Oh, look what you’ve done — 2016 in review

That’s a bit dramatic but it’s that time of the year where we’re wrapping up, going through the motion of penning performance reviews and putting together “strategic” plans for the year ahead. Question is, amidst all of these action, how much time have we dedicated to reviewing our personal roadmap — how have we defined “success” as you started out the year, how are we reflecting on what we’ve set out to achieve and earmarked how we’ve progressed? I’ve never been a resolution type person but ahead of penning my 2017 life brief, I thought it’d be a good idea to take stock of how I’ve evolved in the last two years.

2015 was a year of change on many levels for me, a lot of which I was unprepared for and reality was exceptionally disconnected from expectations. It was a real journey of highs and lows and I was this close to walking away from many situations because of my own unrealistic expectations. I was also called out for it by close friends. While living through it, I oscillated between the highs and the lows but in review and on hindsight today, it is interesting to note how I have grown from the experience. As Steve Jobs said and I attest to from my personal expeirence:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

To give you context, I’ve mentioned I’m not a resolution type person. In 2015, I woke up with two words in my head — security and stability. I wanted it, I craved it, I recognised I needed it. Ironically, it didn’t happen for me across both my personal and professional life. Imagine that deep sense of failure when your vision is not attained, I was in that pit. That’s the way life is though, you don’t always get what you want but what you need. And through that journey in 2015, I learnt two things about myself —

  1. I have unrealistic expectations for myself, everyone and everything around me and I had to get that side of me in-check.
  2. I needed to show up as my authentic self versus the self I want to present — learning how to be vulnerable is still a WIP but i’m slowly coming to terms at calling myself out on my “pretend” face. Here’s an example, I’m ambitious but I constantly tell everyone I meet that all I want in life is to retire and be a tai tai. People who know me have called/ will call my bluff.

Because 2015 was teething, I walked out of it feeling unrealised and unaccomplished on one hand but also refreshingly motivated as I was on the cusp of change. So, it was a conscious decision to keep the same two words top of mind for 2016. In keeping with the same theme, I wanted to build on the lessons I’ve learnt in 2015 but continue to push towards the goal of establishing security and stability in my life.

These are the parameters I set out to achieve in 2016 and overall, I reckon I’ve accomplished 80% of what I had set out to do. My 2016 vision was centered around stability and security — both professionally and personal, topped off with “to achieves” across the trinity of mind, body and soul.

Professionally, the conversion I had worked for finally paid off in 2016 and that’s a huge check off the list of “wants.” I was super clear I didn’t want to be pigeonholed in the same focus areas of work and managed to expand my portfolio to include acquisition campaigns + community engagement initiatives, both were areas that would allow me to grow as a marketer and push me to plan and think more strategically. It also meant admitting my weakness with numbers, data pulling but also asking for help and growing through the process. Our work was recognised and even scaled globally so that’s a huge win and I believe we have so much more potential to drive groundbreaking initiatives from APAC. I also made a mental note to get better at framing narratives, positioning and presenting. In simpler terms, pitching to get buy-in and it continues to be a WIP but I have a good leader from whom I continue to learn from and be challenged by.

The goal of moving to a new stream of work as my way of “career proofing” is not 100% realised but is something I continue to inch towards. In one of our more candid chats about career progression, I was challenged to think about skills versus roles with regards to my outlook on career pathing. That was an eye-opening conversation and a life lesson I know I will take away with me.

On the personal front, my thinking was framed around the trinity of body, mind and soul.

Mind wise — I wanted to expand my own capacity and stop creating boundaries for myself. And I believe I’ve made progress and in no way this would be a 100% attainment at this point of my life as it is a life long process but this is what it has evolved to as we approach 2017. #getuncomfortable

I also set out to recommit to staying abreast of global developments by reading the news, be more business and world savvy as a means to broaden my thinking, strategic planning and ability to present myself. I’ve progressed 0% on this and in some ways, my newsfeed across the various digital channels present me with “curated for me content” based on my specific interest areas and there still is a need to expand and broaden my exposure to global developments and trends.

The last item on the mind front was to improve my command of the mandarin language and I set a simple goal to read one mandarin book a month. That is also a 0% target hit, definitely something to contemplate for inclusion in 2017.

Body wise, I set a goal to get stronger and increase my flexibility by dedicating 100hrs in 2016 to the yoga mat. With about 3 weeks to go before December closes, I’ve achieved 84hrs on the mat [underachieved] and 124hrs at the gym, experimented with new workout formats including Surfset [surfboard based workout] and F45 training [HIIT Circuit] which has contributed massively to keeping me feeling fuelled, energised and motivated overall. Definitely something I want to continue to keep up the discipline, rigour and dedication to.

Soul wise - I set out a goal to dedicate at least 5 mins at the start and end of every day to meditation. It sounds really simple and achievable but I’ve failed miserably in this aspect. At the start of the year, when I put it into practise, I was able to effectively switch off from an intense day and that meant better sleep patterns and ability to focus the next day. As I close out the year, my sleep patterns are back to erratic, bordering on non-existent on days and that has a clear impact on my ability to focus and keep myself fuelled through a long day.

Overall, I would say 100% attainment work wise, especially stepping out of my comfort zone which I don’t often rise to the challenge but the environment I work and operate in has afforded me this capacity to grow outside my comfort zone and I feel like a better person for it. On the personal front, a lack lustre achievement of 65% across the trinity of body, mind and soul with some areas outperforming others. It is evident to me that there is a need to commit more to myself than let only work define me and this will be worked upon and refined in my 2017 Life Brief. Stay tuned for that.

Turning the tables, how have you grown in 2016 and what are you planning to invest in in 2017?

And oh, I turned 30 this year! That’s about a third of my life done and dusted. With that milestone and year added, hopefully a little more self-awareness, reflection and self-love! Happy holidays!