Annual review and 2012 goals

The Tower - Chris Guillebeau

Happy new year!

Hope your all having a wonderful time with your family & friends. We feel a little lonely this year here in quiet Brisbane with most of our friends out of town but it is good to relax and enjoying ourselves.

Since last year, I started doing more active thinking and writing about the year that has just finished and look ahead for the next one. This exercise called the Annual Review and the concept was originally taken from from Chris Guillebeau’s book on the “Art of non-conformity

I find this exercise particularly useful to get clarity about my own life direction and to plan and take appropriate action to change what I dislike or plan ahead to reach new goals (or unreached goal). In every case, remember that the path is yours to choose, sometime is goes backward before going forward.

I would like to share a little passage I appreciated, written in french, on the “Les Cinq grand rêves de vie” from a book my mother gave me earlier this year, “Le Safari de la Vie” :

Parfois la vie n’est pas une route tranquille, mais ce n’est pas une raison de nous arrêter. Chaque pas que nous faisons vers l’avant nous rend plus fort et repousse nos peurs, chaque pas que nous refusons de faire nous affaiblit.

Mais il n’y a rien de plus tragique qu’une vie qui n’est pas à la hauteur des rêves de celui qui la vit.

[…] Pour atteindre ces rêves, il n’est pas toujours nécessaire de ce poser mille questions sur comment y parvenir. Quelqu’un d’autres quelques parts a probablement partager le même souhait que vous et y est parvenu. Vous pouvez observer ces actions et les répliquer en les adaptant à votre situation. Le succès est une suite de petites actions menant vers une réussite.

The path is entirely yours to create

Annual Review

The annual review process being by focusing on what went well in 2011. This can be done according to the goals you set on previous years or by overlooking at the general theme that matters to you.  You then examine what didn’t went well or went as expected. The result will surely help you with the process of being intentional about your choices in the following year(s) and maybe draw a first set of actions.

General review – 2011:

What went well ?

2011 has been a very positive one for me and among all the good things that happened this year, the two thing I wanted the most in 2011 concluded successfully.

  • I’ve got an interesting job in Australia and managed to get a sponsor visa (457) for both of us. With this, we can stay in Australia up to 2015 if we would like.
  • I made my commitment to attend my best friend weddings in the Philippine as his man of honor. We had a great time.

Philippe's Wedding in the Philippines.

On top of this:

  • We explored more of Australia, traveled to the Philippines (1 new country per year) and I traveled back home on a business trip and stopped by Vancouver and enjoyed seeing my family and friends in the meantime.
  • I completed one distance course for a master degree class in Sweden on strategic sustainable development. Finished with 85%.
  • We moved from Sydney to Brisbane to end-up the year in an awesome new place right by Brisbane river.
  • We changed few aspects of my consumption behaviors to include more organic stuff and less health damaging product.

What could have been better?

  • The new job involved relocation. While in Brisbane I was lucky enough to be provided temporary accommodation by my company but I still moved 7 times in 2011. It wasn’t easy to find a place but I was quite happy to get a foot down somewhere I could call “home”.
  • Although the end of the year is much better after I joined the gym (Fitness First), the year hasn’t been really good to stay fit. I’ve ate a lot in restaurant with my colleagues and I didn’t put enough effort and discipline into staying fit by doing sport or going to the gym.
  • Professionally, although it has been a very exciting year regarding work, it has been also quite a challenge and for most of it, the pressure was relatively high with a lot of things to deliver and without the time necessary to do things up to the level I would have like. It was hard at time to keep a balance between work and personal life (especially with the challenge of communicating thought a 15 hours time zone difference) and yet I’m looking forward for a more balanced year.

Some lesson learned:

  • The first lesson learned and most important one for this year is that you should never lose faith. When you do everything you can, when you take every step that you should, when you do the part you can control, the universe will conspire for you. Either by rewarding you with an opportunity for your genuine effort or either by presenting you another crossroad.
  • Be creative and think outside the box when facing challenging situation.

2012 – General goals:

2011 was still a year we spend to land back on our feet and adjust to our new life here.  A lot of good things happened and I’m ready to face what’s next and making progress in this new life.

We’re not planning any big change this year, however, I still have in mind a big project for early 2013 that I will like to introduce and dedicate to my mother who survived breast cancer few years ago.  So, part of this year will be dedicated to building and preparing this, especially for the fitness part!

  • First, run Half-Marathon
  • Second, I would like to introduce a new project that I called “Hike for Life”. The project consist of teaming up with few committed friends and go climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa in 2013 and raise fund for Breast Cancer. In the next following months, you will hear more about this project and if you feel interested about teaming up and/or helping out, please let me know.

Detailed review:


Learning is really something that motivates and energizes me. I like the challenge and the feeling of learning something new, making progress towards something, improving.


  • Sadly, I haven’t got as much time and energy as I wanted to read. I have finished half of Barack Obama’s book (The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick) and I’ve read couple of other small books.
  • I completed a master level introduction class to strategic sustainable development at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden during the first half of the year.
  • I learned a lot from my new work.


  • Keep reading on few books, any suggestion?
  • Complete one or two professional certifications for Business Analyst, Project Management and maybe Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • Learn how to dance salsa;

Career development & Business:


  • We avoided going for my earlier 2011 rescue Plan B (New-Zealand & casual work) or C (teaching English in Korea). At the edge of when I needed it the most and  by a surprising flow of event, a good friend of mine Kevin put me in contact with Boreal-is, a french Canadian company that offer corporate social responsibility and environmental performance management software and services for the oil, gas and mining industry that was opening an office in Brisbane. I traveled from Sydney to met up with the CEO of the Magog’ based company and managed to get a good job offer as the first employed expat in Australia. Even more, the job represent the opportunity to be a convergence point from different aspects I wanted for years (international projects exposure, sustainability, challenging, fast growing, consulting) and on top of this it allows me to keep strong ties with few business trip back home.
  • Completed successfully the implementation of the biggest and most demanding project the company has to complete to date for Australia Pacific LNG.


  • For the next year, I’m mostly looking to develop my skills and expend further my knowledge in the field of corporate social responsibility and sustainability for the oil, gas and mining industry.
  • I’m also looking forward for a closer field experience in a developing country. There is discussion at the moment that my next project could be either in Papua New-Guinea, Indonesia (Sulawesi) or elsewhere. This would imply short term mission on site but I will still be based here in Brisbane. Nothing is confirmed yet, it could also be another big project in Australia as the company is growing fast.



  • We spent two unforgettable weeks in the Philippines for my best friend wedding.
  • I went back home in Quebec and Vancouver for 3 weeks on a business trip, spend a day in Los-Angeles on the way back.
  • We explored a bit of the east coast of Australia from North (Noosa) to South (Byron Bay).
  • We were supposed to head back home for Christmas but unfortunately we were not able too (visa, new apartment, cost, etc).


  • We are planning to go in Mexico for a family reunion in April. We need to figure out a transit visa through USA (third trial…).
  • We couldn’t make it last year to New-Zealand as wanted but hopefully this year we could go (one new country per year at the minimum!). Maybe another South East Asian country or the Fijis.
  • I’m expecting another business trip back home.



  • Australia is a very expensive place to live and the year has started quite badly however, with the new job things have come back on track.


  • Rebuild savings to travel and to possibly invest in a property depending on the economic situation.

Friends & Family:


  • I kept writing in my blog for the entire year. Less in the second half of the year because I lacked time;
  • I stayed in good contact with my family and my closest friends. I could visit my friends in Quebec and Vancouver.


  • Looking forward for a family reunion in Mexico in April 2012;
  • Try to keep a better contact with my closest friends through Skype;
  • Extend my social network in Brisbane;
  • Continue to write periodically in my blog.

Health & Lifestyle:


  • I’ve put fitness back into the agenda in the latest half of the year. I joined Fitness First in October and I completed 2 short 10km race as I wanted. The race at Mount Coot-tha was particularly challenging. I kept running around 1-2 time per week for most of the year.
  • I commuted daily to work by bus, train, bike and I walked quite a lot.
  • Last year,  I wanted to eat more organic food, be more aware and consume less damageable products for health. I made significant progress on this. About 75% of daily products I’m using are carefully chosen to avoid damageable chemicals. Moreover, I switched to consume more organic food product.

Did you know that there could be 223 time less pesticides in organic food than ordinary product.

Did you know that cancer is the number 1 cause of death in Canada and it’s proven that most products we use on a daily basis contains a lot of dangerous chemical ingredients? Since our government politics for protecting the consumer are extremely lagging behind, it’s up to you to care for yourself and read labels.


  • I would like to run a half marathon and keep going to the gym at least 3 times a week.
  • I looking to join a Dragon Boat team in Australia. I would like to run at least 1-2 times a week and participate in least to 1-2 races (regatta).
  • I would like increase further the percentage of organic product I consume.

Community engagement:


  • I registered to volunteer for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Australia but nothing has really happened with this. I have met with someone to propose my help but I haven’t been contacted ever since and then I moved to Brisbane. I am still a member but nothing as come out of this.
  • I have started an Alumni club for Laval University as a vice-president and we have organised few events so far allowing people to link and connect. Recently we had a diner with new Consulate General of Canada in Australia and we’re expecting to do more stuff in 2012.


  • Continue to be involved in the Alumni club, organise few more events and develop further the possibility to network.


What you learned from 2011 ? What are you most looking forward to 2012? What are your objectives?

Pascal & Gabriela

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