2014 in Review


Another year has come and gone, which means it’s time for another review. I still can’t believe this is the fourth year I’m doing this. You can find my previous year reviews here: 20132012 and 2011.

What went well?


I thought last year was an amazing year of travel, but 2014 was just as amazing! You can find details on my travels this past year here: 2014 Travel Highlights. I went to so many places this year. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to continue to travel, and I hope I have the opportunity to continue to do so in the upcoming year.


When I first quit my job to go traveling in late 2011, I was so excited for what lay ahead of me in terms of all the places I’d get to visit throughout Taiwan! Despite my exuberance, I have to admit that throughout it all, a part of me worried about how taking time off from the workforce would affect my career.

Looking back at it all, I can honestly say that there really wasn’t anything to worry about. 2014 was a fantastic year for my career! Whereas 2012 and 2013 may have been years of career experimentation, I definitely took some strides into finding a career in digital marketing that’s stimulating, challenging, but most importantly: rewarding. Looking forward to another exciting 2015!

Health & Fitness

I had much higher expectations for this past year: being able to complete the minimum requirements for the marine corps physical fitness exam and running a half-marathon in under 2 hours. Although I didn’t meet both of those goals, the decision to work towards those goals helped instill in me the importance of regular physical activity, which I’ve been able to maintain fairly consistently over the past year.

What didn’t go well?

Sticking to my goals

Although I began the year with a enthusiasm to achieve my goals, by the end of it, I had failed to accomplish any of them. I think for this upcoming year, I’ll continue to set goals, but rather than focusing my efforts on the goals themselves, my focus will be on the systems that’ll help me achieve them.

Personal Finances

I’ve definitely made progress on this front, but I’m still disappointed at finding that balance between saving and investing versus spending and enjoying life.

2015 Goals

Pretty simple on this one: more traveling, more running, more writing, improving my Chinese and learning to code. I plan to write about this in more detail in an upcoming post.

Goal Review: 2014 Recap


It’s time to check in and see how I did across my goals for 2014.

How I Did

Goal #1: Paid off the remainder of my student loans.

I entered 2014 with roughly $42k in student loans. I did not expect this was going to be achievable. But goals are all about being SMART, right? Anyway, according to my Mint account, this past year I paid off another $14k in student loans — roughly ⅓ of my remaining balance. Although I didn’t completely reach my goal for paying them off, I certainly made a lot of progress, particularly considering the fact that I graduated about 4.5 years ago with about $80k in student loans!!

Goal #2: Ran a half marathon in under two hours.

Around this time last year, I had just purchased the Rock N Roll Marathon Series’ 3 Tour Pass. At $199, I thought the pass was a good deal considering some of their races can get up to $125 if you register at the last minute. Moreover, considering I had ran my first ever half-marathon earlier that year, the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon, and finished the race at about 02:30:00, I thought completing the race under 2 hours was certainly a reasonable goal.

Unfortunately, I didn’t succeed in meeting this goal either. Due to several reasons, I ended up only completing two half marathons instead of three (the DC and Virginia Beach Rock N Roll half-marathons). Although I didn’t make it under 2 hours, my time for both races improved, including a new PR at the Virginia Beach race at about 02:17:00. I may not have achieved my goal, but I’m glad that my time improved!

My bibs of the half-marathons I've ran so far.

My bibs of the half-marathons I’ve completed so far.

Goal #3: Completed the minimum requirements of the marine corps fitness test.

This goal was another bit of a stretch. A part of me has always been interested in one day joining the military as a reserve officer. While I’m skeptical on that actually happening, being able to complete the minimum requirements of the marine corps fitness test seemed like a nice and clean SMART goal to commit to.

Anyway, I completely didn’t hit this goal at all. At the beginning of the year, I made an attempt, starting with the P90x videos (which I only got up to the 2nd week) and attempting to go to the gym at least 3 times a week. Despite the effort, I can still barely do one pull up!!

Goal #4: Launched teamdone.io

The year 2012 was the year that I started trying to learn how to code. Since then, I think I’ve made very little progress in getting myself to a point where I could deploy something. At the beginning of the year, I set my goal to launch teamdone.io. Whereas in 2013 I lacked a clear reason why I wanted to learn to code, I begun 2014 with clear expectations in mind: build.

I started the year off fairly confidently, completing some very basic wireframes for the app. However, by June, the project hadn’t been touched in months. I had a brief stroke of confidence come over me in July and again in October when I attended WDS and the ReUP Weekend, but after fielding a market research survey to see if there was even a market demand for the product, my confidence towards the project took a heavy blow. For now, I’m putting the teamdone.io project on hold, or at least until I can identify a product that better fits market need.

Goal #5: Attended mass at least once a month.

Of all the goals I had for this year, I thought this one was going to be the most achievable! Unfortunately, this one didn’t happen either! I completely missed going to mass for the months of August, September and October. Of all the goals I had for this year, I’m most disappointed in not completing this one — it was so easy, but yet I still didn’t complete it!!

Goal #6: Blogged about my journeys as a marketer / researcher / traveler at least once a month.

Like attending mass, I thought this one was going to be also pretty easy to commit to. After all, I’ve had these last two goals as something on my annual list since I began. As you can tell from my archives page, I only wrote 6 posts this year! I was certainly not short on things to talk about, but I never fully committed to following through on this goal.

Is there a silver lining to all of this?

On the surface, it’s pretty clear that I’m 0/6 on achieving my goals for this year. However, after logging and publicly sharing my goals for the past three years, I’ve grown appreciative of how important it is to just start and commit to something. Even if the goal was never achieved, just trying to achieve the goal itself can lead to some pretty cool things that would’ve not happened in the first place. It certainly was the case for me:

  • I may not have paid off my student loans, but I paid off over $14,000 over the past year.
  • I may not have completed a half marathon in under two hours, but I ran two of them this year and also set a new personal record.
  • I may not be able to complete the minimum requirements for the marine corps fitness test, but I swam 800 meters in a triathlon this year, and I’ve learned to more consciously incorporate physical activity into my daily life.
  • I may not have launched an app, but I most definitely worked towards it: creating wireframes, talking to mentors, and launching a market research survey that made me realize the idea in its current state needed to be refined.
  • I may not have gone to mass every month this year, but my faith continues to be resolute.
  • I may not have blogged every month this year, but I can definitely say that based on my posts from when I first started this blog, my writing has improved over the past three years.

Key takeaways from another year of goal-setting

  • Just start. Even if you don’t achieve the goal, you’ll have inevitably made some progress towards it. That alone is something to be proud about!
  • Make it automatic. Achieving goals, particularly the ones that seem impossible, won’t happen overnight. If you can make it a habit to gradually work on those goals daily or several times a week, you’ll be that much closer to achieving them than through short bursts of work spread out over the course of the year.

In the next couple days, I’ll be sharing with you a recap of my year in general, as well as my goals for the upcoming year. Stay tuned!

2014 – Half Year Update


Well, it’s exactly halfway through 2014! Here’s a look at how I’m progressing in each of my goals laid out for the year:

  • Paid off remainder of my student loans. — In retrospect, I think this goal was a bit too aggressive. I graduated with roughly $85k in loans from undergrad, and despite several months of extended travel in late 2011/early 2012, I began the year with about $42k left. So far this year I’ve paid off an additional $10k, but am hoping to payoff an additional $1k per month for the remainder of the year. 
  • Ran a half marathon in under two hours. — I haven’t made it just yet, but am making (in my opinion) progress. I’ve FINALLY gotten into a habit of running at least 2-3 times a week from my apartment in Arlington to the Smithsonian in DC. I have two more half marathons coming up this year, in August and October. Hopefully I can crack the barrier this year! 
  • Completed the minimum requirements of the marine corps fitness test. — I’ve probably made progress on the running portion, but nowhere on the crunch or pull-up test. I should start getting on that…
  • Launched teamdone.io — This project has been off-an-on my plate for nearly a year. So far, I haven’t made much progress on it besides mockups I did at the beginning of the year. For now, this project has been put on pause. 
  • Attended mass at least once a month — Done! 
  • Blogged monthly — Nope. Only two so far this year. Hope this changes! 

For the remainder of the year, I’m going to try to simplify most of my goals into three categories: financial, fitness and personal. Here’s to another six months!

Monthly Resolution #1: January 2014


I’m trying something new this year. Rather than establishing quarterly goals as I’ve done in the previous years, I’m going to break them into smaller, monthly commitments. With that in mind, by the end of January, I’d like to say I:

  • Have a working wireframe and mock-up of teamdone.io.

  • Did p90x everyday when based at home.

  • Ran three miles three times a week.

  • Read at least one book.

Back to work!