Let’s start by wishing you the best for this new year that is only beginning. I wish that you appreciated how 2015 unfolded for you and that you have learned something positive during that long 365 days journey. If not, well this year you will have one extra day to figure it out! Otherwise, I hope that it helped you to foresee and think about the way you want to live for the next leg of your journey.
For our 6th Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere, we decided to stay home in Brisbane and enjoyed some good times with friends. Fortunately enough, we managed to do some decent traveling and went abroad to New-Zealand just before the end of the year (just before the high season!), so resting and relaxing at home wasn’t being done with any regrets.
2015 also marks our 5th anniversary in Australia. This is a strange feeling as our roots in this country are growing deeper every year. Australia has been rated again in the top of the best countries to live in and I couldn’t disagree with this. We feel good living here and embrace its outdoorsy lifestyle fully. At the same time, it has now been more than 2 years and half since I have visited my home country, family and friends and this also weight on my mind. It is difficult to keep contact with all people I would like to. Most people now do have their own little family too. Time difference don’t help but also I suppose this is just how life goes on.
The New Year seems the perfect time to make a fresh start, which is why so many of us make New Year’s resolutions. According to research, approximately 50% of us make resolutions each year, mainly about weight loss, exercise, smoking, money management, and debt reduction. Yet only about 8% of us manage to keep them. Perhaps sometime people are simply giving up on making resolutions because of past failures. Now help is at hand. In a recently posted article* on the Psychology Today website, psychologist and author Ray Williams summarises research explaining why we have such a hard time in keeping resolutions. Encouragingly, he also draws on research to offer suggestions to help you make your own resolutions work. His tips are:
- Focus on one resolution rather than several and set realistic, specific goals. “Lose weight” is not specific. Losing 5 kilos in 90 days would be.
- Don’t wait for next New Year’s Eve to make new resolutions. Make it a year-long process, every day.
- Take small steps. Many people quit because a goal is too big and requires too much effort and action all at once.
- Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you to whom you have to report your progress (or a blog!).
- Celebrate success between milestones—don’t wait for the goal to be finally completed.
- Focus your thinking on new behaviours and thought patterns so you can create new neural pathways to change habits.
- Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, to move towards your goal?
- Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally, and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment-by-moment, rather than living in the past or future.
I proud in taking accountability of my own stuff, but you guys are my accountability buddies here, and with this new year already started, its the time to do some active thinking and writing about the year that has just finished and look ahead for the next one. I do this exercise since over 5 years to get clarity about my own life direction, achieve my long term goals and 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. ” – Thoreau
The annual review process being by focusing on what went well in 2015. This can be done using the goals you set yourself on previous years or by overlooking at the general topics 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 – 2015:
What went well – highlights ?
It would be difficult to compare 2015 to 2014 in terms of great highlights. Climbing the Kilimanjaro and raising awareness and money for Breast Cancer was a definitely fun, big commitment and an achievement it itself that I am really proud of! But hey its not a competition and every year brings something different.
So what’s happened? Last year, we went pretty intense on training and physical challenges by completing Tough Mudder, couple of long run including City to South and Brisbane Marathon (I completed the half marathon in 1h53min). Tough Mudder was a team challenge we really enjoyed. With the right preparation, it wasn’t too hard to complete. We also continue doing the weekly 5km Park Run on Saturday mornings 7am. By the end of the year, we had completed around 35 of them. My best park run was 22m51sec. It is such a nice ritual to get out there in the morning with friends and have the feeling of having accomplished something good so early in the weekend! Otherwise, I have been very regular with the gym, outdoor training, cycling to work and good eating habits.
I dedicated quite a bit of time of developing and improving professional skills. I finally obtained my professional certification (CBAP) and I also completed 3 courses on Coursera including 2 in Spanish language! One of these course were given by the World Bank on climate change which was an eye opener for me. I also listened to several TED talks which present a fantastic opportunity to learn something new all the time (instead of watching crappy “reality” TV shows which are endemic in Australia – e.g. The Bachelor being certainly at the top of this list)!
The major highlight of the year is that we have actually achieved obtaining Permanent Residency (PR) in Australia. This is truly a definite administrative win as this gives us the right to stay in here indefinitely and entitled us to most Australian privileges such as independence, social services & security, healthcare and a clear path ahead to citizenship. This may not seem comprehensible if you never lived overseas (for long enough) but let me tell you that it is one big step. However, this hasn’t come without its struggles as the whole process has been quite frantically draining emotionally and financially!
Otherwise, last year we started to be seriously involved in the preparation of our wedding that will happen in April this year in Mexico. It will be a wonderful opportunity to catch up with family and friends and celebrate our love and our union. So far, the wedding venue has been selected and will be directly on the beach as we always wanted. Without a doubt, the wedding will be the big highlight of 2016!
What could be improved?
- Professionally, it has been an interesting year overall. Learned heaps with several rewarding challenges and also some frustrations with a general feeling of being overwhelm with the volume of work and some odd politics. I am really unsure how the next year is going to unfold with the new permanent position I have accepted. The new role present some interesting challenges in term of ICT portfolio management and coordination however it also involves a significant amount of on-going BAU activities and coordination which put you in that constant state of disruption and spinning around.
- It may sounds actually silly but although we have a very good circle of friends here, I have found difficult this year to keep enjoying things we like to do. For example, traveling, visiting and discovering new places and keeping a good variety of activities. Too many weekends were spent doing good old Aussie BBQ (birthday, etc)!! It is becoming a little too repetitive so this year we need some more originality and perhaps do more things on our own!
- Having been raised in an North-American culture, I find that it is important to be dependable, on-time and being able to communicate information clearly. Being also often on the go, busy and with many goals in mind, I have learn over the years to be efficient with time management. Without wanting to offend anyone of course, this is unfortunately not something that everyone is able to do naturally. Perhaps a subtle shifts in perception would help concentrating on the positive side of things and avoid getting irritated when things are not happening the way I would like them to (e.g. fast!)… this won’t be easy!
Some lesson learned:
- Never give hope, good things will happen with focus and perseverance, sometime when you don’t expect them! (earning PR while in New-Z for example!).
- 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.
- 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!).
General goals – 2016:
Here are the three main goals and objectives for 2016.
- Stability – make way for the future
- Getting Married (April 2016)
- Apply for Citizenship
- Make a long term investment (investment property?)
- Reduce my overall carbon footprint
- Help steer global change
- Strong focus on healthy and well-being – physically and mentally
- Continue to challenge myself physically.
- Continue to challenge myself intellectually.
- Maintain a strong focus on health prevention
- Allow more time for small moment to wind up and chill out, breath.
- Continue to challenge myself physically.
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.
- Completed my certification Certified Business Analyst Professional™;
- Completed 3 courses online via Coursera, an online MOOC platform with courses from University from all over the world. 2 courses were in Spanish!
- Listened to over 80 TED Talks;
- Completed over 70% of exercises in Spanish using Duo Lingo;
- Reading one or two other books on sustainability, business or politics.
- Al Gore – Assault on Reason
- The 100$ Start-up by Chris Guillebeau (almost completed)
- Several papers on renewables and community shared solar.
- Complete webinars and keep on top of new Business Analyst material (BABOK3).
- Improve my skills in Spanish, embrace more opportunity to speak it and finish all exercises on DuoLingo
- Complete 3 more course on Coursera in Spanish!
- Listen to 100 additional TED Talks.
- Dance lesson (for the wedding)
- Reading one or two other books on sustainability, business or politics.
- Noemi Klein – This Change Everything
Until you retire or achieve financial independence or maybe live on a remote island (!), 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.
- Completed CBAP™ certification;
- Settled in my new role as a Senior BA with a new organisation and even a permanent position;
- Learned a lot at my new work place about energy infrastructure asset, engineering, metering, etc;
- Perhaps resuming the PRINCE2 certification. (Not achieved).
- Be ready for everything! Look for opportunity to develop in my new role or look for new opportunities or perhaps try starting my own business.
- Take every opportunity to develop further leadership and project/program management experience.
- Resuming the PRINCE2 certification.
- IIBA Babok V3.0 Webinars
Traveling is something we will ever cherish but unfortunately it was not a top priority in 2015. I have not visited a new country (Gabriela did) but still managed to discover a fair lot of new places in Australia and I can now say that I have visited every states in Australia. In 2016, we will be planning another extended trip most likely in South-East Asia. More weekends will also be on the agenda.
- Australia: South Australia – Adelaide (August 2015), Canberra (Jan 2015), Sydney (Jan 2015), visited Melbourne twice and Roma in central Queensland (for work in Feb 2015)!
- New-Zealand : South Island.
- Australia: Bundaberg, Lady Elliot Island / Lady Musgrave, Lake Erie Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
Money don’t buy happiness, this has been proven true many times. Still, almost everything in this world have an opportunity cost. 2015 has been pretty costly in term of organising our Wedding and obtaining our permanent residency. Strengthening our finance will continue to be one of the focus of this year for the wedding in Mexico in 2016 and probably to fund another big travel trip at the end of the year.
- Putting some savings aside for the wedding, permanent residency and next travel
- Looking into building financial independence (ex: long term appreciating asset – investment property, community solar project)
- Continue putting some savings aside for the wedding and the end of year travel plan
- Make a long term investment (ex: long term appreciating asset – investment property, community solar project)
Friends & Family:
Already close to three years elapse since I have been back home. I can’t deny that I am missing it a bit. I have been able to keep contact with some people and of course my close family, however I have lost contact with many others too, which is just the way of life. I am looking forward to met many for our wedding in Mexico this year. Otherwise, I think we have definitely strengthen our friend circle here in Brisbane which is really good. Lot of good people, dependable friends and always tons of activities. I am planning a visit to Canada in 2017. I haven’t succeeded in writing periodically on this blog as I intended too unfortunately.
- 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 (Failed!)
- Friend & Family reunion in Mexico for our wedding.
- Maintain my social network in Brisbane, however add more variety of activities.
- Kept a good contact with my closest friends and family through Skype.
Health & Lifestyle:
This year again, I have been really strong on this key aspect of my life. Reached few goals too. Completed few races, ran another half-marathon under 2 hours however and complete Tough Mudder which was honestly a great deal of fun. I am looking forward for a similar challenge in 2016.
- Completed another City2South (14.5km) in 1h10m24s and a half marathon (21km) under 2hours – 1h53min
- Completed 35 park run (5km every Saturday morning 7am)
- Did few trail running (10km at enoggera reservoir)
- Went regularly to the gym (3x times a week)
- Maintained strong and healthy lifestyle, ate organic as much as possible (financially!).
- Maintained my own (small) organic garden.
- Juicing 3 times a week (vegetables, fruits) – 3x a week has been proven difficult….
- Reach 50 Park runs.
- Complete few races (e.g. City2South)
- Complete Spartan Race and potentially Oxfam trail walker.
- Keep going to the gym at least 3 times a week.
- Keep eating as much organic as possible and maintain my own little organic garden.
- Juicing 1-2 times a week (vegetables, fruits)
- Complete a trail run every month
- Donated and supported Medecin sans Frontière.
- Organised 1 or 2 events for the Alumni club. (Planetarium)
- Volunteer for the South Bank Park Run. (Not achieved)
- Volunteer for the South Bank Park Run.
- Keep supporting Medecin sans Frontière
- Organised 1 event for the Alumni club
This has been an area of strong interest and focus for the last year and this will continue to be one for the next years. I have read countless papers, research and completed an online class on climate change given by the World Bank and became very interested in the topic. I have convinced more than ever that there is an urgent need for the world to transition to a low carbon economy and everybody has a responsibility in this transition by reducing your own footprint and engage globally by putting your money where it encourages such a transition.
- Learned more on the science of climate change.
- Completed a course by the World Bank on climate change and sustainability.
- 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 as much as possible local and organic
- Reduced our meat consumption
- Invested few hundreds dollars in energy efficiency and switched all lights to LED (ROI in less than 1 year!)
- Bough and maintained two small composting bins
- Switch to chemical free cleaning product (Not yet achieved)
- Continue learning more on climate change and how we can tackle the issue
- Become more engage and active to promote change
- Divest from fossil fuel
- Invest in Renewable Energy
- Continue cycling every day to work
- Reduce further my carbon footprint from last year result
- Switch to chemical free green cleaning product
When we look back at our lives, we don’t remember the times when everything went well and nothing was challenging. If you don’t have challenges in your life, maybe you should change your life!
Thanks for reading so far!