Can I just come out and say it? This year has personally been A LOT.
Collectively, my team has achieved so much at work. Here’s a smattering:
- Concluded a venture sprint for a new product that we are incubating in January.
- Launched our first integrated marketing campaign for Ranger Buddies at the “It All Begins With C.O.U.R.A.G.E” campaign in March, garnering record levels of reach and awareness.
- Drove the guest simulation trial for Bird Paradise opening in April, helping to smoothen the operational processes for our first new wildlife park launch in a decade.
- Launched a new Ranger Buddies mission about climate change with “The Great Climate Rescue with Arlo” in June.
- Had a massive re-organisation in August, resulting in my team spinning out to a new company, Mandai X. This also meant a reshuffle of my team members, and my team being split across two legal entities.
- Partnered with the park marketing and events & programming teams to launch Ranger Buddies’ very first Family Dash at the Mandai Wildlife Run in September.
- Launched the new KidzWorld and Ranger Buddies Quest at Singapore Zoo together with the product team and park marketing team in October.
- Commenced two new venture sprints in November.
Each of these are significant and chunky projects, taking up a lot of time and thinking. I am really proud of both my team, and the teams that worked alongside us to make everything happen.
However, I cannot remember feeling more exhausted in a long while. I also cannot remember feeling more alone in a long time. In 2023, I’d struggled to meet my personal goals, complete the work that I needed to do, and to be the person I want to be for the people around me. What no one really talks, and no one really wants to hear, is how hard it is to balance between hitting your goals, and doing all the work you are supposed to complete. Everyone seems to come out successful, and only talk about the positive stuff.
Here are some of the hard stuff that I felt I had to overcome this year and some lessons:
The courage to be disliked
This is a big one for me, because I value harmony in the workplace, and feel extremely uncomfortable whenever there is conflict. I go to work because of my colleagues, and this year especially, I have found that very difficult to do for two reasons – colleagues that I have known for a long time and relied on have left the organisation to pursue other growth opportunities, and the re-org meant team dynamics shifted for the colleagues who are still here.
I have also found that no matter how hard you try, some people will mistake your intentions and will not like what you do, and what you stand for, no matter what you do.
What has guided me through this has been to always look at the larger picture and to focus on the best outcomes for the team and the organisation. That does not make things easier personally, but it provides a guiding light for what I should do for any given situation.
Knowing my why
What makes me do what I do? I have asked that question a thousand times over. People have scoffed at my Why: I simply like to help people. I am not helping you because you need my help, but because together we can achieve something greater than what we individually cannot.
Here’s my favourite quote from Mother Theresa:
I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things!Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997)
Instead of thinking I know best about something, I also find that I learn more about myself and more about any given subject by collaborating with others.
At times though, it can be daunting to push through with my Why. I have heard comments about how I lack boundaries, and that I was being too much of a do-gooder. It’s almost as if it’s a zero-sum game between self love or collaboration. Admittedly, sometimes I get too exhausted trying to do right by others at the expense of my own wellbeing.
It is important to hold both your Why and your own needs in tension and balance.
Preserving my Yeses
Which really brings me to this last hard-earned lesson of 2023: Saving my time for people I care deeply about, and who truly care for me. Not everyone deserves my kindness, my time and my attention. It is important to invest in the truly important ones.
Taking the lessons from 2023, here are some of my hopes and dreams for 2024:
More Focus & Mindfulness
It has been difficult to be very present and mindful when work is the main preoccupation of most of my waking moments. I want to develop a greater awareness of what I am doing, and to be consciously working towards my goals and carrying out my tasks. I would love to minimize fog eating and other bad habits developed from having too little time to be focused.
Recovering my Optimism
Thoughts of doom clouded too many of my days in 2023. Often, it was hard to imagine a day when things would become easier or I could just get enough rest. I wish I can see more of the gold at the end of the rainbow in 2024, and have time to smell the roses rather than just clearing out their thorns.
Doing things for myself
If 2023 has been a year of work, I hope 2024 will be a year where I can prioritise my health and my adventures. I want to travel more, see more, learn more, train more, and laugh more.
What about you? How was your 2023, and what are your wishes for 2024? Share more with me in the comments!