Reflections 2016

About this time of the year, I start to pause, reflect, and ponder.

2016 has been a fully loaded year. A lot of life events and good memories made through the year!


(My little one and I going for a walk)

Sarah receiving the TWIN (Tribute to Women In Industry) Award, celebrating mother’s day with mom (my mom visited us from India), my older kiddo turning 10, walking across Rainbow Bridge, a work related move from New Jersey to Texas, Sarah and I celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary (we made it very unique and special, and it deserves a post), the younger one turning 5,  Stretch A Dime turning One, and lastly….

…two digits in my life’s odometer changed.

If you are wondering, what that mans, I turned 40. 

Besides drilling a hole in my pocket, Sarah has made each one of these life events memorable and special and here is the latest one…


Indoor Skydiving Experience

Sarah had been asking me what I wanted for my birthday – I said, “I don’t want any gifts. Let us go do something fun! Can you surprise me?”

Then off I went on my business trip only to return a day before my birthday.

On my birthday morning, I enjoyed time with the family, and our kiddos left for school.

Then Sarah and I hit the road and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Thirty minutes later we were at iFLY Indoor Skydiving, a place where you can have an indoor skydiving experience without having to jump off a plane.

Sarah and I had a wonderful time enjoying the skydiving experience.

If pictures are a thousand words, what about a video? Amuse yourself!

(I am in the blue suit)


In the evening, we went out to a nice restaurant as a family, and had a great time.

Now, onto my reflections on 2016…


Reflections 2016

I don’t know if something toggled in my brain or if it is the “40” shifting the way my brain operates, I really started focusing on two questions:

#1 What are my values? 

#2 Are my priorities aligned with my values?

Upon introspection, these two questions hit me like rock.

I needed to PAUSE and WRITE down my values and see if my priorities (how I spend my time) on a daily basis aligned with my values or was I cheating myself?

So, here we go. I give you each of my values and how my priorities have aligned or not aligned with them this year.


#1 Relationship with G-d

My relationship with Jesus is good. I desire to spend more time on my knees praying and reading the Bible.

There is definitely room for improvement.

My priority needs to align better with my value here.


#2 Relationship with Sarah (my marriage)

Sarah has been in a two year graduate level program at Harvard University, which she will be wrapping up this December.

With both of us working and with two kiddos, I have been doing everything I can in terms of taking care of the kiddos, and being very supportive of her career and academic ambitions.

When December comes, I ‘m gonna say “Thank G-d, it’s over! I meant the graduate program.

I feel I may have hit a home run here! 


#3 Being a good father

I love my kids, honestly which good parent doesn’t? I play, fool around, and have fun with my kiddos.

Education is mom’s department. I have no idea what goes on at school.

I am Mr. Clueless.

I used to take my daughter to piano class once a week – and that was it.

This year, I kicked it up a notch in prioritizing my kiddos – I realized that the best thing I can do for them is investing my time and energy in their lives.

I have been proactive in signing them for and taking them to swimming, gymnastics, piano, and chess classes, besides being my usual self with them.

My priority is aligned with my value here. Finally, it dawned on me!


#4 Relationship with my Mom

I have a very good relationship with mom and so does Sarah.

The place where I see myself lacking is that I don’t call her as often as I should.

I get caught up in the business of life and that is no good excuse.

My priority needs to align better with my value here.

If you are wondering about my dad, he passed away in 2011. We had a good relationship and I miss all the conversations I used to have, though we disagreed on a lot things.


#5 Relationship with Family and Friends

Somebody spun the globe while shaking salt out of a salt shaker onto the globe – meaning my family is scattered.

We are spread out across continents and everyone is busy with their lives and it is hard to stay connected other than for birthdays, anniversaries, and New Years.

So the value / priority situation is a paradox at this point.

When it comes to friends, we have awesome friends both in NJ and in Texas.

I would say we get a passing grade here.

I have been developing friendships in the Personal Finance blogging community – that is turning out be awesome as well!


#6 Career / Work / Work Ethics

I am happy where I am in my career, aka my day job as a R&D Manager.

I believe in diligence and I am pretty old school – I like to under promise and over deliver.

Passing grade here again.


#7 Financial Accountability

Starting Stretch A Dime was one of the best things I did when it comes to personal finance.

It has helped me learn a lot with regards to personal finance. In fact, I have learned so much within the past twelve months compared to the past 4-5 years.

Blogging on personal finance has helped me be accountable to myself and to all you readers – so THANK YOU!

I created a prioritized personal finance checklist – that lists items by priority which everyone should be reviewing to see where they have gaps and address those gaps appropriately.

Estate Planning (Power of Attorney, Will and Living Trust) is the one area I need to address. Otherwise, all my ducks are in a row – no debt besides home mortgage, retirement savings, college education savings etc. are on track.

I give myself a passing grade here.


# 8 Charity

I believe in works of charity and it is a strong value for both Sarah and I. We give to our church and to charitable organizations on a consistent basis. Every year, we aspire to do better than the previous year.

Once gain, passing grade.


#9 Education

I am going to quote Freedom Is Groovy – “If you ain’t learning, you ain’t living.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement. This past year, I have been learning to blog and that has kept me really busy. I try to learn something new every single day.

This year I completed the Financial Markets course offered by Yale University via Coursera. It was absolutely worth it.

Passing grade!


#10 Health

I went for my annual physical exam this summer. My cholesterol levels are through the roof!

Thankfully, everything else is fine!

This is mainly due to bad diet and sedentary work / life routine.

I often say “Nothing healthy tastes good”, which is true by the way for the most part.

This has directly impacted my eating habits, which ends up impacting my cholesterol levels, especially given that I have a sedentary  lifestyle. 


My priority certainly did not align with my value of maintaining good health.

As I pondered, I noticed that this is the one area that happens to be the worst offender! 

I ‘m slowly making lifestyle changes – started walking daily for 30 minutes, 7 days a week, slowly making minor dietary modifications, and started drinking enough water through the day to keep myself hydrated.

My goal is to bring my cholesterol level down to within limits before the middle of next year.

I don’t remember my levels, otherwise I would have shared them. I will keep you posted as I make progress on this front.




As I wrote this post, I found that I place a lot of importance on RELATIONSHIPS, which is a good thing. Most of my priorities are aligned with my values.

There are some areas that are “meh”, where I certainly could do better. I am going to set goals to do better.

The main area where I now have a gap is with regards to health which I have identified to address as top priority.


What are your values? Are your priorities (how you spend your time) aligning with your values? Have you written your values down clearly? How are you ensuring that your priorities are aligned with your values? How has 2016 been for you thus far? 



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26 thoughts on “Reflections 2016”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Michael! I love the priority on relationships and experiences that came through here.

    I do write down my priorities, values and goals, but I think I need to do it more often. I have weeks where I do well, and others where I get lost and feel out of touch. It’s a work in progress for me – I think I try to put too much on my plate and expect to get it all done and done well…One thing I try to do is put family above all else, because that’s the most important thing of all, in my opinion.

    1. Thank you, Amanda! I am glad you enjoyed reading the post. Honestly, I have always written goals and chased them. However, this is the first time I am writing down my values and checking if my priorities are aligning with them. I am truly amazed at the number of posts you have been publishing per week and how active you are in the PF community. At least on the blogging side, I can see that you have a lot on your plate.


  2. I have not written my values or goals for 2017. This something that I definitely need to do and I thank you for sharing your values. This is a great list and I’ll definitely be praying that they stay priorities for you 🙂

    1. I am glad you enjoyed reading the post. Thank you MSM for keeping me in your prayers. It is a good time of the year to slow down, reflect upon 2016, and write your goals down for 2017 that align with your values.


    1. Hi Emily,

      Thank you. Yes, health has given me a wake up call :). I am about 3 weeks into my daily exercise routine and so far so good. I am making dietary changes to eat healthy and bring the cholesterol under control.


  3. Awesome post, Michael!! The indoor skydiving thing looks so cool!! As I’m nearing 50, health has been a priority to me, right under Jesus and the family. Funny how aging makes you value your health. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Laurie! I am glad you enjoyed reading the post. Yes, it was really fun. If you have never done it, give it a try with your family on a special occasion. You will make a good memory out of it. Yes, age has its own language and it does gets our attention. Prevention is always better than cure and also costs less :). So glad to have connected with a fellow believer.


  4. Hey, Michael. Your reflections on 2016 were a joy to read–very inspiring stuff. And I’m truly humbled to be a part of them. It’s funny how you mentioned Yale University and the Financial Markets course it made available via Coursera. I haven’t ventured there yet, but I did subscribe to Yale’s YouTube channel a few weeks ago. Every day I try to view a lecture. I’m not always successful (learning Spanish is my main priority on the education front), but today I caught a lecture about “Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis.” Now maybe I’m pushing things, but our mutual interest in Yale is a resounding example of how “great minds think alike!” Thanks again, Michael, for the shout out. You definitely made my day.

    P.S. Your ski-diving experience was freakin’ awesome. I had no idea you guys got that high off the ground. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Hi Mr. Groovy,

      Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed reading the post. Yes, great minds think alike :). Glad that we both like Yale University. You might want to consider putting the Financial Markets course in your queue – it is one of the best courses I have taken when it comes to investing.

      How is your Spanish coming along? I enjoy reading your blog and your quote “If you ain’t learning, you ain’t living” resonates with me.

      Ski-diving experience was super fun indeed. We are tempted to go back again :).


  5. What a great summary and reflection on the year, Michael. And what a cute picture with your little one! 🙂

    It’s a good thing to want to improve, or do well, in all the areas that you mentioned. You sound like a really good, caring person.

    The main thing that I want to do in life is get more time with my wife (and future children), everything else to that is secondary in my eyes.


    1. Hi Tristan,

      Thank you! I try to do my best for my wife and kids. The little one is naughty 🙂

      It takes a lot of time and effort to raise children, but it is very rewarding.

      Let me tell us this – life as you know it will no longer be the same, once you have a kiddo 🙂


  6. Very cool review and reflection. Congrats on your wife for just about being done with her grad program at Harvard! That is so great!

    I am always in awe of bloggers who have kids. It would be so difficult to juggle all the responsibilities, but you make it work!

    1. Hi DC,

      Thank you! I am really proud of Sarah’s accomplishment, it is a BIG DEAL. I am glad that I could be of help in a small way.

      I love to write and blogging has enriched my life in so many ways. Struggle it is 🙂 but I try my best to balance.


  7. This is such a worthwhile exercise. I’ve actually done it in workshops and had participants write out a typical day to see if their actions are aligned with their values. Many find there is a gap wide enough to drive a truck through, but that’s the value of a review, so that you can make adjustments. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thank you, Marquita! I am not surprised by what you are sharing. It is natural that actions don’t align with values just like good intentions don’t necessarily become good actions. One needs to make a conscious effort to get them aligned. Once it becomes a habit, it can be on auto pilot.


  8. Great post, Micheal.
    Thanks for sharing your values and goals. I’m working on similar things as you when it comes to health. I need to exercise and eat healthy more consistently.
    As far as my values, time is a big one. I also think it’s really important to be passionate about the work that you do. It’s awesome to hear you are happy in your role. 2016 has been great and it seems to be closing on a high note. Have a great weekend 🙂

    1. Welcome back and thank you, Graham! Yes health is something most of us take for granted. Prevention is better than cure :). I hope you make health a top priority.


  9. That’s a great reflection! Looking forward to meeting you in person this weekend, man 🙂 here’s to your milestones being reached and crushing everything for the next year. I need to go skydiving just as you did too!

    1. Thank you, FS! Skydiving is real fun! You will definitely have a great time doing it.

      It is sad that we couldn’t meet as planned given my personal situation. There is always a next time :).


  10. Michael, did you see my post about the heart scan with calcium score test? If heart disease and stroke do not run in your family, it’s possible you have little to worry about on the cholesterol front. I’m not a medical expert of course but it’s just something to think about, especially if your doctor tries to get you to go on statins for cholesterol. Here’s a link to the post.

    I was taking meds for more than 20 years and went off. I had a blood test around 6 months later. While my cholesterol did go back up, all the other levels were good. And combined with scoring a zero on the test, my doctor did not recommend I go back on meds.

    1. Hi Mrs. Groovy,

      Thank you so much for sharing this information. Heart disease and stroke do not run in my family. However, I will read your post to learn more.

      It is good that you were recommended to not take medication for cholesterol.


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