2017 In Review

It looks like this blog is probably only going to be updated around the New Year every year if I keep this up. Hopefully I’ll do better, but at this point I’m not making any promises. Anyway, it’s time to look back at the year and do some analysis on what I did and didn’t do. Plus I get to go through my list of goals and see that I didn’t accomplish most of them. Woo! I know to the outside it must look like an exercise in futility, but it really does keep me more focused. Unlike most years I’m actually getting started on during the year in question. It’s just after midnight Dec 24th right now.

Though this year maybe I got a little too focused. Though I suppose that goes under the next heading.

Normal disclaimer: This is a personal , rambling, and mostly unedited post. I just keep these here for my own public record and a bit of exhibitionism. Feel free to skip this if any of that sounds terrible.

Opening Thoughts

Well, it’s been a year. Quite a year. It absolutely flew by though. I’m not entirely happy with what I did and didn’t do, but I can’t think of how I could have finished more without sacrificing things that I was happy I did. I know that’s vague and opaque, but it boils down to wishing I had more time.

As usual, this post is going to be about things aside from work. Though I usually do make a small tangential comment. I stayed at the same company, and I’m not unhappy with how things are going. I would say that I was generally busier with work – spending more hours working than last year – but it’s not a complaint. I don’t think that a strict max of 40 hours/week would have significantly increased how much I got done this year.

The reason why is because at some point early in the year I pretty much abandoned everything other than Japanese study. I had stripped it down pretty far with the goals, but I went even farther down from there. At the beginning of July, I finally started taking lessons on the Internet. Like, 1-on-1 over Skype video kind of lessons. I typically had two 1 hour lessons a week, then I spent some time translating blog posts, working through textbooks, and drilling on things on my own. Even my entertainment moved over more to Japanese stuff, as I started listening to stuff by Hello!Project. Mostly since they actually post their stuff to YouTube and I basically ended up going down a rabbit hole. I can’t tell if I actually like their stuff, but it at least gives me some things to watch/listen to and try to get better at comprehension.

Anyway, I think I’m getting off topic here. I keep wanting to get into thinking about next year and planning and so on. It’s hard to keep on just the analysis side. Doing these analyses always gets me thinking, and I’ve been itching to get some goals put together.

Probably the rest goes in the goals update or the lower matter in this post, so moving on.

2017 Goals Final Update

1. Lose 80 pounds


Didn’t make the numbers this year, and honestly didn’t make all that much progress. However, coming out of this year I have the most hope I think I’ve had in a long, long time. In the September – early November I found a method of weight loss that I can keep at in a safe way that isn’t too hard. I lost about 20 – 30 pounds in that period and kept most of them off through the more turbulent holiday times too. It’s the first thing that’s worked since keto (which I had to stop since I got gout). I might write about it later, but these things being what they are I’d rather play it closer to the chest until I’m successful with it next year. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Most of the year I just maintained and didn’t really go up or down more than a few pounds, lost a bunch in that September – early November timeframe, probably gained back 10 or so between the holidays. That’s not really a rebound, just holiday binging.

2. Take and PASS the N4


Oh boy, this one. I can probably talk about my Japanese study here a bit. It’s funny, because if you asked me a year ago if spending most of a year of free time pretty much only studying grammar would get me to where I could pass the N4, I’d say “absolutely.” I spent that time, and honestly once I started taking lessons I was so much more effective at learning. It’s amazing. Honestly, I can’t believe how much better I got at grammar once I started taking lessons. However, I felt even worse after the exam. I didn’t feel good about the listening section, I didn’t feel good about any of the sections except the very first one to be honest. The grammar/reading section took me until the very last second. Maybe it’s because I actually could read most of it, but it left me unbalanced. If I felt confident that I’d passed I’d mark this as a success, but I’m not sure. And I won’t know until mid-late February. It does make me unsure of what I want to do with my Japanese study next year though, especially since I want to have time to do other things again. Though maybe really buckling down for a few years is the actual secret to actually learning the language. I’ll definitely be writing a lot about this through the first parts of the year, even if I don’t publish much. Especially if you look at all the unpublished posts I made this year.

3. Learn 2200 Kanji meanings


I don’t have a hard count on this, but I think I probably got through about half. I definitely got through about 900 in my flashcard deck, and I’ve been using Kanji as much as possible when practicing Japanese now. It has a bit of a backlash effect in that I don’t always remember the correct pronunciation for things, which means when it’s written in just hiragana it doesn’t occupy the same spot in my mind. That’s a problem, but I think it’ll sort itself out over time. I’m just estimating another 200 or so Kanji have showed up in my vocabulary practice as I’ve been going along here. So I think I did pretty good. I’m well beyond what is expected for the N4 in the Kanji department. I had wanted to just get it all done and clear it out in a year, but I’m happy with the progress I made. Next year, if I focus on it, I can clear the list no problem.

4. Four new certifications


Well, I only got one. I got the Salesforce Platform Developer I certification this year. I made an attempt at the App Builder transition exam, but honestly I should have studied harder. I have until March to give it 2 more shots, but if I don’t make it I’m not going to worry. I probably should have spent more time on this, since it’s a bigger career thing, but I didn’t. I keep wanting to take the AWS one, spend a lot of time on studying, then I don’t actually take it. I get worried that I can only take it like 3x a year, but now another year has passed and I haven’t taken it at all. So I might as well fail it 3 times, right? Anyway, nothing really lost here. Four was probably too many to be honest, unless I wanted to get some worthless ones.

5. Publish 5 books on Amazon


This is the main failure of the year. I really just straight up abandoned writing pretty early in the year. Once I started focusing hard on Japanese I stopped writing. Whether or not that was the right thing to do, it’s what I did. Not just publishable work, but practice too. Not much more to say here. Though I do hope to pick it back up in a serious way next year.

Support Goals

Twitter – Pretty much gave up on Twitter. Maybe I’ll pick it back up, maybe not. I don’t really have a social media plan anymore.
Biking – Also gave up on biking. Having to repair the exercise bike all the time (while biking) didn’t help. Probably not good I gave up on the exercise though.
Complete Genki I and IICOMPLETE! Wooooo!
Complete 3 more Japanese textbooks – I did one more, and half a second. The lessons kind of outmoded the need for these.
Get 5 or fewer answers wrong on a N4 practice exam – The best I did was like 15 or so wrong. Though that might not have been representative of my actual skill.
Win NaNoWriMo – Didn’t even attempt it this year. By November I was definitely done writing for the year.
Create and use a four week writing challenge – Also nope. See earlier comments.

2017 Events and Accomplishments

January – June – The downside of keeping a planner is that then I don’t feel like I need to remember things. I might go back through the planner and fill this out. But probably not, it’s not really the point of this post.
July – August – Started Japanese lessons, didn’t do much else.
September – November – JLPT study and actual, effective weight loss.
December – Took the JLPT N4

Final Thoughts

I have mixed thoughts about the outcome of this year. If I think about it logically I had a pretty good year. I’m getting more responsibility at work and things are moving at an acceptable pace there, I yet again learned more Japanese in the last year than I have all my life since this year (2nd year in a row – but probably not repeatable again?), I’ve found an effective way to lose weight, things are going generally good.

However, if I want to feel depressed about it, I think “The only thing I did was study for the N4 and I don’t even feel like I passed it.”

Still, I can’t argue the difference in my Japanese skill. I don’t regret the time I spent on it. The total effort I spent this year got me over a hump and through the kind of “casual study” barrier, for lack of a better term. Now, of course, the things I don’t know annoy me more, and the road ahead looks even longer, but I know I can do it. By the end of the year, I found a very efficient learning regimen.

2018 is coming. 2017 was the year of Japanese. 2018 is going to be a year of changes. I could imagine changes at work, since I’ll be in my current role for 2 years this summer, so it’s time to move up or over and develop new skills. I’m going to actually effectively lose a large amount of weight (seriously). I’m going to learn music production. I’m going to self-publish books and music (probably under a pseudonym), and I’m going to become conversational in Japanese.

I should have a goals post out soon. None of this waiting a month stuff, if I don’t have the post done and things scraped out by the 2nd week of January, I screwed up. I’m also planning on running my personal schedule in an agile manner this year. I might write a post about that too.

2018… START!



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2 responses to “2017 In Review”

  1. Alice Majere Avatar
    Alice Majere

    Hey, you did pretty good this year ! Good luck with 2018 and merry christmas !


    1. Matthew Ekenstedt Avatar

      Thanks! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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