2017 was speckled with mini accomplishments that I hope to build on in this year. It was a year of career changes, creative sparks, and a touch of travel. A year in which I finally felt like I hit my stride. I feel more confident than ever with the path I’ve chosen and I’m excited to move forward on it. Along my journey, I learned a few important lessons that I hope to continue practicing in 2018:
1. Don’t wait for good things to happen—chase them unreservedly.
I have grown up with the belief that if you work hard, good things will come. I rarely ask for things because I assume that my hard work and loyalty will result in meaningful recognition. In six years, I received good performance ratings, won awards, and earned a permanent position with my team. Eventually, I summoned up the guts to ask for a promotion. A senior manager turned it down. My managers consistently told I was excelling in my job so I was disappointed when I learned I was being held back. This set me off on a mission. It’s not that anyone owes me anything but this made me realize that this job was no longer serving me. I was toiling in a field that wasn’t of my particular interest and I was no longer developing the skills I needed for my dream job at the pace I wanted. I could do better and my waiting game was over. In a matter of months, I found a new job, moved into the field of communications and got that promotion.
2. Be selfish—it’s okay.
Not only am I not owed anything, I’ve been reminded time and time again that I don’t owe anyone anything either. Despite what’s been ingrained in my mind, I am finally understanding that it’s okay to be selfish and to do what’s in my best interests. Too often, I base my choices on what others will feel or think and account for them. It’s not about diminishing empathy but more about recognizing when I needed something and putting those needs ahead of others’. I gave people more credit because, honestly, they wouldn’t fall apart without me. I remembered that we are all responsible for our own happiness; we cannot count on someone else for it. With this in mind, I’m starting to make decisions based on what’s best for me.
3. Go with the flow.
Personally, traveling is a little test of resilience. I’m a risk-averse, introverted homebody but when I travel, I try to push my own limits and immerse myself in another culture. This always means stepping out of my shell, talking to strangers and going home exhausted every night. I’m a bit of a control freak (read: I plan out everything to a tee), so traveling forces me to relinquish some of that control. I have to give up my typical “safety net” (see ya, mobile data!) and figure things out on the go if anything goes wrong, like when my luggage was dropped into Halong Bay or when I was pick-pocketed in Lisbon. I had no choice but to deal with it, pick myself back up and let it go so that I could enjoy the rest of my vacation. I’ll admit, I could definitely still be more spontaneous but I’m pretty proud of how I’m learning to go with the flow, especially when things don’t go as planned.
4. Practice your passion.
I’ve always had a love for the arts. The right-side of my brain is the definitely most active and, as much I like to number-crunch, I tend to think in visuals and sounds. At various points in my life, I’ve turned to painting (sloppily), music (belted out) and creative writing (emotionally). In 2017, I reconnected with my creative side and showcased it to the world through Instagram. At times posting daily has been a chore but, more often than not, I really enjoy it. I hope it’s showing too—my followers and likes have more than tripled this past year and this little community we’ve built is fuelling me to continue on. So thank you for that!
5. Enjoy the present.
Life moves fast and it doesn’t always go as planned. I’ve always wanted to “grow up”. Now that I have (in the traditional sense, at least), I look back and wonder where all the time went. I probably spend too much time thinking about where I want to be next year when I turn 30. Whether I’m basing my goals on what is expected of me or what I actually want for myself. If it’s something I can achieve on my own and have control over or if it’s dependent on someone else. Is it realistic? I think and think and think. Goals are important to set to help measure some key milestones but I’ve learned that, sometimes, I need to stop overthinking them, let go of expectations and just enjoy the now.