2015 Year In Review

January 9, 2016 Will Lam

camp reset
❤

Summing up my year has been relatively easy because of going through an epic deep New Year’s workshop deep dive led by my friends UJ and Negin (thank you!!). While I normally do it in solitude, it was a nice change in pace with people I love and respect. On my end there were some major life events that overshadowed everything else that forced me to reflect, reset and recuperate. With that being said, some themes that I’ll touch upon cover the major area focuses of my life (as in previous years) are career, relationships, wealth, fitness, travel and learning.

It’s been a rough bittersweet year. I’ll dive into this post with the bad stuff first and then resurface with the good stuff.

Career

Admittedly, things were not well in this regard. Because career is a means to a person’s livelihood, this affected me heavily in terms of self esteem and self worth. I would surmise the majority of people attach their self worth and identity to their careers. I’m one of those people. While I had a good run at my previous role (thank you Hana, you guys rock), it just wasn’t the right fit to put it lightly. I tried to make it work for the good part of the year and ultimately we had to part ways. While it was heartbreaking in some aspects because I really did enjoy working with the team there. It was especially bad when I was getting sick by the end of my tenure there. I didn’t feel like I was being my best and I knew that they could recognize that as well. So that was that. The silver lining of that experience was that it’s given me a clear indication of what I shouldn’t be doing and the real value that I bring to the table.

The major learning here was that I couldn’t do the same things over and over again (marketing) and expect different results, which is the definition of insanity in my opinion. It also led me to understanding that I know a lot of different things, some more in depth than others. All this led me to asking some tough questions of myself in terms of the real value I can bring to the table – helping people effortlessly and tirelessly. It also reminded me of the kickass network of people I’ve come to trust and build relationships over the years in the vibrant Toronto tech community.

While, it’s been tough to separate the two (identity & career) and tease them apart, I know I’m multi-faceted and a resilient person. Everything happens for reasons for which we can connect the dots when looking back in the past. “This too shall pass.”

It’s a shame I didn’t get a role in product management, which has been the ideal for me since my startup days, but that job market spoke and that was that. So it’s time to shake things up a bit and take my career on a different trajectory.

As of now, while it was a good run being “funemployed”, as it afforded me the time and space to reset, reflect and heal, I decided to take a chance with a company and I’m glad they took a chance. I think it’s for the right reasons, and I hope they understand it as well.

As for next steps, I’m doing an iOS bootcamp at Lighthouse Labs, which should afford me the knowledge and firepower to build my own stuff as well as use it as a foundation for the direction I’ll be taking my career next – a much more technical one at that.

Relationships

This other side of my life that took up a huge proportion of my time and energy. This was pretty close after my experience at the previous company I was at. A veritable double-whammy that put me down for the KO. While it was a great run over the last few years, it had to tragically and abruptly end for reasons which I won’t get into. With the abrupt halt, the entire experience brought me down to my knees and having to curl up into a ball to brace myself for the pain I endured. I’m sure there was pain felt on her end as well. How deep, I don’t know and probably won’t find out.

It made me question the concept of love and how to love and do it well. I don’t think we did that very well after all. There were definitely some shining moments. When we were great, it was great. But when it wasn’t so great.. well. You get the idea. It revealed ugly truths about myself and how I don’t want to be in my next relationship. There were certainly toxic elements of our relationship that sprung up, that I’m not sure are a part of my nature or character, but I am cognizant of them. I don’t like them and I’ll eradicate them. I’m a constant work in progress, as with everyone else, but I know I’ll be better than yesterday.

But again from all of this, I understood some immutable truths of myself that I am good enough and deserve to be with someone that complements me. It took years to realize that, but it’s better late than never.

I’m taking the time for self care and healing before tapping into my capacity to love again. It’ll happen. I just don’t know when.

As for other relationships, in terms of friends and professionally, they’ve increased an order of magnitude because of Camp Reset. I can’t describe the feeling of meeting people who are so authentic, self aware, full of life and passion all hanging out together in such a magical setting and getting to know one another through play. The 100 friends from Camp Reset came into my life just at the perfect moment. I couldn’t have timed how things went down any better. I’m grateful to have you all in my life.

Wealth

This has been inextricably linked with my career. While I set some intentions to achieve a very specific amount of money by a certain date – that ambition was derailed for the things that I mentioned above. It’s led me to think about how I can create and decouple career from wealth. Creating passive income streams from side projects and just plain creating. I have been slowly building my email list through blogging, so there’s some opportunity there other than a showcase of my thoughts on the professional side.

I’ve got plenty of ideas and lots to play with in this area. But ultimately I understand that wealth is tied to how much value I can create an freely give away. The universe has a pleasant way of returning the favour when you’ve given so freely and with genuine intent to those who deserve it.

On another note, I finished paying off my student loans which was been a monkey on my back for the last few years. So that was pretty cool.

Fitness

I’ve been consistent as I could be, I know that much. While I wasn’t close to a proper gym, I still made it happen by my gym experience at the humdrum condo gym by buying squat stands, bumper plates, a kettle bell and a few other gym toys that I still use to this day. While I know I am pretty fit, and somewhat strong, there hasn’t been a complete focus because my training has fell by the wayside.

This year with a bit more stability and a bit more control over my schedule to do the things I want to do when I want to, should be dramatically different.

This will happen on two different fronts. On the first front. I’ll be training for my first amateur olympic weightlifting meet. I’d like to push myself to learn better technique and to see how much stronger I can get. I know for a fact there’s a lot more in me than a 265 lb high bar squat, 310 lb deadlift, 175 lb bench and 125 strict press. Exploring the outer limits of my strength capacity is something that really excites me.

On the other front, I’ll be exploring yoga. While I’ve deliberately avoided it in the past few years, a recent experience made me think differently about the practice and discipline of yoga. While I already knew the benefits of yoga on weightlifting for flexibility and such, the soft focus that it hones and the meditative purposes are undeniable.

Travel

This is one thing that’s been a bit more elusive for me because I’ve been pre-occupied with the areas I mentioned above. While I felt like I was on solid ground for a while, I kept on pushing back travel because I didn’t have a stable enough foundation to reward myself with travel experiences. I thought it was the responsible thing to do, and I still do to this day. Now that student debt has been hacked away, I have a better opportunity to make some magic happen and getting my butt off the continent again this year, hopefully in southeast Asia with my best friend sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016.

But before all of that, I’d like to make it to Burning Man and my intent and focus will be getting me there. I’ve done a ton of research and consulted with countless friends and I’m ready to make the pilgrimage.

A breakdown of my year

Things I’ve failed in regularly

  • Mastering my life on the day to day level consistently.
  • Doing the same things over and over in my career and expecting different results (which is insanity).
  • Staying up way too late on the regular (11 PM should be latest I go to bed).
  • Be selfish to devote blocks of time for self-care and “me time”.
  • Settling with things even though I was entirely satisfied with.
  • Not asking or reaching out for help when I really needed it.
  • Eating super late.
  • Going overboard on vices (sorry potato chips…will be seeing much less of you).
  • Not giving myself the fuel and nutrients regularly to power me through the demands of my life.

Wins of the year

  • Wrote a lot more
  • Started Swift Hack Night – and steadily gaining members!
  • Met lifelong friends at Camp Reset! (Helloooo if you’re reading!)
  • Learned Swift and built some simple iPhone apps
  • Got into Lighthouse Labs and will be learning Objective-C
  • Started acting like the most helpful person in the Tech community in Toronto because I have the network and power to do so, and because I want to.
  • Had the time and space to reflect and heal.
  • Got a new job
  • Hit a squat PR and realizing I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was and that I’ve yet to reach the edges of my capacity.
  • Paid off student loans
  • Left a relationship that was toxic (both of our faults)
  • Being more honest with myself and others
  • Expressing myself authentically (writing and dancing.. lot!)
  • Got the fuck off of North America and made it to Cuba for a week.
  • Scheduling “tech free times” in my day.
  • Understanding that I have a tremendous amount of capacity within myself to connect, learn, grow, love and give.

A big theme this year will be expressing myself and getting closer to the core of who I am that encompass all the areas of improvement I’ve addressed above.

A year from now, I’d like to reflect and see that I while aggressive in the growth I expect for myself, I can visualize it all actually happen and putting the work in to make it all happen. But even if “life happens” and some ambitions don’t unravel as I’d like them to, I won’t beat myself up for not being able to accomplish everything.

Sometimes you have a stretch a little to make magic happen. Other times I’ll fall flat on my face, which I’m all too familiar with. However, I’m learning to celebrate the wins I collect on the way, but not be complacent, but rather honour those wins, be humble and keep on making magic happen in my life.

Concluding thoughts

For once in my life, I feel truly alive – unhindered and completely open to exploring this world of ours. While I’m still a big kid at heart, there are many other areas where I need to grow the fuck up. I believe this year will be an incredible year of growth and learning, leap-frogging all other years. Things have been in development for a while now, and it feels that the work I’ve been putting into myself and other areas will manifest itself in ways I can’t forecast or expect – but it’s going to be good. I can feel it in my bones.

A special shout out goes out to Ruthless, Magic, She-Ra and Gabriel for allowing me to couch surf for a bit during the roughest parts of my life and countless other friends who reached out to me and lent me a bit of strength while my head wasn’t all there. Not sure what would have happened had they not been there for me. Things unravelled and worked out beautifully and I was able to regain some semblance of composure because of those friends. A lot of this had to do with the regularity of the Transformers family. I love you all very much and hope to return the favour in my own way sometime down the line.

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