2015 Year in Review: My First Annual Letter
Each year, companies write letters to their shareholders letting them know how they did and what to expect in the year to come. I’ve decided to adopt a similar policy myself. I got inspiration to do one of these after reading one of my favorite blogs and seeing some others who I respect do something similar. I thought it would be great to detail some of the successes and failures and come up with some tangible goals for the year. I am already looking forward to next December to see how I did!
2015 was a big year for me. I graduated from business school, decided to return to my company, moved to a new state (and coast) and attended my five year college reunion. Without humblebragging too much it probably was one of my best years yet.
Celebrating one last time after graduating
I wish I could say I had a lot to do with this but the reality of it is that it takes a village and without the village of friends, family and colleagues I would not be where I am. I wish I could say I did something different, or had a magic formula for success, but honestly, a lot of success came from showing up every day, working hard, getting some breaks, being persistent, and trying to stay true to my core values and beliefs.
While I had many successes, I certainly had my moments when I failed and fell short. This is natural, and something that I need to be more comfortable with (More on that later) But with that in mind, let’s take a look at what happened in 2015.
Family photo after getting my diploma
Graduated from Business School – One of the obvious accomplishments for the year was graduating from business school back in May. Going to business school has been a goal of mine since I was little when I learned from my parents that education was the platform for them to achieve their own personal and professional goals. This goal felt extra special to me, as both my parents are proud holders of MBAs themselves, so it was extra meaningful to have them there to celebrate this accomplishment, as none of this would have been possible without them. What was even more humbling was to be awarded with the Class Leadership Award. I participated in a number of fantastic leadership opportunities while in business school and in addition to learning a great deal I developed some pretty special friendships. To be recognized for the work that I did and the impact I made was humbling and icing on the cake.
Returned to Consulting – I went into business school with the intention of reflecting on what I had done in my career and understanding where I wanted to go long-term. My next step brought me back to where I started, or well, close to it. I decided to return to consulting, and feel fortunate to be back with a good company. I got even luckier to return to working with some former colleagues who I like and respect, personally and professionally. I’m closer to figuring out the impact I want to have on this world and learning more about what that might look like for my career and jobs of the future, but for now, returning to the firm and consulting was the right career choice.
BC Reunion 2015
Celebrated my 5-Year College Reunion – I celebrated my 5 year reunion by at the end of May. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my Alma Mater Boston College so getting the chance to return and see some friends who I have seen since graduating ones that I haven’t was super exciting and memorable. I feel like I’ve said this many times, but I thought I couldn’t love BC more than I did and yet again I was proven wrong.
Move to the West Coast – I spent the Summer of 2014 in San Francisco, and had such a great time I decided to move there in June. While I miss the east coast, I’ve really enjoying living here so far. I’m not sure how long I’ll be out here, but I’m liking it for now. And if you’re ever in the area, hit me up!
Always great to have visitors!
Served in a Wedding – In addition to having close friends get engaged (James/Carrie) and celebrating marriages ( Jeff/Katie) I had the privilege of seeing one of my closest friends Charlie get married, and an even greater privilege as serving as his best man. In addition to helping plan a pretty fun bachelor party, I’ve been told I handled my best man duties well, as I did a solid job in my best man speech and provided adequate to above average moves on the dance floor.
Congrats Chuck and Kel!
Started writing regularly – I’ve blogged, written, and published in fits and starts in the past, but could never find the momentum to do it regularly. 2015 was the year I finally got momentum. A lot of this came on MBASchooled, the blog I started, but I also wrote on a number of other venues. I can’t claim to be a great writer just yet, but I’m pleased that I finally got over a big hump.
Kept my Resolutions – I set some resolutions in 2015 and I did a good job of checking a number of them off the list – I took salsa classes, learned how to cook a few more dishes, started writing regularly, started doing yoga, visited a few of my close friends, and read 12 books. Not too bad!
Traveled the World – Business School gave me a great opportunity to catch the travel bug. In addition to seeing my friends and family all across the United States I got to South America for the first time (Chile and Peru) and made it back to Europe (Italy and France.) In the US, I made it to Austin (first time) and saw some old favorites (Boston, NYC, Los Angeles, and Seattle.)
Found an apartment..in San Francisco! – If you live in the Bay Area you will appreciate the gravity of this!
Helping Out in the Career Search – By my own metrics, I believe I was able to respond to > 95% of the requests I got for career advice. If I missed you, I’m sorry! Shoot me a note and I’ll try again!
Sleep (or lack thereof) – I’ve never been a great sleeper but in 2015 somehow I managed to get worse. I’m not sure if it was too much coffee, too much screen time before bed, or just other bad habits, but it’s something I need to work on for the future.
Not getting out of my comfort zone – I pride myself on setting goals and achieving them, and sometimes I optimize for achieving goals instead of stretching myself or learning. I think I was challenged in 2015, but I don’t think I put myself in enough positions where I was really pushing myself outside of something I was capable/comfortable with.
Too much thinking – I pride myself on being thoughtful and practicing due diligence, but I have a tendency to overthink things before, during, and after they happen. A number of decisions I made I felt like I spent way too much time and effort on given the output or outcome. Furthermore, I think I stressed or got anxiety thinking about a number of things that either A) didn’t matter B) I had 0 control over.
Marathon Cut Short – I was training for the Chicago marathon and got pretty far into the process (20 miles) before getting injured and bowing out. This was a disappointing experience but ultimately the right decision as running would have been an awful (and painful) experience. I’m going to run a marathon eventually, it just wasn’t in 2015.
What I Learned
Doing nothing can be amazing – On a number of occasions, I found myself with significant amounts of down time in 2015. I’m someone who thrives off of a schedule and activities and in these situations I was uncomfortable at first with the thought of doing nothing. Well, I survived those times, and actually, it was pretty awesome. Sometimes, the doing nothing means everything. Sure, I still thrive off the schedule, and at the end of a long break I do get a little restless but I think I finally enjoyed to enjoy the solace of peace and quiet.
Taking care of yourself is important – I turned 28 in December and by no means am I old. Having said that, I’m starting to see signs of aging. My back has taken a toll from sitting at a computer all day and I was training for a marathon and got injured and had to stop. None of these are life threatening setbacks, but I’ve learned the importance of taking care of yourself so you can enjoy life as much as possible.
Time is precious – Unfortunately, I lost my Aunt Joyce in late 2015, and had a number of friends who also lost loved ones. Death has and always will be present, but this year it hit closer to home than ever before. As trite as it sounds, its important to cherish and value the time and experiences you have with others. People don’t last forever, but the gratitude and appreciation you have for them can.
The Secret of Your 20’s – During business school, some of my more experienced and mature classmates “envied” me because I didn’t have things in my life that tied me down, and was able to make decisions based on what I wanted to do. Many of them had spouses, pets, children, mortgages, etc that they had to weigh, which often made the decision making process more complex. Through my many conversations with my classmates, I began to feel grateful and aware of how much autonomy and agency I had at this point in my life.
Conversely, I have friends, either from BC, or who I grew up with who are my age but are at similar stages of life to my business school classmates – married, getting puppies, thinking about kids, saving for a house, and at times, I felt uneasy thinking of “how far behind” I was than most of my peers, and I began to put inherent pressure on myself to “catch up.”
Your 20’s is an interesting time because for the first time you don’t have a marker or pacesetter (ex: Sophomore Year, Junior Year, Senior Year) that governs progress for you and your peers. As such, people kind of evolve and move at their own pace, and when you look to the right and left it can be easy to get overwhelmed because you automatically think you are behind if you are not moving as fast as other people. In reality, there’s much to be enjoyed at all stages of life, and there is no better time to enjoy it but the present. Sure, I want many of the things that my friends who are farther along in their journey have, and probably yearn for things that some of my younger friends have, but focusing too much on what’s behind or what’s ahead will cloud your view to see the goodness that’s right in front of you.
Beach Week 2015!
Goals for 2016
Personal Projects – I have a couple personal projects that I’ve had on the back burner for many years and I think it’s time that I take them front in center in 2016. To start, I’m working on developing some content around career development for 20-somethings that I not only will share digitally but also hope to present in a public setting. I’ve started and shelved some of these projects multiple times over the past 5-6 years but I’ve got good momentum and progress even though I’m barely a week into the New Year so I am excited about seeing them to fruition.
Building New Relationships – For the past two years, I’ve had the benefit of being in business school and surrounded by 560 people who all have something in common with me. As such, it was convenient to build relationships. One of the biggest secrets of being a post-grad 20 something is that it is hard and takes work to build relationships when you’re out of a college or grad school setting. I love my friends, both in San Francisco and outside of it and hope to see and stay in touch with them but I also know there are lots of great people out there who I probably have something in common with too. So, in addition to maintaining great relationships with existing friends, in 2016 I hope to build new relationships with new people.
Sleeping better – I’ve never been a great sleeper and I’ve honestly never tried to get better at it. I’m starting to realize the impact of poor sleep (read here) and I want to make this a goal for 2015. To help, I’ve already made some adjustments – starting in late 2015 I began keeping my work phone out of my bedroom at night. I just moved to keeping my personal phone out of the bedroom as well and relying on an alarm clock (can you believe it?) I’m going to try turn keep off the phone earlier in the evening so I can unclutter my mind and prevent distractions or mindless phone checking. My lone exception will be the Kindle Reader, so if I want to read before bed I can still do that.
Falling on my face – As I said earlier, one of my failures for 2015 was not failing enough. I know that some of the best growing and learning opportunities came when I was uncomfortable or was extremely challenged. I still want to look for opportunities to leverage my strengths, but I want to continue on exponential growth, and I know I need to fail in order to get that.
More Doing, Less Thinking – I’m all for being thoughtful and using rationale and patience to make decisions but at times I can be overly analytical and suffer paralysis by analysis. I want to focus on just jumping in on certain decisions instead of trying to think and play out every single scenario. Also, doing does not mean that I can’t think. In fact, doing and taking action will give me an opportunity to eventually evaluate what I decided to do.
Less Technology – I’m all for technology, and I love using it. However, I’ve realized I’m too reliant on it, especially my smartphone. I’m trying to check my phone less often throughout the course of the day. As mentioned above, I’m shutting it off earlier in the evening. Finally, I’m trying to find more activities I can do that don’t require me to be in front of a computer.
West Coast Best Coast? – Is the west coast the best coast? Well, I’d love to find out. I’m going to try to get to a couple places on the west coast for vacation this year to find out if what they say is true!
2015 was a great year, and a fun year. I’m proud of what I have accomplished and grateful for the love, support, and people that are in my life. I am excited about what’s in store for 2016 and look forward to making these goals happen!