“has it been a year already!?”

I hear James Stacey say into my ears as I stare at this draft wondering how to start.1

Unlike with most previous years, I did not have this experience with 2016. This has been a good year for me; I did a lot, and made plenty of progress personally and professionally. My subjective experience is not that it went by too fast, but that the passage of time feels just right.

The knock on new year’s resolutions is that they encourage you to wait until a seemingly arbitrary moment in time before you make a big change or do something to make your life better. Another knock is that this encourages you to attempt large changes instead of piecemeal changes, which increases the amount of discipline required for success, and therefore increases the chances of failure. Larger changes would happen less frequently, and that makes error-correction harder.

I think there is truth in there, but as with a lot of things people criticize today, the criticism loses a lot of nuance or selectivity and becomes absolute. You shouldn’t wait until new year’s to make your life better, but setting checkpoints for retrospectives and projections at regular intervals is useful. New year’s is arbitrary, but no more arbitrary than any other time or date if you don’t have better reasons for them. Just make sure you’re not using it as an excuse to procrastinate.

Personally I think an annual cycle is too infrequent for most stock-taking and revising stops. You can start a cycle on January 1st, but make it triannual or quarterly. Or choose your own date if January 1st is too problematic for you.

Last year I said I wanted to write more, and that’s the closest I’ve come to making a “resolution”. I like writing for what it helps me learn and get better at, including writing itself, and quantity should only increase when it’s a mean, not an end.

I’m happy with how 2016 turned out for Take no one’s word for it, and am tickled pink to share the visualizations for the year.

Posts by month and year

Total posts by year

Words by month and year

Total words by year


I’m moving to a new country and starting in a new research scientist role in 2017, and one way or another I think that will affect my writing here. What I hope will happen is that I’ll be able to write more about science and data as I learn more things faster in my new position.

I’m excited.

  1. I don’t usually listen to podcasts when I write, but I wanted to get myself into a certain mindset. ↩︎