2016 Annual Review

I like doing an annual review where I look back on the past year and also look forward to the next year.

There are a lot of people at this time of year talking about their own process for doing an annual review or goal setting for the next year. I looked into a bunch of different processes, but in the end I decided to follow the process used by James Clear because it’s simple and accomplishes what I want from this process.

The process is basically to answer just these 3 questions:

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go well?
  3. What am I working towards?

In the past, I’ve tried to do complex year-end reviews and goals for the next year by breaking down the different areas of my life and setting 1-3 goals for each of those areas, but I’ve realized that usually doesn’t work for me.

It’s too much to keep track of, and when I fall off track it seems too overwhelming to get back on.

So I tried to keep my goals as simple as possible while still making them big enough that I will feel accomplished at the end of the year if I achieve them.

What went well in 2016:

Running. I started running in January when a friend convinced me to start training for a half-marathon with her. It took a bit of convincing because I was never one to run much at all before that, so the idea of going from nothing to a half-marathon seemed crazy to me. However, I kept up the training and ran the Brooklyn Half-Marathon in May. After that, I didn’t run every week, but I did continue running somewhat consistently for the rest of the year, so I count that as a win!

Learning. I completed Marie Forleo’s B-School. While I haven’t taken those lessons and applied them yet the way I was hoping, it’s a big accomplishment that I simply stuck with the program for the full 8 weeks and did all the homework as best I could at the time. I am famous for starting projects or courses like that and never finishing, so the fact that I did all the work until the end is a big deal for me.

Eating Habits. I joined Weight Watchers in the last half of the year and lost 12 lbs. My goal was to lose 10-15 lbs, so yay! I have always been a slave to my food cravings, and still am, but this has helped me learn to control myself a bit more and eat certain things in moderation.

Relationships. I opened myself up to a new relationship. This might not seem like a big deal to some people, but a couple years ago, I decided I was done with relationships. I had been hurt one too many times and decided I would rather be single for the rest of my life. At the time, it didn’t feel like an unhealthy decision. I actually felt relief when I realized I was ok with myself and being alone and didn’t need validation from a man in order to be happy with myself. However, this year, I decided that I was ready to allow someone into my life again. I still felt good about myself and being alone, so this decision wasn’t made out of insecurity or fear of being alone, but more out of recognition that people need people, and I am no different. And the realization that avoiding pain may lead to contentment, but it's not the way to happiness. To find great happiness you have to accept the pain that comes with it.

Finances. I committed to a specific plan of action to pay off my debts. I must admit that I made a lot of bad mistakes with my money this year, but I’ll talk about those below, under what didn’t go well. However, near the end of the year, something snapped in my brain and I decided this was enough! I’m getting out of debt as soon as possible and that’s that! I’m sticking to my plan until I’m debt-free and then I’m never going into debt again. Never! I think finally getting to that mental shift counts as a win.

What didn’t go well:

Death. My precious dog, Missy, passed away on October 21st. This, for me, overshadowed everything else that happened last year. She was my everything. My life revolved around her. She was about 15 1/2 years old, and she developed heart failure in July. At first she was doing well on her medications, but then in October she started to get sick and declined pretty quickly. I will love and miss her to the end of my days.

Finances. In December of 2015, I paid off my last credit card, then a week later my kitchen cabinets fell out of the wall. Instead of simply replacing those cabinets, I decided to renovate my entire kitchen because I was planning to do that at some point anyway (my kitchen was old, ugly, and poorly built -the cabinets falling down is proof of that). Looking back, my kitchen was still functional, so I could have waited a few extra months to renovate and saved up the money before doing it. Instead I put all the supplies and materials on my credit cards, plus all my other purchases like all the takeout I was eating due to not having a kitchen for 2-3 months. Even after the renovation was completed in May, I let myself fall back into that old habit of using my credit cards and not budgeting carefully for a few months afterwards.

Eating Habits. I gained 15lbs due to eating too much junk and takeout while my kitchen was being renovated and not getting back on track right after the renovation was finished.

Writing. After taking B-school, I didn’t manage to write consistently for my website and have made almost no progress on my goals for this website. In thinking about why this happened, I think it’s because I was feeling too much pressure to think of it as a business, rather than something I enjoy doing, which is writing about getting out of debt, talking about what is working and not working for me, and hoping that helps other people get out of debt too.

What I'm working towards in 2017:

Key words for 2017 

  • mindfulness
  • intention
  • compassion
  • connection

Key feelings I want to feel in 2017 (this idea is from April Bowles-Olin)

  • capable & focused
  • enthusiastic & optimistic
  • peaceful & mindful

Sleeping

  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Finances

  • Eliminate my consumer debt by around Fall 2017.
  • Save up a 6-month emergency fund by the end of the year.

Mindfulness

  • Meditate consistently (every day), focusing on compassion toward myself and others.
  • Approach every area of my life with intention (food, fitness, work), which simply means to not be on autopilot. Be aware of what I’m doing, why, and if it serves my goals.
  • Focus on my own life and work and what I want to do, not what I think I should be doing, or what others tell me I should be doing.
  • Be mindful of how much stuff I commit to and how many projects I take on. I want to eliminate the busy-ness from my life.

Writing

  • Develop a daily writing habit, whether that is writing something for this website or simply journaling.
  • Post once a week, without fail, to the website for the entire year.
  • Write a helpful ebook for you, my dear reader.

Running

  • Run at least 3 times a week every week this year.
  • Run 9 races through NYRR this year so I can qualify for guaranteed entry into the 2018 New York Marathon.

Learning

  • Read 6 books from my must-read list.
  • Learn a bit more about photography. Try to keep up with A Year With My Camera course.

Connections

  • Strengthen connections with some old friends.
  • Be open to connections with new friends.

To boil this down into a few practical goals I can track throughout the year:

  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Meditate on compassion every day for at least 2-10 minutes.
  • Run at least 1-3 times a week, every week this year.
  • Create a budget each month and stick to it, making sure it will get me to my year-end financial goals.