On My 2016


Happy New Year, guys! Another 365 days have come and gone, and I’m thankful that my family, friends and I have enjoyed another year of being healthy and happy. While I saw many statuses and headlines along the lines of “Is 2016 over yet?”, I can’t help but look back on my own 2016 and feel like it was actually one of my best years ever.

When I was sad about leaving Hong Kong this April, one of my HK teammates said, “Susan, don’t look back – look forward!” While I consider that to be good advice and recognize my tendency to dwell on the nostalgic past, I also think it’s essential to reflect and appreciate yet another year that has shaped me into who I am. A friend shared a reflection guide with me a couple of New Years back, and I dug it up to do again for 2016.

The Highs:  What I’m proud of 
The Lows: What didn’t go so well
  • Continuing to miss Asia and struggling to get over the nostalgia
  • Feeling unhealthy and gaining weight
  • Failing to be productive with my free time, especially during unemployment
The Wishes:  What I wish I did differently
  • That I’d been more productive with my free time
  • That I’d built better health habits, especially during funemployment, when I had a lot of time I could’ve spent working out
The Worries that Weren’t: What I was worried about that ended up being fine
  • I was discouraged about job searching but tried to stay resilient – and it paid off when I finally received two job offers in November!
Big Life Events
  • May – Moved back to the U.S. after nearly two years in Asia
  • July – Quit my job and moved home to Chicago
  • November – Started my new job in Chicago

2016 was a transformative year for me in many ways. The two years I’d spent in Asia were the perfect way for me to grow personally (also physically, which was a negative side-effect) and to cement the core values that make me who I am. I lived out those values in 2016, and I’m really proud of having done so:

I remembered that I love my family above all, and so I quit my job in New York so that I could come home to Chicago while my grandparents were still visiting. I remembered that I am outgoing and sociable (even though I hate happy hours and small talk), and so I shamelessly cold-emailed alumni to ask for career advice. I remembered that I have the skills and experiences that got me to where I am today, and so I bounced back from job rejections knowing that eventually, one would come through. I remembered that I care about making a difference and not as much about lending money (farewell, commercial banking), and so I ventured into a role at an education startup to try and do some good.

I’m so excited for 2017. If 2016 was a year for me to cement my core values, 2017 will be the year I see what I can really do with it. I’m starting a new chapter of my life right here in Chicago, and I can’t wait to see what it’s going to bring!


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