I really hope you did have a good break for the holidays and you used that time to recharge your energy and spend valuable time with family & friends or any other way that matters to you. For us this year, we didn’t have the luck to have the family visiting us neither for us to visit family but we did have a really good time in Tasmania.
It has been now more than 4 years we have moved to Australia (Nov 2010). This has been a great experience so far with its ups and downs but to be entirely honest with you all and ourselves and for thus who have followed our adventure and challenges, you know it has been an exciting experience with definitely more good stuff than bad. We love Australia. It fits our values and our desire for an outdoor lifestyle and it brings an incredible quality of life. I have found the following articles quite funny and interesting about moving to Australia (or overseas).
The big question is how long we intent to stay here? Well, that’s difficult question to answer as we never really know. First even if we live in a global world, it is not true that it is easy to cross borders and settle somewhere easily. You will notice how easy for various products and consumables to cross border but unfortunately for a human beings there is always many consideration and gatekeepers to consider, the most notable being immigration. Therefore, for now our situation in Australia remain completely dependent on having employment for a work sponsor and this result in living in a precarious situation in time of market & business volatility. Second, it is definitely difficult to live so far away from family and friends. Unfortunately, I have low expectations in having anyone to move here to facilitate this! You are more than welcome to challenge this belief and surprise us!
Back to the main topic of this post, it has been over 4 years now that I started doing more active thinking and writing about the year that has just finished and look ahead for the next one. This exercise particularly useful to get clarity about my own life direction, achieve my long term goals and to plan and take appropriate action to change the course of of what’s remaining of my life. The concept was originally taken from from Chris Guillebeau’s book on the “Art of non-conformity“.
“You are capable of more than you’ve ever imagined. ”
The annual review process being by focusing on what went well in 2014. This can be done using the goals you set yourself on previous years or by overlooking at the general themes that matters to you. You then examine what could be improved. 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 for change.
General review – 2014:
What went well – highlights ?
Overall, 2014 has been another positive one for us. Again, there was a lot of traveling involved, hiking, diving and all sort of activities as this how we decided to live our life. I have accomplished my big project Hike for Life and raised near 3000$ for Breast Cancer along with the commitment of great friends. We have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro at 5895m over a 7 days hiking trip, moreover we have done a lifetime experience safari and a great time in Zanzibar in Tanzania. Later we visited Singapore for few days.
Another big highlight is that we have got engaged during our trip in Singapore. The big day isn’t fully determined yet but that will be in early 2016.
We have explored more of Australia with two 10 days road trip in Western Australia and Tasmania (the next logical step to Tanzania isn’t?) and spent few days in Melbourne (Great Ocean road) early 2014 and Canberra and Sydney last weekend, but technically this count as 2015! This leave only one state to visit (South Australia) and few major locations to visit such as Adelaide and Darwin. There is still a lot of other smaller places to check out like Lady Eliot Island of course but we are doing pretty good so far. We know more of Australia than most Australians!
On the down side of things, at the end of the year I had a stressful time. I have been made redundant at work along with the remaining of my few colleagues that survived the difficult economic situation here in QLD. Fortunately, I have secured recently a new position with another company so we can stay in Australia, at least until September 2015 where my current visa expires. As a result of being made redundant, I had unfortunately to withdraw our permanent residency application in Australia, which was somewhat “hearth breaking” considering the amount of time, paperwork frustration and all the money invested (~8000$). We will have to start all over again this year as there is no way to keep the application under a different sponsor. If you never had the experience, I can tell you the immigration gatekeepers and its bureaucracy is the most painful one of all.
Otherwise, on a daily basis I think we both managed to increase our general health and well-being.
- We both now ride our bikes to work everyday (that’s around 2500km every year!)
- We both went to the gym regularly
- We both run regularly and I did complete a half-marathon (21km) run earlier in 2014
What could be improved?
- We started off running at South Bank Park Run in Brisbane earlier this year. Actually, it worth to say, Gabriela started and I joined her later. It is only a 5km run, but it goes on every Saturday morning at 7am. Needless to say you need to be quite motivated to wake up at 6am on Saturday morning. We have been around 13-14 times this year but we have been unavailable and also more lazy recently so we need to get back to it.
- I ran an half-marathon which is great but it took me 2 hours and 11 minutes to complete it because of painful leg cramps. This is above the mental mark of 2 hours I have given myself with all the training I have done last year.
- Professionally, it has been a difficult year. With the current market situation in QLD and globally in the extractive sector (e.g. with the commodity prices falling), the business atmosphere is for managing and reducing cost. Consequently, this impacted largely finding new projects or securing new scope of work. With major project work being completed in 2014, we had to let go a lot of people so the work environment declined through the year until we reach new bottom after new bottom. In the positive side of things, I took over informally many new responsibilities and learned massively. Gabriela managed to secure another contract with the company she works for until the end of 2015, which is great again considering the current business environment.
- I often got frustrated and failed to appreciate my circumstances. As the main picture suggest, I should learn to enjoy more small and simple moment of happiness and focus on the positive side of things. Therefore a subtle shifts in perception could transform life and help deal better with feeling such as fear, anger, or pain.
Some lesson learned:
- We can always choose to perceive things differently. We can focus on what’s wrong in our life, or we can focus on what’s right. It’s up to us to feed the right wolf.
- Yet again, in most situation it is not possible to control all possible outcomes. However it worth being aware of what’s going on and ensuring that do your best to control internal factors while engaging and mitigating external ones outside of your control. This way, you maximise your chance of having the best outcome for you and avoiding regrets. In other words, in any situation, do your part and for what you can’t control, don’t over-think and worry about it.
- Managing stress is important and I am still not the best to manage it. I tend to become irritable, frustrated and sometime demotivated. Don’t let that happen to you for too long and find a way to balance it (like the gym!).
- Something probably more personal, but I find it difficult to maintain relationship with a large social circle. At least, what I know for me is that I found it more valuable to focus and deepen fewer but mutually beneficial relationships rather than having many superficial ones.
General goals – 2015:
Here are the two main goals and objectives for 2015.
- Stability and security
- Settle in my new role
- Permanent Residency in Australia
- Build up some savings
- Organise our wedding for 2016
- Strong focus on healthy and well-being – physically and mentally
- Continue to challenge myself physically – participate and complete a Though Mudder race and keep running at the South Bank Park run regularly.
- Continue to challenge myself intellectually – participate and complete a university Massive open online course (MOOC) in spanish using Coursera.
- Maintain a strong focus on health prevention (eating healthy, lot of organic & greens).
- Allow more time for small moment to wind up and chill out, breath.
Here are the review and goal settings for each important theme for me.
Learning is really something that motivates and energizes me. It sparks creativity and dreams. I like the challenge and the feeling of learning something new, making progress towards something, improving.
- I did read two great books this year:
- Al Gore – The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change
- Al Gore – Assault on reason
- I completed the study group earlier in 2014 and finally obtained the Certified Business Analyst Professional™ certification last weekend on January 20th 2015.
- A new job involve a lot of learning, therefore this should be interesting.
- Looking to complete a course in Spanish via Coursera, an online MOOC platform with courses from University from all over the world.
- Listen to at least one TED show each week.
- Reading one or two other books on sustainability, business or politics.
Until you retire or achieve financial independence or maybe live in a tribe (!), your job remains where you spend most of your time and provide you with the necessary financial support for a living and the means to accomplish few dreams like traveling. Therefore, it is important not only that you like and that you grow in what you do but also that you maintain your competitive advantage. This is especially important when being a foreigner in a challenging market where laws would often favor locals first (which is understandable).
- Lot of experience gained in Management, Stakeholder Engagement & Management, Project Management, Office Management and even Tendering process
- CBAP™ certification
- Looking to settled in my new role as a Senior BA with a new organisation.
- Take every opportunity to develop further leadership and project/program management experience.
- Perhaps resuming the PRINCE2 certification.
Traveling has been once again the major highlight of 2014 and this was great. We visited 2 new countries! We have a very long list of place we would like to go, such as Turkey, Jordan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos in South East Asia or even Camp Everest in Nepal but for this coming year, major travel won’t be the focus. Weekends get away will represent most of the trips and if the budget and the time allows, perhaps one week for the South Island of New Zealand or Fijis but it is not a high priority for now.
- Australia: Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road, Perth & Western Australia, Tasmania, Canberra and Sydney.
- Africa : Tanzania (Trek to Mount Kilimanjaro, Safari in the Serengeti and Zanzibar)
- New-Zealand perhaps?
Strengthening our finance is one of the focus of this year as we are looking into getting married in Mexico in 2016 and probably some other big traveling trips following that. Also, we will re-apply for the residence in Australia.
- Shares aren’t doing very well once more and the Australian dollar tumbled to 5 years low as compare to the USD/CAN. And this is expected to even worsen.
- Loss of revenue from being redundant wasn’t a good news before Christmas .
- Loss of investment for the Australian permanent residency through work sponsor (~8,000$)
- Still looking into investing in an investment property or another appreciating asset (long term goal of the ultimate goal of financial independence).
- Securing quickly a new position reduced the damage from the loss of revenue from unemployment.
- Still looking into building financial independence (ex: long term appreciating asset)
- Putting some savings aside for the next year
Friends & Family:
Last year started great when my family visited me in Australia. Since then, we maintained close contact online, which is something I value being constrained by the physical distance. Also maintained good contact with friends back home too. Our social circle in Brisbane is pretty strong too now, a lot of great people and always tons of activities. Would be great to visit Canada this year but the chance are slim with the new work and the plan for next year.
- Family reunion in Australia during last year was extraordinary.
- Strengthen my social network in Brisbane.
- Kept a good contact with my closest friends through Skype.
- Wrote periodically in my blog.
- Focus on the strongest mutually beneficial relationship.
- Strengthen my social network in Brisbane
- Keep maintaining a good contact with my closest friends and family regularly through Skype.
- Continue to write periodically in my blog.
Health & Lifestyle:
This year have been pretty strong on this key aspect of my life. Reached few goals too. Perhaps the only negative side was that I had couple of issues with my back which needed few visit to the chiropractor. Also, stress management could also be improved.
- Ran an half marathon
- Went to the gym quite often and regularly, got back in shape.
- Lot of hiking to train for the Kilimanjaro
- Maintain strong and healthy lifestyle, eating even more organic.
- Maintained my own (small) organic garden.
- Juicing 3 times a week (vegetables, fruits)
- Went about 14 times to run the South Bank Park Run, 5km every Saturday morning 7am.
- Improve stress management
- Keep going to the gym at least 3 times a week.
- Keep doing the South Bank Park Run
- Complete either the Spartan Race or Tough Mudder
- I organised only 1 event for the Alumni club this year, the hockey match between Canada and United States.
- Fund raising for my project Hike for Life with 2 charity organisations. We raised near 3000$, over our objective of 2500$. For which I donated over 300$ and wrote many articles on cancer awareness & prevention.
- Ice bucket challenge at Noosa although my donation went to Medecin Sans Frontiere to support the Ebola crisis. I then register for monthly donation.
- Donated and supported few causes liked the People March for Climate in Brisbane and initiative for GMO Labelling.
- Organise 1 or 2 events for the Alumni club.
- Volonteer for the South Bank Park Run.
- Cycled to work almost every day this year. (This saves about 1.3 tonnes greenhouse gas emissions each year over driving a car).
- Paid to carbon offset of all my flights
- Bought local and organic as much as I can
- All of the above +
- Switch lightning to LED
- Switch to chemical free cleaning product
Well, this has been a very long post. If you’ve read this far, thanks for your indulgence. It’s my strongest hope that something I share will be useful to you as you plan your own life and goals.
Speaking of that, how about you? How was your year?