Reflecting and Closing the Door on 2013

I wanted to write more on the blog this month, but not until the month was mostly over. There were too many landmark decisions and I didn't want to talk about them until the results were actually in. The results, after all, would determine the direction of my energy in 2014.

But before I dive into my goals for next year, which I will share in a post tomorrow, I want to take some time to reflect on 2013 and my resolutions for it. Here are the "13 for '13" broken down into some categories, and some commentary on how they turned out--for the best, as always.

General Resolution
1. Check progress on these resolutions at the beginning of the month.
I did this quarterly. Not bad. I also hung little heart-shaped cards with my resolutions around my apartment to remind myself of my goals. I'll be doing this again in 2014.

New Knowledge and New Skills Resolutions 
2. Read the WSJ and NYT headlines at least 4 days a week and substitute silly morning news-watching for something more business-oriented (ex: Squawk Box, Morning Joe, etc.)
Ever since I moved to my new place, I stopped watching morning TV, and ironically, as soon as I signed up for an online subscription to the New York Times, I stopped reading that, too. I find that I find out the things I want to know through other channels (pun intended). Not to say it's not important to be informed about the mainstream news, but I've learned that being in the know in this particular way isn't a top priority of mine right now and the content tends to make me depressed or frustrated. 
3. Read an article in Chinese in the People's Daily once a week--and be able to read it out loud.
Part of this year has been coming to terms with my future with respect to China. Given the difficulty of living in China with celiac disease on my two trips to Shanghai this year, I don't see myself in China for a career right now, and so my commitment to Mandarin, while not absent, took a backseat. Which is totally fine. 
4. Create a schedule for learning one computer language over the course of the year and create something beautiful with it. I took 4 different web design and programming courses this year. Frankly, it's not for me. I'm finally coming to terms with this idea that I'm only employable and valuable if I can make something using a coding language. Programming isn't what lights me up. This is also perfectly ok. 

Physical/Emotional Health Resolutions
5. Stick to a diet that makes me feel good
Mostly figured this out thanks to seeking out the right medical help this year. The verdict is a diet that's gluten-free, vegan 75% of the time, and low-FODMAP, with very limited alcohol. 
6. Stay unattached until you find yourself--or until Princeton reunions.
This was true for most of the year, just not between February 23 and August 3. This also meant I was in a committed relationship during Reunions--for the best, given Princeton's meningitis scares throughout 2013. I don't really enjoy being single, but the experience has been and continues to be valuable. 
7. Do something nice for someone else at least 5+ hours/month. If you count making and sharing baked goods and escorting drunk friends home in the wee hours, I definitely came in with at least 5 hours a month of mitzvahs. 
8. Learn to box
I did this for about 4 months. It was fun, but the gyms weren't the most convenient, and getting membership after my Groupons expired would have been a bit of a nightmare. As boxing ended, however, reconsidering yoga began, and that led to some wonderful things, no matter how often I hate on it.
9. Do some new physical group activity at least once a month. Once a month was a bit difficult, but I did manage to try (and in certain cases, stick to) yoga, pilates, hiking, biking, "beer league" softball, and went on my first yoga retreat. 

"Stretch" Resolutions (requiring more time, adventure, brainpower etc.)
10. Get out of the United States.
I got back to China twice, but as interesting as it was getting out of the US, it was just as eye-opening getting around it. Somehow and suddenly at the end of August, I planned a ton of trips. Visiting Charleston, Durham, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Berkeley during the tail end of this year was awesome and offered me a lot of perspective on worlds outside of Boston where I could thrive professionally. In other words, Seattle, you're on my radar...
11. Submit three pieces of writing for publication
The idea here was to submit something to Modern Love in the New York Times. I still like that idea. It didn't happen this year, though. I did write three cases this year for HBS, so this happened in some form--just not the anticipated one. 

Professional Resolutions (which had the most wondrous outcomes)
12. Find a second job outside of HBS that is intellectually stimulating and helps generate new skills.
If you're reading this, you probably know I started a company this year in the industry where I hope to leave my mark. Within 4 months, I incorporated, got ServSafe certified, fundraised over $6,000, and got Zen Cookery products sold in a retail store and in farmers markets.  If you count working temp at a bakery to pay for my commercial kitchen rent, then I technically have three jobs. This year, I learned that I had a choice in how I could deal with my celiac disease--I could wait for someone to "fix me" and provide me with more food and support options, or I could go and do it myself. Now I understand that food is part of my purpose and the way I am meant to help others. 
13. Figure out my next career step and academic step for when I leave HBS as a Research Associate in July 2014. I still can't believe how this one worked out. I had no intention of applying to business school when I began the year. I had applied to 2+2 at HBS in 2011 and was rejected, and when I thought about applying in the future, I felt that studying comparative literature in college and working a very academic job (even if at a business school) would doom me in admissions. Then I went to a yoga retreat in late August, and in the same epiphany that compelled me to start my business, I had the epiphany that I wanted to reapply for business school. Now--I can't believe I get to say this--I'm joining the MIT Sloan School of Management Class of 2016. 

2013, I tip my hat to you and all your miracles.