The Origami Life: 2017 Year In Review & 2018 Priorities
The Origami Life: 2017 Year In Review
Jennie here. Happy New Year!
It’s that time again - another new year to look forward to. So, how did we stack up to our 2017 goals that we committed to in January 2017?
We graded ourselves against our goals with the following table:
|The Origami Life 2017 Goals||2017 Assessment||Reasoning / Explanation|
|Personal Finance||1. Save at least 50% of our salary.
2. Move into a cheaper apartment.
3. Donate 1-2% of our (post-tax) earnings.
|A+||Boom. A+ because we did everything...except move into a cheaper apartment. In the end, we realized that we’ve got less than a year left so the costs of moving outweighed the savings and convenience. Alas, the ever shifting priorities of our lives...|
||1. Travel across the country by rail.||A+||This was meant to be our “goodbye America” tour so it felt great to achieve this goal last year.|
|Relationship||1. Power down all electronics by 9pm every day.
2. Volunteer together in 2017.
3. Be kinder to each other.
|A-||We totally failed the powering down of electronics by 9pm. Korean dramas are an unhealthy addiction.
However, we did make another change in our relationship - we went running together every week and also had coffee/breakfast together every morning without electronics. We decided to get healthier together and we also chat a lot more about our day ahead and what’s on our minds. This has fundamentally improved our relationship.
On the volunteer front, we’ve put in at least 5-10 hours a month in volunteering between the two of us since April 2017 (mostly Ivan) - with the exception of October when we went on our three week train trip.
|Individual Goals / Personal Goals||Jennie:
1. Practice drawing for 30+ minutes a day.
2. Read (a book) for 30+ minutes a day.
3. Exercise two to three times a week.
4. Send more emails/correspondences to my loved ones and friends.
1. Write and submit one new article for publication every week.
2. Complete the first draft of my novel by June 1, 2017.
3. Study for the final CFA exam for at least 30 minutes per day.
4. Run two to three times a week.
5. Read 52 long novels by the end of this year.
So I’ll give myself like a ~3 out of 4 on this one. I achieved the exercise and reaching out to friends more in 2017, but dropped the ball on my creative ambitions (drawing and reading). Now that exercising has become a healthy part of my weekly routine, I want to use 2018 to re-focus my efforts on creative endeavors. There was a concerted effort here and I actually learned a lot about my shifting priorities.
I managed to complete 60% of each goal. For example, I wanted to write 80,000 words for my novel, but only managed 45k. I ran 1-2 times a week instead of 2-3. I read 32 novels this year instead of 52. My freelance goal changed partway through the year when I picked up some large clients and projects - so my publication goal went out the window. I studied for and passed my final CFA exam.
All in all, to say I’m not happy would be an understatement. Obviously, I didn’t follow my own advice about priorities and spread myself too thin (again). I’ve taken steps to fix this and to tie up loose ends in 2018. More on this in a later post.
At the beginning of last year, we were feeling pretty gung ho about our ambitions and our potential to achieve EVERYTHING. And well, it didn’t go perfectly as planned but we managed to achieve most of the important priorities we had together. If I’m being kind, I would give us an overall ‘B’ or ‘B-’ for the year but there’s definitely some room for improvement in 2018.
The Origami Life’s Big 2017 Revelation:
We had two major realizations this past year as we were working through our goals and priorities:
We realized something towards the end of 2017 - we can’t do it all. And, if we’re being honest, some priorities changed and new goals emerged throughout the year. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, we need to pare down our goals.
‘New year, new me’ isn’t a real thing. Instead of being different people, we need to be ourselves more completely in 2018, and boil things down to the essentials of what we truly value. You can read Ivan’s introspective end of year post here - he covers a different kind of annual review.
What were our highlights from 2017?
Personal finance: We saved 57% of our income in 2017. It was difficult but we did it. We’ve set ourselves up for an easier transition this coming September as we plan to leave for our round the world trip.
Travel: Our biggest highlight was traveling across the country by Amtrak train. It was probably one of the most inspiring and productive trips I’ve ever had. I got to meet strangers on a train and we reconnected with a few friends along our pit stops.
Relationship: We started running together in the mornings. I still hate this but it’s actually helped improve our overall productivity, health, and relationship. We’re choosing to be more intentional with our time together.
What were our lowest points from 2017?
- Slumps happen. Ivan and I both experienced slumps at different parts of the year - for me, it came during the summer and for him, it was the start of winter. There were several tough weeks that we had to work through on our own. All you can do is acknowledge that you’re in a slump and work yourself out of it. And remember, it’s okay to fall into slumps because it’s a natural part of life. Do you know anyone who is 100% on their game all the time? If not, then be kind and give yourself a break.
The Origami Life: Our Priorities For 2018
What areas will We focus on in 2018?
This year is about leveling up on the foundation we’ve built over the last year.
We’ve found that keeping to a handful of specific and high level goals/priorities gave us a lot of focus and room to grow this past year. And we will continue with the following categories in our annual goals/resolutions post:
Personal Finance Priorities in 2018
Decrease our annual expenses from $37,000 down to $36,000. Last year, we managed to save more than 50% of our annual income and it felt amazing. This year, we’re challenging ourselves to scrimp a little more and bring our total annual expenses down to $36,000 for the entire year - that’ll be about $3,000 a month - including charitable donations.
Continue to donate 1-2% of our (post-tax) earnings to charitable causes. After the 2016 election year, we thought a lot about how we want to show our support for the causes we care about. And we’ve been fortunate enough to actually donate and be more intentional about giving to causes we care about.
You can read more about our 2017 donations (and Money Diaries) here:
March 2017 Money Diary: Promises
$250 donation made to Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative
June 2017 Money Diary: Freedom
$250 donation made to GiveDirectly
September 2017 Money Diary: Puerto Rico & Donor Fatigue
$250 donation made to UNICEF USA for the relief efforts for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
Travel Priorities in 2018
We have had one major travel goal for the past two years, and 2018 is the year when we finally set off!
- Before we both turn 30 this year, we plan on leaving for our Round The World (RTW) travels by September 1, 2018. We’ll travel for 15 months or until we get tired of living abroad.
It’s almost unreal to think that the past two years of saving, getting healthier, and living more intentionally and minimalist/simple lives has been leading up to this one goal. We haven't purchased our one way tickets yet but we've planned out all the steps leading up to this big life change.
Some of the scarier steps here include quitting / giving notice at a well paying job, saying goodbye to loved ones, and preparing for a life abroad and living out of a 40L travel backpack.
Relationship Priorities in 2018
We’ve had a tough year because we’re both overachievers and control freaks who want things done a certain way. This led to a lot of arguments between us over who was “right”. It was hard. We had a lot of good days but when some days got tough - they got really tough. For example, when I was going through a slump and had a challenging or when Ivan had an unproductive writing day - we argued a lot on those days.
This year we’re trying to work on our individual priorities to help improve our overall relationship together.
Here’s Ivan’s relationship priority in 2018 for my sake:
Be nicer and don’t take my personal frustrations out on my wife: I have a problem with my temper and I’ll be the first to admit it. Apologizing immediately afterwards doesn’t make things better either. Most of the time, it’s not even Jennie’s fault. I’m just a control freak with dictator tendencies who gets extremely irritated with interruptions - especially if the work isn’t going well.
Here’s my relationship priority in 2018 for Ivan’s sake:
I will give Ivan more space to himself. We live in a studio apartment together and it’s hard to have space, but what I realized (real late) was that Ivan needed complete and total privacy to write his fiction. He’s an extreme introvert and is just the type of person who needs time alone in a room to be productive. This year, I will be more considerate by way of giving him more space to just be.
Looking Forward To Another Exciting Year in 2018
...While Also Being More Realistic
So, that brings us to the end of our post. I’ve aired some dirty laundry and have shared our faults with all of our Origami Life readers because I think that being honest with you, helps us be honest with ourselves too.
So thank you for an amazing 2017, for reading our posts, and for sharing this experience with us.
- How was your 2017?
- Are you superhuman and achieved everything you set out to do?
- And what’s on your priority/goals list for 2018?
Do you have any tips or tricks on how we can achieve our priorities this year?
And this leads us to one final priority we want to share with you:
We want to engage with our readers more.
As we move forward with this blog, we’d love to understand what you take away from our blog posts. We want to learn more about you and figure out ways to improve our content so that it positively benefits your lives as well. Feel free to email us - we read and respond to all of your emails and comments! Let us know what you think or questions you might have.
Good luck and we can’t wait to share our 2018 experience with all of you.