2016 Reflections: The Importance Of Striking A Balance In Life

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“It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.”

– Philip Green

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2016 has been a year of many ‘1st times’ for me. Some were great experiences while others were far from it. 

Nonetheless, I was initially tempted to sum up the number of positive things this year and say: “Hey! It’s been an awesome year! There were more positives than negatives!”

But truth be told, it doesn’t ever work that way. I mean we gotta always be optimistic but we need to get real here. Some negative things can severely mess with your life.

2016 was that kinda year for me.

There were lots of awesome, wonderful ‘1st times’ for me… and it also scared some shit outta me.

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Relationships

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Toledo, ancient city of Spain (Sep 2016)

There were some ‘1st times’ in the relationships area that really stood out for me:

1. Maiden holiday in Europe with my wife. Spain and Portugal were just so beautiful. I think I fell in love (with my wife) over and over again.

2. Got the keys to my new flat – which isn’t just four walls. It will be our home and will take our relationship even further. 

3. Went on a staycation with my parents for the 1st time. Mum doesn’t like hotels. Nothin’ can beat her own bed.

4. Impromptu visit to my brother’s house on Christmas Day for the 1st time ever. Brought along a bottle of wine and finished it while we played LEGO with my niece. 

5. Attended the 1st birthday party of my younger niece. She’s born on the same day of the year as I am. 

6. Became a friend’s groomsman for the first time. Did it a second time (for another friend). 

Career

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Taking an evening stroll along Lake Lucerne during a work trip in Switzerland (Oct 2016)

There was a big change in my role at a pharma co., which led to many brand new experiences for me:

1. Made a personal record of 12 business trips in 2016.

2. Flew business class for the 1st time on SQ & Emirates to Seoul & Zürich respectively. Holy shit… the experience was holy shit. 

Overall in the 5 years since I’ve entered the workforce, 2016 is by far the best – the most intellectually challenging, rewarding, empowering, meaningful but of course, the most stressful yet. I could never have envisioned how things could have shaped up this year. 

Personal Finances

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1. I set out upon graduation in 2011 to amass a target amount of liquid net worth by the age of 30 (Dec 2017) through savings and investments. I achieved this small personal milestone before my 29th birthday.

Health

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1. I was warded in hospital for the 1st time this year in Aug. Was diagnosed with Bronchitis and Pneumonia. As you can probably guess, the Health section isn’t gonna be one to cheer about.

2. Separately, I went for an elective surgery in Sep to remove my tonsils (had chronic tonsillitis since young). Had a day-surgery and went home… everything was nice and dandy. There was a 5% risk of a post-surgery infection. I was fortunate enough to be one of that 5%. Was told I had to go under the knife again during a follow-up review to stop any more blood from oozing out. 

3. The night after being discharged, I woke up from my sleep at around 2 am. You know when you salivate while thinking about your favourite food, feeling the saliva in your mouth? Only this time, it wasn’t saliva and there was no food. It was just blood. I was bleeding profusely from deep inside my throat. Recalled clutching the huge tissue ball of blood as I laid in the cab en-route to the hospital, and vomiting out blood clots 3-4cm in diameter before the surgery. Was told later that a blood vessel had burst. 

4. To top it off, during the numerous stays at the hospital, doctors suspected that I may have hypertension. My blood pressure (BP) was a little high for someone my age and weight. It may have contributed to the blood vessel bursting in the first place.

I was then started on anti-hypertensives for a month to lower the risk of bleeding, and was ordered to monitor my BP on a daily basis. Was then advised to go off the medication for one week, so the specialist can assess if the pressure looked okay without medication. 

As it turned out, my BP wasn’t wasn’t at normal healthy levels when I was off the meds, but it wasn’t super high either… so for now, I don’t have to take anymore medication. Have to go for a review in 6 months though… so I’m not completely out of the woods yet. 

So What Did I Take Away From 2016?

I was scared that I would be diagnosed with hypertension, a chronic illness at 28 years old – it would mean being placed on medication, likely for life. Also recalled that a medical check-up in Feb showed that I had no issues with BP. So the issue arose during the course of this year.

I sought to think: what changed in 2016? 

  • Reduction in exercise to non-existent levels
  • Increased stress levels at work 
  • Very, very unhealthy diet especially when I went on holidays & work trips (lots of bacon, red meats, processed foods, salty snacks/foods, overdose of coffee and alcohol) What can I say? I’m a greedy pig.

seesawAt that moment, having had a great year in terms of my relationships, career & personal finances didn’t mean that much anymore because like a see-saw, my life was unbalanced.

If my health wasn’t getting any attention from me, it will probably in the long-run, adversely impact my ability to spend quality time with loved ones and earn $$ to support the family.

They are all inter-connected.

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It dawned upon me that I had to be a better juggler between various aspects of life:

  • Relationships
  • Career & Money
  • Health
  • Religion
  • <insert whatever else that is important to you>

I decided not to strive to achieve something at the great expense of another. Once a ball is dropped, it might be shattered forever.

I could get a stroke at 40 if I didn’t pay attention to my health. I could damage my relationships with loved ones if I cast them aside for work or whatever other distractions. 

We see lots of people sacrificing their sleep and time with loved ones just to put in extra number of hours at the office, in the remote hope that their efforts will be recognized with $$. I used to be one of those people a long time ago in another company, putting in 60-70 hours of work each week. 

Trust me, it’s not worth it.

We may not be so lucky each time we get a wake-up call.

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Cheers,

Nicholas.

 

 

 

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