I need to do and learn) but I’ll definitely share something whenever I’m ready.

Why I’ve stopped uploading videos?

I’ve been inactive for a while and there’s been a lot of people that have asked me this question. 

So, here’s my answer –

I have a lot of goals set for YouTube this year. I enjoy creating videos and I certainly want to do more of this. But at the same time, I want to focus on one niche and have a clear strategy across my different properties (including my blog ContentZeal and my social media profiles). In fact, I’ve taken a YouTube course by Matt D’vella (Slow Growth) to learn more about creating a successful YouTube channel. As I go through the course, I hope to apply the knowledge in my video creation process.

My goal is to create more unique videos that are valuable to my audience.

For anyone who’s doing a side hustle with a full-time job, remember that it’s critical to be smart about your strategy as it’s very easy to get exhausted and give up, especially when you’re starting out. 

Investing in gadgets 

IN 2021, I invested a lot of money in buying gadgets. For anyone who knows me, you know how obsessed I’m with gadgets. While I don’t think I can justify each purchase, I’ll cover a few of them.

Creating my ultimate dream setup 

I’ve lost count of how many desk setup videos, I’ve watched on YouTube. I have always wanted to create a dream desk setup that I can use for work and my side projects. And I’m excited to share that I finally built one.

Please ignore the Hajmola dabba

My current setup includes a Windows PC and a Macbook Air (M1).

While I love Mac, to be honest, its power is limited especially when you want to create something GPU intensive like video editing or playing games.

So, at beginning of the year, I built a PC. This is more of a long-term investment. 

Here are the specs for anyone interested:

Processor – Ryzen 5600x
GPU – RTX 3070 Zotac
RAM – Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (1x16GB) DDR4 3600MHz
SSD – Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB PCIe NVMe M.2
Motherboard –  GIGABYTE B550 AORUS PRO
Cabinet – Corsair 4000D Case
Monitors – Acer Nitro VG271U 2K 144z & LG MK600M 27inch FHD
Keyboard – Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard
Mouse – Logitech M590
Desk – ErgoYou Sit Stand Desk 1500*750 mm

Moving to Macbook Air M1

Macbook Air M1 is a revolutionary product by Apple. At about 70k, it provides a lot of value and it has made it very easy to get into the Apple ecosystem. I still remember buying my 2018 Macbook Pro at 1.5x of this price. Even though I’ve such a powerful machine (my desktop PC), when it comes to writing, I prefer to do it on the Macbook Air.

Buying my first camera – Sony A6400

I always wanted to learn photography. Now, obviously, you don’t need to invest in a 1500$ camera to do this. You can start with the phone in your pocket. 

Irrespective of what camera you use or the course you take online, the application of your learnings is the key. I’ve taken the camera on a bunch of trips and here are a few photos (raw) that I took on my last trip to Pondicherry.

Apart from that, I use it for recording all my YouTube videos. by pairing it with a Godox lightbox (you can see it in my desk setup photo). 

What’s next 

New year, new goals.

This year I want to take ContentZeal and YouTube more seriously. I also want to learn Webflow. I’m really intrigued by its capabilities and I hope to create something cool using it.

Though I did visit quite a few places last year, I hope to explore even more this year. 

That’s all! Thanks for reading and have a great year ahead!

Any questions? Ping me on LinkedIn.

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Himanshu Gupta
Himanshu Gupta
Himanshu is the founder of ContentZeal. He's been blogging for the better part of 7 years now. Follow him as he shares his experiences as a content marketer (currently at through his in-depth blogs, stories and guides.

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