My 2019

Doing a year review is always tough because chances are you won’t remember the things that happened way back in January.

Unless it is me winning Toto first prize but that’s another thing.

It would be great if there is an app where I can do my daily journaling and end of the year, it could spit out a Year in Review.

Something like what Facebook does but I barely spent time there now.

Having said that, my daily 5-min journaling habit is still on track. This is something I started back in 2016 and I do it through this app. The $4.99 price tag is well worth it. And you gotta love their tagline: toothbrush for your mind.

I got my two older kids to start doing it but through a bright yellow journal that is purpose-built just for this reason.

2019 marks the year when I turned 40. I don’t feel 40 but my IC says otherwise.

Maintenance (on the body and mind) is really important. Besides meditating every weekday of 20 minutes before work, I have been working out almost every day.

Having good fitness for the Sunday football game was the key reason but a reason hip injury has stopped me from playing for close to three months.

So my daily bodyweight exercise is mainly therapeutic, somewhat physiotherapy for me to hasten my recovery.

As always, there is an app for that and I’m using the free Nike+ Training App. The picture of Cristiano Ronaldo in one of the exercise caught my eye although I haven’t started any of his exercises.

As the saying goes, health is the best form of wealth. My body feels like a millionaire. Now to work on my bank account.

Other highlights in 2019:

  • Blog traffic went up by 30% although I must admit my output hasn’t been ideal by my standards. Many of the content are guest posts, some sponsored postings and press releases. I haven’t had much chance (or time) to write an opinion piece. I hope to do more of that in 2020 and perhaps exploring writing on other genres which matter to me.

  • Named one of the 60+ Top Global Influencers in HR Tech of 2019 by AIHR. This came as a surprise as I never heard of them before. Which tells you how local I am versus the global tag they graciously bestowed upon me. Still, these aren’t things you decline but instead, add to your resume.
The social media sidebar is so intrusive
  • Almost one year into my new job at PeopleStrong. Which also gave me the chance to work out of WeWork. The job has transformed a fair bit but now I am spending more time doing what I enjoy – which is marketing. Not just in Singapore but also to provide support for Thailand and a couple more countries to come. That also allowed me to travel regionally and I was in Manila for the first time a few months ago. It will be another interesting 2020 for the business.

  • I quit smoking. It is almost a year now but I haven’t looked back. Although I was tempted to try a JUUL when I saw one in Manila. Fortunately for me, they don’t do samples. For those who are keen to learn how I do (I tried quitting multiple times but always returned), a trip to New Delhi make it possible. New Delhi has very bad air pollution and on that occasion, the PSI was about 300+. I was craving for fresh air and questioned myself why I even smoke. There go my last cigarette.

  • Witnessed the historical moment in Hong Kong. And I got tear-gassed because we were wannabe frontline reporters. Since then, there have been many schools of thoughts about the protests, the response by the police and the black-or-white comments on social media. I always feel that people should not judge unless you pay their bills. What astonished me more is how binary people are thinking nowadays. And some of these are really well-established people/thought-leaders/former ambassadors/etc. It is either you are with me, or you are against me. There is no ground in between. I learned two things – one, just because one is a household name doesn’t mean that a person can think. Stupid people can also succeed in the facet of life. Two – the most important skill that will surpass critical thinking is an open mind. Critical thinking can lead you to a strong opinion and position on a subject (E.g. Critical Spectator) but an open mind is what is necessary for you to finally realised that the Earth is round and not flat.

  • Did about 4 moderating events and I’m beginning to get the hang of it. Of course, everything comes with practice. I was shaking so badly during my first ever public speaking engagement but now I could easily give one Ted talk style without cue cards or powerpoint. Which also make me cringe a lot (I try not to show) when I come across very bad/poorly prepared moderator. My tip to those that are keen to try – don’t create your own questions. Before the event, ask the panellists what they want to say. Reverse engineer their answers into questions and chain those questions together so it seems natural and sequential.

  • First road trip in Thailand – We rented a car from Hertz and drove from Bangkok to Khao Yai, a 2.5 hours trip. I was nervous at first but the drive was easier than in my own car driving in Malaysia. Traffic was good most of the time although Khao Yai is way over-rated. Don’t trust what you see on Influencers’ IG face. If the place is truly good, you don’t need to hear from hired guns.
View from our hotel in Khao Yai
  • Kingsley (my third kid) graduated from preschool and will head into P1 next year. From $300 a month to $6.50 a month in fees, it is hard not to be ecstatic! 2 more years before Kyra (my fourth) goes into P1.

  • I wrote 5 commentaries for ChannelNewsAsia in 2019, bringing the total number to 9 since I first started. These are all careers related, precedence that was taken from the very first article. It all began when the Executive Editor reaches out to me via LinkedIn and the rest is history. I really enjoy writing for them as helping an individual always feel much more satisfying than helping a faceless corporation. Plus I learned so much from the brutal feedback from the editing team. For anyone that thinks I can write well, the truth is the editing work made that possible.

  • I started writing a book just for my kids. Can’t really remember what got me started but I guess a portion of it comes from the fact that my father passed away when I was only 14 years old. If I’m also short-lived, hopefully, my kids can learn more about me through my writing. The challenge is there isn’t a book editor to breathe down my neck. I aim to write an hour every Saturday when my kids are in art class but something other stuff happens and I skip that week. And it isn’t easy to write. Tears were streaming from my eyes when I was writing about my secondary school days. I thought I’m one of those that are immune to childhood issues. It appears no one is. But it was a good crying session (although I was pretty embarrassed in their art classes with other parents around me). I always feel crying is a good outlet for closure. Maybe that was what I need to move on.
Chapters in my book
  • Talking about books, I read 27 books this year. Same number as I did the year before. During the early part of the year, I tried to optimise by doing audiobooks but the retention is so poor. I will stick with reading. Also, I am much less patient with books now. Some appear to be going nowhere, some are 10 chapters too long and a few just didn’t go through the editing process. Besides learning, I also want to enjoy the reading process otherwise I would be reading a textbook. So far, real-life events/stories appeal are my page-turners.
Still half-way through Super Pumped. If I ever run my own business again, it would be because of the inspiration from Sir Richard Branson. What a life!
  • My podcasts collection has also grown out of hand. Too many episodes but too little time. I used to listen while I work but I absorbed nothing. My collection still requires trimming but I still yearn for some form of entertainment otherwise it is like listening to your lecturer drone on and on. I would highly recommend Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris, LongKangKitties and The Jordan Harbinger Show.

Looking into 2020

The picture above says it all about new year resolution – it almost never happen.

It also reminds me of what author James Clear shared:

Lofty goals are good aesthetic and may drive likes for your Instagram but that’s about it. Focusing on the baby steps (that would ultimately accumulate to your lofty goals) make more sense.

I do this by calendaring everything, including my weekday meditation practice.

One thing I would do is to chronicle my small steps to optimise my day, personally and professionally since both are intertwined.

I am definitely not at Dalai Lama stage in juggling all the things in my life but I am certain my inner peace is 10x better than 5 years ago.

If it works for me, it might for you too.

Have a wonderful 2020.

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