2014 Annual Review: What Did/Didn’t Go Well & Lessons Learned

Hey everyone!

Apologies for the delay in writing this. I spent the last two weeks island-hopping in a remote corner of the Philippines swimming and hanging out on beautiful beaches. (No apologies for that) The trip really cemented my need for goal planning and learning more about myself this year. This post will once again, be fairly long (and somewhat personal- although I will take some of the most personal things out). This is in an effort to encourage you to take the time to things these things through. I did! On airplanes, buses, boats and beaches.

As noted in my previous post, I am mainly answering two questions:

  • What went well this year?
  • What did not go well this year?

I divided my thinking into a few categories but I will lump them into the previous questions for the purpose of this post:

  • Relationships
  • Work & Professional Development
  • Service
  • Health & Spirit (My Body, My Soul)
  • Finance
  • Passion Projects
  • Travel


What Went Well This Year?

This list includes things that I am proud of and things that made me happy. Don’t worry, there are lots of things that didn’t go well in the next section.

  • Travel: I traveled to some very interesting places this year, including: the Andaman Islands off the coast of India, Kerala, saw incredible icebergs in Twillingate, Newfoundland, drove to Awash NP and the walled city of Harar in Ethiopia, and finally did an adventure in remote Philippines.
  • Finances: I paid off all my credit card debt, established automatic system for student loan repayment and savings every month, rented out our house so we are able to pay off our renovations.
  • Passion Projects: I identified many projects that I want to pursue, I organized a sustainable/organic clothing project that went out to hundreds of people across the world in the UWC movement, I created a Photography Page on Facebook, created a planner and distributed it online to friends and generally started to invest some more time in the things that I really care about.
  • Work & Professional Development: I transitioned to a new position in international development with many more management responsibilities and an organisation I care about. I established a good cross platform brand, picked up a few new skills (website design, calendaring managing others) and started consulting for a new social enterprise.
  • Service: I started using photography as a way of giving back, identified organisations that I really care about and want to invest time and money into, I started donating monthly and work as part of a service oriented organisation.
  • Relationships: Made strong new friendships, saw lots of friends in the various places that I ended up traveling and am making a long distance relationship work (rather well) with my husband.
  • Spirituality and Health: I started writing a lot more (this blog is an example), I do yoga at least weekly, started reading a lot more about my health conditions and diet requirements, learned to understand my depression spells and how to counter them.


What didn’t Go Well This Year?

I have a lot more for this question and will share a few but not all of them with you (some are fairly personal and/or affect other people than just myself).

  • In general, most of my issues surround starting something but not being able to sustain the energy levels for a long period of time or not giving it the attention it requires.
  • I didn’t practice enough gratitude, spend time giving back to the people around me (time is worth more than money) or say thank you to the people who make my life a lot easier.
  • I did not finish my master’s thesis. This is a big one. I really, really need to start and finish this in the next few months because otherwise, I will have to pay a fairly substantial amount for another term. But also because it is affecting my relationships with myself (self esteem), with my amazing supervisors who have shown extreme amounts of patience with me and with my husband (who just wants me to be done already).
  • I don’t go out of my comfort zone enough in making new friends, or trying out new things.
  • In the same vein of the point above, although I have some fairly interesting and easy projects in my head, I am scared of actually reaching the point where I have developed them enough to share them online.
  • On the financial front, I am still unsure about where I spend most of my money and I’m certainly not putting away enough or planning a short and medium term savings in order to do the things I want to do (like go on amazing once in a lifetime vacations).


Lessons Learned:

Commitment requires resilience and sustenance. You can’t commit to something and then not follow through. Whether to yourself or others. That means commitment requires honesty in terms of your abilities, your time, your health and your interest.

Life requires a series of plunges. I am pretty good at taking the plunge in drastic cases, for example, changing jobs and moving countries. But I am not as good in taking the plunge on day-to-day decisions. For example, if given the chance to experience a new festival where I might be a little uncomfortable or to stay home and relax, I often will relax at home. That usually results in me missing out on some great times.

Your Health really is your wealth. I have a thyroid disorder which I have ignored for many years to my peril. I found out this year that hypothyroidism is linked to depression which I have struggled with, weight gain/loss, extreme fatigue and many of the other symptoms I have been dealing with other the years. This year, I plan on taking my health extremely seriously to re-address these issues and feel better about my body and my future.

Relationships are crucial. This year would have been a gazillion times harder if not for my husband and my friends. They support me through thick and thin and I know I can count on them. I am so grateful for that and need to really invest the time and energy to ensure they know this.

Practicing Gratitude by Giving Back should be the backbone of society. Imagine if everyone gave back to someone else this year. I need to stop focusing on the bleak and rather think about all the wonderful things in my life and give back to those in my society whose lives I can change.


In my next post, I will be spelling out all my goals for 2015! Exciting stuff! Stay tuned.

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