top of page
  • Ken Ilgunas

The Decade in Review (and a revised Year in Review)

This is the seventh consecutive year I’ve done a “year in review.” I find them helpful and therapeutic to write, and greatly enjoyable, in subsequent years, to read. I’ve added and subtracted categories to enhance the review and to reflect my changing life (like adding "music" as a category when I began to learn the bagpipes). Feel free to subtract and add to this template to reflect the particularities of your own life. Where it's appropriate and not too personal, as you’ll see, I’ve provided examples from my own review to give you an idea.

Below, I’m also including the template for your “decade in review.” Now, at the end of the 2010’s, is a good time to reflect on the experiences of the last decade and what you want out of the 2020’s.

2019 Year in Review: (Give your year a thematic title)

Career Accomplishments

(What were your main career accomplishments?) List 5-6.

- Published 28 blog entries.

- Wrote a draft book proposal for ____.

- Spoke at 35 events (Spring tour: NY, PA, OH, Il, MI, IL, IA, NE, CO. Fall tour: OH, VA, PA, KS, NY, NH, MA, VT). Made roughly $___ doing this.

- Published one article: Campus Galli for Smithsonian

- Acquired WFR certification

- Made approximately $x in Walden on Wheels royalties

Life accomplishments

(What are non-career accomplishments? Perhaps the birth of a child, or obtaining a wife/girlfriend.)


[How did you spend your time on entertainment? Make estimates in hours of how much time you spent playing games, watching movies and TV (write down the series you watched), listening to podcasts, etc. How many books did you read?]


Age of Empires II has been basically the only game I played, sporadically over the year. I ceased playing all games in the fall.

2017: 30 hours

2018: 100 hours

2019: 100 hours


Read 21 books. (Would be good to list them, but I keep this info in a separate file.)

2006- 33 books read 2007- 45 2008- 47 2009- 35 2010- 41 2011- 41 2012- 31 2013- 20 2014- 24 2015- 30 2016- 31

2017- 22

2018- 25

2019- 21


Catastrophe: 5 hours

High Maintenance: 5 hours

Game of Thrones: 10 hours

Veep: 4 hours

Succession: 15 hours

Chernobyl: 5 hours

Black Mirror: 3

Escape from Donnemora: 8

Alan Partridge: 3

Comeback Season 1: 6

Louis Theroux: (about 28 episodes) 28

Misc: 15 hours

Total: 107

2014: 164 hours

2015: 85 hours

2016: 140 hours

2017: 99 hours

2018: 65 hours

2019: 107 hours


So many podcasts listened to on walks and drives, made easier with iPhone. I’m guessing 350 hours.


I sort of rediscovered my love of film in 2019. I got a subscription at Cinema Paradiso, so I had access to a lot of indie and foreign films. I went to the theatre a handful of times. I’ve seen roughly 65, or slightly more than one a week. (I’m able to keep track of some movies I watch because you can view your “viewing activity” on Netflix and Cinema Paradiso.)

Notables: Hail Satan?, Marriage Story, The Irishman, Call Me by Your Name, Outlaw King, The Hateful Eight, The King, You Were Never Really Here, Tell Me Who I Am, David Brent: Life on the Road, Dolemite Is My Name, The Laundromat, The Guilty, Mother!, Fahrenheit 11/9, American Factory, RBG, The Great Hack, Moneyball, The Beguiled, Bull Durham, The Lives of Others, What Happened to Monday, Vaya, High Flying Bird, ROMA, Stan and Ollie, Triumph of the Will, 7-35 UP, Leaning into the Wind, Sunrise, Peterloo, Woman at War, Isle of Dogs, High Life, Local Hero, Listen to Me Marlon, Prevenge, Amour, A Field in England, Shoplifters, Border, Once upon a Time in Hollywood, Love Actually, Toy Story 4, Vice, Peanut Butter Falcon, Brexit, Black Klansman, High Flying Bird, Dave, Apollo 11, Booksmart, Mandy, Ad Astra, A Christmas Story

Travels and Living Situation

(Where did you live? Write down all the places you traveled to.)

Started year in Edinburgh flat. Spent about a week on Isle of Skye because... I went on a spring semester tour across the Midwest to Denver and then back again. Back to Edinburgh. Went on a week-long trip to Southern France in the Pyrenees. Back to Edinburgh. Went on a one-night trip to the Scottish town of Melrose. Went on a 3-week trip to Germany (southern Alps, Bad Humbug, and Gelnhausen) and London for five days. Edinburgh till Aug 1, moved to Dunbar. I soon after went on 10 day journey with David to Lewis/Harris. Then five weeks in America for NY-OH-NC-VA-New England speaking tour. Back to Dunbar. Four days in Alnwick in Northern England for....


Major Purchases

(What were you major material purchases over $100? You don’t need to include basics like rent and food.)

Driving lessons: $90

Joseph Banks shirts: $79

Used bicycle: $150

Window insulation: $75

Outdoors Equipment and boots: $390

Travel: $1366 (in pounds: German 350, Cape Wrath 200, Perpignan 200, Harris/Lewis: 300)

Computer back up stuff: $273

WFR Course: $1000

2017: $6,945

2018: $4,667

2019: $___

Monthly Bills (month/year)

Gym ($43) $215

Car Insurance ($20) $240

NY Times ($8) $96

Dunbar rent ($338) for five months

Council tax ($413) for five months

Water ($67) for five months

Sewerage ($79) for five months

Phone ($22) $264 year

Electricity $257 for five months

Transport ($75) $900

Food ($438) $5256

2018 Total $2,036

2019 Total $7,883

Total between purchases and bills

2018: $6,703

2019: $____


(How much did you earn? List previous years' numbers for this and all categories.)

No examples for obvious reasons of privacy.

Total Savings

(What are your total savings (or debts)?)

No examples for obvious reasons of privacy.

Financial reflections

(Make some overall financial reflections about 2017.)

Despite earning more than I ever have in my life, I feel nothing but anxiety looking at all of this, largely because my salary for 2020 is almost entirely uncertain... (It goes on like this for like four paragraphs.)

Friends and family

(Write down how your friend and family relationships have evolved. Any new notable friends?)


(What was your health like for 2019?)

It's been a remarkably good year for health. I think I had two small and insignificant fevers. My wrist hurt me briefly after doing too much weightlifting and I once again pulled a hamstring at the first flag football practice. That’s maybe 10 days of mild physical discomfort out of the whole year. Here in Dunbar, I attend fitness classes at a gym, and when I can manage three visits a week, a look and feel very good. I have no serious health goals for 2020.


(What were your fights, altercations, or existentially dramatic events of 2019?)

-My dominating drama is with the people living in my flat building… My bank, Citizens Bank, cheated me out of about $1000, and this was in the back of my mind for close to a month. It drove me crazy until I decided to forget about it.


(What were your adventures/notable outdoor excursions?)

I had an amazing 2-day hike in the German Alps, the second day of which was one of the longest and most refreshing of my life. I think I hiked 25+ miles in 12-14 hours of walking, and I remember my belly pretty much disappearing from just one day of walking. I spent a day walking in the Pentlands around Edinburgh. I spent a week on the Cape Wrath trail in NW Scotland, which was wonderful. That’s actually not much adventure for a full year, but it was enough to sate this need. My job as freelancer and speaker feels risky and adventurous enough.


(How’s your romantic relationship doing? If you're single, how many dates did you go on? How’s your libido?)

Exterior Forces

[What major exterior forces (things that are happening at global/national level) played a role in your well being?]

I’m displeased that the UK voted for Boris Johnson and that Brexit appears to be happening. It’s impacted us in making us feel uncertain of buying a home before a possible Brexit-related recession. But it’s otherwise had no effect. Climate change, Trump, wealth inequality…. these all couldn’t be farther from my mind. Call me a mostly unengaged citizen, or at least a mostly unfeeling one. Or a detached one, for now.


(How have your vices/addictions played a role in 2019? Did you control them better than in previous years, or have they gotten worse?)

I have cut out dating apps and videogames, at least during the last fourth of the year. I played one or two games of Civ which made me feel like crap. I don’t think I’ve been properly drunk this whole year, and I have no craving for alcohol or drugs. If I had to name my principal vice, it would be pointless FB feed scrolling. All in all, though, it was a pretty good year for managing vices.


(Musical progress?)

I have been a horrible bagpipes student this year. Part of the problem is me being gone for months at a time and losing my routine. Part of the problem is simply my domestic set-up. I have neighbors so I can only practice at certain times of the day.

Golden and Dark Ages

(I consider a “golden age” a period of my life when I’m generally content or fulfilled or stimulated or any such combination that makes me feel like my life is being well-lived. What were your golden ages in 2019? What made it feel like a golden age? Your dark ages?)

Emotional Profile

(I’ve broken this into 3 categories: dominant emotions, occasional emotions, and my emotions that are on a long vacation.)

Dominant emotions

1. Stoic neutrality. My most common emotion is a sort of non-emotion. It’s just kind of a non-energetic nothingness as I muddle through the day, which I might feel when cooking, cleaning, working out, listening to podcasts, or when... It’s something like robotic autopilot. It isn’t exactly unpleasant, but it’s also unenjoyable, and not a desired state of being to consistently and predominantly be in.

2. Irritability and resentment. My next most common emotion is some combination of feeling annoyed, irritated, or frustrated. Perhaps I’ll feel misunderstood or unappreciated. I feel this when I see how our neighbors have left trash outside (someone threw up in our alleyway a few days ago and now someone has left a trash bag out which cats have clawed open), or when some bank or unexpected tax takes my money. I suppose there are just preconditions, that I need to explore, that make me more likely to fall into an irritable state of mind.

3. Worry. I’d say this is a pretty regular one, but one not usually felt in its extreme form. I mostly have mild worry about money and my financial responsibilities as… I worry sometimes if I’ve built a stable enough career to confidently and comfortably fulfill the demands of…

Occasional emotions

1. Exhilaration and awe. This is a fairly rare emotion, but one that’s worth noting because I feel it semi-regularly. I certainly get exhilaration when engaged in sports (such as on my softball team) or awe when I’m on some vigorous multi-day hike.

2. Hope and inspiration. I remember, on my Great Plains hike, I felt a continued sense of “looking forward to the rest of my life and all the things I might do.” This is something that makes sense to be felt most when you’re in a period of transition and not necessarily presently living an already set-up life. And I think it’s easier to feel this way when your unstuck. I suppose I do feel…

3. Creative fire. This, too, is mostly absent, except for when I’m pounding out a long and enjoyable Facebook post. This comes from working on a creative and intellectual project, which I haven’t had for almost two years it seems.

My emotions that are on a long vacation

2. Relaxed reflection and contemplation. This is the emotion one feels after a hard day’s physical labor, looking out over a landscape, or when seated before a fire. Preventing me from accessing this is my demanding domestic life, the non-solitary nature of… , the absence of a relationship with my own corner of the natural world, and just the household infrastructure for moments of quiet contemplation and satisfaction.

Victories and Losses


(Write about the successes you’ve had this year, whether they have to do with career, relationships, health, sports, etc.)


(List your failures/disappointments/and mess-ups from 2019.)

2019 Goals Review

(If you had goals and resolutions from the beginning of 2019, assess how you did with each.)

Existential themes and life narratives

(Think about your year and pick out a few main storylines. Maybe you dealt with a serious health problem, or a relationship problem, or thought a lot about what you wanted to do with your life. Spend a paragraph or so writing about each theme. Another way to ask this is to think about what things affected you emotionally the most.)

2020 Goals

(Come up with a list of 2020 goals. I usually have 5-10. Pick a few that are easily achievable. Pick a few that will be tough.)

Existential themes and life narratives

(Pick out about three themes from your year. It could be as a father to a newborn, a husband, a struggling artist, or dealing with a family member’s health problem, or your own health problem, or it could be about a spiritual quest you're on. Pick 2-3 and write a paragraph about them: where you’re at within this theme, and where you want to be.)


(Read over this year in review and summarize your year. How was it? I usually write 3-4 big paragraphs.)

Now do your “decade in review.” Here are the categories I used, which are much the same for my year in review.

The 2010’s Decade in Review: (Give your decade a thematic title)

Career Accomplishments

- Published 301 blog entries.

- Conventionally published three books, and self published two. Walden on Wheels was a complete success. My other two main books are accomplishments that are dear to me, but they never took off with the reading public.

- Spoke at roughly 100 events (bookstores, colleges, festivals). Co-presented with Bill McKibben.

- Published 19 articles.

- Completed Duke graduate degree.

- Have paid off royalties for WoW. Been featured on The Tonight Show, and other respectable podcasts and magazines.

- Worked two seasons at national parks.



Read 286 books. I’m reading less and less every year, but I supplement with TV and podcasts, and I can’t help but read less during a book project.


660 hours (2014-2019). We’re in the golden age of television, and I’ve watched some fantastic series like The Wire and Game of Thrones. I may put The Wire in the topmost tier, given how GoT botched its final season. Other favorites of the decade include Veep, Black Mirror, High Maintenance, and Catastrophe.


I have no idea how many hours of podcasts I’ve listened to, but it’s become a daily fixture in my life. I started listening to podcasts around 2010, with Radiolab and This American Life, and it’s since expanded to about 20 shows I regularly listen to.


990 hours. I have no idea how many films I’ve watched, though I estimate maybe 60 a year.

Major Travels

- Four summer journeys to Alaska, including Ferry, Coldfoot, Deadhorse, Bettles, and Lake Clark NP (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017).

- 2012 Keystone XL hike.

- 2013 UK trip.

- 2016 Central America trip.

- 2017 UK and Europe trip.

Living Situation

- Lived in Alaska for four summers (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017).

- Lived in Acorn Abbey off and on from 2010-2017.

- Nebraska (2014).

- Utah briefly (2015)

- WNY (Summer 2016).

- Scotland (2018-2020).


Major Purchases

KXL trip + camping equipment $6000(2012)

IPad $800 (2012)

Canon Camera $1000 (2012)

Mac $1300 (2015) 2006 Honda Civic $9000 (2015)

Uilleen pipes $1500 (2016)

Canon Camera replacement $1000 (2017)

iPhone $450 (2017)

Telephoto Lens $800 (2017)

Suit $440 (2017)



Total Savings


Friends and family

(Who are you closest friends? What friends have you made? Lost?)


(Describe your health for the decade.)

The 2010’s were a very good year for health. My body never really changed much, fluctuating from 170-180 lbs, and varying degrees of muscle mass depending on my routines and access to sports/gyms. I’d say my athleticism has about the same potential as my athletic peak (18 years old?) but my 18 year old self was certainly more athletically skilled because of the constancy of practice.


(List of girlfriends? How many sexual partners? How is your relationship/marriage?)




In 2016, I began playing the bagpipes. I’ve slackened my practice routine in the last two years, though my goal of being a quality amateur musician still stands, and I expect to pick it back up once my life achieves some stability, out of which a routine can form.

Golden/Dark Ages

(What were the best and worst periods of the 2010’s, and why?)

Victories and Losses



Overall decade reflections

(How did you start out materially, financially, romantically, religiously, physically, morally, etc., and how did you end up?)

Goals for 2020-2029

(List about 10 goals for the next decade.)

Ideal vision for the 2020’s

(Write out your ideal vision for how you want the decade to play out, which I suppose is a synthesized portrait of your goals.)

Possible problems

(Identify 3-4 possible problems that you see happening in the 2020’s. Why?)


(Summarize how the 2010’s went and what the future looks like.)


bottom of page