Jean-Nicholas Hould On Data Science

2016 in Review

At this time of the year, I have an annual ritual. I set some time aside to review my yearly goals. I reflect on the past year. What went well? What was challenging? Is there something I want more in my life? I’ve been doing this for years.

Up until last year, I had kept those reflections for myself. My notes would remain in a folder on my computer. They would remain unshared. Only a few of my close friends would be aware of those goals. In 2016, I decided to do things differently. I made my goals public.

A year later, it’s time to review those goals.

Goals Status

✔ Run 365 miles during the year.

At the time of writing this post, I ran 857 miles in 2016, representing 145 hours of running, on a total of 117 activities.

In comparison, last year I ran 554 miles during 89 hours, on a total of 73 activities.

✔ Run a marathon in 3h40 or below.

I ran the Montreal marathon in 3h36.

✔ Run an ultramarathon.

I ran a ~65km ultramarathon called Harricana in 8h14.

✔ Make at least 1,000$ revenues with a business project.

I sold for $1,750 USD. I created the project back in 2014 and I didn’t give the love it deserved. Selling it made sense.

✖ Run all year long, at least twice per week.

Partially Completed: 69%

As you can see above, many of my goals are related to running. I love running. It’s accessible and it doesn’t require any logistics. I can just leave my place and go run.

For 2016, I really wanted to build a good habit of running every week, no matter the season. This is why I set myself a goal to go outside run at least twice a week, all year long.

In the past, I would train hard during the summer and would completely stop running during fall and winter. When spring would come, I felt like I was starting my training from the ground up all again.

My goal was to run a bit all year long. I knew I would train more during the summer but I wanted to keep some momentum during the colder seasons.

I live in Montreal. Running all year long means going outside in the winter at temperature that go down to -30°.

This goal was incredibly effective for me. On Saturdays, if I hadn’t run during the week, I knew I had to kick myself in the butt and go outside run if I wanted to reach my goal.

During the year, I ran at least twice a week 69% of the weeks (35 weeks out of 51 weeks). I ran at least once a week on 88% of the weeks. I didn’t reach my goal but I am still satisfied with the results.

✖ Write 12 essays, at least once per month.

Partially Completed: 58%

I wrote 12 essays last year. However, I did not write one essay per month. I wrote them in 7 distinct months.

✖ Run one half-marathon in 1h40 or below.


The closest I came to reaching this goal was during Montreal Marathon in September 2016 when I ran a 21.1 KM in 1h41.

✖ Read 12 books, at least once per month.

Partially Completed: 67%

I read 8 books in 8 months.

✖ Take 2 classes about Machine Learning.

Partially Completed: 50%

I took a Coursera class called Machine Learning Foundations: A Case Study Approach.

I didn’t appreciate the experience that much. I prefer going at my own pace with a book or with screencasts.

✖ Dropped Goals

There is a set of goals that I decided to place in the same bucket: dropped goals. To be honest, I probably failed many of those goals. The thing is that I don’t know for sure and I don’t really care.

There are two reasons a goal ended up in this list. The first is that the goal became irrelevant early on during the year. The second is that is wasn’t a good goal. The goal was not specific enough or not easily measurable.

  • Develop skills in Customer Development
  • Experiment with at least 3 business ideas.
  • Measure time spent in meetings and reduce it.
  • Reduce the amount of time I spend on this stuff by 50%.
  • Measure how much time I am wasting watching/reading useless stuff.
  • Save 24% of annual salary
  • Target Weight: 166-170 pounds.

Looking forward to 2017

In light of this experience of public accountability, I decided to repeat the exercise for 2017. I will follow up in the next few weeks with my goals.