Where to Next?
My time in Singapore is drawing to a close. 7 years, 2 months, and 12 days have passed since I touched down as a curious and optimistic foreigner anxious to see and do as much as possible so as to truly know and understand my surroundings. So much has transpired during this time. It shocks me to think that time has gone by so quickly, yet I can stand back proudly and say that my time in Singapore has been well-lived. I leave this island nation having earned it's approval to be a permanent resident in 2006 and was deeply honored when the nation offered me citizenship just two years later. I respectfully turned down the offer and maintain my US citizenship, however the thought does rekindle every April 15th each year when tax filings are due in the US.
Singapore for me, has always been the place where my goals were realized. My goal, clear back in 2000, was to live and work in Asia. It took a while and several twisting pathways to make that goal happen. When it did happen, it was Singapore that was my entry point and foundational rock within this fascinating part of the world. The dilemma one faces when accomplishing a major goal however, is to ask... What's next?
I was faced with just such a question posed to me by a Japanese economics student who was a pupil of my good friend from college days. Ibuki, who after all his rambunctious episodes when we were both friends in college at Oregon State, is now an esteemed professor of economics at one of Japan's top universities. He had asked me to present to his class on the path I had taken in my career and to give advice to his students. It was after hearing my presentation on the importance of goal setting when the female student raised her hand and asked me that since I had accomplished my major goal of living and working in Asia, what was my next goal? It was something I had silently dwelt upon numerous times but now here was someone calling me out on it.
When you are tracking down your goals, it can all become a blur. In our personal ambition we sometimes fly right over the top of goals after accomplishing them without dialing back in to re-set our coordinates for the next journey. I must admit that I have been operating in this cloudy haze for a while and the student's question shook me back to life. If anything, 2011 has thus far been a year of re-connecting with people who are both important to me and who have inspired me. I have used these moments this year to re-evaluate my goals and to set a new course.
My new journey takes me to Korea. Although the location may be different, the new-found importance of focusing on personal life and the relationships I hold dear will remain my new priority and goal. Life is not one-sided with just work alone. As I look forward to Korea, I also tip my hat in kind admiration to my adoptive home of Singapore. This place has seen me triumph, it has seen me fail, and it has seen me rise up again. The lessons learned here will be with me forever. Although I am leaving, I know deep down it is not a Farewell but rather a See You Soon.