2018 In Review January 01, 2019

Another year down and how did we do? I had a great year. Highlights were learning a lot, traveling to new places, and improving my health and fitness.

Goal Progress

2018 was a year with mixed success with goals. I had a bunch of goals and hit some but not all.


My 2018 book reading goal was 40 books. That was quite an ambitious goal that I did not meet. I completed 20 books, only half of my goal. You can follow my notes and see all books at /about/reading but here is an inlined list of some of the most influential books I read(in alphabetical order):

Though I did not hit my quantity goal, this years reading was still a success. I read a few new genres like thrillers, discovered a few classic sci-fi’s that I loved and made my way through some really interesting biography and business books. My book reading was also augmented by a lot of articles, blog posts and technical papers I read too. Not bad Aaron.


I set two major fitness goals for 2018:

1.) Continue running and run my second half marathon.

My running goal was successful, I ran my second half marathon in October with a time of 1:52, only three minutes off my 2017 half time of 1:49. I also completed my first 10k and ran a few fun 5k races througout the year.

Some overall 2018 Strava stats for fun:

2.) Climb at a V5 level bouldering.

I did not hit this goal unfortunately but not intentionally. Last year I started the year predominately bouldering but as the year progressed I ended up top roping way more than bouldering since my main climbing partner is not a big boulderer. The spirit of this goal was to improve my climbing though and I did that. I went from climbing 5.9’s and 5.10- to being able to handle 5.10’s, most 5.11’s and I can project and get a few 5.12a’s. This is a big milestone for me and it’s been fun watching my progress through the year.

Cooking, Eating and Health

I worked on eating healthier and trying new recipes this year. Michelle and I love to cook and always enjoy trying to cook new cuisines and dishes. I set a goal of 24 dishes, honestly I stopped keeping track but I know we hit this. One thing that was new and fun was signing up for a CSA vegetable share in the summer. We ended up trying a bunch of veggies and found a new favorite vegetable: Hakurei Turnips!

I hoped to lose 10 pounds this year and did not. I ate (relatively) healthy, worked out a bunch and got a lot stronger climbing though and I think this one can be a pass.

Miscellaneous Goals I Did Not Hit

  1. Take two college classes online.
  2. Read a book in German.
  3. Go backpacking

These goals were rather specific and required dedicated intentions of completing. I did not work on these and I did not get them done. In the future I might try to make more actionable goals or write out intentions instead of specific goals without details.

8,760 Hours Review

For this part of the review I’m roughly summarizing the output of my reflections from a helpful PDF I found called 8,760 Hours. The document walks through twelve categories and has questions to reflect on covering most areas of life. I picked a few categories’ responses and summarized below.

Contribution & Impact

This year I contributed back with time and energy volunteering for a few events like Railsbridge and Hack.Diversity. I also have been working on mentoring some newer developers where I can. At BookBub I organized Geek Lunches to help engineers grow and learn more. Overall I enjoy helping others learn and grow, especially in technical fields but not only technical skills.

Location & Tangibles

I’m living in a cool little apartment in Cambridge. This year I spent energy working to simplify my life. I have collected a lot of things over the years and not everything is used or loved. I made a point of donating clothes, gear and other items that don’t get used much. This year is the first time where I recognized I have almost everything I need and I try keeping my wants limited.

Money & Finances

Another good year on the finances part, I graduated two years ago with a ton of student loans and I have been aggressively paying them back. I have determined my financial priorities, some short and mid term goals and now I just need to continue working on them.

One financial lesson I learned is budgets are hard, I went off and on attempting to stick to a budget, and it did not really work. What I do instead is have everything required be automatic and only allow myself to spend a little of what’s left over my account, with everything on auto pay including loan and retirement savings there it takes effort to stop myself from saving, a good spot to be.

Education & Skill Development

Always the continuous learner I have grown and learned a ton this year. My interests and skill development has been a little eclectic though. This past year I spent a bunch of time learning about personal finances and productivity. Learning these things now will hopefully pay dividends for years to come.

Social Life & Relationships

I made some great new friends this year and strengthened older relationships. One thing I really appreciated this year was being able to hit up old friends and feel like we just hit it off again. Good friends do not need to be in constant contact. We all have busy lives but taking 10 minutes to send a thinking of you email or text and starting a great conversation is awesome.

Productivity & Organization

Productivity and organization is a regular process of honing, reevaluating and adapting to changing circumstances. This happened again this year and I’m sure it will change many more times.

One big change from me came from dropping social media from my phone in the beginning of the year. I reinstalled Instagram and Twitter but I have a much looser attachment to them. I highly reccomend this technique and will probably repeat soon to help prevent the addicting hooks from digging back in.

Productivity Tools


For most of the year I was on a Mac and my productivity tools were based around the native Evernote app which is fantastic on Mac. Unfortunately the web interface does not compare and since moving back to Ubuntu, I moved to a docs folder in Dropbox. Inside this folder is a tree with subfolders and Markdown notes. Not as flashy or as powerful but it’s mine and it works well, especially since I can edit in Vim.

Task Warrior

This is a fun new addition to my software tools. I have not committed to this 100% but I have been using Task Warrior to track explicit to-do’s with tags and priorities. It then presents tasks as an ordered list of your to-do’s sorted by highest priority first. This has been helpful for finishing tasks I start and forget to finish as well as determining what needs to be worked on next.

Paper Notebook

I have two notebooks: a work notebook and a home notebook. I use these for meeting notes, brainstorms, jotting down tasks, drawing diagrams, etc, whatever I need. Splitting work and home makes sense for me. I am still experimenting with brands. I just finished a Moleskine soft cover and I am using a Rhodia with my new job and enjoying it so far. I loosely follow some bullet jornal techniques but try not to over complicate.

Adventure & Creativity

Adventure? Got that in the bag. This year was a good year for adventure. Some highlights:

  1. Camping in Acadia
  2. Multiple outdoor bouldering and top roping trips
  3. Learning to lead climb
  4. Seattle and Mt. Rainier Trip
  5. Hikes and other fun day trips


Wow we made it this far! That was a lot to cover and this was the abbreviated version. Maybe you skipped a section or two or wanted to read the end first. How did the year go? Any big takeaways? This was a great year for me. Nothing stands out as an outstanding accomplishment or big announcement but this year was full of awesome small steady wins. I hope these wins compound and help me power through 2019.

I didn’t hit all my goals but I am not dissapointed in myself. The things I did accomplish were awesome and I am still learning. I hope I can make 2019 a little more focused on the direction I am going and align my goals closer with priorities I discovered this year.

Happy new years and good luck on your journey in 2019, put in good work.