2023 Recap: My Self-Evaluation Review
My 3-year journey so far... What's the verdict?
Another year has come to an end. This has been one of the most eventful years I've ever had, which means it is time for a recap!
Hello everyone! If you found this article, thank you! This will mainly be my yearly self-evaluation article, so feel free to skip to the 'Special Thanks' section at the bottom if it's too long to read.
This Year's Focus: Expanding beyond online
The past 3 years writing and publishing articles regularly has given me a lot of opportunities to meet amazing people online. This year, now that the pandemic has got better and a lot of offline restrictions were lifted, I took the opportunity to focus on meeting people offline.
The most notable action I did was deciding to join an offline community called WomenWhoCode Singapore. Thanks to a friend's recommendation, I learned about this incredible community that aims to empower women in their tech careers. Of course, men are also welcomed.
By expanding beyond writing articles and engaging in offline networking as pandemic restrictions decrease, I was able to organize events, contribute to my local community and really putting myself out there.
If you asked me would I have done this a year ago, I might be intimidated by the word 'networking', but now I can see myself being more comfortable doing it. I received a lot more than I contributed by joining an offline community. Here are 5 Benefits of Joining an Offline Community to read more about.
In addition to building communities, I also devoted significant attention to my physical health. This year, I faced several health challenges, ranging from COVID-19 to eye abrasions and fevers (as you may have seen in the latest episode of ragTech, there's more). This led me to truly understand the importance of health. It may seem obvious, particularly since I consistently remind my readers to prioritize self-care.
Sometimes, I suppose we can become oblivious to something so obvious. Prioritizing mental and physical health is undoubtedly a significant focus for 2023, and I intend to remain mindful of it in the future.
Highlights: The Importance of First Experiences
Some new things I experienced this year includes:
Being a panel moderator
Being a moderator for WWCode Global Conference
Being a hackathon judge/mentor
Organizing a mentorship program for 8 months
Organizing a workshop series
Speaking at Google I/O and various bootcamps
One of the quotes I enjoyed from a book called The Almanack Of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson is:
"Don't take yourself so seriously. You're just a monkey with a plan."
- Naval Ravikant
This quote serves as a valuable reminder for me, as I often find myself over-planning and overthinking how I can enhance my skills, make more meaningful contributions to the community, and explore the various ways I enjoy sharing knowledge.
I chose to include these initial experiences as one of the highlights of 2023 in this self-evaluation review is because without encountering Naval's quote, I might have overthought whether I'm good enough for these new roles and missed these opportunities.
The fear of screwing up combined with the fear of not performing outstandingly can be paralyzing sometimes. With this quote as my mantra of 2023, I began to view everything as data-gathering experiments. Every opportunity that came and every opportunity that I sought are simply experiments for me to learn what I can do, what I enjoy the most, what I would like to continue doing and what I would like to try next.
With this new mindset, I stopped over-worrying about the long-term factor and self-doubting my abilities. I just enjoy and find meaning in the value I can bring today, and work on bettering myself with the new data I gathered from each experience. I thought of each 'first experience', whether it turned out great or not, as a step closer to my long term goals.
Highlights: Stepping Up
Further elaborating on some first experiences, becoming a WWCode leader allows me to step up, get out of my comfort zone and learn how to take initiatives, reach out to potential sponsors/partners and build meaningful connections proactively.
Last year, I mentioned stepping out of my comfort zone to meet more people in real life rather than online. This year, the next step was to seek help proactively and ask for feedback.
As a perfectionist, sometimes I can easily point out areas in which I need to work on. Hence, when asking for feedback from someone, I simply thought they would point out all the mistakes that I noticed myself. Yet, this is what I noticed. There are, in general, 3 types of feedback:
100% Positive (the "good job" ones, praises/appreciation)
100% Constructive/Negative (depending on how you take it or how it is delivered)
50-50 Positive and Constructive (what you can keep doing and what you can do better)
I appreciate any kind of feedback and I'm especially grateful for the ones with some constructive, actionable suggestions to help me improve. Being part of a leadership team taught me how important it is to continuously ask for feedback. Most of us do not give feedback unless asked, so it is better to proactively approach and seek feedback.
In my last year's end of year self review article, I mentioned that I'm turning off 'auto' mode and changing up my routines. This year, I tried to completely shut down 'auto' mode. What I mean by that is that I'm constantly and proactively finding new ways to get out of my comfort zone such as reaching out to new connections, playing leadership roles and sharing knowledge within the community.
Outside the many roles I played in the tech community, I also made time to knock off things pending on my personal to-do list, such as finally:
getting a driving licence after procrastinating it for so long
getting a plant pet
playing my ever-growing backlog of games that have been sitting in my Steam/eshop libraries for too long
reading a book every month
I know these achievements are not amazingly huge accomplishments, but having prioritized nothing but blogging the last 3 years made me overlook other personal things in my life that I want to do. So I'm glad I finally did them this year!
For those who are curious, here are the books I read this year! I've always loved reading, but it does take time to indulge in a good book while curling up on my chair with a hot tea. This year, I made it a new year's resolution to get back to reading, and I can proudly say I achieved my new year's resolution!
Here's a collage of the books I've read this year. I especially recommend:
The Almanack Of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson
Ultralearning by Scott H Young
The Humans by Matt Haig
Think Again by Adam Grant
Do you take notes when reading books? I have always done it out of habit on OneNotes and this year, moved to handwritten. This is page 1 of Ultralearning by Scott Young as an example.
So, according to this year's personal self-evaluation, how is 2023 for me?
Well, I'm at a point where I need to re-align my goals for 2024. I am still very much a learner and I will not stop learning new things. 2023 has been another fruitful year for me, with many new milestones I've accomplished both in personal and work life.
Blogging has given me so many opportunities. Opportunities that go beyond the boundaries of technical writing and sharing knowledge. So, I figured it's time I work on building and empowering communities while improving myself. The blogging frequency will reduce next year; but of course, I intend to keep blogging both in this blog and ragTech, while balancing other various challenging but meaningful commitments.
Of course, my inbox is always open. I'm always delighted to receive emails from you, my readers, and respond whenever I'm available. If you read this long article, thank you so much for taking the time to read. I wish you a happy new year in advance!
I'd like to conclude this article with a quote from Think Again by Adam Grant.
" It takes humility to reconsider our past commitments, doubt to question our present decisions and curiosity to reimagine our future plans."
As always, I would like to wrap this article up with the Special Thanks section. Any achievement or personal/professional growth would not be possible if it weren't for the incredible roster of people below. Once again, I would like to express my gratitude to them.
Thank you for the support, inspiration, motivation, kindness, patience, and consideration you have given me this year.
Special Thanks to (no particular order)
Natasha Ann Lum
V Thulisile Sibanda
Han Zhi Fang
Syed Fazle Rahman
Fidocia Wima Adityawarman
Farhan Hasin Chowdhury
Chai Heng Yeo
Choi Ying Wai
My family & friends & supporters