I realized this week that it has been one year since starting this blog. A lot has happened in the last year that has resulted in me being a much different person than I was last March. Over the last year I have read 21 non-fiction books and written summaries about them. The summaries have been longer than I initially intended, but I also have a much different approach to reading than when I first started this. I am now actively taking notes, bookmarking key themes, quotes, insights as I read. Then I will go back and write up my summary of those key points. The basic result is I end up reading each book almost 2X and it has allowed me to retain a lot more than I would have otherwise.
I had several personal breakthroughs in the first half of last year, however if you look through the last year there was definitely a time period where I slowed down bit in mid-July. My best friend died in a car accident on July 15 of last year, which I have written about only privately until this point. The second half of the summer I was trying to hold it all together while still finishing up planning my wedding in September. Taylor’s death had a profound impact on my outlook on life – on how fleeting it is. This has both emboldened me and inspired me to break out of my current life. My life so far has been focused on risk aversion, I mentioned before that I started investing for retirement at 16 years old, I have always been relatively frugal, picked a ‘safe’ career where I can make it through to around 60 years old and retire… I wrote in my “Current State – May 2016” post about how I was starting to wander off the ‘safe’ path that was in front of me. When Taylor died, my risk-averse foundation took a serious hit. Taylor was driving to work when he got rear-ended: this is something that can happen to anyone at any moment. No matter how risk averse I am, life is something that should not actuarial. I have realized life is much too short to spend it doing something you are not passionate about.
This is the biggest challenge, finding something that I can get excited about doing every day. Over the last year I have tried to boil the essence of my ‘sweet spot’ down to a few key ingredients. So far in that recipe I have found a couple of themes, which I will expand upon as I learn more about myself:
- I have found that I get into a state of flow when I am creating something; when I am building something; when I am using my imagination.
- Computers are good at analyzing data, humans are good at creating something new and beautiful. My current job has too much analysis, however I do see a lot of creativity in my thinking – even if it comes out in a different form than other ‘creative’ people
- I am always looking at myself and what I am working on and asking “am I learning anything from this process?” When I find myself getting stuck in a rut at work, it is typically because my growth has stagnated. When I am not learning anything, working is boring. This one also ties in a lot with ‘creation’ since by definition, creation has a prerequisite of a growth mindset.
- Helping people or causes I believe in. One thing I have learned is that giving your time and connecting with other people has a great impact on yourself and others.
One thing I noticed after writing these items is that all of them are in some form in Choose Yourself by James Altucher around ways of releasing oxytocin. I believe if I were to start a business of my own it would need to be at the intersection of these three themes.
Looking back, 2016 was probably the most significant year of my life to date. I started this journey of a self-directed MBA where I would force myself to my own accountability and learning program. My best friend died in a car accident, which shook the foundation I had built in the last 26 years of life. On the other end of the emotional continuum, I got married in September, which was incredible because I was able to marry my best friend in front of all my friends and family that mean the most to me. In retrospect, 2016 was a year of significant personal and emotional growth through the best and worst of times.
Looking forward, 2017 is showing itself to be a transition year right now. Where 2016 was a transformation year, 2017-2018 is my transition into the new life I want to create for myself. Right now I see the end of the tunnel for the SDMBA I have been doing. I only have 3 books left, which will be followed by Y-Combinator/Stanford collaboration “how to start a startup”. The idea here is that I will generate an idea through the startup process which would potentially be the basis for my startup company. Phase 3 of the SDMBA is to start a business. It can be a side business such as financial advice to small businesses or something much larger. The idea is to get SOMETHING started. Action leads to inspiration, which leads to motivation, which then leads right back to action and this positive feedback loop continues.
One last thing I wanted to give an update on was travel. This is one area that has popped up as a significant piece of my identity. In 2016 we barely traveled at all due to how busy we were with wedding planning (and I ran out of time off). Going into 2017 we committed to wanting to both travel more and be better friends by visiting the out-of-town friends we never see. Our travels in 2017 have/will include the following:
- Mexico (honeymoon) in February
- San Diego – visiting Erika’s Aunt
- New York/Connecticut – visiting friends
- South Africa – we just added this on. We have friends that live in South Africa. We are planning on volunteering through IVHQ for a week, then spending a few days with our friends.
- North Carolina? Not booked yet, but we have friends there that we would love to visit
We have a travel list and travel fund, which maybe I will write about a bit more in another post. I have found travel to be something that inspires me and forces me out of my comfort zone. Learning new places, putting yourself out there in a new environment is a great way to force yourself into vulnerability, force yourself to talk to people, and force yourself to grow.
Just wanted to get an update ‘in the books’ since I have been doing more personal stuff in a private journal than on here.