The time has rolled around and my annual end-of-year wrap-up is here. What can I say about 2015, except for WOW! In no way imaginable would I have believed last year that the proceeding 365 days would be filled with many experiences that have challenged me, taught me, and made me forever grateful of my life. In the past year I have been overseas (and soon to go over again), took on an executive role at my college, undertook an internship at a Big 4 accounting firm, celebrated my 21st birthday (for a whole month), attended a week-long conference, ate a lot of doughnuts, celebrated a friend’s wedding, graduated & was co-valedictorian of the Leadership Program, drank a lot of coffee, started blogging, smiled and laughed every day, celebrated having a healthy mind, and read a few great books.
I love the opportunity to take a few moments at the end of the year to reflect on what I have learnt. I have been incredible lucky this year to receive so many opportunities and therefore would like to share a few insights into what I have learnt…
The term ‘busy’ is a relative term. It’s also a word I tried not to use this past year – except for my poor work colleagues who thought I had vanished off the side of the earth at many times in the year. I find that the word limits ourselves to what we are capable in doing. At some moments my timetable was packed and scheduling in a meal break was the only way I would feed myself. Over the past year I have attempted to make the most of each day, and the most of every hour in those days. The saying always goes ‘when you need a task done urgently, you ask the busiest person you know because chances are they have good time management in comparison to the person who has no work’. If there is one word that you leave in 2015, let it be the word ‘busy’ when you are talking to others and describing your workload.
The hectic moments throughout the year made the quiet times even more pleasurable. They were the moments where I was sitting on the couch in my flat with my flat mates laughing at everything and getting involved in deep conversations about abortion, female rights, and anything on TV really. They were also the moments of being at home and waking up without an alarm clock or having my mother make dinner without me thinking about it. I’ve had the aforementioned things occur for a while, but this year they were richer and I treasured them a lot more. You could easily relate it to the different seasons. When it’s summer we are thankful that we are no longer shivering away in the winter, but when winter rolls around we are relieved to not worry about sweating (and getting sunburnt if you have skin like mine!). This year has definitely taught me to love the grounded people around me who teach me to slow down when I need it.
Leadership is cultivated not learnt through a textbook or a workshop. By far, 2015 has allowed me to flex my leadership skills and highlight areas of improvement. At my college in the beginning of the year I had the opportunity to be in the President’s role for our residential committee team. I nearly ran with the opportunity until I realised I needed to teach myself a lesson and keep my role as the Vice-President. I recognised that I was lacking the ability to work underneath and not receive automatic gratification. No matter how many books or workshops you go to, nothing beats hard, solid, mistake-ridden experience when it comes to leadership. While I have been reading leadership books since I was 15, nothing prepared me for those testing moments of leading and finding ways to motivate a team. Luckily enough I was able to pinpoint my style of leadership, which really helps – so don’t stop putting those books down. I also was reminded throughout the year that I need to appreciate the skills and abilities I do already have. We can often get so caught up about the feedback we are getting that we can forget to pat ourselves on the back for how awesome we already are!
Blogging is really beneficial. I started putting fingers to the keyboards a year ago and really started to do it more regularly mid-year after a personal branding session that was hosted by Jane Anderson. This past year I have found that blogging has allowed me to increase my ability to write better and articulate my thoughts more clearly, and it has also given me an outlet to get my 1,001 thoughts a day out of my head. Our brains are the most valuable part of our body. No one else thinks the same way you do, or interprets the environment around you the same thing. So many times this year I learnt A LOT just when people shared their views or their thoughts. If you don’t find the art of speaking come naturally like myself, blogging is really great in bridging that gap!
Social media can sometimes unexpectedly become our main focus. I had an eye-opening experience with my social media usage rates on my birthday this year. I was over in Borneo with little reception and made a small promise to myself to not check Facebook on my birthday – long story short, I checked it. I looked and I automatically felt sad, I only had 15 people say happy 21st birthday. In that moment of sadness I realised that I valued the quantity of Facebook messages over the personal experiences of my birthday that was happening around me and how special I had felt all day. So, don’t be a bit shocked if I do a social media cleanse for a week/month. In saying that, social media can really enhance our ability to connect with others when we create boundaries for ourselves. These days I just do a mini social media audit on myself and check how many times I access it and the emotions I automatically feel when I don’t have access to it.
Whenever you are facing something new, make goals! Would it be a post of mine that didn’t include something about the value of making goals? Probably not. One important note that I wish to highlight about goals is to NOT tell anyone (or many people) you are doing it. A TED talk by Derek Sivers emphasises that when you tell people you have a goal you become subconsciously satisfied without achieving the goal and that psychologists have researched that if you tell your goal you are less likely to achieve it. Sadly, I fell into this trap (so yes, the researchers are correct) when I publicly made it my goal to climb 5 mountains this year. Regardless, goals I find are necessary in self-improvement. They are the link between where we are and where we want to be. This past December I was given an incredible opportunity to spend 4 weeks working in a Big 4 accounting firm. I entered having no professional workplace experience, but I came with an eagerness to learn and give it a go. I wrote down my goal at the beginning as ‘don’t automatically ask for help, have a go and come to a person for help with a solution that you have come up with’. It wasn’t a massive goal, but it really helped me in my learning process and it was that necessary link that brought me closer to my bigger, professional goals.
Thank you to everyone who has been alongside me for the past 365 days. I’ve met a lot of new people, established many friendships, and rekindled old friendships. Each and every one of you around me have strengthened and enriched my year, and my life. Here’s to the new year and the endless new opportunities that are just around the corner!
Before the clock strikes midnight on NYE, while you’re topping up your champagne, I urge you to take a moment to reflect on the past year. We each have had a different year and learnt different things – all these things are unique to us, and make us who we are. Embrace the new year wherever it may take you, and treat each day as a new adventure!
“In each of us there are places we have never gone. Only by pressing the limits do you ever find them.” – Dr. Joyce Brothers