Thank you 2015.
It’s December 31, 2015 and I am sitting here reminiscing about the crazy 12 months that have passed. This was truly a year where I seriously jumped out of my shell, took risks and have learned so much about the career path I want to take in life. If I had to pick three moments and three lessons, this is what it would be.
Time is your most valuable asset
If there is one thing I never taught myself, it was to never take a break. Two years ago, a naturopath told me what most overachieving multitasking women may hear in their twenties: you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue. I was at a point where I felt exhausted after an 8 hour sleep, was sluggish at work and could barely climb a set of subway stairs without feeling tired. I worked for several startups and tried to take on several concurrent side projects and that lifestyle on a perpetual basis can wear you down if you do not learn how to find a balance. More importantly, I became so preoccupied with work that I lost time with my family, friends and the time to simply take care of my own health. In 2015, I started a new job and also quit that job within a few months (something which I never planned to do in a million years). I was entering that same cycle which put me in a cycle of constant fatigue. I was at the point where I purely focused on my work, and did not put any focus towards the family and friends that have been by my side for so long. I was working to get work done, and not working to get work done that had an end goal. I was not working on projects that I loved, or projects that could have a profound impact on society. I took 4 months off, and now as the year ends, am so happy that I did. In the four months I took off, I taught myself something new (UXD course at Brainstation), volunteered my time towards meaningful initiatives (Seva Food Bank), played soccer after almost 10 years, spent meaningful time with my family and friends, and had the time to truly map out what I wanted to do in terms of a career after talking to several professionals in the Toronto area (also thank you LinkedIn for connecting me to some awesome people!). This time off helped me realize the importance of balance, and helped me better understand how to build a meaningful career.
Lesson learned: Quitting a job is something I never expected to do, and I don’t expect to take time off in the future. But it helped me realize the value of time and how to optimize your personal and professional goals. Sometimes we need to slow life down and take some time to think about what we truly care about and wish to prioritize in life.
Don’t chase a job, chase an opportunity
Strangely enough when I quit my job, a lot of people congratulated me for my ‘bravery’ versus shaking me and telling me that I was crazy. I explained why I needed this time off and they said that the decision was smart, and a better decision to make while still in your twenties. Even when I had the time off, my mind wandered in a million different directions in terms of where I wanted to work next, what area I wanted to work in, and also the consideration of grad school. Being 25, you’re not 18 anymore where you can tell yourself you’ll figure out certain things when you’re 25. I wanted to be somewhere where I could be creative, forward thinking and awesome. I remembered at the beginning of the year, I was eyeing a fellowship opportunity with Rock Health, the first venture fund in digital health and realized this would be an incredible opportunity for me to learn about the field first hand in one of the most intelligent and tech savvy cities in the world, SAN FRANCISCO! After several weeks of interviewing and researching I was offered the experience of a lifetime. I have been at Rock Health over the past few months learning a TON about the problems and opportunities in healthcare. I have found mentors and have been able to create such a clearer map on the specific career goals I have in my life. I have discovered the value of what I learned in my undergrad and now eager to enter the commercialization space in biotech and life science. I have understood the value of grad school for healthcare and interested to apply in the coming years. In addition to completing my fellowship, I have met some awesome people, gone on some awesome adventures (biked across the golden gate), and have eaten some amazing food. I have a new respect for the people of San Francisco, as a common theme I observed is that they work hard, laugh a lot, embrace the weather, and work on ideas that they genuinely care about and create impact.
Lesson learned: Sometimes the next step in life is not necessarily another job, but smaller length opportunities such as a fellowship are so valuable towards guiding us towards the path to success (yes, I am referencing DJ Khaled’s Snapchat).
Our life is like one big User Experience Design project
After taking a course with Brainstation this past summer on User Experience Design, I realized that the methodology we use to build digital products can so easily be applied to our life. We’re constantly iterating our mentality, our goals and our decisions to build a better version of ourself. We pursue decisions that lead to goals that could pass or fail. We hit pitfalls in our life that don’t make us want to get back up, but by not getting up, we’re delaying the process of moving forward with goals we have the full capability of completing. I could go on and on about this and will most likely write a future blog post on this. But essentially, 2015 really taught me to trial and test my career decisions, and each and every day I continue to iterate on what I have thought of day before to make the next day and the day after that even better.
This year has been absolutely amazing and my experiences have truly helped me to better prioritize my personal and professional goals. I am super eager to pursue a career in the life sciences and biotech sector, avoid complacency and spend time with the people who have taken the time out of their day to remember me.
I hope you take the time in your holidays to reflect on your personal goals and spend it with your family and friends. I wish you all an incredible 2016!
Cheers to happiness.