Goal Setting

Past Year Review 2019

pyr 2019
“PYR 2019” by Leon Chan

I do a past year review instead of setting resolutions at the start of a new year. For this review, I look over last year’s events and note the most positive and negative ones. I am adding a wrinkle to this year’s review by also examining my purchases, as suggested by Tim Ferriss.


Weddings – As I get older, more of my friends are hitting life milestones. I’m grateful to be included in these events and share unforgettable moments with them. I was involved in the weddings of two of my closest friends this past year. I had an amazing time celebrating with great food, alcohol, and company.

Travel – I traveled to two different countries this past year. I went to Vancouver in January for a bachelor party. I learned how to snowboard well enough to make it down the slopes without bruises on my butt.

I also visited Japan for 2 weeks during the fall. I ate incredible sushi, relaxed in an onsen, and experienced Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Japan.

Restaurants – My two favorite meals this year were at Sushi Chiharu and Paris.Hawaii. The service, food, and atmosphere at Sushi Chiharu, located in Osaka, was fantastic. I’ve ghost written more about my experience there on Yelp.

Paris.Hawaii provided a wonderful French and Japanese dinner. I got to learn more about wine from their sommelier throughout the meal. This opened my taste buds and deepened my appreciation for food and wine.

Reoccurring Events – Outside of special trips, food, and events, I enjoyed regularly scheduled time with friends and family. I stuffed my face with my mom’s home cooked meals every Wednesday night. After dinner, I head over to my friend’s house to get my butt kicked in Smash Brothers Ultimate. On Sunday mornings in the fall, I watched NFL Red Zone while munching on pancakes and omelettes. I experienced the thrills and let downs at our weekly Game of Thrones and Big Little Lies watch parties.

Appliances – A new washer and dryer made laundry less of a chore. That in itself was worth the price alone. Cleaner and longer lasting clothes is an added bonus.

Household items – A 2nd pair of glasses, parking rental, and an extra phone charger made my life more convenient at my girlfriend’s place. I no longer go blind or have a dead cell phone if I forgot something at home. I also sleep better knowing my car won’t be splattered with bird droppings overnight.

Learning tools – The Fluent Forever trainers and Anki mobile app were great investments. These two tools made it easy to stay on course with my Japanese studies. The Getting Things Done Trello Guide has also been a great purchase. The single page on Weekly Reviews was worth of the price of the entire document.


Website/Writing – My website was hacked during the middle of the year. This was due to outdated plugins and inactivity. I had to contact customer support, get rid of the malicious code, and recover backups. It took over two weeks to get my site up and running.

I realized that I haven’t written anything in the past year. I abandoned my writing and felt guilty for it.

Lowe’s Delivery – It took over two months to get the washer and dryer in my home. The delivery was pushed back a handful of times. When it finally arrived, the dryer was dented and had to be sent back. I was annoyed with the numerous phone calls and scheduling coordination.

Work – I was given the construction administration (CA) duties of a new high rise building this past year. CA involves a never ending list of tasks, especially at the start of construction. There are drawings to review, questions to answer, and meetings to attend. These tasks can easily eat up half my work day.

With the other half of my day, I’m wrapping up other project with approaching deadlines. Juggling these conflicting priorities strained my attention and stressed me out.

DIY – After two years, I realized the noise coming from my bathroom was caused by a slow leak in the toilet. I spent hours researching the problem and the do-it-yourself fixes. Then I bought the replacement parts and tools. I tried three separate times to fix it myself but it still leaks. I am frustrated for spending all that time and money only to end up with the same result.

Travel Logistics – My girlfriend and I stayed at five different places across four different cities during our Japan trip. We brought 4 medium suitcases with us. So the transportation and luggage logistics were a handful. We had to spend time on our vacation coordinating the luggage delivery and train times instead of enjoying ourselves.

Lanai Garden – I spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours cultivating my garden. At the end of the day, I didn’t care too much about the vegetables or herbs. I used the basil once for pesto. The rest of the tomatoes and eggplants were thrown out. My other herbs, such as oregano and green onions, didn’t last more than a couple of weeks.


Dinners – The best part about the watch parties were getting together and sharing a meal with friends. I plan to imitate that experience by making time for dinner parties with friends every month.

Travel – I would like to stay in a luxury hotel for a couple of nights during my next trip. I stayed at a ryokan for a night during my time in Sapporo. It was great way to recharge during a long trip. I also want to limit myself to just one event per day to prevent vacation burn out.

Learning – Love of learning is one of my top character strengths and I plan to foster it more this year. I want to attend a class, activity, or event every month. I also plan to set aside more money for learning, whether that be classes, online courses, or books.

Writing – I plan to write at least twice a month this year. Those who have been following the site might have noticed that new posts are starting to trickle in. I’ll set up a Beeminder with penalties for not meeting my “deadlines.”

Spending – I want to spend less time debating purchases that are $25 or less. Some of these items have a huge impact on my life. This will help me save my time and energy for other decisions.

Similarly, I plan to pay professionals instead of doing it myself, especially if the cost is lower than my personal rate. I also plan to stop spending money and time on gardening since it doesn’t matter that much to me as a hobby.

Overall 2019 was a good year, the positive moments outweighed and outnumbered the negative ones. I am hoping that the plans in place for 2020 will make it another enjoyable year.


6 Month Plan

six months
“Six Months” by Leon Chan

I unintentionally took a 3 month break from writing. The first couple of months was due to getting a Nintendo Swtich and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s a tremendously fun game and well worth the 80+ hours sunk into it. It was extremely addicting and I would spend almost all my down time playing it. I also had something come up in my personal life that caught me off guard. I’m still trying to process everything but it was a major kick in the butt. I had to take some time to read, think, and re-examine my life.

One of things that came out of it was re-evaluating my current job and career path. This was sparked by reading How to Pick a Career on Wait But Why and the career guide from 80,000 hours. It also led me to go back and read my essay on dream jobs from about 2 years ago. First, I noticed that I was trying really hard to be witty in that essay. Some of the lines made me laugh, while others just made me cringe. But on a more serious note, I noticed that even then I knew I didn’t want to be an engineer for life. Although it was an unrealistic dream to be a stay-at-home dad, I still crave certain aspects of that lifestyle.

I want a job that doesn’t require me to sit in an office for 9 hours every day. I want the flexibility to set my own hours and decide what to work on. I also want the freedom to be mobile and be able to work from any location in the world. I still hold dreams of staying in foreign countries for months at a time to soak in the local culture and food. This is inspired by the 4 Hour Work Week and the concept of mini-retirements. But then again, I want a job that is practical. I don’t want to stress about not being able to pay the mortgage or having enough food. But mostly, I want a career that I find fulfilling and would get me lost in flow. I don’t want to have regrets later in life about not taking a risk and staying in a job because it was comfortable.

So with the help of the guides and a week of reflection, I decided the best way to transition into another career is to try it as a side hustle. I thought of two possible careers that would let me do all the things that I listed above: a writer and a web developer. I decided to try out web development first and if it fails, I’ll fall back on writing. The reasoning is that I believe I’ll be writing for life. Even if its not on a blog or published anywhere, I’ll probably still journal or scribble short stories in a notebook. But I’m not sure how long I will be interested in programming, so I wanted to strike while my enthusiasm for change is still high.

For the next 6 months, I’m going to commit to learning JavaScript. At the end of the 6 months, I’m going to produce a copy of my website from scratch. It’s going to mimic a lot of things that WordPress does but coded by me. I’m going to be following a 5 month programming guide from Hackernoon that outlines a plan for learning how to code. So by the end of November, I should have a revamped copy of NineOverFour ready to go. If the site is not up and functional by then, I’ll donate $50 to the NRA as punishment.

I’m still going to be writing in the meantime. I’ll try to get out weekly updates in a timely manner and have some ideas for longer pieces. It honestly feels good to be behind the keyboard and see words go up on the screen. I don’t have the usual recommendations of what I’ve read or heard this week, but there are links scattered throughout this update. The career guides are long reads but I found them to be very insightful.

Goal Setting Longform

Past Year Review 2017

“List” by Leon Chan

Instead of setting resolutions for this coming year, I looked back at the last year and reviewed all the events that generated positive and negative emotions. I got this idea from Tim Ferriss and what he calls his Past Year Review (PYR). I started the process by cracking open a fresh page in my notebook and grabbing a pen. I drew a line down the middle of the page to create two columns, one labeled positive and the other labeled negative. I then opened Google calendar, switched to the month view, and flipped to January 2017.

Goal Setting

Goal Setting: March/April 2016

“March/April” by Leon Chan

This is the first update to my goal of writing at least one sentence every day. I started recording my writing halfway through March. So instead of writing two separate updates, I decided to combine the last two months. A total of seven weeks or 49 days have passed since I started using the calendar to the end of April. I’ve written at least one sentence on 39 of those days or about 80% of the time. All the days I’ve missed have fallen on the weekend. The days I’ve slacked off the most have been Friday and Sunday, with four days missed on each day. During this time period, I’ve written and published one essay and six weekly thoughts.

I have been consistently slacking on the weekends because I haven’t formed the habit of writing on the weekend. I’ve gotten into a pattern of sitting at my computer desk after dinner and pounding out sentences over the work week. But on the weekends, my days are less structured and therefore I don’t have a set time to sit and write. Also, I sometimes feel just plain lazy and spend my time watching TV shows or playing video games.

To get myself writing on the weekends, I’ll need to establish a habit that works with the free flowing nature of the weekends. On most Fridays, I go out for Happy Hour after work and won’t come home till late. Sometimes I won’t turn on my computer and therefore can’t get my sentence in. To help overcome that problem, I’ll have to get on Tinyletter during lunch and write a line or two for the weekly update. On Saturdays and Sundays, I’ll open the word processor right after my computer boots up. This will force me to get at least one sentence in before I get lost on the internet.

march goals
March Goals
april goals
April Goals

Check back in another month to see if these changes helped me with my writing goals.

Goal Setting Longform

Goal Setting

“Calendar” by Leon Chan

I’ve been setting goals for myself since my college days. It all started with a leadership seminar during my junior year. The presenter shared a quote about how those who plan ahead are more successful than those who don’t. I didn’t know how success was measured or if there was legitimate research behind his claim but as a young impressionable student I ate it all up. From that moment on, I’ve been setting yearly goals.