Annual Review: 2017
About 5 min reading time
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The story of 2017 is that it was not at all what I expected it would be. I’ve done enough annual reviews by now that you’d think I’d learn not to try to plan for a whole year at a time but alas, here I am.
The big story for me in 2017 is that in February I broke up with my girlfriend, and shortly thereafter got back together with an ex-girlfriend from college (Tia). We had dated for two years and were separated for about a year and a half. Fast forward to October, and I got a new job at a small startup in New York City, and I moved in with Tia at her parents’ house on Long Island.
Due to this enormous life change, and a few other reasons, I didn’t hit many of my goals for the year. I don’t feel too badly about it, as I think it’s pretty understandable. All told, the year was pretty exciting though, and I have high hopes for 2018.
Before I get into that, let’s quantify 2017 a bit:
Last year I:
- Spent 95.2% of my income
- Read 4 books
- Had a RescueTime productivity pulse of 65
- Averaged 6 hours 30 minutes of sleep each night
- Consumed an average of 2,272 calories per day
- Averaged 6,073 steps per day
Compared to 2016, I spent more of my money (moving is so expensive), got less sleep (by 39 minutes a night, ouch), and ate less each day (by about 190 calories). I wish I had made more of an effort to keep getting enough sleep, and had saved money a bit more aggressively leading up to the move but at least I still made a bit more than I spent. I also read a lot fewer books, which I am a little disappointed about.
I was a bit more active (thanks to summer walks along the Erie Canal, and later longer walks to work in the city), and was more productive, so it’s not all bad news.
Some Interesting Correlations
My monthly reviews pull correlations using “recent data” in Exist. These are correlations using “all data”, which I thought would be interesting for an annual review. Some insights from Exist:
- I get more steps when I have a better day (23% related - based on 1029 days of data)
- I’m more productive on Tuesdays (23% related - based on 933 days of data)
- I’m more productive when I got to bed earlier (19% related - based on 927 days of data)
- I go to bed later when it’s the weekend (27% related - based on 1063 days of data)
- I have more great days (rated a 5) when I get more steps (29% related - based on 1039 days of data)
- My weight is higher after I wake more during sleep (32% related - based on 1061 days of data)
- I consume more calories when the days is warmer (15% related - based on 517 days of data)
Goals from 2017
I had set a number of personal and professional goals for 2017, but most of them fell to the wayside as I started to plan moving from Rochester to New York, and later started adjusting to life in New York with my new job.
At a high level:
Financial Security: I wanted to pay off all my credit card debt and have $5,000 in savings. I managed neither of these things as moving took a huge chunk of my savings. I managed to end the year with about $250 of credit card debt, which I’m okay with, and almost $3,000 in savings.
Redesign my Blog: I never really got started on this, though I did finish a redesign of my main site. It’s mostly built, but not yet finished. I hope to wrap that up before too long, but it’s not a huge priority at the moment either.
Improve Focus at Work: I actually did quite well on this front. My productivity pulse rose 8 points for the year, which is a sizable gain. I also initially set a daily goal for 4.5 hours of all-productive time each day, which after a few months I increased to 5 hours a day because I hit 4.5 so regularly. I still reach 5 hours a day about 80% of the time, so I think I’ve done well here, so further improvement won’t be a huge focus for the start of 2018.
Complete a Side Project with Python: While I didn’t ever get into anything with Python (though I still have an idea), I did one small side project. I created a Twitter bot that automatically retweets the hashtag “ThingsMyCoworkersSay” which is a hashtag I like to use when I tweet direct quotes from my coworkers out of context. There are some more things I’d like to make it do if I ever revisit it, but otherwise it just happily tweets a few times a week as people use the hashtag.
Goals for 2018
I’d like to try making my goals more habit-based this year. I’d like to focus on the same areas as last year, but change my approach. Last year, I setup a Trello board with my goals, broken out into “action steps”. This worked reasonably well, except I forgot to check Trello pretty much always. At my new job, however, we use Trello to organize all our work, so now I look at Trello every day. My “life goals” board is at least visible now, so I think Trello will actually be a useful organizer.
But rather than “action steps” like smaller tasks, or incremental goals, I’m going to try just making habits out of some goals. This has worked pretty well for me in the past, when I really focus on forming a habit.
So, rather than setting a goal like, “have $5,000 in savings” I’m instead going to aim for something like “save 20% of my income”. This is more actionable, and something I can more strictly build into my monthly budget, so I think this will make it more achievable. And instead of something like, “read development-related books” it will be something like, “schedule time for professional learning”.
This feels more flexible, which I’m hoping makes me feel less guilty if I’m not sticking to something very specific. I’d really like to not feel guilty about still not getting back to Python. If I just set aside some time, and make progress on anything relevant, I’ll feel like I’m moving forward, which should encourage me to continue.
I will focus on a habit, or set of habits, one month at a time, beginning in February with my January review (as January is about to come to an end).
2018 is already shaping up to be a packed year:
- At the end of this week Tia and I are moving to our own place in Queens
- In February I’m going on vacation for a week in San Francisco
- I have tickets to two concerts: Lights in February, Taylor Swift in July
- In June I’ll be in a friend’s wedding
- In November my mom is coming to visit New York and we’re seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway
And those are just things already scheduled. The year has barely started.
In my 2015 Review, I wanted 2016 to be better, and I thought I’d manage it by evaluating habits each month, so I’ve tried an approach similar to this before. I’m hoping that I’m just more practiced at regular reviews that it’ll work better this time around. And if not, well, I’ve got enough lined up to make 2018 interesting if nothing else.