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2016 in review

So. It feels a tad inappropriate to do a personal yearly review when the world feels a little messy and chaotic, but I’m a completionist and would like to have one of these reviews each year to look back on. So. Here we are, navel-gazing.

Photo collage of Japan trip and Seattle-area explorations

Photos from my Japan trip and explorations closer to home


On goal setting: a pluralistic approach seems best

I’ve experimented with several different means of setting and tracking goals this year, including a public repo that I have since taken down. The conclusion I’ve come to is this: different goals want different formats. Here’s some examples:

Some goals need precise totals

I’m not super into exercising, mostly because I’d rather be doing 20 other things at the time. So I’ve found it most helpful to have a set number of times in a month that I need to exercise. The number has to be reasonable, but I can't slack very much week to week and still hit the total. Wiping the slate clean at the end of a week instead of the end of the month is too easy on me. :P

Others do better as habits

I had a goal this year to hike a certain number of trails. I realized I was really just trying to take advantage of what my area has to offer, and perhaps going after a number of trails was actually too prohibitive. So I created a cadence for my weekends: one weekend is chill weekend, the next is adventure weekend. Repeat.

Supposedly willpower is a finite resource we run out of, and so making something a habit (“I do x every Monday night at 8”) is more sustainable. I’m going to apply this in the new year to 1) fix my sleep schedule and 2) become a more consistently engaged and communicative citizen. This newsletter has been great for that, thus far.

Some goals are just suggestions

For the first half of the year, I was setting down a list of monthly goals, and tried to attack each of those goals. The result is you never get as much done as you want to, and end up feeling like you failed. So I now write my goals for the month on an index card, and divide them into 2 sections:

  1. Priorities. These are things that really have to get done.
  2. "Maybe work on". These are things that I’d like to get around to but not getting them done within the timeframe has no negative impact on my health or the promises I’ve made.

Themes for 2017

  1. Do the most good. This one is ripped straight from my friend Krista’s stickers, one of which is affixed to my laptop. It’s a reminder to me to replace reactionary support with diligent citizenship. And for the moments when I get overwhelmed by all that is broken: “I cannot do all the good the world needs. But the world needs all the good I can do.” —Jana Stanfield

  2. Connection. This theme is for my personal life. I want to deepen my connection to people, planet, and time.

  3. Focus. I am a dabbler who will never be happy doing just one thing (hello, my Sagittarius friends). But I also want to finish things and pursue depth. I have a few ideas on how to practice focus in my creativity, but if anyone has any tips or resources, I would really really appreciate that.

What are your goals or themes for 2017?


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