Reflections 2014

Reflections for the year 2014 is very late, in fact, almost 1 1/2 months late. Spending New Year in Europe, followed by trying to adapt to a new job had me postponing this post till now.

The start of the 2014 had me making some mistakes in my job, which contributed to not getting the promotion. It was depressing actually, but I was glad I managed to put that behind me. The rest of the year career wise was pretty smooth sailing. In fact, I was doing a pretty good job managing the new projects that came my way subsequently, and managed to reduce the huge number of escalations previously from that account to zero. As mentioned in my reflections for 2013, I was always looking out for new opportunities, and this came sometime towards the last quarter of the year. It was to an environment that I had always wanted to work in, and with a nice increase in salary too. It is a big organisation, and with such size, it will definitely comes with its own set of challenges. I was sad to leave actually, especially since I had a good boss, and I was doing pretty well with the projects on hand, but there is no way I could reject the increase in salary. For 2015, I just want to perform well in my new job, considering the fact that it is a totally different ball game altogether, an environment that I was never in throughout my career.

On a personal note, I have continued with my exercise regime, and I really enjoyed it. The races that I ran in 2014 are the Sundown Marathon Half Marathon, which I will never do it again since I did not enjoy it at all, the SIA Charity Run 10k, which I enjoyed a lot and managed to get a PB for 10k, the SAFRA Half Marathon, which was not too bad, and the revenge run SCB Singapore Marathon 21k where I definitely performed than the disastrous one in 2013, but still not up to own expectations. I mentioned last year that I want to do a full marathon in 2015, and hopefully this is something that I can achieve. Also, I am seriously considering an overseas race. After that, perhaps it is time to move to triathlons.

I went on numerous work trips to Malaysia and Indonesia, even manage to go for a training trip to Melbourne. For personal trips, I manage to visit Bali where I witnessed one of the best sunset ever, Taipei where I eat, and eat, and eat some more, Germany where I drove a left hand drive van along the Autobahn at 180km/h and experienced many Christmas markets, Denmark where I spent the New Year and was amazed at how much the Danes love firework, and Sweden, catching 2 nights of Northern Lights in Kiruna, Northern Sweden, thrown off a dog sled three times, staying in the famous Ice Hotel, sharing a train cabin overnight with 4 other strangers while it cuts through a snow covered landscape, and discovering the delicious Senapssill or pickled herring. It was definitely a very fulfilling year when it comes to travelling. I hope to continue to do the same in 2015.

Financially, things improved in 2014, there was increase in liquidity, and only one case of investment losing money. I am treating this as a lesson learnt. I wanted to increase my savings by 25% in 2014, which was not achieved, though it was close. I will try to save even more for 2015, but with the expected increase in expenses due to the new car, this will be challenging. But I will try.

I have also started contributing back to the society in little small ways, and I want to continue this in 2015. I have almost stopped reading altogether in 2014, and this needs to be kick started again in 2015. As for the last resolution, I want to ‘de-clutter’, simplify, and learn to find happiness in the smallest of things.

2014 was not a bad year, one of the better year I had in recent memory. As I prepare to embark on another stage in my life in 2015, I shall learn to enjoy the little good things, forget about the unhappy and bad ones, and hope for an even better year.

Reflections 2013

This year’s reflections is slightly different from last few years (2010, 2011 and 2012) in that I am actually writing this on the first day of 2014 instead of the last day of 2013.

Much happened in 2013. After leaving my previous job in June 2012 and joining my current company, much has happened with this job. I was given more projects and more responsibilities. It was not easy, since the new projects were given to me because the person who was handling these projects previously were asked to leave due to non-performance. I had to prove to everyone that I can handle them, and much time was spent repairing the broken relationship between the clients and company. The projects were also in a mess, and the two to three months spent trying to stabilising the projects were some of the most intense months ever. The results were not perfect, but I believe it has reached a point where it is much better than before. Salary increment and bonuses were insignificant, but I take comfort in the fact that at least there is salary increment and bonus. I am uncertain about staying long in this job though, partly because the new direction taken by the company seems to place more emphasis in other countries and not in Singapore, in fact, it seems the Singapore office is redundant in the overall plan. Also, I am getting ambitious, I do want to climb higher up the ladder, and the opportunities here seems limited. I believe in the new year, things will be clearer, especially with some new senior management coming in. In the meantime, I am always on the constant lookout for new opportunities.

Much has happened personally too. One of the resolution made in 2013 was a resounding success. I have been exercising regularly for the whole year, losing 15kg in the process, and getting healthier in the process. Eating clean and running regularly are working wonders for both the mind and body, and it has come to a point that I am feeling lethargic when I stop running due to injuries or weather. I also took part in races, completing my first half marathon in the SAFRA Bay Run, followed by my first 10km run in the Yellow Prison Run, and finally another half marathon in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. For the new year, I want to be really serious about this whole running thing, to train seriously so as to improve my half marathon timing to 2hrs 30mins, and perhaps even run an overseas race, with the Perth City to Surf race in August or the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in July most likely. I will also want to continue to eat cleanly, and to stay healthy. The long term goal is to complete my first full marathon, and hopefully this can be accomplished in 2015.

Financially, I managed to put in place some kind of plan, though I only started on the plan in the first quarter of the year. I am not exactly happy with where it is going, mainly because I am still learning, and mistakes were made. There were also a few times, much more than what I would have liked, where I gave in to temptation and made a few unnecessary purchases. Savings have increased, and in a better state than 2012 though. For the new year, I want to be more disciplined, and I want to increase my liquidity mainly by putting most of my savings in cash or cash equivalent instruments. I foresee in the coming few years, there will be quite a few big amount purchases which will require a substantial outlay, with a new car being one since my current car will be 10 years old in 3 years time. I want to increase my savings for 2014 by 25% more than the amount I saved in 2013, quite a stretch, but I am determined to meet this goal.

The other 2013 resolutions made were not really working out. Firstly I have given up on the certification one, mainly because there is just not enough time left to actively pursue it, especially since there are other more important priorities. So the self growth part will be drop altogether for 2014. Instead this will be replaced by something simpler, to learn something new each day. I also really want to read more books, and the target 50 new books in the new year will still apply. I will also try to start on the charity bit, starting with something small and easy to accomplish, perhaps regular monetary contributions to WWF. I did two vacations overseas in 2013, and while they were really enjoyable, they were to countries and cities that I have visited before. Also, I was not really watching the costs. For the new year, more vacations overseas, to countries and cities not visited before, and to watch the costs of these vacations.

I have decided to have a new resolution for 2014 as a result of significant event in 2013, and that is to love more, to care more, to pamper more, and to spoil more.

2012 was the year that I survived and taken baby steps. 2013 was the year that I could finally stand up straight and walk, perhaps finally able to visualise the light at the end of the tunnel. And most importantly, there were times that I even smiled.

Reflections 2012

I did the same for 2010, and 2011. I think doing reflections for the year on the last day is in a way beneficial. It enables me to reflect on the good things that had happened, the mistakes that I made, and the plans for the new year.

Comparing with 2010 and 2011, I am beginning to see the light in 2012. When it comes to career, I finally left the company that I was with for more than a decade. There was much apprehension and doubt before I decided to finally take the plunge. It was not an easy decision to make, especially when I was with the same company for so long. However, the career progression was stagnant, and while there was a change in management, I will be doing the same stuff in the near future. I wanted to try something new, and to see how it is like out there. Besides, I have enough with the monetary part, no bonuses for more than a decade, no salary increment in like half of those years that I was there. I was really falling behind my peers when it comes to not just career progression, but also my salary package. I was also encouraged by the fact that I was offered my job back if things do not work well in my new place, though I am not sure if I would have taken up the offer.

The new job comes with more responsibilities, and so far, it was what they had promised me during the rounds of interview. I am traveling more, working with people from all over the world, and managing projects regionally. While the company is not that big locally, it is huge globally. Like I mentioned to my boss during my annual review, I am definitely happier here than my old place. Also, I have learned my mistakes made previously and tried not to repeat them here. In a way, perhaps not able to jump ship in 2011 due to a lost opportunity was a blessing in disguise. Hopefully this will continue to improve. I have lots of catching up to do.

I also managed to start exercising again, though it was pretty late in the year, November in fact, when I started. However, this spell looks good, it has been two months and I have not been slacking off. I feel less tired, more energetic, and requires less hours of sleep. The weight loss has been marginal, though I am exercising mainly for health reasons. I am also eating healthier food, with more intake of fruits and vegetables, and less salt and junk food.

In other areas, things have be pretty stagnant. Due to procrastination, I have yet to take the examinations for a course that I took this year. I should have done it, instead I kept pushing it back by telling myself that I need time to settle down in my new job. Actually I was just lazy. Based on this experience, I am not too sure if I can go ahead with the other plan of getting a MBA.

I also travelled more in 2012, mostly for work, though not all to the countries that I want to go. For the new year, i want to travel more for leisure, while definitely keeping the costs down on these trips.

2012 was a year where I think I took quite a laid lack look at life, taking things slowly and not getting all worked  up and emotional over a lot of stuff. Perhaps it is due to age, or perhaps it is a change in perception to ‘live and let live’.

For next year, I am planning for more self growth, be it in terms of health, or emotionally, or intellectually. I want to participate in a running event at least once, be it 10km or 21km run. I want to continue with my healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly and eating healthier food. I want to pass my exams and get certified, and perhaps re-examine what other avenues are available besides MBA. I want to write more, and read more. I had set out a target of at least 50 books read in this year, and ended up not even reading 5 books. I also need to really manage my finances better, instead of just planning but not following through. Perhaps there is something else that I need to get a confirmation to see where it is going. And I want to plan monthly, and not just in the beginning of the year. I also need to track my progress regularly, and not once in a blue moon. Also, I should explore contributing back to the society or the world in 2013. Perhaps look at some way of volunteering for issues that I strongly believe in, like animal and nature conservation.

I think if I visualise the whole year as a game, then it will be easier for me. Perhaps visualising each item as an achievement, and when I achieved it, I should indicate visually somewhere as a reward, something like how Nike tracks my runs, or how World of Warcraft rewards me after multiple hours of farming. But no matter what, I should not waste any single second of my life anymore. I need to spend time constructively.

So if the proudest achievements of 2010 and 2011 were that I survived, then my proudest achievement of 2012 is one of that not only I survived, but baby steps have been taken.

Reflections 2011

I did something similar for the year 2010, which I remembered I was then on a trip to New Zealand. This year the reflections for year 2011 is done at home.

2011 was not a good year to me. There were some improvements in some areas compared to 2010, but in other areas, not only did things not improved, it got worse.

In terms of work, there was definitely some improvements. There was a change in management, and comparing it with the previous, things are definitely better. However, it is still not where I want it to be. There was a chance to finally jump ship, but as it is the norm for me, things somehow just fail to come off at the crucial moment. It has been a characteristic of my life so far.

Another major chapter ended in the year 2011, and at that time, I was hopeful of a new beginning. Alas, the start of the new chapter is still no where in sight. It was definitely not due to the lack of effort. There may be one of two times when a new chapter was about to be written and then something came along that was totally unexpected.

I did learn some work lessons from the previous year. Learning from my mistakes, I managed  to at least pull something off successfully, though there were some hiccups along the way, I guess people will only remember if you managed to pull it off finally, and not the various problems encountered along the way.  This is something that I need to continue to improve, and not make the same mistakes in the new year. I am not too sure if there were will be better opportunities next year, since I predict the economy will be totally shot to be bits, or whether I have another chance to finally jump ship altogether, but I am determined to also get myself certified next year. I want to grow professionally, and with qualifications to boost my career.

Personally, I should learn to control my feelings better, which was something that I also wanted in 2010. I do think that I have shown improvement in this area in 2011, but there is definitely room for improvement. I should try not to take things too personally, and maintain a Zen-like perspective when it comes to people around me, and the complex and sometimes frustrating relationships between humans.

I should also continue to break out of this boundary, zone that I have subconsciously created around my life. I want to continue to travel to new places, and strive for new experiences. I want to continue on my food journey, to taste the incredible range of gourmet choices that this small island has to offer.

I believe my life is like Newton’s third law, for every action, there is an equal and an opposite reaction. For every action that I do, my life will definitely provide a reaction. It may not go the way that I want, nor will it be smooth sailing, but there is definitely a reaction. A reaction, no matter in which direction, is still better than a state of inertial. As such, there are a couple of things that I want to do in 2011, and while I know it may not end up where I want to go, I will still try.

Of course, the first thing that I really want to do, is to find ways to change this ‘things never seem to go smoothly’ characteristic of my life. Perhaps fengshui?

As with 2010, the proudest achievement of year 2011 is the fact that I survived. Hope 2012 will be much, much better.

Reflections 2010

As I sit in the cramped seat on the plane thousands of feet in the air, and after having the usual bland airplane food, I decided to do some reflections for the year 2010. 

2010 was not a good year in any way for me. It was a year of hardship, road blocks and setbacks. It was a year of closures with no new openings in sight. It was a year of sadness with a little dash of happiness sprinkled throughout the days. 

In terms of work, the previous few years of relatively smooth sailing was finally brought to a halt. Obstacles were encountered and I was find lacking when it matters most. On hindsight I could have performed better but I most of it was due to me lacking in experience. It got slightly better in the second half of the year but which also got me thinking if this is the career path that I really want to pursue. There was a few points throughout where I almost quit without a job, but in the end the thought of unable to get a job for a few months made me drop the idea. I think in order to move forward the next year in my career, I really need to sort out what I really want to do. The sad thing is I have absolutely no idea as of now. 

I am not a man of closures, as in I do not need to perform literal acts, like burning photographs or deleting all messages, in order to close off chapters in my life. However 2010 was considered a year of closure for me, finally ending a massive chapter in my life. Ending chapters in life usually mean writing new chapters, unfortunately in this case for me, there were none. There was briefly a new chapter that was almost written, but instead, it led to sadness and pain. To make it even sadder, I am still clinging on. I suspect in order to really write a new chapter, I need to sort out this mess, else I will always be stuck in this void, where a chapter had been close with no new chapter in sight. 

I am not too sure what I could have done better. Perhaps I really need to control my feelings tighter, I really need to learn guard my feelings more. I do not think I could hold back my emotions once I let it go, and as such, the key is not to open my heart so easily instead. 

Work wise I really need to understand this thing call perception. Smart and hard work comes hand in hand with the perception people have of you, especially your boss. You may work smart and hard, but if people’s perception of you is otherwise, then no matter how much you try, it is not going to work.

One good thing that I should continue the next year will be self growth. No people is going to be responsible for your own development and growing as a person is my responsibility. I manage to attain some self growth in the last quarter of the year, and I should maintain this momentum the next year, until this self growth thing becomes a habit. 

A lot has happened in the year 2010, most it really unpleasant. But what does not kill me, is going to make me stronger. Many people will seek professional help, or goes into depression if they had encountered even a quarter of what I went through in 2010, but I survived. So at least that is something to be proud of. 

I should write another post on 2011 new year’s resolution soon. 

I Looked Back and Wonder

A few days ago I was checking my emails from an email account which I hardly used. It was only then I realised that the husband of the woman who unfortunately passed away in the Mumbai attacks, attended the same secondary school in the same year that I was in.

Decided to check out some of the respective groups in Facebook. The people that I remembered seems to be doing very well, there was one who moved to UK and published two books on the gay community in Singapore, another one was a corporate lawyer who was actively involved in the local poetry scene and environment conservation. A few were overseas, holding high positions in big corporate companies.

And then I looked at myself and I wonder.

While not doing too badly, it seems like I also have not been achieving much either. Too many wrong choices, too many wrong roads taken, and the times when I was on the right road, it seems something always happened to sway me to the wrong one.

Regrets. I have so many of them that if I stacked them together, it will reach all the way to the moon. And back.

I wished I had studied more. I wished I had focus. I wished I did not screwed up that much. I wished. I wished.

Of course, with more than half of my lifespan gone, I could just be going through a midlife crisis. Whatever it is, I do want to make the most of my other half of my lifespan, and achieve more. The problem is now asking myself, what I want to achieve. And I suspect the answer to that question requires me to look back and wonder.