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2020 reflections

  1. Take care of my body. This was a much-needed reminder. The first study (a due diligence) I did this year was taxing on my physical and mental health. I worked 110 hours a week, and 2 out of 3 days during a long weekend. Both days I slept at 3am and I remember momentarily glancing up towards the windows as the Australia Day fireworks went off. I felt my soul being crushed. As COVID restrictions hit, I stopped going to the gym and ate more takeaway food. As COVID restrictions eased, I didn’t go back to exercising but continued eating poorly and also started drinking more. Near the end of the year, I felt that I was physically weaker, my energy levels were lower, my thinking wasn’t as quick and my skin was worse.
  2. Don’t take anything for granted. I often forget just how incredibly lucky I am. I am young and relatively healthy (despite what I’ve said above). I have a caring family, awesome friends and an amazing girlfriend. I have a job which pays well. I was able to spend six years at university studying what I enjoyed. I have had the privilege to travel to over 30 countries, and still travel interstate during this pandemic. I live in Australia. It’s easy to complain about what I don’t have, but COVID has been a good reminder that things that can be taken away in a moment.
  3. I am more introverted than I thought. I actually didn’t find the lockdown so terrible as many of my friends did. I found it quite relieving to not feel the social obligation of going out and seeing people.
  4. “Where I play” will be one of the most important questions I have to answer in my career. I’m increasingly believing that “where to play” is more important than “how to win” in the strategic game of life (a lesson which also applies to companies). There are a few dimensions I’ve been considering (which I realised, after writing them down, map roughly to Ikigai):
    • The first dimension is personal motivation. I need to think about what problem I want to solve, and I know it needs to be intellectually stimulating and challenging for it to be interesting to me. I hate solving boring problems and I lose energy and motivation very quickly.
    • The second dimension is what I’m good at and what I can potentially learn to be good at. I have the skillset of a management consultant, some experience being a small business entrepreneur and a technical background in economics and mathematics. What should I invest more time in learning? Is it sales, or programming, or philosophy, or something else?
    • The third dimension is financial return. I need to find the right intersection of industry tailwinds.
    • The fourth dimension is how much impact I can make in this world. I have been recently reading about how we can best use the 80,000 hours we have in our career.
  5. One person can make a difference. Something I really like about McKinsey is that one of the values is to “uphold the obligations to engage and dissent”. There have been many moments in the year where a team member has spoken up and it’s completed pivoted our way of thinking and changed the answer.
  6. I have a lot to learn. The more I learn, the more I slide down the Dunning-Kruger curve. At the same time, I’m gaining more confidence and validation in what I know I know and what I know I don’t know. I have a lot to learn about understanding, empathising with and influencing other people, both in a personal and professional context. I have a lot to learn about myself and my own consciousness. I have a lot to learn about how the world works socially, ethically, politically, physically and technologically.

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