2015 #AnnualReview Part 1

Seeing as this next year will be the last of my PhD, it is as good a time as ever to do my first thorough #AnnualReview a la Chris Guillebeau and get prepared for a big year in 2016. This is my first annual review blog post!

Major decisions will be coming up, like where I’m going to apply for jobs and what I’m going to do in 2017. It’s been a good process for me to think through what’s happened these last 12 months and think about how I want the next 12 to go.

The first part of the Annual Review process is to list things that went well and things that didn’t go well. Things that can go on these lists are things that I have control over.

Things that went well:

  • Got back on track with fitness and ultimate (after a very long off season)
  • Ate well and took care of health
  • Meditated consistently
  • Called home more frequently
  • Found new joy and knowledge in cooking
  • Kept promises to visit friends (Spain, Yorkshire, Barcelona)
  • Started creative projects
  • Gave good gifts
  • Fostered new and old friendships
  • Got over mental/intellectual/personal hurdles


I’m pretty happy with the list of things that went well. There were some things that I would not have noticed if I hadn’t sat down to think about this list. For example, I’ve tried to make it a point to put more effort into friendships. I’m glad that I took the effort to visit friends this year. It’s led to many great memories, though there was a small cost to productivity.

Cooking and my health issues are interlinked. It’s taken a long time for me to feel positive about certain aspects of my health, and getting into cooking new things and learning about new foods has helped immensely with that. I’ve been keeping a food journal for nearly the past 2 months, and plan on hopefully consulting with nutritionist regarding what’s going on with my body. It was frustrating for a long time, not being sure what was making things worse and what would help. I’ve figured out a few things, but still have a long way to go.

Another thing I’ve been working on but which is more abstract is how I perceive myself. I’ve read a few things about self-compassion, and I think that applies here. Things I’ve been concerned with are what changes need to happen at the roots to lead to greater changes overall. I feel pretty good about how aware of myself I’ve been this year, and hope to continue next year.

Things that didn’t go so well:

  • Stopped reading books after Feb/March
  • Slow progress on PhD work
  • Waited a long time to find the ultimate community in London
  • Didn’t explore London much
  • Didn’t actively try to meet new people
  • Didn’t write consistently for blog or myself
  • No language study

Well ok then

Things that didn’t go so well had more to do with time management. These are all things I feel I could have fit in time for, but didn’t manage to either because I never felt in the mood for or because it just fell off my radar. For many things, if I don’t schedule it in ahead of time, I won’t ever feel like doing or starting it.

This year I moved to a new city, London. After being here for about a year, I can’t truly say that I know it well. It does feel like I’ve made a place for myself here, but I still don’t think I have a feel for the city. Yes, I’ve been busy, but this is the opportunity that I’ve been waiting for, so I need to take advantage and get to know the city and its people.

The thing that I regret the most is that I stopped reading books. I think this one thing could have impacted my year positively. I’m currently in the middle of one fiction and one non-fiction book. Another that I could say I regret is slow progress on PhD work, but that is a process and a journey in itself. I sometimes feel that it can only go as fast as it feasibly can given circumstances. I’ve learned a lot this year about how I work, and how I need to work to be at my best. That was part of what went well, which was acknowledging some hurdles and having the will to surpass them.

Other random bits

Album of the year: “Communion” by Years and Years
Concerts: Clean Bandit, Years and Years
Musicals: The Lion King, Cats
Favorite country: Spain

In another post, I’ll go through some of my goals for 2016!

Photo: Siyan Ren