Reflecting on 2022-2023, and the Canvas of Possibilities for 2024
Naznin Akter, Ph.D., PMP, Newsroom Editor-in-Chief
How many of you have heard the quote ‘life is simple’? But do you think it tastes like a simple life or does it? It’s a feeling that often sparks contemplation on the meaning of life, which, for many, is far from simple. Everyone’s interpretation of life is shaped by their unique experiences, creating a tapestry of perspectives. For some, life is like a riddle or a puzzle—neither easy nor difficult. In this journey called life, simplicity is a subjective concept and one that remains elusive to many. Life often throws surprises in our way, deviating from our carefully laid plans. If we are not vigilant enough to act and change our course of life and sometime adapt with the changes then it could be suffocating and struggling for many.
Reflection on 2022-2023:
As the year draws to a close, it’s a time for self-reflection. I am going to reflect on the challenges and triumphs of the past two years while acknowledging both successes and plans that did not materialize. Professionally, the previous two years marked a significant chapter. I successfully obtained my Ph.D. and embarked on my first professional journey with Micron. After having my first car, I covered approximately 5000 miles and explored 18 states while relocating from Miami, Florida, to Boise, Idaho. Subsequently, I made the decision to transition to Intel, necessitating another move from Boise, Idaho, to Hillsboro, Oregon. My involvement in IEEE and PMI underwent considerable changes. Initially associated with region-3 IEEE in Miami, I am now an active member of region-6 IEEE Oregon section. Additionally, I immersed myself in the PMI Portland Oregon Chapter. Despite numerous accomplishments, there were instances where my planned initiatives faltered, and unforeseen tasks emerged.
I initially aimed to launch my own website, master two of my favorite languages, and kickstart a side hustle. Unfortunately, none of these endeavors unfolded as planned. However, the experience taught me valuable lessons on navigating life’s unexpected challenges. Instead of achieving my initial goals, I learned the art of self-reliance and discovered the resilience required to adapt to countless unforeseen circumstances, ultimately contributing to the development of a stronger version of myself. Recognizing and acknowledging these setbacks is as crucial as celebrating achievements, as they provide invaluable lessons for the future.
Key life lessons from 2022-2023:
- Be resilient and welcome failure: Resilience encompasses the process of attempting, facing setbacks, acquiring insights, and adjusting to the surroundings. It arises from a readiness to engage in endeavors, encounter failures, reassess, alter course, and adapt to the ever-changing environment. In our pursuits, our primary focus often lies in hastening our progress and ascending the success ladder, leaving little room for setbacks. Surprisingly, however, embracing failure can lead to profound learning and personal growth. Experiencing a significant fall provides a fresh perspective on life. To persevere, one must possess the skill of navigating through challenges, acknowledging that falling is an integral part of the learning process. To keep going, one must know how to fall, and you must fall to learn how to get back up. Until you hit the rock bottom, you’ll never know that you are falling rather you’ll feel like flying. So occasionally it’s a good thing to fall. Negotiating life’s fluctuations underscores the importance of resilience as a vital asset, empowering us to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and fosters continuous learning, unlearning, and relearning.
- Be flexible and adaptable: Mastering the art of navigating the unpredictable twists and turns in our dynamic life journey involves cultivating flexibility and adaptability, much like the flow of water. In the words of Bruce Lee, “Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.” Life rarely adheres to a rigid set of rules; instead, unforeseen surprises mold our path. Those who embrace a flexible mindset experience a smoother adjustment process, enhancing their ability to navigate unexpected challenges with ease. The ability to adjust to changing circumstances is a valuable skill.
- Be Persistence but don’t stick to a dead zone: Persistence demands a willingness to break free from counterproductive cycles, enabling progress despite setbacks, failures, and obstacles. It involves the commitment to persevere until your desired outcome is achieved. Rather than being stubborn or inflexible, persistence revolves around fostering a growth mindset—believing in the capacity to learn, evolve, and improve through effort and practice. However, there’s a caveat; persistence may become detrimental to our careers. When an idea, project, or product proves unsuccessful, it’s essential to shift perspective. Instead of stubbornly adhering to the original concept, a more effective approach involves thinking innovatively to identify why the idea isn’t working. Through this iterative process, goals can be established based on the outcomes, mitigating potential dangers of unwavering persistence.
- Don’t panic or stress out yourself under pressure: In the course of our daily lives, numerous factors often surpass our control, becoming primary sources of stress. If not managed effectively, stress can negatively impact both our health and overall well-being. Embracing stress and facing tight deadlines, however, comes with its own advantages. Working under pressure can provide an opportunity to approach challenges from a fresh perspective, yielding outcomes that may seem daunting without those added constraints. As the saying goes, “Pressure makes diamonds” (George S. Patton Jr.), emphasizing the potential for growth and success in the face of adversity.
- ‘Yes’, to Growth zone and ‘No’ to Comfort zone: Embracing personal development requires venturing beyond the familiar into the growth zone. Saying “Yes” to growth entails navigating through the fear zone and then immersing oneself in the learning zone. The pivotal factors in this journey are adopting a growth mindset and practicing mindfulness. These elements are indispensable in comprehending and cherishing the present moment, thereby fostering continuous personal development. Strive persistently to broaden your knowledge base by actively pursuing opportunities for learning. Engage in reading to refine your cognitive abilities and enhance your understanding, particularly in areas beyond your specialized domain. Aspire to become a polymath, cultivating a broad spectrum of knowledge that is crucial in our dynamically evolving world. Embrace openness to exploration, whether it be discovering novel concepts, embarking on new adventures, or immersing yourself in unfamiliar cultures.
- Improve your Emotional Intelligence: In 1990, the concept of emotional intelligence was initially introduced by researchers John Mayer and Peter Salovey. However, it gained widespread recognition through psychologist Daniel Goleman, who popularized it in his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.” As defined by Goleman, emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and those of others, to motivate oneself, and to effectively manage emotions in both personal and relational contexts. The intricacies of life necessitate emotional intelligence, as the comprehension and regulation of emotions play a crucial role in making effective decisions and fostering positive interpersonal relationships.
- Take care of your Mental Health: While it is crucial to focus on our success and career advancement, there are times when we must pause and prioritize our mental well-being by engaging in enjoyable or relaxing activities. Despite some countries still viewing mental health as a societal taboo, it is essential not to be ashamed of acknowledging our need for mental support. If we take care of our mental health the way, we take care of our physical health then we will be able to do more productive work.
- Be around your support circle: At times, life hit us hard, leaving us feeling disheartened and questioning our own capabilities, fostering the insidious grip of imposter syndrome. In these challenging moments, what becomes crucial is seeking reassurance and motivation from our support circle. This circle, though often small, is comprised of individuals who provides us with candid feedback, constructive insights and lend a helping hand in navigating through failures and stressful times. Nurture these relationships, for they serve as a sanctuary where authenticity reigns, and where the echoes of encouragement drown out the whispers of self-doubt. It is within the embrace of this network that we find solace, motivation, and the resilience to emerge stronger from life’s challenges.
- Always Reflect on your works and avoid repeating mistakes: The journey of personal and professional growth is inherently intertwined with the capacity to learn from mistakes and avoid their repetition. Reflection becomes the compass guiding individuals towards a more informed and enlightened future. Albert Einstein’s timeless observation aptly captures the essence of this principle: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This statement underscores the futility of persisting in a cycle of repetition without learning from prior experiences. Instead, embracing a mindset of continuous learning and adaptation fosters a dynamic approach to life’s challenges.
Looking Ahead to 2024:
As we embrace the arrival of a new year, I am open to the prospect of a renewed beginning. The wisdom gained from both the experiences of 2023 and times gone by will serve as the building blocks for what lies ahead. While I’ve carefully outlined my aspirations for 2024, I acknowledge that certain plans may need adjustment, unforeseen opportunities may arise, and unexpected twists might occur. Nevertheless, maintaining the determination to move forward remains paramount. I am going to approach the upcoming year with optimism and anticipation.
How about you?
Wishing everyone a joyous New Year, 2024 !!!