Did you know that you can navigate the posts by swiping left and right?

Looking Forward and Back

01 Jan 2018 . category: life

Welcome to 2018. You made it! Congratulations!

For many, December 31 marks an end, and January 1 a new beginning. Sure, a date is a bit arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but the turning of the year is as good a reminder as any that it is important to take time to reflect on the past in order to make the most of the future. There is a lot that happened in 2017. 365 days. 8760 hours. Time for a slightly closer look.

A year in review

Simply, here’s a happy memory or accomplishment from each month of my 2017. Some are big events, some just small encounters that I’m glad I came across. Remember that everything you accomplish or enjoy - no matter the size - is important because it makes you who you are, and no one can take that from you.

January - I enjoyed some interesting games of “not jenga” with friends at Monday Night Dinner.

February - I went to Portland for a weekend where I ate donuts and visited with friends from college.

March - I got to catch up with a bunch of high school friends I hadn’t seen in almost a decade at a wedding back home in Alpharetta.

April - I marched in the Seattle March for Science. There were a lot of very punny signs.

May - I rode my bicycle on Seattle freeways in the 2nd (hopefully annual) Emerald City Bike Ride. I made a video about it!

June - I went on a four day trip to a bunch of orienteering events in central and eastern Washington. I made another video!

July - My housemates and I hosted an Olin College summer party for about 50 alumni, current students, incoming students, and families.

August - I watched the Solar Eclipse with a pinhole viewer from my kayak in the middle of Lake Sammamish.

September - I won the Fremont Street Scramble on a beautiful fall morning. I also raced in an amazing sprint orienteering tournament and wrote about it.

October - I went hiking with a friend at Cutthroat Pass in the North Cascades on a beautiful bluebird day after early season snow. We found the Larch.

November - I met some extended family in Nashville for Thanksgiving and got to see some cousins I hadn’t seen in a few years.

December - I made updates to an orienteering map of a large local park, then designed and set courses for an event attended by over 400 people.

I hope you too can take a minute to think about your past year and find that you’ve done so much!

Looking back

Of course, who you are is shaped by much more than a few accomplishments. There are struggles and challenges, new and uncomfortable situations, plans that go awry, spontaneous activities, and the nondescript monotony of whatever day to day life actually is. With so many waking hours in a year, it is a fools errand to ask for it to all be analysed and improved, but that doesn’t mean there is zero opportunity. Here’s a couple ideas of things I’d like to change:

  • I wasn’t focused on long-term personal goals.
  • I let too many decisions make themselves.
  • I rarely strayed outside my comfort zone.

Looking forward

This is the difficult part. It’s often easier to identify opportunities for change than to actually make those changes. I don’t yet know the strategies I’ll use to tackle the specific ideas mentioned above, but that doesn’t mean I can let this fall flat.

To get started, I have a straightforward resolution for 2018: spend more time writing and reflecting. On teams in the workplace and at school I’ve always advocated for the value of retrospectives, yet I don’t use that strategy in my personal life. Time for that to change. I’ve already set up a weekly timebox, and I’m going to use the first couple weeks to discover the right questions to be asking and answering.

Additionally, I’m going to work on pressuring myself to say yes to more things. I definitely need my alone time, but I also want to get out more, try more new things, and spend more time with friends, both old and new. How will I actually achieve this? Checking in on my results during weekly journaling seems like a great way to start.

The next twelve months will give you and me yet another year of experience in living, in becoming ourselves. As with every new adventure, there will be mistakes, but that’s ok. Mistakes (especially big ones!) can often be the best way to learn.

I’m excited to see what 2018 brings and who I become. I hope you too grow through many new adventures. Happy New Year!


Eric Jones builds software that helps people. If he's not at a keyborad, he's probably running through the woods with a map and compass or carrying groceries home on his bicycle.