I Am Joe’s Blog:

December 31, 2011 • 11:59 PM

What I Did in 2011

I don’t have many end-of-year customs, but every December 31, without fail, I indulge in at least a few hours of self-pity as I think about all my unmet goals from the previous year, all the unfinished projects I promised myself would be behind me, and the enormous backlog of work I have confronting me on January 2. Although I don’t make resolutions as such, every year I plan to manage my schedule better so this doesn’t happen again. But despite my best efforts, every year I seem to fall further behind. I reflect on the things that went wrong—all the unexpected illnesses, glitches, and interruptions that cost me days or weeks of work—and feel as though the last 12 months have surely been the least productive ever.

As a partial antidote to this useless and self-defeating frame of mind, I decided two years ago to look back carefully and figure out exactly what I did manage to accomplish that year. It turned out that What I Did in 2009 was a lot more than I’d thought, and that made me feel a bit better. So I did the same thing last year, and sure enough, What I Did in 2010 was, if not everything I’d hoped for, more than enough to make me feel like I was a responsible citizen, worker, husband, and father. So I’ve decided to institutionalize this exercise and make it an annual event—at least until that hypothetical point in the future when I’m so completely caught up and together that it wouldn’t occur to me to feel my efforts had been lacking. As if!

Here, then, is what I remember accomplishing in 2011:

I also spent quite a bit of time doing non-work-related stuff:

I even managed to keep my family fed, clothed, sheltered, and reasonably content—that’s probably the biggest feat of all!

I wouldn’t be so foolish as to make any proclamations about how much better 2012 is going to be. All I can say is, my hopes, plans, and goals remain as ambitious as always, and now I have yet another chance to make good on them. Here we go!

Happy New Year!


  1. Anonymous
    February 6th, 2012 | 9:45 pm

    Dear Mr. Kissel

    It’s me again from Colombia. I was just browsing around the super-long list of things achieved last year (congratulations), when I got to the list of books you read. I was happy to see Desolation Island, even though as you said, something may have been lost in translation. Anyway, by pure serendipity last Saturday I bought Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I know nothing about him but I was impressed by the topic of this whole new planet and its history and civilization made up from scratch. I also liked that the book is plain massive! How about it, did you enjoy it? Thanks Jorge

  2. February 6th, 2012 | 11:36 pm

    Oh, I absolutely loved Anathem. I’ve read most, perhaps all, of Neal Stephenson’s books, but I think this is my favorite. Glad you enjoyed it!


  3. September 8th, 2012 | 12:48 am

    Dear Joe

    How many hours a day would you say you spend sleeping, bathing, eating, and taking care of personal stuff?

    I may have to check into an emotional trauma center after reading what you accomplished in 2011 because I didn’t accomplish even one-tenth of one percent of what you did.I bought at least two of your eBooks and haven’t even gotten around to reading those yet.


  4. September 8th, 2012 | 8:56 am

    I don’t track the hours I spend on each activity, but I’m sure all that adds up to at least 12 hours a day. And don’t forget TV—I spend an unhealthy amount of time on that too. But you know, everyone’s life, work, and schedule are unique. It’s not a competition. :-)

  5. October 20th, 2019 | 1:17 pm

    […] to start writing my annual “what I did this year” blog post. (See earlier posts from 2011, 2010, and 2009.) This has become a sort of healing ritual for me, a way of mentally moving from […]

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