Well, 2018 sure was a year, wasn’t it? Personally, it felt like a really big year for me. On February 1st, Tia and I moved form her parents’ house on Long Island to an apartment in Queens, which was a big adjustment. I’d been working in NYC for about 4 months at that point, but living in the city was sure to be different. And it didn’t take long at all for me to start loving it.

Sure, getting used to the sounds of the city took a bit, but within a couple weeks I really started loving how much shorter my commute was than when I lived at Tia’s parents (down to 40 minutes each way from nearly 2 hours each way!), and the sheer convenience of our neighborhood has been a delight. Having grown up in a place where driving everywhere is the only option, the fact that I am within walking distance of multiple grocery stores, pharmacies, and well over a dozen restaurants is really appealing to me.

In addition to moving, it was a big year at work, as well. We went from ending 2017 with 7 employees, to ending 2018 with 16 which has been pretty wild. The company has some big plans for 2019 so the excitement shall continue!

Highlights from the year:

  • Moving to Queens
  • Vacation in San Francisco
  • Turned 25, which felt like a milestone
  • Two concerts: Lights in February, Taylor Swift in July
  • I was in one wedding and attended another
  • Visited my dads in Texas for Father’s Day
  • Went to a few Mets games at Citi Field, which is right around the corner
  • Took a weekend trip to Saratoga Springs with Tia where we samples some of its famous spring water… it was disgusting
  • Attended An Event Apart for the second year in a row, this time in D.C. (my first time in D.C.!)
  • Bought a Nintendo Switch, which is an excellent console
  • Saw /Be More Chill/ off-Broadway, and it’s now headed to Broadway
  • Took a long weekend vacation in Connecticut with Tia’s family
  • Saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway
  • My mom visited NYC for the first time since she was a little kid so I did some touristy things with her and her friends
  • Visited family in Maine for Thanksgiving
  • Started working with CUNY Tech Prep as a project mentor, which I hope to continue
  • Went to my first NFL football game, Patriots vs Jets – and then a second game, Jets vs Packers
  • Got a passport

That’s a pretty long and satisfying list, if I do say so myself! 2018 also felt like an important year for me personally, as I’ve experienced a big shift in attitude toward big technology companies, and privacy online was a big focus for me this year. To that end, I’ve expanded my use of blocking tools to minimize the degree to which I am tracked across the internet. I’ve also replaced my Echo Dot with an Apple HomePod on privacy grounds (so if it turns out Apple doesn’t process voice commands locally as they claim, I guess I’m screwed!). I also started making regular donations to Mozilla, as a sort of endorsement of their general bent towards user privacy.

In 2019 I’ll be taking this commitment a bit further, and also hope to write up a guide of sorts for others to use to help encourage more people to demand more privacy online. Perhaps when enough people try to evade being tracked, the Internet can start to be a bit of a less creepy place…

All that said, 2018 seems like a pretty good year; for me personally, at least. And despite the sort of general exhaustion that hung over the day-to-day of last year, I do feel pretty good about how far I’ve come in a year.

For a little more summary:

The Numbers

Last year I:

  • Spent 87.3% of my income (-8.3%)
  • Read 1 book (-75%)
  • Had a RescueTime productivity pulse of 74 (+9)
  • Averaged 7 hours 6 minutes (+9.2%) of sleep each night
  • Consumed an average of 2,251 (-1%) calories per day
  • Ended the year weighing 142lbs, a loss of half a pound from January, 2018
  • Averaged 7,980 steps per day (+31.4%)

Last year I didn’t include comparison figures for the big summaries, but was curious about them for this years so I went ahead and calculated them. I’m really happy to see that I was able to save nearly 13% of my income by the end of the year! That estimate may also be a tad low, since Mint usually calculates deposits to my IRA as an “expense”, but I’d rather estimate the portion low to help nudge me to save more.

It would also seem that 2018 was more productive than 2017, which I mostly attribute to enjoying my job far more than the job I had for most of 2017. I did also get substantially more sleep each night, averaging about half and hour more than 2017 so it’s possible that’s why I got more done as well. I also walked a whole lot more, which is absolutely due to living in the city and walking lots of places.

Some Interesting Correlations

My monthly reviews pull correlations using “recent data” in Exist., which generally means “the last 150 days.” These are correlations using “all data”, which I think is a bit more useful for thinking about a whole year.

  • I get more steps when I have a better day (19% related - based on 1373 days of data)
    • This is a bit less related than last year, probably due to my big uptick in average steps per day.
  • I’m more productive on Tuesdays (22% related - based on 1177 days of data)
    • This is about as related as last year, and is the day of the week with the strongest correlation with productive time. Wednesday was a close second at 20% related.
  • I use Tweetbot more when I’m more productive (37% related - based on 1177 days of data)
    • This is just because I tend to keep Tweetbot open at work, but this strong correlation hopefully implies that keeping Twitter open isn’t too much of a distraction during the day
  • I go to bed later when it’s the weekend (27% related - based on 1416 days of data)
    • This is equally related as last year so turns out I’m unwaveringly consistent
  • I have a better day when I get more steps (19% related - based on 1372 days of data) and when I work out more (15% related - based on 1086 days of data)
    • I’d like to make more time for working out this year, so we’ll see if these correlations strengthen by next year
  • I consume more calories on Fridays (20% related - based on 852 days of data)
    • Guess I like to celebrate the arriving a weekend with a bit more food (or alcohol)

Goals from 2018

In 2018, I aimed to make more goals “habit-based” and thought that using Trello at work would help make a goals board more visible. Over time, however, Trello has become a bit less important to our workflow. We still use it, but there are days where I don’t have to open it now, so the board wasn’t as visible as I thought it would be a year ago. And while I didn’t form too many new habits for the year, a more “actionable” goal format month to month did work reasonably well.

As the year progressed, I actually just used my monthly check-ins as a way to set a sort of big picture to-do list, though some goals were more habit-like. Some of the more successful things were mid-year when I made some great financial moves. Increasing automatic transfers for savings, for example. At this point, saving a decent chunk of my income is just a habit, which I am increasingly grateful for.

That said, the initial examples I used were things like, “make time for professional learning” which I didn’t really achieve. My collection of development books to read is still quite large… I did complete an excellent online CSS Grid course at work, which I was able to make time for as part of our project planning.

I do think the more month-to-month “focus goals” format was more useful for me, and I’ll continue with that this year, but I do have some overall themes in mind, and intend to remain more focused on these areas each month.

Goals for 2019

Despite my mixed success with completing focus goals each month, I still like the format and will continue with it this year. I do have a few bigger things I’ll be focusing on this year, though.

Here they are:

Focus on Debt: My shift into saving a decent portion of my income went well last year, having saved about 13% by the end of the year. I’ll continue to save as best I can, but my focus is going to be mostly on paying down my student loan debt. I’ll be adjusting my budget to make some big extra loan payments. I have two loans in my sights with interest rates above 6%. As a stretch goal, I have a Perkins loan that I’d like to eliminate as well, but with a balance equal to the two I’m focusing on first, it will require a great deal of self control to wipe out.

”Level Up” My Dev Skills: I’ve definitely found it difficult to keep pace with everything new in front-end web dev lately, but I really need to make time for catching up. I’ve purchased Wes Bos’s ES6 course as a start, so I’ll begin to work my way through that. I also hope to attend An Event Apart again this year, and want to actually get through some of my collected books.

Read and Write More: I read just one book in 2018, which is incredibly sad. I’d also like to make my blog a more than just the review collection it’s become over the past couple years. I have a couple ideas on how to do this, but I’m also planning a new writing project that I hope to unveil soon.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot for me to look forward to in 2019. Not least of all, is a vacation with Tia’s family to St. Martin at the beginning of February! This will be my first time traveling internationally and I’m excited for it. I’m also starting to get a sense of feeling “established” in NYC, which I’ve been missing for a while since moving here. I liked feeling a bit settled in Rochester before I moved, so it’s nice to be getting a bit of that feeling back here in the big city.

Where 2018 was a year mostly about getting used to living in a new place, I hope 2019 ends up as a year where I feel like I accomplished something by the end of it. 2018 didn’t exactly feel empty, but other than a sizable list of fun events I don’t think there’s much to point at to say, “look what I accomplished.”

I think this comes from feeling a bit more settled. The newness of last year’s big changes has sorta worn off, and I’m looking to scratch a new itch.

Here’s to finding it.