2011

Apparently a lot of people didn’t have such a great 2011. Is this accurate? Those people shouldn’t read this. I had a really good year, which caps off a string of really good years. Life’s been pretty sweet since I finished grad school and moved to Portland nearly three and a half years ago.

2011 was a good year for:

Relationships: I got married to a wonderful guy and had a beautiful, sane wedding, and a couple of nice honeymoons. Not a day goes by that I don’t stop and think about how lucky I was to find this person – and more importantly, how lucky we were to find each other at the right time in our respective lives. Thanks again, OKCupid algorithms!

Relatedly, I made a list of all my friends, family and acquaintances who got engaged or married in 2011. I stopped counting at 28 couples. Even though I know that statistically speaking something like 8 or 9 of these couples will get divorced one day, it’s hard not to get mushy about all of these sincere expressions of love and commitment.

Career: I didn’t talk about this a lot on the blog this year, but in late spring I applied for a new job at a new company purely on a whim, and got it almost immediately. Aside from a significant raise, a better title, more interesting/ challenging work, and a more supportive boss, I left a company that was obviously floundering (and still is) and a work environment that was, in retrospect, toxic.  I just assumed all big companies were like that, with constant gossip, blame-shifting, and passive-aggressive as the dominant style of communication.

My new job is a breath of fresh air — I’ve learned firsthand that this kind of positive workplace culture really matters. So my advice – even if you’re in a good-enough job at a good-enough place, don’t stop looking around for your next opportunity. In January of this year I had no intention of leaving my job, but doing so was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

Finances: This may put me squarely out of line with the rest of the country, but 2011 was also a good year for our finances. We both got raises. We upped our retirement contributions a bit. We paid off a decent chunk of our collective student loan debt (still got quite a ways to go). We paid off his car loan and a small 401(k) loan he’d taken (a financial decision he never would have made if only I’d gotten to him first). We paid for our wedding and two honeymoons ourselves, in cash, and with only a grand or two in wedding cash from family. We’ve got our finances combined, finally, and have set up targeted savings accounts for about 13,000 different goals. Quite frankly, I have no idea how we managed to do all this. But I’ll take it.

In 2012 we plan to balance saving slightly more for retirement, paying down our student loans, and saving up for a house (and a tiny baby to go in that house). I’m too risk-averse to go whole hog on one thing, so we will spread our cash around in savings and prolong the recession by not spending much money on ourselves. Oh wait, that’s not true: J. is getting adult braces! I’m married to Benjamin Button.

Everything else: I didn’t set concrete goals this year on doing yoga, working out, reading books, or learning Spanish. As a result I did precisely none of those things consistently. I’m busy setting some goals for 2012 that are reasonable.

The bottom line: 2011 was good — although it seemed to fly by, no? — and I’ve no doubt 2012 is going to be even better, apocalypse and all.

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