2017 in Review


Another year has come and gone. Hard to imagine that I’ve been writing an annual review like this for the past six years. You can check out my previous annual reviews here: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

I started out the year with five specific goals. How’d I do?

How I did with my 2017 Goals?

Improve Mandarin Chinese.

I majored in Chinese Literature in undergrad, but since graduating in 2010 I’ve rarely used my Mandarin Chinese. My goal this year was to get back into a habit of using the language again. Earlier this year I enrolled in a class through the Global Language Network, a language program based in DC. While I enjoyed my experience with GLN, I don’t think it was helpful in getting me to use or retain my Mandarin throughout the year.

Set another PR with my half marathon time.

At the beginning of the year, I was registered for three half marathons, of which I ended up completing two: DC and Raleigh Rock N Roll Half Marathons. I BARELY set a PR this year at the Raleigh Rock N Roll, shaving off a minute from my time to run the race in: 2hr 14min, 49 sec.

Learn how to cook.

Of all my goals this year, I definitely excelled at this one. Perhaps out of necessity, I began cooking a lot more after increasing my monthly rent due to my decision to finally move out of Arlington and into The District. Most of the recipes I’ve cooked have been fairly basic (baked salmon, chicken and vegetables, shrimp linguine, chili), but I’m glad that I’ve gotten into the habit of regularly meal-prepping on Sundays and Wednesdays instead of eating out for every single meal.

Stuffed tomatoes for dinner!

Continue working towards my second degree in Computer Science

I had tuition benefits through my previous employer, and began taking advantage of those benefits last year by enrolling a second bachelors degree in Computer Science. I ended up taking a total of 5 classes in math, databases and java programming for the degree. However, after leaving that employer in August and losing those education benefits, I haven’t taken any additional classes towards the degree. Given that I no longer have tuition benefits and would have to pay for the classes out of pocket, as of now, I’ve decided not to continue pursuing the degree.

Growing at my day job and enabling people to travel through my consultation service.

This time last year I began a travel consulting service to help people redeem their points for travel. While I got a few customers at the beginning of this year, I didn’t do a great job promoting my services and didn’t have any additional customers throughout most of the year. As for my day job, I switched companies in August. I’m still in the marketing space, but my focus has shifted from marketing automation to marketing analytics. Through the switch, I hope to deepen my experience in understanding how to build, track and drive high quality traffic that converts for businesses.

Those were my top five goals for the year. Here’s how I did with the other core areas of my life: 

2017 Focus Areas:


  • Moved from marketing automation to marketing analytics.

Going away cake from my coworkers at UMUC.


  • Focused on the most important relationship — the one I have with myself.
  • Moved on from a relationship that became increasingly unhealthy.
  • Learned what it means to be in a healthy relationship (!)
  • Continued to focus on making an effort to carve out more time to hang with friends


  • Regularly worked out throughout the year.
  • Got into the habit of cooking for myself instead of eating out.


  • Moved from Arlington to Washington DC (!!!)
  • Managed to visit three new countries this year: Iceland, Chile and the Netherlands
  • Crossed off another item on my bucket list: hiking at Torres del Paine National Park
  • A more in-depth of my travel experiences from this year here: 2017 Travel Highlights

Autumn colors on my new street in Northwest Washington DC!


  • Didn’t max out my retirement accounts as had originally planned, but still managed to contributed on average about 25% of gross pay to retirement.
  • Through market performance and an increased savings rate, increased my net worth by 140%!
  • Paid off a student loan, have about $11k in loans left (down from $85k when I graduated school).

2018 GOALS

Most of the goals I have from the coming year are a continuation of good habits that I’ve established in years past:

  • Keep running and lifting.
    • Set another PR for my half marathon time.
    • Increase weights used when strength training.
  • Keep cooking.
    • Experiment with cooking dishes from different cuisines.
    • Increase my repertoire of dishes that I know how to make.
  • Keep saving and investing
    • Max out my retirement accounts
    • Continue adding to my emergency fund
    • Set up a 529 plan
  • Keep improving my Mandarin Chinese:
    • Hire a tutor to help enforce discipline in my language learning journey.
    • Finally take the HSK, even if it’s just a really low level.

And an additional goal for this coming year:

  • Get my Private Pilot’s License. I’ve always wanted to become a pilot. Now that I’ve gotten my financial footing (seemingly) under control, I think it’s finally time to start earning my hours towards my PPL.

Well, I wrote a lot more than I had initially thought. Looking forward to see what happens in the coming year!