2018 Retrospective

I gave myself a performance review

Daylen Yang
6 min readDec 31, 2018
these circles represent 2018

First, a disclaimer. I’m incredibly privileged to be able to write a piece like this. By and large, 2018 was a terrific year for me. The toughest hardship I faced was when I was mugged and had to buy a new iPhone. Or maybe it was when a not-so-nice landlord tried to gyp our security deposit. The point is, many people in America and around the world are struggling. (By the way, you should definitely read all three of those longform stories.) This post is purely an analysis of the personal development goals I had set for myself.

At the beginning of the year, I set some goals for myself in 4 “buckets”: fitness, work, social, and fun. So how did I do? Here’s my self-assessment:

  • [Fitness] Get better at climbing. 7/10
  • [Fitness] Run 2 half marathons at a sub 8:00/mi pace. Stretch goal of 365 miles this year. 4/10
  • [Work] Redacted
  • [Social] Meet 1 new person per week. 6/10
  • [Social] Start dating. 1/10
  • [Fun] Get better at video. 6/10
  • [Fun] Travel as much as I did in 2017. 9/10

Overall, the exercise and fun buckets are doing well, while the social bucket needs some improvement. Let’s look at some of these in detail.


Climbing skills improved

hand-sketched graphs: artisanal data science

At the beginning of the year, I was at around the V0-V1 bouldering level. Now I can do pretty much any V2 and about half of the V3s. Also, I learned how to top rope! Unfortunately, frequency of visiting Dogpatch/Mission Cliffs tapered off in the second half of the year: 22x in Q1, 19x in Q2, 13x in Q3, 5x in Q4, which can be explained by a longer commute that started in Q4.

Only one half marathon

strava thinks I ran an extra 0.3 miles

Originally I was slated to run both the SF Half and the Berkeley Half, but the Berkeley Half was cancelled due to the cancerous Camp Fire air. (Sad!) My pace for the SF Half was 8:05, just short of my 8:00 goal pace. I felt pretty good throughout the race, so I likely could have gone a bit faster. Total mileage run this year was only 110 miles, which is less than ⅓ of a 365 mile stretch goal. I expect to smash my goal pace next year.

model: Emily Cheng

A resurgence in cycling

Not a goal I defined at the beginning of the year, but I started cycling more this year after a lull in 2017. This is mostly due to meeting Emily Cheng, an absolute badass, who dragged me on early morning Fat Cake Club rides and weekend excursions, including my first ever century ride! I recently started bringing my X-T2 on rides and got some sick photos.



In retrospect, “meet 1 new person per week” is kind of arbitrary goal since quantity isn’t more important than quality. Instead, a better goal to strive for is to maintain and strengthen existing friendships while selectively adding meaningful ones. To that end, in June I adopted what I call The Spreadsheet Method, which allows me to keep track of meaningful interactions with people.

like a CRM, but for friends

Here’s how it works: on sheet 2, you write down a name, date, and description whenever you have a meaningful interaction that you want to remember. Sheet 1 has a row for each person, and using ~*formulas*~ it looks at sheet 2 to find the most recent meaningful interaction. And with conditional formatting, you can see at a glance who you should sync up with next (red = haven’t seen them in forever).

You could also add a ranking column so that you can prioritize who to hang out with. To be clear, this is not an absolute scoring of each person—it’s a relative ranking based on desired interaction frequency.

With all that said, we can see that among friends with an above-median F-rank, there’s a healthy mix of new (met within the last two years) and old friends, and the last meaningful interaction column doesn’t have a ton of red. I’d call that a success!

Is it reductive to quantify friendships this way? Sure. For me, it’s improved my ability to keep up with people. If you want to try it out, I made a template that you can dupe.


I didn’t make much progress on this one this year. Something to address in 2019!


Daylen Yang Productions?

My favorite channels on YouTube include Mango Street, Casey Neistat, and kold. These channels excel at lifestyle vlogging/the travel genre, and I wanted to get better at making those types of videos.

It’s sort of cheating since I filmed all of the shots in 2017, but I put together A Taste of California in April:

It’s alright, featuring gratuitous drone footage and decent cutting to the music. (I’m especially proud of the fast bits.) But there’s no color grading, and no narrative either.

I fixed the lack of color grading in my Death Valley recap. But still, no story, and that’s a much more difficult problem to fix. When I look at Mango Street videos, every shot seems to have a purpose, and they all fit together to tell a story. That’s something I need to work on in 2019.

look at those pretty dots


As some of you might know, I religiously check in on Foursquare’s Swarm app everywhere I go. Which makes it perfect for answering the question: how much did I travel this year? A good amount:

  • International destinations this year included Banff (Canada), Hong Kong, and Singapore.
  • Within the U.S., I hopped over to Salt Lake City, New Mexico, and New York.
  • Within California, I road tripped to Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, and more.

Usefulness of goals in the Fun bucket

As the self-proclaimed King of Fun™, I don’t really need goals in this bucket as I kind of gravitate towards doing these things automatically. I likely won’t set any goals in this bucket for next year.

Miscellaneous 2018 facts

  • Number of photos taken on my camera: 8,889 (down from 13,379 in 2017)
  • Cocktail bars visited: 12 (up from ~0 in 2017)
  • Steps taken: 2.1 million (down from 3.7M in 2017)
  • Times I visited Ritual Coffee Roasters: 17 (up from ~0 in 2017)
  • Distinct airports visited: 10 (down from 20 in 2017)
  • Number of meaningful interactions logged: 543 (untracked in 2017)
  • Miles cycled: 711 miles (up from 249 in 2017)


There’s so much I want to get done in 2019. I’m still finalizing the list, but here’s my current thinking:

  • [Fitness] Do a triathlon
  • [Fitness] While we’re at it, get a six pack
  • [Mind] Read more books (metric needed)
  • [Mind] Write more essays (metric needed)
  • [Mind] Listen to more podcasts (metric needed)
  • [Social] Dating

Certain information set forth in this essay contains “forward-looking information”, including “future oriented financial information” and “financial outlook”, under applicable securities laws (collectively referred to herein as forward-looking statements).

These statements are not guarantees of future performance and undue reliance should not be placed on them. Such forward-looking statements necessarily involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which may cause actual performance and financial results in future periods to differ materially from any projections of future performance or result expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.