Lessons Learned In 2020

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What better way to end off the 2020 writing challenge with a round-up article of all the musings I’ve shared on this blog? Anyway, whether you’re reading this in 2020 (highly unlikely), 2021, or somewhere in the future, it’s a good TL;DR of all that I’ve shared in 2020.

Be sure to check out the individual articles if you’re interested in a specific topic, if not, let’s get right into it.

Career

Five years into one’s career might seem like a long time — it’s half a decade, after all. As 2020 comes to an end, though, I feel more and more like it’s only the beginning of my career. Each year I learn much more than the previous, and I’m grateful for everyone who made it possible.

It also marks the end of my third year in a local digital marketing agency, where I work as a client success representative serving dozens (or maybe even hundreds) of local small and medium businesses in Singapore in my time here.

I’ve also experienced for the first time how remote working or working from home feels like because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most Singaporeans, it took some getting used to, and it’s a love-hate relationship for me at this point — working from home and working in an office are so different.

Call me old-fashioned or traditional, but I’m all for working in an office mainly because I don’t like how remote working blends work and life together. So yes, I can’t wait to go back to the office full-time.

Leadership

Almost 18 months ago, I became a first-time manager of a small but capable team at a local digital marketing agency. It was an exciting yet scary position to be in because it marks an important milestone in my career as I’m suddenly responsible for others.

While it might not mean much because there were no clear expectations of what a manager should be — mostly because we’re a young company and everyone including the bosses were figuring out how to manage at scale — I felt the pressure to pull my weight.

Since then, I’ve learned many things about being a better manager — from changing my (flawed) perception about how managers are supposed to be more capable to managers helping the team do better than themselves, to learning to let the team do the legwork and nurturing.

It wasn’t a smooth sailing 18 months, but a fruitful and humbling experience. Most of all, I’m looking forward to continue the journey to improving as an effective manager, mentor, and leader for a team of any size.

Personal Growth

Ever since I’ve been more intentional with my yoga practice (more on that in a later section), I spent more time with my thoughts, reflecting on concepts and principles I’ve learned directly through personal experiences and indirectly through the lens of others in the form of books, articles, and conversations.

In particular, I would say that curiosity and playfulness are two qualities in which I’m seeing more and more value, especially for anyone who wants to live a meaningful life. Almost everything I’ve reflected on points towards staying curious and playful as being the cornerstone of lifelong learning.

It might seem obvious to spell it out, but not many remember the importance of curiosity in our daily lives. The urge to dig a little deeper, probe a little further, and spend a little more time to question what most would take for granted — that’s what separates an eager learner from a typical person.

The truth is, though, everyone is curious and playful at some point of their lives, and the biggest challenge is staying with that spirit or even turning it up a notch as we get older. That’s probably why some will never fully retire because their minds are always craving to learn more. And I hope I would maintain the spirit even well into my later years.

Relationships

I didn’t share as much about relationships in my writing as I’d like to, at least not specifically. I’ve always not been very good with interpersonal relationships, and I sometimes feel even embarrassed when talking about my friendships and kinships.

I would consider myself a lone wolf most of the time, although I’m getting more and more joy from connecting with people. And I guess the saying that as one grows older, any sort of relationship becomes more valuable and worth keeping.

2021 would be another year of building new relationships, but without forgetting to strengthen existing relationships.

Hobbies

Before I started my career, I never had an actual hobby — I was addicted to gaming, social media, and K-Pop. I’m glad I found yoga a few years ago with my wife, and more recently spinning with friends.

It might seem like very basic to have a fitness-related hobby to some, but having a hobby that requires one to be out and interact with others is getting less common nowadays. Most people are just binging dramas and movies with streaming services, and gaming day in and day out because it’s so much easier.

I’ve seen people who take on new hobbies undergo a 360-degree transformation, because of the new found motivation that creates meaning in their lives. And I consider myself one of them.

Hobbies are among the few activities in our lives as working adults or retired professionals that can give us insights into ourselves that we would never discover in our daily lives.

Almost everything we do on a daily basis has some sort of transactional nature to it, and engaging in a hobby is one of the rare moments where we get to reconnect with our mind and body — and we’re only accountable to ourselves.

No amount of words can describe my gratitude towards everything that made it possible for me to get on the mat, especially in these trying times.

Where do we go from here

Will there be a writing challenge 2021? Not exactly. Mostly because I’m going to spend more time on yoga, so even if I were to write, it would be mostly about yoga.

Either way, a year of commitment to penning down my musings every week did indeed allow me to reflect on many things. I’m very sure I’ll still write regularly, just maybe not in this capacity. Because there were weeks where I felt compelled to just whip out a random topic, which isn’t what I wanted.

Perhaps when I have a lot more to share about a specific topic (namely yoga or even management in the future), I would start writing more regularly again.

If in any way my musings have helped you, that would have made the hundreds of hours I spent writing this year worth it. To write something useful that could even make a difference in someone’s life isn’t an easy feat, and I thank everyone who took the time to read what I write.

Hope you’ll challenge yourself in 2021 with something you were afraid of trying in the past and right now. When you do, remember that you’re doing what most wouldn’t ever do in their lifetime — conquering your fear when you don’t have to.

About the author

Vance Wong
Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.

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Vance Wong by Vance Wong

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Vance Wong

Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.