2011 in Review: Part I

This is a two-part update. I will review 2011, and plan 2012. My focus will be my (m741’s) personal goals, and overall what I did during the course of the year. In Part I I’m going to review what went well (or didn’t) in 2011.

This is a relatively personal look at things. But personally, I enjoy reading about people’s progress, so hopefully you find it useful or at least entertaining.

What Went Well In 2011

I made progress in many areas, but three stick out.


Although I didn’t anticipate it working out this way, 2011 became my Year of Finance. In one way or another, most of my biggest achievements were tied to personal finance. I went from semi-frugal but clueless to frugal and driven. Now I am totally in control of my financial destiny. A few highlights:

  • Started the year with 28 months of expenses saved. Finished it with 80 months
  • In January, I was spending $3000/month. Currently spending $2200/month
  • Quadrupled monthly investment income
  • More than doubled savings
  • Tracked every expense and source of income
  • Developed routine to tabulate and check various savings accounts monthly

These are all huge, but most important of all is that I now have plans. I know that on my current trajectory, in 2-5 years I will have the financial resources to do whatever I want.


In 2011, I began to actively participate in an online community for the first time. Funny, given that I’ve been online for almost 15 years at this point. Part of that included writing regularly about things that were personally meaningful to me I would estimate that I wrote a paragraph or two every day. However, I didn’t edit or stop or write as consciously as I could have.

I also started this blog in the fall and have been relatively consistent with updates – I’ve published about 23 so far. I feel like my writing style has progressed, and I’ve begun to experiment and write less formulaic essays. I’m satisfied with my progress and will seek to develop further in 2012. Experience and deliberate practice are the only way to improve.

‘Personal Development’

I don’t know how to quantify or categorize it, but I feel that I learned and internalized lots of little skills or knowledge while at work. I have a better idea how to conduct myself intelligently in a business environment, and developed various skills for project management, personal interaction, planning, mindset, etc.

Not everything went my way – there were 2-3 projects that I feel objectively were failures. In other cases, I didn’t handle myself well or did something that in retrospect was foolish. But I’ve learned, and might be a little smarter in the future.

I also had to deal with a series of family problems, and I’m proud of how I conducted myself under stress.

What Didn’t go Well in 2011


This was a busy and stressful year for me, and my health fell by the wayside. Currently, I’m not in terrible shape. But relative to where I was 3 years ago, there’s no comparison. I don’t have a working bathroom scale, but I believe I gained 10-15 pounds over the course of 2011. Basic things are more difficult than they ought to be; clothes are beginning to feel tight; I’m more self-conscious; I’m frequently exhausted. Overall, I simply don’t feel comfortable. Regaining my health is my number one priority for 2012.

In 2011, I made sporadic attempts to exercise and eat well. But I didn’t allow myself enough slack, and when my routine got disrupted by vacation or became congested, I stopped.


Exploring, and having spontaneous adventures is kinda the point of life. Otherwise, you’re just counting down the hours and making time pass. Opportunities to explore kept presenting themselves – and I ignored them.

After all, I live in NYC, and one of the things I should have done was to explore each neighborhood. This is a huge city and it has so much to do – the museums, sights, restaurants, activity groups, etc. I won’t be living here forever, but I’ve spend 3 years here and know very little about the city. Most nights and weekends, I stayed in my apartment and slept or watched TV.

I did travel outside of North America for the first time, to Germany for a week. It’s something I could easily have postponed or put off. Instead, I planned and executed, and everything went better than expected. It was a great experience. In 2012, I want to travel more.

Various Skills

I was far from dedicated or consistent enough in my pursuit of various skills. Among them: learning German, practicing various musical instruments, programming for fun, etc.

I made various desultory efforts in each of these, but none was consistent enough to pay dividends. Was I too ambitious? Mostly I overestimated my resilience and energy. Too frequently, I dallied and wasted time watching television, movies, or surfing the web.


Overall, 2011 was a very positive year in terms of personal development, skill acquisition, and money saved. I would rate it as a 7/10: definitely good, but I didn’t execute as well as I could have and I’m excited that 2012 could be even better.

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  1. Shawn Isaacs

     /  December 30, 2011

    I enjoy reading about your progress and even more your shortcomings. Few of us post the negative stuff. You have made some real progress in 2011. I have encouraged you before with exercise before because I know how ill I feel without it. I have not got my regular doses recently and my mood sucks and I physically feel like shit more often than not.

    In short, I suggest you combine the three things you want to improve upon by doing a triathlon. You will improve your health by exploring and procuring various skills (swim, bike, run, and strength and conditioning to remain devoid of injury.) Pick out an event and train for it. You don’t have to sign up and do it. Its fun (and costly) but the real joy for me has mostly been in the journey. You don’t have to WIN or RACE or even go fast but tri training really mellows me out and is soothing. I am a more thoughtful, more kind person when I have exercised my demons through swim bike run.

    I know from experience that posting negatives gets you advice whether you ask for it or not. I hope not to offend, but some of you cyber friends I care enough about to spout off to!

    If you bite on this idea let me know and Ill try to help with getting started.

    • m741

       /  December 31, 2011

      Thanks, I appreciate the feedback.

      I think I’m probably going to pass on the triathlon suggestion – for now, at least. I’m not entirely comfortable doing extensive biking where I’m currently at. And I’m not much of a swimmer.

      However, I think I will sign up for some sort of race. Probably a 10k or half-marathon is about my speed, with some training. I’ll certainly keep you posted let you know how it goes. Looks like there are plenty of races in NYC, so I’ll try to sign up for one this weekend. Having that on the calendar will serve as motivation.

  2. Great idea to prioritize health. I agree with Shawn that a tri is a good way to do it. It’s kind of an expensive sport if you don’t already have a bike, so another option is running. Back in 2005 I got into running and it changed my life for the better. I didn’t think I was too out of shape, but in one short year of running long distances I dropped from 225 pounds to 180 pounds and had SO much energy.

    Regardless of what you choose, if you can afford to enter a few races that will help keep you motivated in training and eating right.

  1. 2011 in Review: Part II « SkillsFIRE

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