Retrospective: Personal Objectives and Key Results for 20175 min read
At the beginning of 2017 I set for myself some relatively ambitious personal objectives and key results (OKRs) which are in addition to my professional and family duties. And what a year it was! It was the best and the worst year of my life to date.
At the beginning of January I became a father of an amazing boy, a future intergalactic explorer as I like to call him. Becoming a parent is the best thing ever! Unfortunately, our son had a very rough start in life. But, fortunately, thanks to the amazing doctors in the Boston area and the strong lion he is, he’s now doing very well and we are super proud of him.
Throughout the year we spent about three months in and out of the hospital with more follow up doctor’s visits than I can count. In addition my family also had to deal with a bunch of health issues, including cancer, though I can’t complain since many other people have it much worse. This is life - it doesn’t get easier, you only get stronger and try to make the best of it.
Needless to say I didn’t have much time or energy to work on my personal OKRs in 2017, but nevertheless I’m very happy with what I managed to achieve and learn along the way. So, here’s my retrospective.
But before we dive in, let me explain how I go about grading OKRs. Each key result gets a grade of 0 to 1 - zero means nothing was done and one means everything was achieved. I target a grade between.6 and .7 since OKRs are meant to be ambitious and you are not being very ambitious if you easily achieve everything. I calculate the grade for the objective by taking the average grade of its key results. I don’t use weighted average because it unnecessarily complicates things and makes you focus on the grading process rather than achieving your key results.
Learn about nutrition science and improve cooking along with coding skills - .55 overall grade
- Completed four courses on edX.org - .75
- Nutrition: Healthy Food for Better Living, three-course program from Wageningen University - 1.0
- Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science, a course from Harvard University - .0
- Cooked 100 healthy and delicious meals - .9
Working on this objective took much more time than I had originally anticipated, but completing those nutrition courses and cooking along the way was very enlightening and fun. I also prepared 90 meals throughout the year (41 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 35 dinners) and reduced my overall daily calorie intake, which also helped me make progress on my physical objective for the year.
As life would have it, I didn’t have time to start working on building data visualization tools and taking the Science and Cooking course from Harvard, but I will do so this year. If you are to take just one course to improve your understanding of how food impacts our health, I recommend Macronutrients and Overnutrition.
Lose weight and get back in shape - .3 overall grade
- Ran 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) - 0.1
- Weight has dropped from 86 kg (190 lbs) to 77 kg (170 lbs) by July and remains between 75-77 kg through December - .5
I run 97 km (60 miles) majority of which in January and February when sleep deprivation hadn't yet caught up to me and I really needed to go for a run to deal with the stress.
In terms of weight, I lost 4.6kg (10.1 pounds) and finished the year at 80.4kg mainly thanks to learning more about nutrition and reducing my carb and overall calorie intake to 1,750kcal per day, compared to an average of 2,500kcal per day needed for a male to maintain his weight. If I exercise on a given day, I get to eat bonus calories based on what I burned during the workout. I track my calories with an app called Lose It!.
However, reducing your calorie intake eventually leads to hitting a weight loss plateau as I did in the last few months of the year. This happens because your basal metabolic rate, the amount of energy expended while at rest, also gets reduced and you burn less energy when at rest compared to before you started losing weight. So, there are two options to continue losing weight: further reduce your calorie intake or start exercising more to burn more calories and build more muscle. Muscles also require more energy to function, so they help increase your basal metabolic rate a bit. I plan to continue eating 1,750kcal (net) per day while exercising more until I get below my target weight of 77kg. Then, I will try to maintain that weight through an active lifestyle and being mindful of what I eat.
Expand professional network in the Boston area - .1 overall grade
- Attended 10 local events with a technology, software, healthcare or education theme - .1
- Made 30 good new contacts and got to know well 5 people with whom I would be excited to work with should an opportunity present itself (needless to say this goes both ways) - .1
I went to the MIT Tech Conference in February which was a surprisingly good, student-run event with exceptional speakers such as John Martinis, professor in physics at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and quantum computing lead at Google, and Rikard Steiber, president of HTC Viveport and SVP of VR. I made some new contacts at this event and throughout the year but didn’t have a chance to follow up with these people later on.
At the beginning of this year I switched office location and now work from downton Boston, which will make it much easier, logistics and time wise, to continue working on this objective in 2018.
Increase value of assets and experiment with options trading - .4 overall grade
- Made 20% return on investments - .8
- Lost less than 50% from the allocated capital to options trading and learned a ton - .0
The stock market had a great bull year in 2017, so it was easy to make a good return on your investment. I made a total annual return of 41.45% while the S&P 500 returned 21.83%, including reinvested dividends, so I was lucky and beat the market this year.
To calculate my total return I compare the sum of end of year cash and holdings (cost basis) to the sum of beginning of year cash, holdings (cost basis) and net deposits to the investment account. I use the cost basis of my holdings, not the market value, to avoid counting unrealized gain/loss until I sell a given holding.
I was planning to read up on stock options and allocate 5% of my investment capital to options trading but didn’t get to it last year. Hope to do so this year.
This concludes my OKRs retrospective for 2017. I hope that sharing my experience with you shows you that life is a series of ups and downs and there’s no magic to getting shit done (unless you are a magician). The key to getting things done is having a plan and getting started.
Thanks to Joanna Jamontt for being a great mom, wife and partner in crime (and for reviewing a draft of this article).