A Year of the Unplanned and Unexpected

2016 was a year of dramatic change.

This year, I went through the most changes I have ever experienced in 12 months. I left a job that I loved, moved out of an apartment I had just moved into, left a country I’d grown attached to for 8 years, got engaged to my wonderful, loving boyfriend, moved to the Philippines, joined a new company, started a masters degree, and got a puppy.

None of this was planned. Even getting a dog was a surprise for me (although I’d been dropping hints to my fiancé for a while). If you had asked me a year ago what I’d be doing with my life at this day, I wouldn’t have been able to predict any of the above.

See, the thing about mapping out our goals and dreams that I learned is that no matter how much I plan, my plans are still very much susceptible to change. Sometimes, we find ourselves trying to resist change. Having a routine is predictable, comfortable, and most of all, safe. When we stick to our routine and do everything the way we imagined them, the way we dreamt them, slowly but surely ticking off every item on our list, we feel accomplished and satisfied. However, experience teaches us (it sure taught me!) that change is constant, and if we don’t embrace it, we will find ourselves being resistant to life itself.

When change happens, we can choose to focus on the negative, on everything we have to give up. I left Australia, and was leaving behind my close group of friends, the opportunity to jump on a bus to go to the beach whenever I wanted to or to go jogging along my favorite route around Blackwattle Bay. Writing this is actually making me a bit sentimental, but focusing on what we have to give up doesn’t do us any favors.

But we can also choose to focus on what we have to gain. Whenever someone asks me whether I’m sad to have left Australia, instead of thinking about the life I previously planned, I smile and focus on what is in store for me—how excited I am to be reunited with my family and to be reacquainted with my roots.

Focusing on the positive is always more fun (and healthy). Everything is so transient, and we never really know when our situation might change again. Change teaches us lessons more valuable than what we could plan for.

Without change, there would be no improvements, and we’d be getting the same results because we’d be doing the same thing. Change brings new opportunities, and opens our minds to the different possibilities out there.

This 2017, I wish you all a year of unplanned and unexpected events! I hope that instead of avoiding change, you aim to initiate it. You don’t need to move to another country or get married to initiate change. Change can be as simple as trying to take on a new project outside your comfort zone.

Like what a huge advocate of change and progress once told me, “We must always move forward. Once you stand still, you’re falling behind.”

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