I have always liked Jimmy Buffett’s name for birthdays. “A trip around the sun”. Well, today marks the day that I finished my 48th and start my 49th trip around the gas ball. I always like milestones – birthdays, anniversaries, New Years, end of school years, beginning of new marking periods. They are reminders for me to take a few moments and reflect on where I am and where I want to go.
Well, the 48th trip had its share of both good and bad. I entered a new phase of parenthood, with my son heading off to college. It completely changed my life. I had to learn how to entertain myself all over again. I had to learn to move from a “hands on” parent role to a “only give advice when asked” role. That was a difficult transition, but I think we both survived. As we spent today packing up to return him back to academia tomorrow, I think we are both in a better place for sophomore year…because we both learned from our mistakes freshman year. (Someday I’d like to write that missing manual on parenting, since we flew blind.) The thing is that we have a relationship that is built on trust. I trust him to do the right thing, and he hasn’t disappointed me in that respect.
The 48th trip saw some employment changes. Big, scary, “what the heck am I going to do now”, employment changes. Well, the answer was “this”. This website, the book I am working on, and the chance to help other people learn from my experiences, is what is next. And I have gotten a remarkable reception. I hope that the enthusiasm I have seen so far, continues to grow and I am really looking forward to meeting new people and continuing conversations with old friends. I know I have a lot to learn and I learn the most from my awesome family and friends.
Here is a quick list of things I learned this past year…
1. If I really put my mind to things, I can achieve amazing stuff – At first I was paralyzed by the change of employment. Then I turned it into an energy to drive me. So far, I am really happy with the results. I learned a lot about the power of my mind from John C. Maxwell’s “Thinking For A Change”. I have read it a bunch of times and went back to it again this summer.
2. There are so many cool people in my life – Because I had time this summer, I got to spend more time enjoying and getting to know them and listening to their stories. Everyone has cool stories. Listen to hear and understand, not to respond.
3. No matter how much I play, I will not make it to the PGA Tour – I got to play a lot of golf this summer, and I listened to people who play better golf than me, and I learned a few things. I also learned that Rory McIlroy does not need to look over his shoulder for me.
4. If I don’t know how to do something or don’t have what I need, all I have to do is ask – I spent a lot of time on social media this summer, and I found that I have such a deep and experienced network. When I couldn’t figure something out, I just asked. There are so many apps and pieces of software to take care of tasks now, it is incredible what you can do yourself. You can start a business without a staff, and everyone is willing to help you find the right tools and help you get started. The cooperation I have found this summer has been amazing.
5. Some healthy lifestyles are fun and some healthy foods taste good – One of the things that I decided to do is to try to live a little healthier. I got in the habit of walking for 40-50 minutes a day and I tried to replace a lot of the chips and cookies with healthier alternatives. Turns out I kind of like grilled squash and nibbling on baby carrots is tasty too.
A few things that I have decided to make sure I include in my next year…
1. Do more things that I haven’t done before – I tried different foods this year. I listened to different kinds of music this year. I read books that I wouldn’t normally read this year. I went exploring around the region this year. And I really, really liked it. Next year I am going to do it more. Cool thing is that a lot of those things I did cost little to no money. I am going to make sure I fit in new things on a weekly and monthly basis. I really grew as a person this year.
2. Spend more time outdoors – I was really outdoors a lot this summer, thanks to time off and an amazing stretch of dry weather. I walked, I golfed, I hiked a few times, and interestingly, I feel much better after time outside. So, more of that. I look forward to walking right through the winter, if the weather cooperates.
3. Focus on a few things and do them well – I have spent the last 10 years being a jack of all trades. Unfortunately, everything suffered. I now have an opportunity to scale back the variety of things that I focus on. I am going to focus on the important things, and really do them well. It’s great to be well-rounded, but it’s better to be awesome at what you do. My creative brain needs routine and focus.
4. Make a difference – I have gotten away from one of the major tenets of my life, and that is giving of myself to others who need. I will be looking for some volunteer opportunities that fit in with my values and I will be offering to mentor people. There is no greater gift you can give to society than volunteering and mentoring. If you have great things in your life, pay it forward and make the world a better place.
At the end of the day, bad things happened last year,as they do to everyone in the world. I’m going to focus on the great things that happened, and the great things that are possible if I make a plan and keep moving in a positive direction. Thanks to everyone. Make your next year great too.