2018 — My year in review

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

Another year has come and almost gone. 2018 was a year of changes and growth for me. Some days, I feel like I had not done enough but other days, I am completely happy and satisfied with all that I had done in the past year. In this blog, I’d like to take a quick look back at what I had done and share my learning with you.

Public speaking

Last year was the year I decided that I was going to make more of an effort to represent women in technology on stage. And represent I did. I spoke at more than 10 events all over Australia, from small meetups and panels to large international conferences such as Girl Geek Sydney, Girl Geek Melbourne, Web Directions Code Leaders, National Developer Conference (NDC Sydney), AWS Community Day and so on. I also organised and facilitated a career development workshop for women in technology. Keeping a new full-time job while being a mother and doing at least one public speaking engagement every month had its drawbacks too. I sort of lost the passion towards the end and that was when I decided that I needed to take a break. My last speaking event of the year was in October. Will I continue doing public speaking next year? Definitely, but I will be more mindful about the pace.

Writing

Last year, I self-published my first and second books on Amazon. The first book, Unlocking your success: The secrets to experiencing joy in your career and life, took almost four years to write but the second one, README.md for Software Developers: The Ultimate Software Development Career Guide in the Age of Technology Disruption, was done and dusted in less than 4 months. How did I manage to write my second book so quickly, I hear you ask. The answer is very simple — momentum and discipline. I am no way close to being the well-known author who could live of her book royalties. I have sold only 14 copies of my second book in the past 90 days. But I am still proud of my efforts. Will I publish another book next year? I am not sure. Will I publish another book in the future? Definitely.

I also wrote quite a few stories on Medium that I was proud of. I set the goal to write one story a week during my month off work and I achieved it. But I haven’t been doing that consistently in the past few months so I want to try and pick up my game a bit more next year.

Comfort zone

Last year, I left my old job and started a new job. Similar job title, in the same industry, but my day-to-day couldn’t be more different. I was working at my old job for more than five years and it took me a while to actually make the decision. I was too comfortable. But now, I am so glad that I made the decision to get out of my own comfort zone. I’ve learned so much in the past six months and some of the most valuable learning like trusting my instinct, knowing my own limit, and better understanding of people at different stages of their lives couldn’t have been possible if I didn’t get out of my own comfort zone.

Speaking of getting out (and about), traveling has never been my cup of tea, but I find myself traveling quite a bit for work and for leisure in the past few years. While it’s still not my cup of tea, I have come to appreciate the experience that can only be gained by traveling and seeing new places. So much so that I want to try and give my daughter the experience of traveling and seeing a new place every year.

My biggest highlight and learning of the year

All of the above sound good, there is a bit of learning and growing involved but my highlight of the year was nothing related to my career. Was it related to fitness? No. Wealth? Nope. My biggest highlight of the year was witnessing my daughter read a whole story-book by herself, out loud. You see, my daughter started year one this year. She is cheeky and intelligent most of the time but she is also a shy perfectionist. How does it affect her reading, I hear you ask. Well, for a long time, she was not doing very well for reading and sounding out words because she didn’t want to read out loud. She didn’t want to be embarrassed by the words that she didn’t know how to read or pronounce. It took us a lot of stress (more from my side) and practice but we got there in the end. And witnessing that moment when I see her read a book with enough confidence was simply amazing.

That event was also my biggest learning for the year. No matter how hard things are at the start, if you have the determination to succeed and desire to try and try again, you will get there in the end. Getting there doesn’t have to happen at the same pace with others, you might be slower or faster, but that doesn’t matter. The main thing is that you did it, and did your best, despite some setbacks.

As we approach the new year, I want to be mindful of this. I’ll have goals to achieve in the new year but I will also remember to always give my best but not worry too much about how fast or slow I am going. And I’ll trust that with diligence, determination, and commitment, anyone can achieve whatever they want to achieve. You and I are no exception.

I’d like to end this post with the greatest quote from Stephen Hawking, a theoretical physicist, who passed away in March this year and left incredible legacies that will live on forever. This quote is one of them:

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the Universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
Stephen William Hawking (1942–2018)