I like thinking about my life.
I’m deliberate, thoughtful, and very calculating about where my life is headed.
Being intentional makes me very reflective, sometimes to my own detriment.
For example, if I felt like I had offended you no matter how slightly, I would brood on it for the rest of the day… Maybe even for the rest of the week, if we’re particularly close.
I might apologize (after a long, long time because I was mustering up the courage to tell you) but by then, you’ll probably have forgotten it and I had felt bad for nothing. (Oh well.)
I’m also slow. Not slow, in a way that I pick up on jokes way after the fact, (though I sometimes do, especially if it’s about some TV show I’ve never watched, like… Oh, like, I don’t know… Friends.) but slow in a way that I like taking my time.
I’m the kind of person who enjoys reading every single sign in museums – which can be incredibly exasperating for my friends and family. Sorry, mom.
However, one good thing about being intentional, reflective and slow is that it makes me pre-disposed to looking into the past and trying to learn from it. And I wanted to take you with me and make it official this year!
So I’ve decided to take a page from Scrum (again) and do a Retrospective.
This is how Scrum defines a Retrospective:
“It is a moment for the team to stop, breathe, and take a break from the day-to-day. It’s a chance to step back and reflect on the past iteration. To find things that worked well, things that need improvement, and what the team has the energy to improve.”
So with that definition in hand, let’s take a step back and look at…
What Went Well
A Year of Learning
This year I read 36 books (14 short of my goal of 50, but still good!) and listened to 120 hours of podcasts.
There were some points when I just had to stop consuming, reading and listening because I was tired, but for the most part, learning as much as I can as quickly as I can has worked well.
I’m not aiming to read 50 books in 2017. And I’m not going to try and listen to 200 hours of podcasts. But I will try to read at least 10 pages every day. For me, it’s about the process and the knowledge, learning to enjoy the quiet focus in reading.
Certified Scrum Master
You got that right – I’m a Certified ScrumMaster now! For those of you who don’t know, the ScrumMaster is a kind of project manager, but not really. You can read more about Scrum here.
In any case, it’s a great in-demand designation to have.
School and Co-op
I didn’t get the GPA I wanted… But this past fall term was the hardest I’d ever worked in school, bar none. Here are a couple of highlights:
- I learned to work every day. I used to operate based on whether I felt motivated to study that day or not, so I had to spent the past 4 months in school re-wiring my brain and learning about what it really means to be a diligent, consistent worker.
- I landed my fourth co-op term. I’m working at the Project Management Office of one of the biggest insurance companies in the world now… And so far, the work has been challenging and rewarding!
I fell in love with the sport when a friend of mine invited me to join her Monday team.
I had always wanted to try Ultimate and when I did… It was like I was born for the sport.
Playing Ultimate really gets my blood pumping and being on the field with my teammates helps me relax and re-energize – a key thing for performing at a high mental level.
I’m a huge believer in working on a big project outside of school.
I believe that doing this expands your thinking and gives clarity on your path in life. Plus, it also gives you something to talk about in job interviews!
One of the side hustles I tried out was a dropshipping business. Ultimately, I committed to two projects that I will continue to work on in 2017.
The starting salary for a new grad is not much, even with 16 – 20 months of work experience under my belt. And I don’t want to be forced to take a part-time job during the school year that isn’t directly related to my goals, either.
So this year, I started cashing in on all the marketing books I’ve read by becoming a freelance copywriter on Upwork. (I’ll be writing more about this experience in the future!)
Last October, I landed my first two clients after trying and failing earlier in the year.
I’m so happy that I finally got things off the ground after trying for so long! I’m now working with a couple of great business owners but I’m putting any new clients on hold until after my ACL surgery (more on this later).
- This Blog.
I paused the blog during the summer because I was stressed out and really busy. I had also run out of things to say. Taking that break allowed me to have better clarity on what I want to write about.
I also published my first guest post in a long time. Thanks, Stefano!
- Favorite Album of 2016: Unbreakable Smile, Tori Kelly. (This got me through exams and general drama.)
- Favorite Song of 2016: Closer, Chainsmokers (especially this cover)
- Non-fiction Book of 2016: Deep Work, Cal Newport
- Favourite Biography of 2016: Toss up between Open by Andre Agassi and Shoe Dog by Nike’s founder, Phil Knight.
- Thing I’m Glad I Started Doing in 2016: Cold Showers. (More about this in other posts)
- Thing I Did in 2015 That I Wish I Kept Doing in 2016: Memorizing (most) of the book of Ephesians.
- New Favourite Person/Podcast I Followed in 2016: Web designer and content creator, Paul Jarvis
What Didn’t Go Well
Summer at The Firm
It was a lot of fun and I still keep in touch with other co-op’s and interns (you can read more about it here) but bottomline, the accounting industry isn’t for me. Glad I figured that out now and farther down the road!
I tore my ACL last August playing Ultimate so I’m getting surgery before summer. I’m strengthening my knee now to prepare for surgery and the rehab after the operation will be brutal. It sucks but life goes on.
Lack of Focus
- Had to drop a course. I took on too much last fall and something had to give. After my knee gave up on me, my mind did, too. So I dropped the 6th course I had added to my schedule. The relief I felt after hitting that “Drop” button was unbelievable.
- GPA is not where I want it to be. Again, I took on too much, my attention was spread too thin and I ended doing just OK. But I learned a lot and I can apply it to my last year in school.
What I Want To Work on Next Year
In 2017, I want to really hone in on focus – learning to reduce errors before I add new functions and processes.
This especially comes into play with habits. I want to focus on only 1 habit at a time for 3-4 months and use forcing functions, and not just relying on my own willpower, to cement the habit into my routine.
Right now my year is basically broken down into two parts – pre-surgery and post-surgery.
For the first 4 months, I want to focus on prepping my body for surgery by doing Coach Sommer’s Gymnastic Bodies program.
The big habit for this season will be to sleep at 9:30 PM for 5 out of 7 nights every week. To do just that one thing requires me to rigorously plan my day and overhaul my systems. Even with doing that, so far, I’ve only succeeded in being semi-consistent in sleeping at 11 PM. I’ve got a long, long way to go.
Post-operation, I want to rehab aggressively, maybe training up to twice a day. Again, I need to build up to that even now if I want it to be a sustainable practice (which I want it to be).
I also plan on putting more time into my freelancing business and writing for this blog more consistently.
Finally, a big goal this year, I want to save enough money to pay off my student debts and travel since I graduate in 2018. It’s not really as crazy as it seems since I’m living at home and don’t really have that much debt (about $8,000) but it’s still a hard thing I want to achieve. 🙂
That’s it! I hope reading my annual retrospective inspires to think hard and reflect about your own year.