• 2016

    Most people can sum up a year in a few words. For me, 2016 was a really strange one. It started off (for a lack of a better word) crap. 
    I had a really tough situation at work that affected me really badly. It really tested how much I could take before I’d break. I carried a heaviness with me all the time and it meant that I lived for the weekend but ended up dreading the week ahead. I never really ever got a break.

    I think the thing that made all of this harder for me, is that I work with my sister (Samantha), who I actually work incredibly well with and really do love working with her. But the work situation was a direct attack on her and there is just no way I can separate myself as a professional with myself as the big sister. It put incredible strain on me – constantly fighting my natural protective instinct with being the professional. It made me feel ill and at times I felt completely helpless.

    In between all of this, I made a choice to be a bit selfish and have lasik eye surgery. It was the best thing I did for myself in 2016. It changed my quality of life – I had one weak eye that caused me to get serious headaches every day, gave me vertigo and wearing specs just made me miserable (I tried contact lenses but they just didn’t work for me). I think this was also a way of forcing myself to spend more time on myself and also allowed me to have a bit of a break from work.  But you know that as soon as you go back you are really sucked back into it all.
    By May I was emotionally all over the place. Fortunately  for me, there were changes in my working environment that empowered me to take control and when I look back on it, I am actually completely shocked by how quickly I was able to bounce back. That one “small” change made the world of difference. Having control over a big piece of my everyday life gave me a renewed sense of energy in my work (although that later on proved to be very short lived). I went from hating my work to finally feeling like I could make a difference. I finally had the chance to do the things I wanted to do since joining the client and I was also through this to improve things for Samantha.

    At the time of this transition though, I wasn’t able to take leave, which meant that I missed out on a trip to Spain with JP (who went to compete in the CrossFit Meridian Regional Games again). That really knocked me, I was so resentful of my work and also just so sad that I couldn’t go with. I hadn’t ever traveled overseas until 2015 and my longing to travel is very strong, so being forced to stay was actually quite devastating. So that brings me up to June…the first half of the year was draining.

    During the months of June and July, I put a lot of energy into my work (I am very career driven so I spend a lot of my time trying to improve my abilities). Once I was able to settle my team at work, I found that my work environment became this really rich playground. I tested out everything I could and made significant changes in the way things are done. Changes that (fortunately) proved to be very valuable. I felt so happy and proud of what I had achieved within a matter of a couple of months. 

    I am naturally very hard on myself and what is very sad about this is that those moments of celebration are short lived. I tend to re-examine things and questioned if I would have had the same outcome if my environment had not undergone the change earlier that year. Now I know that is unfair and if someone came to me with this same story I would want to smack them – you can’t live your life based on the “what-ifs” and you should never sell yourself short. This is where I got one of my biggest lessons from 2016 - Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements else you never get that sense of fulfillment.
    In August I had this moment where I just needed to get away from everything, I was fortunate that I had booked a trip to Kolkol Mountain Retreat to celebrate JP’s birthday – it was exactly what I needed. I needed an escape to clear my mind and reset. We weren’t gone for too long but that time really helped me think about what I want as Charlene, not as the Lead Business Analyst on the team. The work I do sometimes tends to define who I am, it affects my personality and actually consumes me. When I set my mind to doing something, it becomes me.  I don’t think that it is necessarily healthy so I stepped back a bit. I focused less on control leading into September and trusted my team more. This was not easy, for a few months I had to have my finger on everything and to suddenly delegate work – it was scary. But I am glad I was brave enough to do that.  I think what did make it easier, is that Samantha works with me. The trust is already there with her so I had one less person to worry about. I know she is good at what she does, and in many ways, she has natural strengths that I don’t have. So with the right guidance she’ll be way better than me one day – that makes me a very proud big sister.

    Being freed up a bit helped me look at what I needed and wanted and that was a trip away with JP. For our wedding anniversary, we always try to go away for a few days. In 2016 though, we decided to splurge on a trip overseas. It was an impulse decision, one Sunday afternoon we just decided we were going to travel overseas, we had a quick look at our savings and then JP told me to pick the place. I don’t know why, but I chose Amsterdam. People thought it was a strange choice, but it popped into my head and that is where we headed. I loved the time there, it was 9 days of complete bliss. Whenever we go away, it always feels like JP and I are in our own little world – it is times like these that I absolutely love. Experiencing new things with the person I love.
    Things quietened down a bit for me at my client (the normal pre-holidays quiet time) and that lead me to look at things that would make me happier about the work that I was doing. I am in a space now where I want to take control of what I do and where I choose to spend my energy.  I really do enjoy the work that I do, but it has a habit of picking you and defining how you are going to work. I started turning the table on that in 2016 and in 2017 I want to make sure that I am able to be more innovative and creative. I want to work more with the people starting out their careers, help them grow and achieve their goals – I mentor people already but will now start doing some line management.  I don’t consider myself to be an expert in what I do, but through my years of work, I have learned a lot of unconventional ways of doing things, things that aren’t the “textbook” ways of doing things – this is what I like sharing with others. Challenging their natural reaction to do something a certain way simply because that is what they were told to do. When it comes to work many people think you have to live and do things by the book. I will never dispute the benefits of learning through books or institutions, but I don’t think they should necessarily govern the way that you work. I feel really excited about doing things differently and helping others with their career path.

    I ended off 2016 surrounded by the people I love. I spent a lot of time at home with my family and also worked on making my home more homely. I am spending more time on me – working out again, it was something I used to do a lot of but when you have to choose between working out or resting after crazy working hours, you choose the rest. So I am back into just being more active, I am by no means an extremist when it comes to exercise, I do it for a  bit of stress relief and because it helps me feel stronger. When I feel stronger I am more confident in myself.  I really indulged in Christmas this year (if you follow me on social media you would have seen all my Christmas décor, decorations, mugs, pajamas, slippers….I could go on and on).  I love the time of the year and in 2016 I really made it a priority.  It was wonderful – one of the best I have had in years.
    2016 was a tough year, with lots of downs and also many really good ups. It turned out to be a good year for me despite the turbulent start. I was put through quite a bit but also achieved a lot. I feel like myself again and I am going to really try my best to keep a good balance between the things I want in my personal life and work.I have been so fortunate that JP is very supportive of me and is always there for me. I love that I get to share my life with him. I also come from a very close family, my parents and sister are always a big part of my life - having this support structure was so important this year.

    Goals for 2017:
    1. Work through the “to-do” list we have for home improvements. We started this already and I want to make my home more homely. We have a lot that needs to be done but never really find the time to do it. Last year we kicked things off, this year it needs to be completed.
    2. Obtain my Certified Business Analyst Professional certification (that is my professional goal). This is a similar to how accountants have their Chartered Accountant certification. Professionally it enables further career growth but personally, it proves to myself that I know what I am doing (this is because I am so hard on myself – this will help me have something physical to look at when I have my bad moments).
    3. Travel overseas – on our list so far is either Maldives or Iceland (although Iceland might be a stretch with the amount of leave we have in a year). We’ve done Europe twice so we want a bit of a different holiday. I am however open to suggestions – so let me know if you’ve been somewhere amazing. I really also want to go to Machu Picchu but not sure if we’ll do that in 2017.
    4. Do more weekends away or weekend exploring. The point with this is to “escape” a bit more regularly. I love exploring places even if they are only 5 minutes down the road from me. JP and I tried to do this in 2016 and we were okay at it, but then months went by where we just didn’t really do as much. I really want 2017 to be different.


    1. I LOVE your goals for 2017!
      Making your house a home is such a lovely goal because you get so much personal satisfaction coming home to a lovely place at the end of every day (or after a weekend away!)

      I hope you have amazing travels this year - literally and personally - and the most incredible year yet!

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