Category Archives: Annual review

The great unknown

2017’s gone already? Time for another (belated) annual post.

Things have moved so very quickly this year; the momentum I’d mentioned previously is still very much present now. I find myself hurtling forward at breakneck speed, unable to eliminate the many vagaries of the future.

Sometimes, it’s even a little scary.

Work

It’s not all been smooth-sailing. One major hiccup I’d encountered was probably the failed bid to secure funding to pursue a master’s degree.

I’d first applied for postgraduate funding from my organisation back in 2014, and back then I’d advanced to the interview panel before crashing out. Three years on, I made the application again and was surprised to find myself eliminated even earlier in the process. I think I’ve been contributing more to the organisation in my current position than I had previously, so it’s all rather disheartening and unexpected.

I still think I’m doing pretty well at work (perhaps I’m mistaken) – the environment probably has a big part to play in this. It’s really awesome to be able to work together with highly motivated and competent colleagues (who don’t participate in office politics) and to work under bosses who entrust you with plenty of space to get your work done.

So I’m trying one last time this year. If it fails to go through again, I’ll probably have to think through some decisions like whether to pursue further studies independently of the organisation, whether to follow the default path for career progression, or whether to attempt to stay on in my current unit.

Will the third time be the charm? Only time will tell.

Travel

I think I’ve been incredibly blessed to be able to travel as much as I have in the past two years. As someone who’s flown fewer than five times (I’m counting return air travel) before legal adulthood, it’s rather amazing to be able to zip around the world on premium class cabins and staying in nice places.

(This is a rather geeky thing to say, but I was especially glad to have finally made it to Conrad Tokyo in December.)

I’m also more involved with the Milelion now – other than increased writing frequency, there are some side projects the team is working on together. It’s rather exciting to be a part of all these fledgeling dreams – there’s a bit of the feeling of being in a startup, which is probably as much as I’ll have the chance to sample without giving up a relatively stable job.

I really, really think that my travel frequency will be going down pretty soon though (see below), so I’m not too sure how this will pan out once that happens.

Family

Finally, come July, it’s going to be a little more crowded at home. It’s something that I’d already thought about previously, but I guess it took some time to decide it was really the path we wanted to go down.

And now that it’s finally happening, I feel like a whole other universe of unknowns that I’ve previously been ignoring has opened itself to us. There’s still some time to prepare, but I suspect that there’s going to be plenty of just-in-time learning.

2018 seems like it’s going to be all about dealing with unknowns. Not quite my favourite thing to do, but I guess I’ll just have to learn.

Advertisements

Taking flight

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-10-15-46-pm

This year’s annual post follows the proud tradition of 2010 & 2007 with a newly completed Project 366 album, a personal project I’d embarked on at the beginning of the year.

It’s generally been a good year, for which I’m really thankful. Here’re some areas I find myself really gaining momentum in this year…

Writing

I’d attempted to start blogging more regularly, and that worked for awhile, but eventually evolved into a greater focus on travel blogging, with some posts published on The MileLion. There was also that (short-lived) writing challenge I’d embarked on with some colleagues. I doubt I’ll ever become a master writer, but it’s nice to see myself working once more on a hobby I’d used to rather enjoy as a student.

Travel

Primarily because I managed to snag HHonors Diamond status for myself this year, but probably also because this vacation leave thing is rather new to me, I’ve been travelling a lot more this year. This will probably go down in the next few years as I lose the status and probably get saddled with more responsibilities, but I do rather enjoy the new experiences and chronicling them in blog format for future reminiscing.

Work

This might be blind optimism on my part, but I think I’ve done pretty well at my job this year. It helps to have a great positive working environment, but based on feedback it does seem that I have made noticeable contributions to my unit this year. Hopefully, this is real and doesn’t stop this year!

All in all, it’s been a good 2016 (on a personal level – I’m aware that as far as global affairs go, it’s not been all that great). Here’s hoping that things don’t lose too much steam in 2017!

Forks in the Road

This annual blog post thing has become one of my most cherished habits. As the years go by, I hardly have time to pore through every entry; but these posts help to summarise the general gist of the events going on and the accompanying mood across the years. It’s become almost like a cathartic experience, re-reading these entries every year before composing a new addition to the series.

2015 has been a year of change, primarily career-related – I’ve changed roles and am rather enjoying the pace of office work, and am rather appreciative of the new people I am working under/with. These are things that make a difference. That said, the work does seem to be less… fun. That seems to be a rather silly reason to give up a good working environment, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see if returning to work in school is something I’d really want to actively pursue.

There are other changes that might be made – I think 2016 is going to be a year of decision-making and possible change. I can’t say I’m thrilled, but it’s definitely something to be excited about!

Turning the Page

So the previous plan didn’t take off. There was some disappointment, but that’s life, I suppose. On the plus side, it did lead to some deep reflection and a possibly risky step into the unknown.

posting

In about half a year’s time, I will officially (temporarily?) cease to be a teacher. I’ve become pretty comfortable where I am right now, but I guess that also means that the amount of learning I’m doing on the job has started slowing somewhat. Teaching is also a pretty energy-sapping job (especially while juggling managerial duties on the side), and at this point I guess perhaps I need a change of sorts?

I’m not sure if I’ll end up enjoying it (though my future colleagues seem very amiable and enthusiastic about their work, which is definitely a good sign), but I believe it’s one additional step of career exploration that I really need to do before making any long-term decisions on what I want to focus on for the rest of my professional life.

I really don’t know what 2015 will bring, but may it be a fruitful learning experience!

Fanning the Flames

Screenshot 2013-12-27 11.17.14

So, the above is the sum totality of the draft I’d saved back on 1 Jan 2014. About a third of a year later, I’m back to finally complete that annual act of introspection…

…except I’ve got nothing much in mind, really. 2013’s gone and past. I could say that it was a time of growth, that it was when I really started growing into my leadership position at work. I could write about how it was my first time guiding a graduating class towards the O-Levels (albeit in a more minor role, paired with another teacher and primarily taking charge of extra remediation for students). I could even talk about how I’d visited Walt Disney World at the end of 2013, my very first foray into an American Disney park.

But why go into all these when they’re pretty much just dim memories in my mind now?

The one thing that has been at the back of my mind in recent months, including the end months of 2013, has got to be applying for MOE’s postgraduate scholarship. For awhile now I’ve been wondering why exactly I want it – is it just a break from work I desire? A chance to briefly live abroad once again? Hardly the noblest of reasons. Surely there has to be more to this!

Today I read an article on Raffles Press – What Prometheus Taught Us About Learning – and it resonated deeply within me. Students are bored at school, and in this case – the teacher is, too! After almost two years on the job, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really detest drill and practice – the incessant repetition of exam-style practices in preparation for the final exams. I must admit that there’s a lot more I can be doing in my current role since my school is starting to move away from that direction, but it’s been difficult for me to do so while taking graduating O-Level classes of my own.

And so, the strong desire to return to what I’m more fundamentally interested in – to contribute to the evolution of education through the use of technology in teaching. If ultimately I don’t get the scholarship, I’ll probably try to get posted to the ministry so I can contribute to this field on a national level.

The results will apparently only be communicated by the end of June, so it’s a long (agonising) wait in the meantime. Regardless, I think a rejuvenation of some sort is definitely in order as far as my career direction is involved.

Contentment

There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it.
-George Bernard Shaw

May all you dreams come true, save one.
-David Gemmell

This blog is, though currently under-utilised, a miraculous (to me) archive of thoughts, allowing me to conveniently pull out snippets of thoughts from the past such as this one. One such snippet is this particular post from a decade ago, in which I’d listed some things I’d wanted, back then.

So ten years on, with most of the wishlist achieved (though with lots of room for improvement), I find myself feeling… contented. It’s not a particularly terrible position to be in (first world problem alert), but I do find myself feeling a little directionless at times. Perhaps because of a lack of regular introspection, I find that many of the things I do these days are done as part of a routine rather than any real passion. Even the job is starting to feel like just that – merely a job.

So what’s next? Starting the next generation seems to be a common step for many, and Lyndy’s recent visit has probably highlighted that as a possible path. There’re so many things to consider, though – it’s not quite a direction I’d want to venture into “just because”.

The next step? (Baby courtesy of the Kozloffs)

The next step? (Baby courtesy of the Kozloffs)

So as I trudge on into 2013, perhaps it’s time to seriously re-evaluate what direction I’d like to steer my life towards. Being contented’s great, but I’d like to avoid starting to stagnate at this stage of my life. Although – how precisely should one differentiate between the two?

Ch-Ch-Changes

Almost two weeks late now, but I suppose it’s better late than never? It’s been a period of full of change and transitions; keeping in line with that theme, I’ve moved back to Blogger.

(Well, actually I’d started experimenting with using it for my classes this year and found that I really like the new dynamic views option (here it is in action on my old blog from York days), so here I am, back again!)

The entire year has been one of change – starting with living in a new place (with the in-laws). In the middle, a decision on whether to actively seek a position at another school. Towards the end of the year came home ownership and the task of doing it up. Yet another residential move, probably a more permanent one this time.

Even in early 2012, I’m still feeling the effects of these changes – I come back to a (rather bare but still homey) new flat every day, I’ve been saddled with more responsibilities at my current workplace in the final six months before I leave, and I’m faced with challenging (but probably rewarding) tasks at the next workplace come June.

It feels like a really exciting time ahead for me, and though I suspect I might eventually grow to miss the way things were, these days I can’t help but feel like I’m in a really good place this year!

Completed Project 365, 2010

Screen Shot 2016-12-31 at 10.05.27 PM.png

Time for that annual reflection once more. It’s the second time I’m doing a Project 365, and my life still does get overly repetitive and mundane at times, but looking back at my previous one (from 2007), I do appreciate possessing a snapshot of life as it was back then, and I’ll probably feel the same about this one in time to come.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but I guess the one main change this year would be marriage – married life proper hasn’t quite started yet with our apartment still being built, but it’s a first step into an entirely new chapter of life. Whatever 2011 brings, I’m currently feeling optimistic and fully prepared to meet it head on.

Ponderings

As MMIX slowly grinds to a halt, I return to this recurring stocktake of mine, taking the time to think back on the year’s happenings and reflect upon them.

It’s been another (rather) eventful year, with the second half of NIE rolling by – I didn’t do that well overall, probably should have put in more effort into it, but it was often really difficult getting motivated considering the nature of the course. Still, I managed to survive, and the second half of the year heralded the beginning of my teaching job proper. I’ve been studying for so long (with a 2.5-year period of army stagnation thrown in somewhere), starting work has actually been a breath of fresh air for me. I might not be making as much money as some of my peers, but it’s enough (for now), and I do enjoy my work, which is apparently relatively rare among working folk.

I’ve tried to try more new things this year – one example being my brief foray into DSLR photography. Although I gave it up in the end (thankfully with practically no monetary loss incurred), I did end up with a functional knowledge of how SLR cameras work, and the current GF1 is hardly a pushover in terms of optical capability, either.

Then there’s the engagement, of course, along with the purchase of the flat and the beginning of wedding preparations – but that’s an ongoing story, after all.

All in all, it seems to have been a pretty good year, perhaps the most fulfilling one I’ve had in quite some time. There are more challenges yet to come in the year ahead, but with God’s grace I’m pretty sure I’ll get by. It seems almost unfashionable to feel contented on this island nation of ours, but I think I really am!

A year in words

And now for the annual reflection. It’s technically my seventh, though last year’s was kinda cheaterly, but for the sake of continuity I’ll treat it as one of the set.

The last seconds of 2008 were spent in good company, though perhaps rather mindlessly staring at the idiot box for the countdown and watching the fireworks display over Marina Bay. It felt rather surreal, since school only starts for me on the 5th of January, so it didn’t actually feel like anything had changed during the transition from 2008 to 2009.

Perhaps that’s because the whole of 2008 was pretty much a time of transitions, for me. I’ve spent perhaps (give or take) 3 months in Japan, 4 in the UK, and 5 in Singapore. The final year of my undergrad degree, I should probably have been working hard to ensure a good degree class, yet at the same time the knowledge that it was almost over somehow made it so much more difficult to feel anything aside from weary and jaded about the whole studying business. This feeling seems to have been carried over to the PGDE programme, yet another transitional period between studying and working. I suspect I’ve yet to fully get used to living back together with my family, losing the freedom and independence I’ve become so used to while living abroad (though admittedly it’s nice not to have to do so many chores or cooking).

Indeed, a year of transitions.

I suppose the transition period carries on to 2009, beginning with the second half of the diploma programme and beginning teaching proper in the second half of the year. Hopefully I’ll be able to settle more permanently, to really enjoy and appreciate what I do, to do it well, and to make time for family, friends, and other pursuits in the meantime. It’s kinda vague, but I’m not really good with the whole resolution thing.