A year for growth and reconnection.

My highlights of 2021 ⭐️

Chanelle
5 min readDec 31, 2021

WTF. 2021 is almost over? I cannot cope with how fast these years are flying, especially this one. I just turned 28 too, still questioning whether I should be counting these extra years during Covid or if I should remain 26 for life 🤔

Here are my top five highlights of the year:

Having a wild time in Dubai.

Expo 2020 from up-high

Believe it or not, I only just got back from a 2-week break in the stunning Dubai. It was all about the number 50 this year — UAE celebrated its 50th year of independence so every single day was bustling with grand events, fireworks and music. It was also my wonderful mum’s 50th birthday so we thought why not go catch a flight to Dubai and make it a memorable one? That it was.

The trip was what you call a proper ‘tourist’ hol — dessert safari quad experiences, views from the vertical city, penthouse parties, yacht barbecues, beach days, connecting with old and new friends plus a hundred other wonderful adventures.

My absolute highlight though was Expo 2020. A world exhibition designed to showcase achievements of nations occurring every 10 years, and this year it happened to be in Dubai. The exhibition was divided into three districts — Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity covering 192 pavilions (all representing countries across the world). My experience of this deserves an article on it’s own because my jaw was literally hanging out my mouth the whole time I was there. Black mirror for real. Incredible.

From in-house to agency.

Quick glance of our Miro design routines (V1)

Another amazing highlight for me was joining dxw as a designer. Coming from the BBC as an in-house designer to stepping into the agency environment has been a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Moving around client projects, having deadlines, influencing government clients, seeing your stuff come to life — it’s been ace. I honestly feel like I have stepped up over the last 8 months, exploring different skills within leadership, storytelling and the good old (no longer dreaded) stakeholder management. Gosh, doesn’t it feel amazing when you love what you do?

An even bigger highlight is being able to re-boost our internal design community by building the ‘Design Community Champions’ #DCC — A bunch of people with high energy simply spreading it to the rest of the business — happy team, happy work, happy life!

Let’s see what 2022 brings — hopefully that senior position🤞🏼 =

Actually getting out of bed.

One of the many pictures of my AM stroll

A new morning routine yes! I can finally say I have formed a habit and can call myself an early bird (most of the time). I am definitely a natural night owl BUT wanted to prove that you are not one or the other, but both if you want to be. Instead of waking up at 9.55am and starting work at 10am, I now get up at 7am and have a solid few hours to get things done like a lovely morning stroll.

BUT, if we are being real here, this habit has very slowly fizzled out over the winter months and the late mornings have kicked in again, but I blame that on the dark mornings. 2022, nonetheless, I am ready to bring these habits back into my life as they were game changers for the mind. Improved quality of sleep. Improved focus at work. Improved relationships. Let’s carry it on!

Sharing my story.

Me on the ‘Never let wonder go to waste’ podcast

A big one for me — storytelling! I have always had so many stories to tell but never knew quite how to tell them. 2021 has certainly been the year where I found my voice. First of all, I started writing week-notes, and although they have sometimes turned into a month note (ooops), it feels so good to get things down on e-paper. These stories have opened up so many conversations and opportunities for me — best of all, an entire new network!

The second thing I have experimented with this year were ‘Instagram reels’ — short form videos highlighting my experiences with food, days out and people. Think of them as the minute, millennial service safaris 😂. This month alone, my reels have reached 20,000 people on Instagram — baffling.

My public speaking skills are on the rise since presenting at two universities about design and mindset, re-visiting the BBC to talk about service design and most recently being featured on a podcast! All of this is a new to me, and something I have big plans for in 2022.

“When you learn, teach + when you get, give” — Maya Angelou

Taking time out for loved ones.

Our British/Indian Christmas family dinner

I’d say the last 10 years or so have been all about building which means plenty of burnouts, overworking and sleepless nights, all to create this certain type of life I was after. BUT, as a result, I took a pause on many things including me-time and we-time. This year however, I made sure my calendar was empty for the things that truly matter — loved ones.

If I am not bingeing on Netflix with mum and sister, I’m making hilarious memories with my grandparents at their allotment, going on day trips with my bestie or having a laugh with my little cousin (who by the way I hadn’t spoken to in 10 years before this year 😱). The same has happened with the return of old friendships where life circumstances naturally pulled us apart, but for some reason, 2021 decided to be the reconnecting year. Love!

That’s a wrap!

I am so excited for what the new year has to bring for us all. My vision is refreshed, I am ready to become the best version of myself and form daily habits to form a happy and peaceful life.

First little new year announcement 📣 I am moving back to Manchester next week! It’s a city where the magic really began for me ten years ago, so looking forward to this little self-love adventure to kick off the new year.

Finally, these random gifts have been giving me the right smiles so thought I’d share:

📕 Stay focused everyday with a 6-minute journal (Thanks

)

🌅 Sparkle a bit of ambience to your room with a sunset lamp

☕️ Not got a coffee machine but want frothy milk? Invest in a frother lol

Happy New Year! 🎇

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Chanelle

📍UK. Designer of *positive* experiences. Right now @dxw / Ex @bbc. Service design + UX/UI + Branding. Mentoring the future gen. + having a good time.