Reflections of 2015

1 January 2016
5 min read

I usually don't make New Years resolutions. Mostly because I think if you want to see a change in yourself, that you should implement it immediately - or begin the journey towards it regardless of the time of year.

But I understand that with the coming of another year, people become reflective and thus create new action items for themselves for the next time frame.

So here goes my year in review and the subsequent "resolutions" I'm posing for myself:

The last semester of graduate school was a tough one but probably the best one yet. I was interviewing in several places and was jetting around the world and getting to meet amazing people. That was awesome. I was also finishing up my thesis, and taking service design, and really relishing the last couple months I had in an environment that has been the most intellectually stimulating thus far in my life.

The summer was a hard awkward time for me as I took some time off to spend with family. With some family issues going on, I felt like I was in limbo between my old life and my new life. And even after being in Pittsburgh for 2 years, I was ready to call one place my home (for longer than 2 years). I was really excited to move and get everything set up - which went well for the most part. The transition wasn't too bad.

Now, having worked at GE for almost 6 months, I am still in love. I love the work that I do, I feel like I'm making a difference, and I get to work with amazingly brilliant people - which is why I chose to work here in the first place. Everyday I get to interact with inspiring, talented people that like to change from building a design culture to changing the way an entire industrial ecosystem works. Sure, I whine and complain at times because GE is not the traditional Silicon Valley-esque company with its plethora of perks, but at the end of the day the amount of independence and autonomy that I get is immeasurable. As part of the leadership program, I also get the chance to push for more professional development opportunities - like attending Stanford's D.Bootcamp, going to the Service Design Camp in Berlin, getting to see the amazing Ark office in London, going to Minds and Machines, and more. While I'm not sure if GE is the right place for me long-term, it puts me in a position to learn and absorb a lot in a very rich environment for right now. It is hard to stay motivated and positive at times, but going to work everyday is a challenge and not a piece of pie. It's what wakes me up in the morning.

The other aspects of life (yes I do believe in work-life balance despite living in the Bay area) - dating, socializing, meeting new people - has had its own ups and downs. Anyone that has had a conversation with me in the last couple months knows I have a lot to say about the topic. But I will say, the Bay area (while not my choice of location to raise kids) is very rich. Not monetarily (although yes it is), but culturally. In my time here, I've been to a concert every month, musicals, craft fairs, kite festivals, wineries, restaurants, spas, horseback riding, comedy shows, cruises, and design meet-ups (weekly-ish). I have the same / maybe better social life that I used to have in college, which I love. And despite knowing a small (what I would consider small) number of people, I think I see them once a month which makes me feel like there's always something happening. I have a wonderful dear friend as my almost next-door neighbor (aka long-distance roommates) who I love to cook for and vice versa. Yet living in the Bay area (even with family relatively close by) has left me with a weird hole. I feel like there's been something missing and recently I've been on the hunt to figure out what it could be. So with that said, here are some initiatives I'd like to continue and then new ones I want to take on (in the Pantone colors of the year). Usually every year I do a "Lessons Learned", where I number out all the things I've learned in the last year and follow-up from the previous one on how far I've come.


As the next year rolls around, I might actually be moving to a different country depending on where the job takes me. As we move forward in life, we have to learn to find, hold on to, and evolve our true selves, constantly attempting to be better people through our relationships. I'm lucky in that I truly believe that design helps me to move forward and sustains my faith in humanity.

I usually do a lessons learned, but this year I decided to do a different take on it, and do things I've lost vs. things I've gained. This is definitely to be taken with a grain of salt.

Things I've lost:

A couple pounds*
A dear friend to growing pains
More patience
The romantic notions of writing a thesis
My wisdom teeth
Miles on my car for driving back and forth between South Bay to see friends
My voice for a day at a time whenever I go to a design meet-up
Flexibility since I don't keep up with yoga classes
A fear of the unknown*

Things I've gained:

A meaningful tattoo on my back
A lot of hair (donated 10.5 inches in March)
Experiences in London, Berlin, Chicago, and LA
Friends for life from grad school
A Masters degree
A job I love
Amazing friends / co-workers
Points for flying between Pittsburgh and SF like 50 times
An appreciation for college friends after a Beer Bike as an alum
Self-defense skills*
Lots of photographs I haven't edited yet
A sense of mild shock / panic / elation from friends that are getting engaged / married


There's more things I've gained than lost so that's always a good sign. The year flew by before I could catch it. I'm truly grateful for where I am in my life right now and my mom's health.

Focuses for the next year:

  1. Figuring out what this weird hole is
  2. Learning how to be more selfish
  3. Learning more about my own culture
  4. Understand the limits of my empathy (Inspiration)

It's all the little things that keep you going. Here's to 2016!


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I acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians on whose land I live, play, and work. I pay my deepest respects to all Indigenous Elders past, present and emerging.

© Jun 2024 Vinita Israni
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