5 Things I have learnt in 2018

by Pauline on December 21st 2018

With 2018 quickly coming to an end, I wanted to share 5 life lessons I learnt in 2018. This is the third year I wrote a “lessons learnt” post, check out 2017’s lessons and 2016’s lessons – it’s always cool to see how I view things have changed over time!

This year’s trip to Malaga


1. Resting gives you superpowers. 

“Quality over Quantity”

I have always heard this saying floating around.

You would think that this saying would make sense when I was fighting back tears from overwhelm in February. I was working 3 jobs, trying my best to pass my exams and assignments, saying yes to every speaking opportunity, organising and attending every single event I could. 

Or maybe when as soon as I finished university, I rushed into the workforce with the fear of graduating without a job, and as soon as I stepped foot into my new city, I was searching for more things to fill up my evenings because every hour of my day had to be covered. I did this despite knowing that my mind and body was craving rest.

It wasn’t even when my mind and body gave up every month since September — at least once because I kept pushing, saying yes to every project, taking more things on, giving myself an overload of responsibilities and commitments.

But then one evening on a weekend, I found myself staring at the ceiling of my room with my mind full of all the I deliverables from all these commitments. My emails refreshed with another opportunity. Usually, my reaction is full of excitement but this time it was different.

I felt anxiety and stress rise up to my heart with my head begging me to stop. I looked at my calendar again, and saw all those hours constant work outside of my 9 – 5 where I was already learning so much for the capacity of my brain.

That’s when I decided that it was enough.

When you fall out of love with something that used to get you to spring from bed at 5am in the morning, that’s the final warning sign.

I needed to rest.

I learnt that rest doesn’t mean that I will lag behind everyone else. It means making the choice to get myself out of the rat-race to slow down and focus on quality. And producing better quality work whether that’s a report, content or a talk will benefit everyone.

We live in a 24/7 world, but that doesn’t mean we have to be 24/7. Recharging is important.

2. It takes two to tango

2 years ago, my dad said this when I was going through a tough break-up. He was right… you simply cannot give everything you have to someone who isn’t prepared to give an equal amount.

I truly believe that this saying applies to every relationship that there is, beyond romantic ones.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this year, the saying helps keep me in check when I want to pour my heart and soul into something or to move mountains for someone, when I know that my tango partner isn’t on the same vibe. The reality is that not everyone is ready to tango nor on the same page constantly… some people really really hate tango, you know? And that’s fine to an extent, because we are all different but similar values is key.

Most things in life are a two way street. If effort and commitment slides on one side, the other suffers and frankly it just doesn’t work.

Think about it in a job setting! The interviewer could absolutely love you and give you an offer on the spot, but if you don’t think they’re the right match for your development needs, you’re going to walk away and they have to find someone else.

(…To tango with.)

I was offered a position at a company this year during my job search, but despite the incredible offer and opportunity, my heart was elsewhere and so I declined. My relationship with that offer didn’t work out, but it worked out elsewhere for me and for them eventually. It really is a two-way street.

The tango only really work when both parties are in it with the same amount of effort and aligned values. Period.

This year, my dad’s saying still rings true and grounds me when I lose control of my feet.

3. When you lift others, they lift you

Helping others truly sparks joy and feeling of fulfilment for me. Since discovering the ways that I can provide value to others, I’ve never stopped to try and help at least one person either with their career journey into technology, writing blogs or even health! I finish every talk that I do with, “Please get in touch with me if you have any more questions, or just to chat, I love y’all!” Because honestly, adding a nugget of value into someone else’s life fires up my excitement for my own. 

I never understood the huge impact of helping others has had on me until this year. 

“What goes around, comes around.”

I have been put forward for a lengthy list of awards, nominations, features, and recommendations all from folks lifting me up and shouting out about my work. 2018 has been a successful year, but I would have been nothing without the support and love.

So, help others when you can without expecting much back, but it will come back around and become a beautiful circle of constant love and support. It rocks.

4. Independence is a challenge

In July, I packed my bags and moved out of my parents’ home. For those that don’t know already, I hadn’t moved out of my family’s home – even at university! I had practically been in a comfortable shelter since I was born.

At first, I thought that it was the worse thing I have ever decided to do and I almost immediately moved back, but I pushed through with weekly tears!

But now? I’m enjoying the independence, responsibilities and other challenges adulting brings. I love knowing that I can stand on my own two feet without constant supervision. There will be things that I don’t know how to deal with or resolve, but figuring it all out is all part of the fun!

Also hey, the amount of things I know and can do now around general life is insane. The world feels less scary, and world-dominating feels easier with all this new knowledge. 😆

5. The power of long term thinking

Thinking long term in money, careers, relationships and health has insane high potential. 2018 has taught me how truly powerful this is, I have shifted my mindset from craving immediate gratification to thinking ahead in years to come for rewards.

The best example I can give is money (especially relevant this year) but can really be applied to anything.

When I began working full-time again in my summer placement after being a student for 4 years, I caught myself living from pay check to pay check, literally spending every penny because I thought that, “hey, I earned it.” I quickly realised that the short term mindset is dangerous and costly. So I started to think about the future and my long term goals. This activity along with a hell lot of honesty, I discovered that one thing I truly want is the ability to be financial free; meaning that I don’t want to worry at the end of each month when I’m scraping my last pennies to last me until my next pay day. It’s exhausting

So I started…

  • learning about personal finances when I realised that I truly knew nothing about money.
  • organising my finances focusing especially on ways to really “stick to the budget” in a way that works for me
  • putting money away FIRST to a savings ISA and investing (which I’ve recently been leaning more towards investing to get my money to work work work 😝) So as soon as money drops, I pay myself first before anyone else. Anything left over a day before my next payday also goes into savings or investments — so far it’s working really well!
  • I also stopped putting all my extra cash from side gigs into buying useless stuff and instead stashing it away or re-investing in things that will make my side hustles more 💰

This all affects me in the present – those urges I have sometimes need to be contained but this practice has made me into a much more patient person and has allowed me to understand the power of thinking long term. My present self dislikes what I’ve committed to sometimes (especially when immediate gratification feels so good), but my future self will be thankful, I know it!

This applies to other things in my life, for example, my career where I ask myself daily, “is what I’m doing right now, contribute to where I want to be after my graduate scheme in 2 years time?” Keeps me focused. Super powerful.

This tweet summarises this point well.


What are the 5 things you’ve learnt this year? Comment below or link me to your blog posts!

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas!


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6 comments

  1. Hiro says:

    Woo hoo Paw. These are all amazing reflections and they’ll serve you so well in the future. I wish I realized half these things at your age. Now I’m almost 30 and looking at my 1939495 deliverables and going, “Well shit. I’ve booked myself solid until next summer… I guess I’m not going to be able to rest until then….” And then a new email comes in, asking me if I’m still on board to commit more months after that 😂 There’s no creating and no successes without both physical and mental health!

    Keep chugging, keep inspiring, and make sure to breathe 😉 also put NYC in your calendar plz!

    • Pauline says:

      “There’s no creating and no successes without both physical and mental health!” I couldn’t say it better myself, take care of yourself too! YES GIRL YES 😉

  2. Brandy says:

    This post has me speechless. I love all of these quotes, regardless of hearing them on multiple occasions, but it makes my heart warm how much they reflected and impacted you. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Adrianne says:

    Long time no see/hear Pauline! Way too long haha!

    I agree 100% with #1. These past few months, I haven’t been really productive one way or the other. When I get home, it’s straight to bed for a nap, but by the time I wake up, it’s already in the middle of primetime and not enough hours to charge through the things I need to do before the clock strikes midnight.

    #2 is the reason why I’m still single LOL. But, I’ve also thought that maybe I wasn’t meant to be with someone, that I survive longer and my happiness prolonged being single. Either way, so be it.

    #3 is very important, even if you don’t win any awards or recommend you or nominate you for the things you’ve done for others. Just lifting others’ spirits up really makes you feel good too.

    Even though I still live with my parents (#4), I’m pretty much independent. The parents don’t question my outside activities and the places that I go because they trust me enough to take care of myself. It’s just unfortunate that I live in one of the most expensive regions in the country that I’m afraid of moving out of the area. It’s like, once I move out, I can never return, something along those lines.

    #5 is an eye-opener to me. I’ve set aside as much money as I can for a coding bootcamp program that I plan to attend next year, however, my second car accident not only cost me my car, but caused me to change my plans for 2019 and I had to cross out the coding bootcamp plans for buying a new car. I’m currently driving my mom’s SUV (who rarely drives anyway), but unless if my mom is willing to sell the SUV to me, I still want my own car. Lastly, I seriously need to focus on seriously working on my resume and go back to job hunting again.

    Keep doing on what you do. You already know you’re good at them already. 😊

    • Pauline says:

      Hey you! Thanks for leaving a comment, lovely to see you in the blogosphere again 🤗

      Good luck with all your goals, I’m super stoked to know that my lessons have given you value to keep up with yours!