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4 Lessons from 2014

As 2014 has just come to a close, I thought that this would be the perfect time to reflect on 4 big lessons I’ve learnt. It’s a good self-reflection exercise and I hope it’ll go on to inspire you.

Here they are:

1. Do what you want

I started my life in university studying Economics. Of course this was in line with my then dream of graduating top of the class (yeah right), securing a coveted job at a bank, earning big bucks, and retiring early.

This dream took a turn after I enrolled in a design thinking class in my second year at SMU. The class opened my eyes to the world of human-centered design and got me thinking about what I really wanted to do after graduating.

To cut the long story short, the class inspired me enough to embark on a long journey of soul searching. It was a painful process, but boy was it useful. I came out of it with a much better understanding of what I wanted to do and achieve in life.

I wanted to do impactful work that would help create value for society and the people I worked with. I wanted to learn more about human-centered design. More importantly, I wanted to look forward to going to work everyday.

This lead to me looking for internships and eventually a job that involved design thinking. Today, I’m happily working at Savant Degrees, a Digital Innovation Studio. Granted, while there are definitely days when I wonder if I’m really on the right path, I can safely say that I have no regrets.

Here’s the takeaway. Don’t fret if you find yourself unsure about what you want to do or achieve in life. Don’t pull your hair out or kill yourself for it. More often than not, the answer lies within you. Be brave enough to sit yourself down and find that answer. It might take time, but it’ll be worth your while.

2. Do what you love

I’ve always wanted to be a successful entrepreneur. In 2014, I took a leap of faith and started Sialah, a proof of concept for a lifestyle brand that I would be launching this year. The journey, though small, was scary, tiring and amazing at the same time.

I love the idea of sustaining myself financially while being in control of my own time. I love the idea of making a difference in the world. I love the uncertainty, the late nights, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with every sale.

Knowing what I wanted and loved to do only came to me after quite a bit of soul searching. I was also lucky to have been inspired by my Mum who was a successful entrepreneur herself.

What I’m trying to get at is this. Do what you love. We only get one shot at life. We only get one shot at being young. One shot at being old. One shot at living and dying.

Why live your life doing something you dread everyday, when you could be doing something you love? Remember, we always have a choice.

3. Learn from haters

Sialah was my first proper entrepreneurial venture and I started it in the middle of 2014. While the journey has been an amazing one so far, there were definitely some low moments.

I remember receiving a live chat message from a customer who was visiting the store and it went something like:

Why is everything so expensive? You offer free shipping but you think we’re stupid? You’re hiding your shipping costs.

The customer closed the chat window before I could respond. While it may seem trivial, it’s definitely not nice being in such a situation as a business owner.

I’ve since learnt that it always helps to look at such situations objectively. That customer was probably upset because my prices weren’t transparent enough. I took that as a learning lesson and tweaked the copy on my page to make things clearer.

Lesson learnt. Instead of being affected by haters, learn from the valuable feedback they’re actually providing. Haters are everywhere and they’re only here to stay. Make the best out of them.

4. Supporters rock!

The one thing that really made the year of 2014 for me was the immense amount of support and encouragement that I got from my family, friends, acquaintances and strangers when I launched Sialah.

It was heartwarming , mind-blowing, yet extremely humbling at the same time.

I never once expected to receive that amount of love. The big lesson here is that we all have more supporters than we think we have.

So if the lack of support from the people around you is something that has been stopping you from doing what you want or love, you’re needlessly worrying. Make that change and quit worrying. Heck, if no one sends you a note of encouragement, I will.

So in summary, 2014 was a pleasant year with meaningful takeaways. I hope that this reflection was helpful and will go on to inspire some of you.

That’s about it for now. Godspeed.