It was my birthday yesterday, and about a year since I moved to Dublin and started a new job at Facebook, now Meta. I want to share some of my reflections of 2021, the lessons I’ve learnt and what carried me through in the last twelve (12) months. Let’s dive in.
1. You can always survive; strive to thrive.
In a pandemic where all people wanted to do was not die, I took one of the biggest risks and steps in my career and life journey. I started a new job in a new country and Industry. I had moved places in the past, and I had a default mode of integrating. I would meet people at the gym, store, golf course or church. I am extroverted, so it’d be easy to interact with people and know all I needed to do and survive.
It was different in Dublin. The city was on lockdown; I could not really go anywhere for about five months after I arrived, and did not have access to many of my methods of integration as I once knew it. In fact, on the first night, I could not even order food because the internet access in my apartment was not set up. But here’s the thing, we survived and went beyond that and thrived! I was onboarded to my new role online, I led my team online for most of the year. All my speaking engagements were virtual. My kids learned to take their extracurricular courses online. We have adapted and not just surviving but thriving; you can, too, regardless of what it is. The human race during this past pandemic have shown resilience, ability not just to survive but thrive.
2. Just jump!
I first heard this phrase from Steve Harvey. I think in many ways it describes my relocation to Dublin in the middle or a pandemic. Extensive over analysis of a decision can sometimes be limiting. My latest career move to Dublin was all about leaping and taking that jump. Every day I felt like a student learning something knew. Somedays it was scary and confusing but most days I loved the experience. I could have chickened out and turned down the opportunity, say it was too difficult to execute or demanded a hundred percent clarity for each phase of the process. Instead, I went ahead, even without having all the answers most times. So take those calculated risks and go after your goal. Sometimes you don’t have to overthink it; cover the basics, do it afraid, do it without having all the answers. #JustDoIt.
3. Choose to be a lifelong student.
I have been investing in stocks for a while. I used to go for the big guns: I’d buy stocks of all the big tech or Energy companies, which is not bad. I kind of figured out I had the fundamentals of investing in stocks covered. Some time last year while discussing with my husband he shared some perspective and wanted me to try a different strategy to hack into fast growth which is investing in smaller, yet promising companies, deciding what my exit criteria was and leaving emotions at the door. The old me would have argued (I have always felt like the CFO of the home, managing our investments), but this time, I decided to be flexible and listen to him (oh yes, sometimes we are so quick to disregard advice from love ones, complacency that comes with familiarity I guess). That singular act made a significant difference in the growth and revenue of our investment. This updated strategy, dynamics of the market and Online trading platforms like Bamboo and Trove made my 2021 investment a blast!
4. Keep your eyes on the long-term goal.
Learn to keep your eyes on your long-term goal even when there are minor setbacks. Things would not always go your way. sometimes. All those urgent but not important situations demanding your attention. Other times it could be you getting in your on way. For me it showed up sometimes as clogging my calendars with way too much activities or getting involved with way too much or saying “yes” to programs that don’t support my main goal. It could be walking away from battles so you could win the war. Choosing your battles as I call those. You would make mistakes become guilt ridden or ashamed, that is called being human. Don’t let the fear linger fear, learn from it and decide not to keep moving. I stumbled a lot last year, finding myself in new territories most times. Find times to reflect and determine what is important and remind your self of your end goal. However, short-term mistakes should not make you lose sight of the long-term goal.
5. Stick to your core values.
Last year I felt like my values became my compass to navigate life’s map. For me values like Love of learning, Curiosity, Spirituality, Hope and Courage are my top strengths, they guide me especially as a leader. It was pivotal in navigating my new environment in 2021, I’d meet people who did not understand what I was about or might have a different impression of who I am. What kept me grounded was clarity of my strengths and who I was. It is important you understand you (You can take a character strength assessment here to identify yours). Do not let emotions or people’s actions shake you so much that you lose sight of your most significant values. Quoting the VIA institute “Your character strengths are key elements to living an authentic, meaningful life. Research shows that people who use their strengths a lot are 18 times more likely to be flourishing than those who do not. Knowing and using your character strengths can help you.”
6. Make the move, even against all odds.
My team had tried a project in the past that failed, and many of them were unwilling to try again, because of their past effort and how it turned out. I saw it and decided to try again. A lot of folks were discouraged initially cause of the huddles that kept getting in our way, we kept at it, put in the hard work, went the extra mile, and did the project within a few months. Looking back, I am so proud of the amazing work we accomplished against all odds. Many positive messages have come in since our execution. I am glad to see the pride of accomplishment on their faces. seeing the team happy, especially the team members that were on the project. However, let’s not forget that it only started with one move. We saw a goal, and went after it, against all odds.
7. Follow your own path:
You would have to do uncommon or unconventional things, but if you are clear about your vision and where you are headed, stick to your path. You may be tempted to copy someone’s steps or let people make you replicate their steps, but you do not have the same journey. Follow your own path, not someone else’s. It’s your life; own it.
8. Share your story.
I recently spoke to someone who read my article on how I moved roles and countries, with all the process done from my home seamlessly; Shared this with a relative who was influenced by that to push for a more global career. He made moves to seek jobs that could give him that exposure. Good news, he got one! He would be beginning a new role soon in another country with a global organization.
Sharing your story helps to show people that they can do it too. You never know, your story may be the light someone needs to get out of a confusing situation or to do something they’re scared to do. I saw this quote from Adam Grant that highlights this.
Many people hesitate to share their work because they’re uncomfortable promotion themselves. sharing your art, writing, or invention isn’t an act of self-promotion. It’s an act of self-expression. If you don’t put your ideas out in the world, no one else can benefit from them. #ShareYourStory.
9. Document your journey.
Gratitude is a weapon. Be thankful and acknowledge where you are today and where you are coming. That could be all you need to push forward. Last year, spending time reading through my past journals, notes, vision board, notes from friends/colleagues etc gave me so much renewed energy. Document your journey in whatever form that works for you: journaling, writing goals, notes, vision boards, goal sheets etc. In a time when you pause and review them, looking back at your journey, you would be amazed at the growth. Recognize this, it fills you up with immense gratitude for the process, especially with your wins. This is so key for the days when “Mr. Imposter Syndrome” will rear his ugly head.
10. You have a support system; use it.
In 2021 I pushed this even further accepting help from my kids as well. I got a lot of help from my kids, husband, team, extended network, strangers you name it! However, one important thing to note is that support does not always have to come from the most obvious places (older, smarter, more experienced people etc). Sometimes this past year, I got stuck at points, and the least expected people came through for me. From small gestures like a stranger helping me with my groceries at the train station, to getting introduced and getting access to a key Investor community by one of my past interns.
Learn to ask for help when you need it; no man is an island. Accept help when people offer it. Don’t abuse the privilege, don’t feel bad or take it personal when others cannot offer you the help you need. And don’t shut your eyes to the least obvious places; your support system could come from there.
11. Refuel regularly.
This was a new one for me. Rest and refuel. Not just long breaks but short inconsequential ones during the work week. Sometime early last year, I nearly broke down. I was zoomed out, working long stretches, and I was drained. It took spending three straight days on my couch without getting up, being attended to by my family for me to realize how burned out I was.
I then decided to be intentional about resting and refueling. I am learning to say no to things that eat up my free time and leave me drained. I am also being intentional about sleep, idle time to relax, scheduling small refueling activities for myself : Midday breaks doing things that recharge me, fun outings with friends and family just to unwind. It’s important to take short breaks when necessary, we don’t only have to plan the big long breaks.
12. Eulogy virtues are still important.
2021 was also about going back to things that mattered to me. I read “The Road to Character” by David Brooks, and it’s a book I’d love to read again because of the lessons in it. Here’s an excerpt from it:
“The resume virtues are the ones you list on your resume, the skills you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being-whether you are kind, brave, honest, or faithful; what kinds of relationships have you formed?”
At the end of the day, what you are remembered for is as important, not just what is on your CV. At funerals, people won’t talk about your job history, but who you were (to them). As you seek knowledge and material accomplishments don’t just do good; be good. Seek a union of both virtues.
“Goodness without knowledge is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous, and that both united form the noblest character, and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind” John and Elizabeth Phillips
Be invested in your resume virtues and your eulogy virtues. Life is about balance. In a bid to grow career-wise, do not lose the core of who you are. What would you be remembered for?