Best of 2021: Your Biggest Work/Life Learning in 2021

Best of 2021: Your Biggest Work/Life Learning in 2021

To mark the last few weeks of 2021 😲 we asked our TokyoMate readers and the Business in Japan community for their thoughts on lessons learned, good reads, best buys, and big news from this year! 

(👋 a big thank-you to everyone who commented on that thread.)

The first in this “Best of 2021” series answers the question, “Tell us your biggest work/life learning in 2021.” 

Here’s what you said. 


You don't miss it until it's gone: the importance of traveling to new environments to recharge and stimulate creativity.

Anthony Griffin, MBA, Saga Consulting


It really isn’t about how much you can get. But how many others you can help, support and how much value you can give. It makes such a difference to your motivation for doing anything.

Francis Fung, Career Purpose Coach & Professor at Temple University Japan


A quote by Naval Ravikant that is something along these lines: “Be impatient with actions, but patient with results."

Raza Adil, Marketing at TokyoMate


Focus on the process. Break challenging projects down to their smallest component parts. And then do each small thing with diligence and curiosity.

Tomoko Matsuoka, Japan-Focused Researcher & Copywriting Specialist


The return on incremental work...those short steps that allow us to eventually count longer strides.

For my wife and I, last year was all about our tiny little publishing firm, @Maplopo.

We both still work elsewhere, but dedicate everything we have outside those positions to our little baby. As a result, we've managed to get so much done in 2021... simply by putting one foot in front of the other.

Often, such gains are missed when we work for others, but in being entrepreneurial, you're always reflecting backward... so, gains are easier to see. We ask:

"How are we doing?"

"Did we do enough?"

"Did that sail?"

"Did that fail?"

We wonder, "How in the world did we write and publish so much this year? … “How did we manage to run every weekend, to enjoy our life together, to look forward to every ‘next day’ while being seemingly too busy to do just that?"

Who knows. Because it's fun, maybe? Because we don't yet have kids? Perhaps.

Whatever the reason, what I can say is, always believe in the return on incremental work. And, along the way, don't forget to take notice of those small wins.

Doc Kane, Maplopo


Focus is even more important when you're in the 2nd year of a Global Pandemic and working from home your second year.

Jason Ball, Solutions and Digital Team at Pactera Japan, Director


You have to stay very far away from toxic people. It is painful if you don't.

Gerd Engelbart, Marketing Technology & Data Management Specialist at Volkswagen AG 


I think what the pandemic (and also being ill with something unrelated) [has taught me] is the value of human interaction—both from generating and sharing ideas and secondly the value of shopping in person at a shop where there is someone to answer questions—you cannot do everything on line!

Stephen Turner, Representative Director & President at TS Japan Railway Travel Planning Company Limited 


I need to slow down and smell the roses!

Debbie Howard, CarterJMRN KK 


My biggest learning for work: If a colleague comes to you with a problem and you can’t solve it, you make it your responsibility to help them get in touch with the right person or department. It’s too easy for people to say, ‘I don’t know’ and give up.

James Ball, US Project Coordinator, Projects & Technical Operations at Global-e


It's okay to feel overwhelmed, but that doesn't mean I can't do it.

Lydia Beukelman, Podcaster, Teacher, Compulsive Learner


Focusing on building a HABIT FIRST, and THEN RESULTS requires less mental effort.

- First, you set the bar for the to-be-habit-activity very low, making it super easily achievable.

- Because it's very achievable, the mental energy you spend BEFORE the action (i.e. the length and intensity of pep talk you give yourself to get up and do it) is quite small because you know it's going to be easy, making it easy to repeat, making it easy to turn that action into a habit.

- Once it becomes a habit, everything from preparation to post-action work comes naturally to you, it's semi-automated, i.e. you are not spending any mental capacity to get to the point of executing.

- NOW, you can dedicate all your mental energy solely to improving the quality & quantity of that action, i.e. the results.

Fuminori Gunji, CEO at TokyoMate


Have something you want to add to our “Best of 2021” list?

There are still a few days left to send in your comments for…

  • A book or article or podcast episode you loved in 2021

  • The best purchase you’ve made under 10,000 JPY in 2021

  • Most interesting, eye-opening business news you’ve read in 2021

We’re publishing Part 2 soon, so write to us at [email protected] or drop your comment on Linkedin here or here


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