Here’s how I’d like to remember 2012. =) (See also this quick month-by-month summary)
For comparison, here’s the sketch and summary from 2011.
On this page:
I’d sketch this, but Adobe Illustrator CS6 keeps crashing on me and I’m tired of fighting with my computer today. Next time!
This year was about experiments. After building up my “opportunity fund,” I turned over my projects at IBM and left to start a 5-year experiment exploring what you can learn and build if you have the time and space to do so. I want to learn how to build businesses, and I want to share what I’m learning along the way.
Here’s how the year went!
January: Set things in motion for my next experiment by sending in my notice at IBM. Mapped out what I had learned. Started transitioning projects. Favourite post: Getting ready for my next experiment.
February: Made the leap! Set up a business mailbox, incorporated, and registered for HST. Favourite post: Thinking about how to experiment with business and what I might want to do
March: My first full month as a business owner! I immediately had consulting clients, which helped me hit the ground running. I drew a lot, too. (Monthly review) Favourite post: What I want from visual notetaking; imagining wild success
April: It was a lot of fun enjoying the benefits of a flexible schedule, paricularly in terms of biking. I also spent some time building my writing and drawing skills. (Monthly review)Favourite post: Why I’m temporarily unhireable
May: More client work than I expected! Sketched lots of presentations and events, too. Biked all month. Switched from community-supported agriculture to buying our own vegetables again. (Monthly review) Favourite post: Thinking about the next mini-experiment
August: Celebrated my 29th birthday! Bought a new phone, switched to a data plan. Hosted a get-together. Wrapped up consulting in preparation for a temporary break. (Monthly review) Favourite post: Thinking about what wild success at 29 looks like
September: Went to Palo Alto for the Quantified Self conference. Spent time with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. Went to Disneyland with them! (Monthly review) Favourite post: Weekly review: Week ending September 21, 2012
October: Back to consulting. September 30 was my fiscal year end, so I spent time figuring out my books and filing taxes. Lots and lots of sketchnotes from conferences, too. (Monthly review) Favourite post: Celebrating my fiscal year end; planning how to improve
November: Gave another presentation. Started helping out with Awesome Foundation Toronto. More sketchnotes from conferences and events! (Monthly review) Favourite post: Made my largest sketchnote ever! Painting the MaRS Lean Startup Day banner
December: Took another break from consulting in order to focus on building the business. Worked on laying the groundwork for marketing and sales. Came up with a name for my company: Experivis! Favourite post: Imagining sketchnotes as a business
PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR
I want to really dig into this idea of building conference/presentation sketchnotes as a business. It’s a good way to learn sales and marketing skills.
Life-wise, I’m looking forward to making exercise part of my routines, and to spending more time with W-. The biggest thing I have to learn, I think, is to keep moving forward even though the temptation is to get stuck in limbo; to somehow have a multiplicity of plans layered onto different possibilities, and to keep myself fueled and excited by them.
Today I turned twenty-nine years old! This is fantastic. I’m making good progress towards my goal of becoming a little old lady living an awesome life. =) Here’s the bird’s-eye view, with links to annual reviews whenever I remembered to write them:
Life as a 27-year-old was about preparing, and life as a 28-year-old was about taking more risks based on those preparations. With the stability of a warm and loving marriage to support me, the savings from a job I excelled at, and a deeper understanding of how I invest my time and money thanks to the self-tracking I’d been doing, I felt ready to take on the risk of starting a new business in order to explore the possibilities of more family-friendly work. That’s been going tremendously well, and I think we’re in as good a place as anyone could be for the next step.
I invested some of my earnings into new tools, and I’ve been teaching myself more about drawing and Android development. I have a tidy collection of sketchnotes, and people sometimes talk to me about my notes during meetups. I’ve also learned more about electronics, building myself a handy USB foot pedal using the Arduino and then converting it to a Teensy. I’m learning new ways to create value, and it’s great. Sometimes I’m intimidated by the skills of people who’ve been practising these things for much longer, but all things come with time and experience, so I keep practising and learning.
I’ve been working on being more social, and it’s getting easier and easier. We helped J- and her friends with math study groups, and we spent some time volunteering at Free Geek Toronto as well. We celebrated my sister’s wedding in the Philippines, and it was great to see everyone again. She and her husband are expecting their firstborn a few months from now – my parents’ first grandchild, so we’re all excited. I’ve also been reaching out to friends, going to picnics, and just spending time hanging out. This is good.
The more I experiment, the less I know what the next year might look like, and the more confident I am that things will be wonderful anyway.
2011-12-14: Oops! Forgot to make sure the linked image was the original size. Fixed! Also, added a PDF link for people who aren’t on Slideshare.
Just posted my yearly review for 2011. You can browse through the annotated pages on Slideshare. You can also download the PDF from Slideshare or from my site. View it in full screen mode for the most fun. (Mom, if you want to print this, you’ll need 182 sheets of legal-size paper…)
In case the embed doesn’t work or you don’t want to go through the entire thing, you can still see this year as a sketch (click on it for a larger version):
Want to go further back in time? Check out my other yearly reviews!
Happy birthday to me! =) I’m celebrating my 28th birthday today. Here’s the year in blog posts (August 2010 – July 2011): http://sachachua.com/notebook/files/sacha-chua-27.pdf .
The short version: my birthday wrap-up. It’s been a great year, and I’m looking forward to learning and sharing even more!
My birthday wish: tell me what your life was like when you were 28 what you wish you knew when you were 28, or what I can improve on to make life as a 28-year-old totally awesome. =) Younger than I am? Tell me who you’re planning to grow into when you’re 28!
(Happy birthday to my parents, too. After all, they did all the hard work.)
I’ll be celebrating my 28th birthday this August. Hooray!
I spent part of the Civic Holiday reviewing my blog posts and memories. It’s been a wonderful year. In August 2010, I wrote:
What will life as a 27-year-old look like? I’m excited about long-term growth: marriage, work, friendships, interests. I’m looking forward to small, constant improvements in the way we live. I want to get even better at learning and sharing. When I turn 28, I hope to be able to look back and say that I:
- helped build an excellent foundation for a loving partnership
- made a difference at work and grew in my career
- experimented with ways of living better and shared my results
- shared lots of ideas, questions, and insights with people
- lived another year of an awesome life.
… and looking back, I can say that and more.
Life as a 27 year old was mainly about preparation. W- and I got married in October in a ceremony as small as we could get away with – just us, immediate family, and practically-family friends. I’m glad we did. The paperwork helps us make our long-term plans more solid, and it feels great to namedrop “my husband.” We celebrated my middle sister’s wedding in May, too. I’m curious how married life will influence the way my sisters and I interact.
We learned a lot about communication while planning our wedding, mostly inspired by Jay Heinrich’s excellent book Thank You for Arguing and our decision to keep both our names. I’m sure those skills will come in handy in the future as well. We’ve also been developing our teaching skills while helping J- and her friends learn more about math and other subjects. It’s worth investing the time into making things understandable and enjoyable.
At work, I’ve been developing some very useful skills: gathering requirements; scoping and estimating projects; working with Drupal, Ruby on Rails, and Websphere (not all together, fortunately!); working with other companies and teams. It’s been a bit more stressful because I’ve taken on more responsibilities, but it’s good preparation for many possible next steps: consulting and development in IBM, or perhaps a startup if a business opportunity seizes my imagination. The richness of my extracurricular life means I’ve cut back a little on non-project work – the presentations I used to do, the communities I used to help out with – but I’ve still been able to help make many things happen.
Lots of preparations outside work as well. We’ve been tweaking our household routines – simplifying the kitchen, improving the entrance flow, reorganizing the living room. We’ve added more vegetables to our life thanks to a community-supported agriculture program with the stereotypical abundance of zucchini. I’m getting better at gardening. We got more vegetables and fruits out of the garden this year, although bitter melons were a non-starter. Oh yes, this was the year we disassembled a washing machine and a dryer in order to get the 27” machines down a 26” staircase. I hadn’t seen that coming at all, but it was a wonderful experience.
Lots of reflection and analysis this year, too. With a few exceptions, I’ve been able to share at least one blog post a day for the past year, and that’s been really helpful for reconstructing and remembering. The Quantified Self meetups in Toronto have been inspiring me to measure, analyze my decisions, and review them afterwards. Printing out my blog and flipping through the stories has helped, too. It’s interesting reading things I’ve somewhat forgotten writing. There are my reflections on routinely waking up at 5 AM – did I, before? But it sounds like me, so I must have. Perhaps I’ll try that again.
I’m getting better at drawing. I’m starting to feel more comfortable playing with colors and sketching ideas, relying less on the ability to nudge drawings into the right shape and more on the ability to repeat sketches until they feel right. I take informal sketchnotes at the events I go to, and I’m starting to develop note-taking and presentation workflows that fit me well.
I levelled up in terms of personal finance by opening a discount brokerage account and investing in index funds. The market has been up, down, and sideways, but I’m going to keep investing anyway. It’s reassuring to see that nest egg grow, even though it grows slowly. While the returns are nowhere near the breathless rates I read about in personal finance books written before the financial crisis, they’re okay. Updating my books makes me feel a little more grown-up, even though I don’t go for anything more complicated than passive growth.
My interests shifted, unsurprisingly. I haven’t sewed as much as I thought I would; other hobbies keep me busy. Working at home means I’ve been biking less than I used to. I haven’t fired up our woodworking tools even once this summer. But there are new and renewed interests that fill my hours: writing, drawing, piano, learning Latin with W- and delighting in unexpected discoveries. For example, I learned cras is Latin for tomorrow, which made me think about the word “procrastinate” – ah, “for tomorrow”, doesn’t that make perfect sense now…
I think the year ahead of me – life as a 28-year-old – will be a year of slowing down, polishing, and finishing. It will be interesting. Drawings, links, and plans to follow.
What a year for major life changes!
My cat Neko and I officially moved to Canada this year when I got my permanent residency in January. After wrestling my unhappy and rather pointy cat into the soft-shell carrier, I stowed her under the seat in front of me. Not a single meow or yowl out of her during the long flight, although there was a moment in airport security when I had a cat on my head.
Me, I think I’ve figured out the secret to dealing with winter, too. Flannel pajamas, soft and warm sheets, plenty of thermals, and the renaming of winter to "baking season". Good thing we biked a lot during the warm months.
I got a promotion and a new manager at work. I’m doing a lot of Drupal development again, which is tons of fun. I’m starting to get the hang of this, I think. There are topics that I feel comfortable being "the expert" on in workshops, although really it’s more like doing the background research and being ready to brainstorm and ask questions.
J-’s in grade 7. The alternative school she’s going to now is interesting because the subjects are integrated, so she’s learning about, say, world hunger in mathematics and geography and all her other subjects. She’s hitting that growth spurt, too. Her feet are bigger than mine, and she’ll grow into them soon enough.
We picked up and deepened a few interests, too. We all learned woodworking this year, building our own Adirondack chairs. (Yes, even J- built one, with our help!) I’m still amazed that I can have a chair that actually fits me, as most lounge chairs are a bit too long.
The chairs were a great vantage point for viewing our garden, which has yielded lots of ampalaya (bitter melon) for pinakbet, plenty of herbs for pasta sauce, and peas and cherry tomatoes for snacking. We’re looking forward to growing even more fruits, vegetables and herbs in next year’s garden!
W- and I got married in Toronto City Hall. To keep things sane and introvert-friendly, we celebrated with just family and a few practically-family friends. Everyone flew in, and it was fantastic having family gathered around the kitchen table. The poor photographer was probably intimidated by all these people with better cameras and tons of photography
experience, but he survived. Tita Gay was a force of nature, practically bringing along a wedding in a suitcase. She surprised us with bubbles and wedding favours. She and my sister Kathy catered the whole thing, and they conspired with Ching and John to spring a wedding
cake on us. We ate pretty much constantly during the week my family spent in Canada, and really good food too. We just finished the very last lumpia from our stash from Tita Gay and are looking forward to making more.
Inspired by how my mom and dad built these great friendships over time and distance, we’ve been working on being more social: giving home-made kitchen gifts, writing Christmas cards and letters (hi!), and going to and organizing get-togethers. It’s surprisingly fun! We’re looking forward to learning more about building relationships over time.
What a year!
2011 promises to be amazing. We’re looking forward to celebrating Kathy and John’s wedding in the Netherlands and the Philippines. We’re also looking forward to learning more about woodworking and getting even more out of our garden. Me, I can’t wait to do more writing, drawing, and programming, and I’m excited about opportunities to develop my communication and consulting skills.
Please help us with our project of building relationships. =) How was your year? What are you looking forward to in the next one? What are your stories? You can find our past yearly updates at http://sachachua.com/blog/category/yearly . Looking forward to hearing from you!
Updates from last year:
In last year’s learning plan, I said that my key priorities were:
Although I didn’t get as much into animation and video as I hoped to, I’ve had fun learning about everything else, and I think I’ll continue to focus on writing, drawing, sharing, and connecting in 2011. =)