Updated: Jun 8, 2019
As part of an annual tradition since 2012/2013, I've been doing yearly reflections on the year that has passed, and plans/areas of focus for the years to come. This comes a little late for the new year, but I'll argue that it's still my birth month and that the year starts in February. :P
Admittedly, I've usually lacked the systems that folks like James Clear or Cal Newport might advocate for. However, I find that no matter how you do it or what you do with it, just having this thing to look at after a year (or throughout the year) is helpful in either giving yourself a pat on the back or keeping yourself more or less on track.
This is more of a personal post for me, rather than a post to share thoughts or insights on sustainability or empathy, but perhaps reading this will inspire you to find a practice of your own, or find alignment with me in some of the things I have done or wish to pursue.
In my rather emo 2017/2018 review/preview, I set out a few goals for myself, which I intentionally left un-"SMART" publicly due to fear of falling short (heh). However, in our Auditing / Corporate Environmental Strategy planning classes, I'd agreed with some of my classmates, admiring companies more when they publicly declared their specific, measurable goals and fell short (versus just having ultra-vague goals/strategies/policies or mission-vision statements), then communicated how they fell short and what they could do to better meet their goals in the following year. I've learned though, that more than declaring goals, it's even more important to be able to identify the ways in which to get there (mental note to self for future planning).
So anyway, what were the goals I set for myself in 2018?
Make more moneyyy (LOL how materialistic of me? This was really coming from a place of putting in years of work into Muni, generally having a bad relationship with money, and feeling "dirty" about taking money for things I felt I needed to do to contribute to the betterment of the world. I later realized I was no Mother Teresa, and this sort of thinking can only get you so far without suffering from service fatigue.)
Be a badass* swimmer (*I just wanted to be brave enough to swim in open water without any flotation devices or support. This was a slow progression since 2012/2013 of becoming braver and braver in the element [water, in case it need be specified] that I have the greatest affinity for.)
Take up masters in environmental / social psychology (I wanted to become more "rigid" in my understanding and analysis of human behavior in relation to sustainability / sustainable development issues; also wanted to have less impostor syndrome in talking about the things we want to talk about in Muni. In hindsight, impostor syndrome is not something you get rid of just by earning a degree.)
Empower others to carry the Muni mission forward (be it in the team, or others in the community by creating better structures/systems to allow people to get involved.)
Come out of my shell / step into the light more (part of me getting rid of my impostor syndrome, owning my interests, skills and strengths through this website, and moving away from my old alias / pseudonym "Nomad Manager".)
...aaand how did I do?
Make more moneyyy (I succeeded almost accidentally in this regard, and it looks like all the years of cultivating Muni's brand and partnerships/relationships finally paid off. Friends working in corporate jobs would still have made more money at the end of the year, no doubt; and that's perfectly okay. However, this showed me that while I'm not looking to get rich through Muni or the work I do on an individual level, there is inherent value in what I do, and shouldn't be ashamed to ask to be compensated properly. We need money to live decently, not in luxury; and there should be enough money for me to make for myself through meaningful, rewarding, soul-enhancing work.)
Be a badass* swimmer (Did not just 1 but 2 open water swims! Could be faster than my ~2:40/100m pace, but I'm at peace with that. I let my swimming practice go in my first few months in the UK, but I've picked it up again. And while I'm no longer swimming the same distances or pushing myself too much at all, I just feel the benefits of: 1) exercise, and 2) just being in the water, and those are benefits in themselves.)
Take up masters in environmental / social psychology (I didn't wind up taking my masters in psychology but I am taking my masters in sustainable development. Though I had been eyeing Environmental Psychology for a while, I also thought I might not get a Chevening scholarship to study in the UK, so I figured I could also just study social psychology in the Philippines. Fortunately, second time's a charm and I did get the Chevening award this time. However, with my proclivity towards being somewhat of a generalist (i.e. somewhat non-committal nature), and also more recent engagements with corporations, I decided to bench my environmental psychologist ambitions in favor of Sustainable Development. I felt it was more impactful in my current context and still had a bit of an overlap with Environmental Psychology.)
Empower others to carry the Muni mission forward (We carried out our Muni Meetups strongly and consistently throughout most of 2018, with favorable comments from attendees who chose to give us feedback. In that sense, I succeeded. Because of my Chevening scholarship, I was also spurred to release the control reigns a bit more and allow others from the core team to take more of a lead. I am not certain with how successful I was at this. Probably not very successful. While Muni worked for a while, and the team was able to carry out engagements I had set up before leaving, along with a few they had set up themselves, I feel that I was unable to equip and empower them as much as was actually needed, and that perhaps we were all too optimistic about what could be feasibly managed without a dedicated full-time person behind Muni.)
Come out of my shell / step into the light more (Still need to work on this and truly finding my "voice", what to say and where to say it. I started with the surface transition of changing my personal domain and social media handles to carry my actual name, but apart from that, and a couple of bad vlogs, which have since been deleted, I've only really started to come out of my shell a bit more at the end of 2018 with some blog posts. And that's okay for now. I just need to keep it up.)
So, what's next in 2019?
Be more intentional. This is something I aspire for every year, but I want to place more of a focus on this in the year ahead. I want to be more purposeful with the things I involve myself in, how I spend my time, who I spend it with (or without), and what I create for myself and others. I need to revisit "Marie Kondo-ing" my life and not just my physical space (though that is rewarding too). We live in an age of attention economy - our attention is a scarce resource, and I want to make sure that I devote my scarce resources to the best possible use or to that which is truly essential; and that I too create meaningful reasons for others to devote some of their scarce resources on me / my work.
Build courage to create more, "ship" more. Again, this is another thing I've often told myself, but always hindered myself from doing because of my insecurities and fear of judgment. Luckily, I've actually found myself writing more. Still not as much as I'd like, but it's a start. I just need to make room for more courage and self-compassion. I'm hoping to devote the year to content creation, especially as I have more freedom from the administrative / logistical coordination required of me when I was back home running events. One needs the space to think and hear one's own thoughts.
Develop atomic habits, deep work, and digital minimalism. I believe it's no accident that I've been thinking these thoughts and then purchased and devoured James Clear and Cal Newport's writing early in the year. More than setting goals of the number of things I wish to accomplish by the end of the year, I'm committed to finding the right systems that will enable me to create things that matter, and in turn help me accomplish #1 and #2. So far, so good in terms of the fitness side of atomic habits, and replacing digital hobbies with more analog pursuits; but finding my "flow" (as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) still needs more work. Perhaps part of that will include me writing articles about this journey of more solitary rumination vs. constant connection, in a feeble attempt to channel Thoreau's Walden.
Focus on myself in the here and now. I think more than the "coming out of my shell" / "stepping into the light" goal that I had set for myself before, it's more about focusing on individual self a bit more. This does not imply more selfies or an attempt at a vlog that I would really prefer not to do. Instead, this is more about a pursuit or rediscovery of that which brings me joy (it seems I had forgotten for a while), and finding peace and satisfaction in my own company. Some people may assume that I might miss friends and family and the life I was accustomed to, now that I'm away. Either that, or I might not miss them because I may have found my own community / friends / lover(s) - wow - or some other bright and shiny preoccupation (i.e. distraction) that replaced the void their absence may have created in my life. Truth is, I do feel the dépaysement, and it is neither good nor bad. It just is. When I'm walking to the sports park, biking along the river, or sitting by the lakeside, I think not of the people I wish were with me. I am just there, with myself, appreciating where I am at that moment. In terms of my future pursuits, they will not be hinged on that which has happened in my past, but they will be the result of the energy I expend day-to-day. So, where I direct that energy will be vital: learning, reflecting, and creating.