Hey ho! Sorry I’ve been a little M.I.A for the past 2 weeks – I just started a new job and have been spending my mornings trying to digest the waterfall of new information, which is why I haven’t been updating the blog (or replying to emails) that quickly.
Anyhoo, it’s the end of the year and everyone’s feeling a little introspective. It’s a great time to look back on 2015 and distill a couple of lessons to help us be even more awesome for the new year.
So for my personal annual review, I decided to follow blogger Chris Guillebeau’s fantastic template (well, the first part, anyways) which has achieved almost a cult status for his followers. I highly recommend you give it a shot too. Open up a Word document, and list out:
- What went well for you
- What didn’t go so well
- Bonus: What lessons you can distill
That’s it. Even if you never publish it, you’ll get amazing insights and a much clearer focus for next year. Or at the very least, you’ll feel a lot happier. Trust me, it works.
With that, here’s my annual review for 2015:
What Went Well
- I did new things that scared me. 2015 was a year of new, scary experiences like: Speaking at conferences, speaking live on radio, interviewing with top-tier companies (something I haven’t done for more than 10 years!), and learning 2 new programming languages. They were all extremely uncomfortable when I did them, and it really sucked to feel like a newb again. But when I look back, they equipped me with valuable new skills and new stories to tell. I certainly don’t regret any of them.
- I experienced several life milestones. This year, I proposed to my girlfriend, prepared to get married, bought a resale flat, and am in the middle of a flat renovation project. I never expected life to transform so crazily in one year, and I certainly didn’t expect the amount of work that came with it! All credit goes to my amazing fiancee, who somehow stays on top of all the crazy tasks we have to do, and most importantly, step in when contractors cannot understand my crappy Mandarin. Without her, I’d probably still be sitting at home, convincing myself to contact a housing agent.
- I deepened my spirituality. I was never a religious person, but as a Catholic, I’ve always wanted a closer relationship with God. This year, my fiancee and I attended Treasure – a Catholic retreat organised by the Office For Young People which really helped us to reconnect our faith. We’ve even started praying together, which is awesome. We also found a fantastic young adult community which have become a sort of an extended family and a pillar of support for our faith. These developments gave me a spiritual peace that I haven’t felt since I was a kid.
- I traveled more than usual. 1 week in Moscow & St Petersburg, 10 days in Turkey, 4 days in Maldives, 4 days in Penang, 3 days in Bangkok, and 2 weeks in London. This was mainly a function of career transitions, but my travels helped me to learn how to chill out a little instead of being so obsessed with work.
- I grew my network. Cheerfulegg’s given me loads of opportunities this year to meet amazing people through events, conferences, dinners, meetings, business ventures, and being on radio. Some highlights: Speaking at a financial blogger conference, hanging out on air with Kiss92’s Maddy, Jason and Arnold, having coffee with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, speaker series events at FRANK by OCBC, and playing poker and drinking whiskey with financial bloggers. My job search also led me to set up coffee meetings with people I didn’t know, which forced me to step out of my comfort zone.
- I learnt a couple of cool new skills. Like digital marketing, public speaking, interviewing, sales and a little bit of programming. I’m not the best at any of them, but they’ll definitely come in useful once I develop them further.
- I was in good health for most of the year, and even managed to get an IPPT Gold with the new test format. Woot!
- I transitioned to a new job. This was probably one of the hardest decisions I had to make this year: Leaving the safety and familiarity of a job I’d been in for 5 years to a new role, in a new industry, with a completely different culture. It’s scary and challenging, but definitely exciting. Plus, my office has free snacks. (Note to self: Snacks are bad for your health. See previous bullet point)
- I stuck to my personal finance system – At this point, saving and investing consistently isn’t hard with a system in place to automatically do it for me. However, it’s gonna be challenging in the next year, with all the expenses that come with starting a new life in our own house.
What Didn’t Go So Well
- I didn’t grow cheerfulegg as much as I’d liked. In the past couple of years, I was pretty good at creating new products and guides every year. However, with so much going on in 2015, I simply didn’t have the time or energy to create anything substantially new for the blog after the launch of 80/20 Investing. I stuck to my weekly publishing schedule as much as I could, although I really wanted to do more.
- I could have been more focused on projects. Along the same line, I’ve been pretty good at focusing one just 1-2 projects per year and knocking them out of the park. However, this year, I started lots of promising ventures and courses but never fully committed to completing them. Partly because my schedule was packed, but if I was honest with myself, I let myself get distracted by several shinier projects along the way, never finishing any of them.
- I took myself way too seriously at some points.This happens to me when I get really stressed, which was the case in the early part of 2015. (Read my blogposts at that time and you’ll notice a serious/angry undertone). My health suffered, I was less productive, and overall less happier. Not a great state to be in. Gotta remind myself to laugh and be joyful more often!
- I could have been more decisive in my interactions.This year, I felt that I was pretty passive while interacting with people. Partly because I’ve always been surrounded by great friends and colleagues who could carry a conversation, so it was easy to let them lead. However I realise that I was subconsciously training myself to become more passive – so it’s definitely something I want to work on in 2016.
- I allowed several relationships to languish.I have a group of friends whom I’m close to, but we haven’t hung out much this year because we’ve all been so busy with our lives. Again, it comes back to taking on more leadership in my interactions with people, and taking the initiative to organise outings and keep the relationship strong. And of course, I could focus on being more loving and present with my family.
Lessons From The Journey
- Keep on doing things that scare me. Forcing myself to do scary things was probably the best behavioural bias that I had this year. It might suck while I’m doing it, but 9 times out of 10, I’ll look back and not regret it. Even if it doesn’t go well, I would have learnt a valuable lesson. Totally need to remind myself the next time I’m faced with a decision of whether to stay in my comfort zone!
- Focus, focus, focus.This means narrowing it down to just 1-2 major projects for the year, and saying “No” to everything else. I might be giving up lots of cool opportunities that might be fun, but I’d rather achieve a home run in 1-2 items than half-ass my way through 10.
- Be systematic about networking.I’ve been pretty good at implementing systems for most areas in my life: Blogging, finance, fitness, etc, but not so much at networking and relationships. I’m figuring out a couple of possible models at the moment, and I’ll definitely blog about them if they work out.
- Remember that I’m already rich. It’s funny – I woke up this morning thinking that 2015 wasn’t such a great year because of all the failures I had. But it’s only after typing the “What Went Well” section of this post that I realised how awesome it actually was. It just serves as a great reminder that many of us are already rich – rich in experiences, in opportunities, in spirituality, and most importantly, rich in the people who love us. It’s easy to forget that when we’re feeling crappy or stressed out, which is why it’s important to look back.
Soooooo that’s it! Sorry for the long post – it’s really hard to condense an entire year into a single blogpost.
Again, I really encourage you to try it out for yourself – set aside a couple of hours and just write what comes to your head. The results might surprise you.
That said, I’ll be taking a break until the new year to consolidate my focus and goals for 2016. I’ll be back next year, with more great stuff for you.
Till then, enjoy the food, the parties, and most importantly, the love from the people around you. 🙂