New Year, New Habits, New Blog

A new year, a new quarter. The convenient convergence of these two arbitrary time periods while in graduate school make early January the perfect time to address my current habits and contemplate how I want to change in the coming year.

Borrowing from an exercise on Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity blog, I’ve used my holiday break for the past few years to conduct an “annual review” of the previous year. It’s a simple 4-step exercise:

  1. What went well last year?
  2. What didn’t do well last year?
  3. How did I do in terms of meeting the goals I set during last year’s annual review?
  4. Given all of this, what goals do I want to set for the coming year?

A Brief Look at 2015

This time last year, I had just finished my first quarter of grad school in a new city, and I came home wondering if leaving a job I loved in DC for an untested graduate program in a city where I knew almost no one had been a horrible mistake. Unhappy, but also recognizing that I had done nearly nothing to make living in Chicago more enjoyable, I spent 2015 with goals related to accepting my new city and making it my own. Things like:

  • Cook at least 2 dinners and all lunches all week: I wanted to curtail my unhealthy and expensive habit of eating fast food daily and also push myself to expand my cooking repertoire beyond basic pasta and salad dishes.
  • Turn my apartment into a home: I had furniture but had done nothing else to make my place feel like my own, meaning I really didn’t enjoy spending time there.
  • Explore Chicago: I wanted to get to know my new city better.
  • Save for 3 big trips: Even though I was taking steps to enjoy my life in Chicago, I recognized that travel brings me a lot of joy, and so I wanted to invest in experiences I could look forward to throughout the year.

All in all, I ended 2015 feeling much better about my life in Chicago and having met many of the goals I set out to achieve. I came up short in a few places (an unexpected minor surgery in the fall prevented me financially from taking a final big trip for instance), but overall, I’m really happy with how 2015 turned out.

Turning to 2016

This is a pretty big transition year for me – I’m graduating from grad school, likely moving across the country again, hopefully starting a new job – which means planning and prioritizing my goals for the future is constantly on my mind.

I decided to build my goals around categories that reflect my values, groups of projects that I care highly about. I came up with 9 categories and then created 2-5 year-long goals for each:

  • Career
  • Learning
  • Training
  • Travel
  • Writing
  • Friends/Family
  • Nesting
  • Health
  • Financial

I have a bunch of smaller goals, but the four biggest ones are:

  1. Launch my own blog: This is the first of many bi-weekly posts I want to write this year. I’ve realized that over the last few years I’ve developed many ideas and philosophies around the work that I do, but I’ve done a horrible job documenting them and sharing them with the world. I want to get better at that this year.
  2. Get a badass new job: I graduate in June and will need a new home that will let me do the work I do best. I want to be intentional (and somewhat picky) in that search, so I end up somewhere that I enjoy and that shares my values.
  3. Support or train at 4+ data trainings: This is something I’ve missed while in grad school and I definitely want to prioritize it again, starting with Wellstone Action’s Data Bootcamp in February.
  4. Save for 3 big trips: I’m bringing this goal back! I just bought my plane tickets for a spring break trip to Israel and Turkey, and I’m looking to do a graduation trip and another trip in the fall/winter.

What to Look for Here

I don’t want this space to be all musings about what my goals for the year should be (since really I should be out meeting the goals, right?), so what will I use this space for?

The general themes (subject to change) will circle around:

  • Highlights of my current work at the Center for Data Science and Public Policy
  • Inclusivity and diversity, especially in the data space, and what I think allies can do to help promote both
  • What I’ve learned about running good data trainings/events
  • Adult learning best practices
  • Interesting things happening with tech in government
  • Progress to goal on any of my many goals for the year

Currently, I’m aiming to post bi-weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays for now, though I’m sure post size will fluctuate based on life happenings.

Happy reading!


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