Expectations for 2017

Happy New Year, America!

I believe I can safely speak for all of us when I say, “2016, I’ll see you in Hell!” A new year begins anew, one that is filled with understandable concerns but also optimism in our lives.

Each year, I set out a list of expectations instead of resolutions. I find resolutions to be easily breakable while expectations set out things I want to accomplish while not worrying about certain timelines or strict benchmarks.

That being said, join me as I go through my own set of expectations in 2017…

Career – After a turbulent 2016 defined by two straight job losses, my career is slowly back on track with my current administrative role for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s (VTA) ACCESS Paratransit division, operated under contract by Dallas-based transportation conglomerate MV Transportation.

This year will serve as the first real¬†test as to what the future of my career will look like following the¬†completion of a three-year long graduate degree program in transportation management. My ultimate goal remains¬†to return to the public sector (although I’m already partly there, just as a contractor), working for a transportation agency on public affairs, community relations, transit operations among other administrative areas in the business. I’m already off to a good start this year with MV and I hope to see where I can go from there — whether it involves a long-term future with that company or another organization.

Keep on learning – Last month, I¬†completed the Master of Science in Transportation Management degree program at San Jose State University. While graduate school is over for me, the passion for learning new things continues but in different ways. There are a variety of other ways that could still satisfy my desire to learn more about the world around me, long after finishing my latest academic endeavor. I hope to find time in reading more — borrowing books from a local library, buying or renting books on Amazon, subscribing to online newspapers or magazines, etc. I also hope to find ways to put my writing skills to good use outside of a professional capacity — through regular posts on this blog, contributing elsewhere, consulting others and so on.

Exploring new possibilities – There are still tons more places across the country I want to visit. Locally in the Bay Area, there are still parts of the region I have called home for more than two years where I have yet to fully explore including the North Bay. There are trails¬†yet to be hiked, landmarks to be visited, restaurants to be patronized, trains to be traveled. Whatever the activities are and wherever they take place, I’m always looking forward to the next new adventure.

Personal goals РI still have some unfinished business that I hope to resolve this year. Among them, I hope to finally master the art of riding a bike, learning how to swim, dating for the first time in my life, reviving my philanthropic streak to local and national causes; and rekindling certain relationships with family and friends.

Those are my expectations. What are some of yours? If resolutions instead, tell me! Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the year ahead by sharing your thoughts below.

[Before I go, I’ve made the decision¬†to transition my long-running Reflections and Expectations from a monthly series to a quarterly series. If you’ve been following along for the last 3.5+ years, thank you kindly. The next edition will be published in late March.]

Expectations for 2016

Happy New Year, America!

Each year, I set expectations instead of resolutions. I find resolutions too imposing while expectations allow me to focus on things I must achieve without hard deadlines or benchmarks. I feel expectations make me less inclined to abandon important goals.

Here are a few major things I expect for 2016…

Professional development –¬†With my career back on track since last April, my focus has since shifted to further developing as a competent professional in the business of marketing and transportation. My expectation is to continue learning and soliciting feedback from my superiors about my performance as a marketing coordinator for a civil engineering firm. That way, I can always be in the know regarding how I can stay at the top of my game.

2016 also¬†marks my final year of graduate school. My capstone semester has already begun — expected to be the most arduous time period of the Master of Science in Transportation Management program at San Jose State University. I will participate in the June convocation ceremony before returning in October to finish out my 10th and final course in this nearly three-year-long program. With this, I hope to further develop as a professional by becoming a part of a future generation of transportation managers — public affairs, community relations or even contracts administration all being top in mind. The possibilities are wide reaching.

Family relationships –¬†Relationships with my relatives have remained stable but mildly troubling at times. Recent developments suggest I need more work in this area.

I’ve previously mentioned¬†in this space about the¬†complicated relationship with my biological mother, who I am still getting to know after a 15-year-long separation lasting much of my childhood. As much as I’m still unsure about whether a relationship can ever be reestablished, I’m still open to making it work to the extent possible.

My expectation this year is to at least ramp up the level of communication with my mother. Although I always maintained respect for my mother as a human being, I admit I fell short in this area in the last few years. Treating my mother with greater respect is an equally important objective I have for this year.

Healthy living –¬†I gained about 15 to 20 pounds over the eight months I’ve been at my current job. When a weight gain is that substantial, it warrants attention.

As I regularly¬†do, I plan to continue assessing¬†my eating habits and identify areas where changes are needed. I expect¬†to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet while curtailing meat consumption in certain respects. I also expect to look into curtailing overall consumption of sweets. All of these are considered herculean tasks at best but I’m still committed to effecting these changes, little by little.

Although not the most rigorous in nature, it just happens that I get at least some workout nearly every day. I still attend vinyasa yoga classes at a local yoga studio every Wednesday nights since late July. I also extensively walk for part of my commute to and from work each day. My expectation on this front is to maintain these minimum levels of workout regimens with gradual plans to incorporate home yoga practices, complementing my Wednesday night classes.

For this new year, I’m looking forward to the following:

Driving –¬†This could finally be that year when I earn a driver’s license. Even after that happens, I don’t plan on getting my own car anytime soon nor driving as much. Having grown up with transit, I make the system work for me. It certainly works here in Santa Clara County with gaps easily filled by Uber and Lyft.

End of grad school –¬†Three courses left — two for this capstone semester and one in the latter half of fall semester. I won’t rule out pursuing another degree or certification down the line.

Trips –¬†I’m headed to Phoenix later this month while I have revisits to Southern California confirmed for March and June. If I can make it happen, Dallas and Houston are top in mind while Kansas City – St. Louis is a runner-up for consideration.

Among others –¬†The miscellaneous things still rule in their own ways. I’m looking forward to the Ellie Goulding concert at the SAP Center in San Jose this April — two days after my 27th birthday. Also, I have plans to attend the grand opening of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension this March and Relay for Life in Mission Viejo in June. I’m sure there’s more as I go along.

What are your expectations for 2015? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.

Reflections and Expectations: Wheels Up

It’s all about the holidays. As we close the book on another year, join me in looking back at the month that was in the latest Reflections and Expectations.

December 2015

Christmas РThis month saw the return of all but one annual holiday traditions after missing out on everything in 2014 due to extenuating circumstances at the time.

This holiday season marked the first time since 2012 where I was able to participate in seasonal activities hosted by my employer. Among the activities at Mark Thomas & Company included a meetup at a Dave and Buster’s, volunteering at a local food bank and a¬†drive¬†to collect¬†gifts for less-fortunate children and adults.

After missing out on the festivities last year, I came roaring back with my annual traditions in SoCal throughout the last two weeks. This included my return to the annual¬†Christmas party hosted by¬†my railfan buddies at Fullerton station the Saturday before Christmas — which I’ve attended since 2011 — and later spending the Christmas holiday itself with family in San Diego — since 2010. Thanks to improved financial circumstances, I was able to purchase higher-quality gifts for everyone in my family and some of my extended relatives.¬†It’s good to see everything not only back to normal this year but better than years past.

January 2016

  • Grad School – Back into the swing of things after taking a quarter off. This is the capstone semester. If I make it through the next five months, I deserve a corgi.
  • Phoenix – Arizona is a state I twice stopped for airport layovers and once passed through Amtrak. This time, I get to visit the city proper and the state in my own right. Any recommendations?
  • Driving test – At the end of the month, I could very well see myself obtaining a driver’s license for the first time. There’s also the possibility I may¬†not get it on the first try and retakes will be an inevitability. Still, it’s the farthest I’ve ever reached in this process.

A wrap-up post highlighting my major life developments will be published Tuesday. On New Year’s Day Friday, my expectations for 2016. Be sure to check those out when published.

How did this holiday season turn out for you? What are you looking forward to in the coming year? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you. Happy New Year, America!

Expectations for 2015

IMG_0073Happy New Year, America!

Every year, I set out to make expectations as opposed to resolutions. Expectations are things I expect to see happen without setting concrete benchmarks whereas resolutions tend to be predicated on unrealistic and ambitious goals that get quickly abandoned.

If you’ve read my posts throughout 2014, you’ll know I continued to experience professional and personal challenges that have now dragged on into its third year. I genuinely hope 2015 will finally be the year when my life turns around. I made the same predictions about 2014 and was later proven to be badly mistaken. I’ll be damned if I’m wrong about 2015 too but we’ll see.

With that, here are my expectations for 2015.

Getting my career back on track – After being out of work for 15 months, a terribly long and dismal streak finally ended two months ago when I landed some kind of temporary employment through a staffing agency.

This year, the focus shifts from searching for any kind of work to finding opportunities relevant to my background and career aspirations — transportation and public affairs / community relations.

I’m currently under consideration for a career opportunity in the Bay Area that involves public communication for a transportation agency. I hope I emerge victorious in this particular opportunity due to the great potential that awaits in this position. I’ll find out within the next few months where it all goes.

If not, I still hope to find some kind of work along these lines in the region. I miss working on transportation projects and the outreach side of things. It combines two great passions of mine that are vital to finding out what moves people.¬†It’s been more than two years since I was last in this kind of position and I’m still looking for the next new entity that will give me that chance.

Strengthening family relationships – Generally speaking, relations with my family have remained fairly stable in recent years. More recently, the personal and professional challenges I have experienced has chipped away at some of the bonds and good graces I have established with my relatives.

I sure hope that this is the last year for a very long time where my career troubles remain an issue. As much as I attempted to separate my professional challenges from my personal life, the dam that kept the two issues at bay breached last year, causing some of the tensions and consternations that affected my familial relationships.

My focus is to strengthen and rebuild some of the bonds diminished over the past year. Even though I have no relatives in the Bay Area, maintaining reasonably regular contact with relatives across the country and checking on their well-being must remain a priority of mine. These are people most important to me and I can’t afford to lose them because of problems of my own.

Although it remains a long shot, building a relationship with my biological mother in South Korea is still an ongoing effort. The challenges that impede such progress include the wide geographic distance that separates¬†us, her¬†14-year absence from my life as a child — which she is not at fault for — and existing language barriers — she’s not able to speak English while I’m not able to speak Korean. As for whether any substantive progress will ever materialize from this effort remains a question of its own. We’ll see where it all goes.

Travel РAlthough my financial situation is the most constrained in eight years, I remain hopeful that my financial outlook improves enough over the course of the year to partake in more travels.

Last year, I took only one major trip — Nebraska and Colorado in June. That’s in stark contrast to 2011, 2012 and 2013 where I was¬†used to visiting several new cities throughout the United States each year. I hope to fully get back into the thick of things this year.

My next new cities to visit will likely be Kansas City and St. Louis. I also hope to visit Dallas, where I recently had a cousin move out there with her family as well as a friend who’s been living in the city for many years. Other potential new cities to visit include Salt Lake City, New Orleans and Houston. Potential cities for revisits include Anchorage, Portland, Ore., Boston, New York City and Philadelphia (my former stomping grounds¬†from August 2012 to November 2013).

As for what will happen this year…

Graduate school – I am now into my first year of graduate school at San Jose State University.

I’m still pursuing a Master of Science in Transportation Management degree, hoping to take on a management role in transportation down the road as a public information officer or a community relations manager. The program also will allow me to branch out into other lines of work within transportation including, but not limited to, operations and public policy. The possibilities are endless…after graduation in June 2016, that is.

PRSA New Professionals Committee – For the second year in a row, I’m serving on this national leadership body for young public relations professionals.

Last year, I served as diversity liaison on the committee. This year, I’m a newsletter co-chair alongside Hanna Porterfield of New York City. We are both in charge of putting together a bi-monthly newsletter for the new professional section of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). I came from a background that involved extensively working on newsletters so this should be right up my alley. I also look forward to working with Hanna to producing and delivering a high-quality publication for new professionals by new professionals.

What are your expectations for 2015? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.

I’ll leave you with this from Fleetwood Mac.

Expectations for 2014: Finishing What I Started

Courtesy: Fox 5 San Diego on Facebook

Courtesy: Fox 5 San Diego (KSWB-TV) on Facebook

Happy New Year, America!

With 2013 now in the rear-view mirror, I can finally look forward to what 2014 has to offer. If you’ve been paying attention to my posts in this space throughout the last year, you’ll know that 2013 had some pretty remarkable moments but was generally a disappointing year overall. I’m hoping that this new year ushers in better times ahead.

Each year, I choose not to make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I set expectations — listing all the things I should do without holding myself to a firm timeline or strict set of procedures. That way, I won’t run the risk of abandoning such goals such easily due to burnout or loss of interest. This year entails having to accomplish a list of things that I should have already completed in years past.

Here are my four major expectations for 2014 — the year I hope to finally finish what I started at some point in the past.

1. Job search – Needless to say, the process that officially began in November 2011 — a month before I graduated from Cal State Fullerton — still hasn’t officially ended yet. (AmeriCorps was an aberration, separate from the current search.)

Despite a string of unsuccessful attempts during the first half of 2012 and much of 2013, I still remain focused on putting an official end to this search this year. I continue to look for entry-level career opportunities in public relations as it pertains to public affairs, community relations and corporate communications. My hope is to work on transportation issues although I am interested in any opportunities where I can still be resourceful and thrive, regardless of the field of interest.

2. Writing – I know. I have been doing it a lot lately, primarily on this space.

If I can take a page from Jessica Lawlor‘s playbook, I hope to branch out more with my writing skills by contributing for others through freelance work, guest-contributing on other sites and blogs and even advising people on how to write. People have told me that I am a great writer and I believe them. Why keep it to myself when others can benefit from my talents as well?

3. Travel – I keep believing each year that my budget gets smaller and smaller that I won’t be able to travel as much as I used to. Last year didn’t see any expected decreases in travel. As much as I still believe it won’t happen as much, I can be easily and quickly be mistaken.

Among the new cities to visit that are under consideration include Salt Lake City, Denver and Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Revisits from previous years that are in the works include Anchorage, Alaska and Washington, D.C. More might come up, domestic and international, as this year progresses.

4. Driving – It sometimes benefited me and sometimes gave me grief not knowing how to drive. I’ll be 25 in April and, yes, I still don’t know how.

The high cost of purchasing and maintaining a car combined with my general preference toward transit are reasons why I have chosen not to get a driver’s license yet. I have previously attempted twice to obtain one but eventually abandoned those efforts for various reasons. For the time being, I have some time to get started on that process once again.

Even if and when I do obtain a license, I won’t be buying a car anytime soon and I will continue to prefer transit as a commuting option. It does, however, open up the opportunity for me to start using ZipCar. That should make for a more cheaper alternative to owning a car.

Now, as for what will actually happen this year…

Road to grad school – I will be starting the graduate certificate program in transportation management through the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. It all begins Wednesday night with my first class dealing with emergency issues for transportation professionals.

This certificate program is a precursor to my eventual plans to pursue the full Master’s Degree program. For now, I can start out with the program I’m in now, giving me a first look at what I can truly expect going forward.

PRSA New Professionals committee – I am already the new diversity liaison for the PRSA New Professionals executive committee. I hold the distinction of being the inaugural officeholder for this title and this marks my first leadership position on a national level.

After serving in student council in high school in 2006 and on the Cal State Fullerton PRSSA chapter board in 2010, the pattern of holding a leadership position every four years proudly continues. I look forward to serving in this capacity and doing my part to encourage greater diversity and support among minority professionals in the public relations field.

What are your expectations or resolutions for 2014? Share your goals for this new year below. I’d love to hear from you.

I’ll leave you with this.

Reflections and Expectations: Hugs

photo (1)This time of year, I always look forward to being with the people I cherish and value the most.

From relatives to old friends to acquaintances, the holiday season brings about a feeling of closeness and togetherness involving individuals I value most yet rarely see as often as I want to. As part of this occasion, simply spending any amount of time with them means a lot.

As great as all the presents are, a simple gesture as a hug means a lot more than anything that has a suggested retail value printed on the side of a box. Hugs help in a time like this where I am still trying to get my career back on track. It helps remind me that there is still something to live for amid all the setbacks and slumps that I am currently facing.

Let’s take a look back at the month that was and look ahead to the first month of 2014.

December 2013

PRSA New Professionals executive committee¬†– On Dec. 12, I was selected to serve as the diversity liaison for the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) New Professionals executive committee.

As the inaugural officeholder for this position, I will be the section representative to PRSA National Diversity Committee, working with them on the organization’s initiatives to broaden diversity and provide support for minority professionals within the public relations field.

The continuation of an oddly interesting pattern will play out as a result of this appointment. Every four years since 2006, I began serving in some type of leadership position. In 2006, I was elected to serve on the student council during senior year in high school. In 2010, I was elected to serve on Cal State Fullerton PRSSA’s chapter board. In 2014, I will serve on the aforementioned leadership body. Interesting how history has a way of repeating itself. I am interested to see where it all goes.

Annual traditions РThis is a month known for annual, time-honored traditions. These are things I have looked forward to each year for the last several years.

On Dec. 20, I visited my alma mater El Dorado High School in Placentia, Calif. to visit Carey Cecil, my former student council advisor who is now principal at the school.

I have visited Ms. Cecil — as I still address her — on the last school day of the calendar year every December since 2007. A continuing source of inspiration and wisdom, she is someone I continue to admire and attribute my subsequent success in life to since graduating from there six and a half years ago. I am still grateful for all she has done to help me get to where I am now.

The following day on Dec. 21, I attended a Christmas party at Fullerton Amtrak / Metrolink station. This party involves a group of railfans I regularly spent my weekend nights with before I moved to Philadelphia. Although I have since moved back, this was my first official visit back at the station as I no longer live close enough to the station to regularly go out there.

As part of our festivities each year, we take part in Christmas caroling with a “foamer” twist attached to it. (Caroling part runs from 22:40 to 27:08, if the below embed doesn’t instantly start from there. It’s okay if you don’t get any of the references in the song.)

Christmas – For the fourth year in a row, I spent this Christmas holiday with my cousin, cousin-in-law and their two young sons that I informally call my “little cousins.” As always, I enjoy spending time with this bunch. I also babysat those kids briefly during that visit. It was my first time babysitting kids and I somehow pulled it off.

About a week before Christmas, an extended family of mine had its house burglarized. All of their presents were stolen along with some other valuables. I joined in on the efforts of their families, friends and coworkers by helping them in any way I can. In addition to getting them a gift I usually get for the whole family, I donated my PlayStation 3 to one of the kids who had his stolen. He was very grateful for what I have done for him and I was happy to be able to help him in that capacity.

January 2014

  • Start of the Mineta program – My first class begins Jan. 8. This class will cover how transportation professionals deal with emergency issues. Should be interesting.
  • Job hunt¬†– If not 2011, 2012 nor 2013, it has to be 2014.
  • PRSA New Pros committee¬†– It all begins Jan. 1. I missed being in a leadership position of some kind. Glad to be able to jump back into one.

How did December go for you? Was it what you expected? What are you looking forward to for the new year? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.

2013: My Expectations for the New Year

It’s Jan. 1, 2013…at last.

I’m glad to finally leave 2012 behind. Save for a few select moments, it was one of the most underwhelming and challenging years I’ve ever had. 2010 and 2011 were stellar years for me but I was unable to replicate those successes in 2012. I hope to make 2013 another successful one.

I’m not one for resolutions as I don’t want to commit myself to something I may not be able to realistically achieve. I do set expectations that do not follow a strict set of goals but will help guide me in the right direction and can be adjusted accordingly.

Here are three major expectations I have for myself in 2013:

1) Read more

I already read news articles, blogs and other publications online on a daily basis. However, I do want to focus on finding actual books I would be interested in reading. I prefer nonfiction but anything that generates my interest will work too as long as it will get me started on a frequent habit of reading.

2) Continue traveling while staying within a budget

I don’t have that large of a financial safety net like I used to but I am still able to take more trips near and far as long as I stay within a reasonable budget. Since late 2010, traveling has become something that I have done at least once every few months — sometimes less than that — and it is showing no signs of slowing just yet.

So far, I know I’m going to Baltimore in mid-February for the annual AmeriCorps midyear conference as well as to San Diego in late March for a friend’s wedding. Other potential destinations this year include Boston, Pittsburgh, Gettysburg, PA, Intercourse, PA (yes, that one) among others. Potential revisits include Washington, D.C. (the city I hope to move to later this year) and New York City.

3) Better prepare myself for the second go-around of my job search

This year, I’m picking up where I left off last summer when I suspended my job search in favor of pursuing AmeriCorps. I had a tough time last year when I worked diligently to secure a full-time job in public relations right after graduation. After nearly two dozen jobs that I have applied to and having interviews with four of them, I had no such luck last year in making the kind of transition I had hoped for.

In 2013, I’m determined to finish what I started but with a better strategy and better sense of direction.

Learning from my mistakes from last year, I’ve already started taking initiatives by networking more in the new city I now live in as well as actively seeking out ways to get directly involved in local events and campaigns to get my foot in the door. I’m also reading up on PRSA publications and utilizing the available resources they have in order to sharpen my PR skills.

Combined with my AmeriCorps experience, I believe I’ll be in a better position to really start a career in PR later this year when my year-long service term ends in late July.

I feel optimistic, at best, about 2013. I also feel cautiously hopeful about what this year has to offer. I’ll close with this quote from Abraham Lincoln that sums up how I should go about achieving my goals this new year.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” – Abraham Lincoln