Tag Archives: New Years

What I learned in 2018

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As I outlined in my previous post, 2018 ended up being a pretty significant year for me, I started a new job in August which ended a nearly seven year long series of career disappointments. Through this experience, as well as observing people in organizations like TED and Start-Up week, and reading books, I have learned quite a bit.

1. The first wave is Internal

This is something I first read about in 2016, when I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. We often get this wrong. People who are stuck are often waiting on someone else, or some kind of external event to bring their lives in a new direction. I feel like I was there for quite some time. Change must come first from within.

After changing my attitude, actions and expectations, I then needed to reflect those changes out to the world. This concept is best described in Belong, by Rhada Agrawal. When we show our true selves to the world, we eventually find ourselves in the right places and surrounded by the right people.

2. Maturity = Confidence + Resilience + Delayed Gratification

People are often told they need to “grow up”. For a long time, it was a pet peeve of mine. It felt as if anyone who had told me this was expecting me to give up on dreams, give up on what makes me unique, and accept limitations and the ability for others to determine my path.

As a result, for many years, I resisted the very concept of adulthood. I would rather stay in my fresh out of college partying days longer than become a generic middle-aged guy. However, I would later get exposure to mature adults who were living lives that I admire quite a bit.

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In addition to the authors mentioned above, I got exposed to authors and TED speakers such as Simon Sinek, Chris Gillebeau, andĀ Jen Sincero, as well as many others in the local community who are doing great, interesting, and unique things with their lives.

I also saw the result of continued immaturity, primarily the political hysteria of our time.

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This was not what I wanted. I realized that I do want maturity, just defined differently, by what I would say is its true definition. The factors that distinguish the two groups of people I observed are not the mundane everyday things that most associate with “growing up”. They are confidence, resilience, and some form of long-term thinking.

3. There’s a time to be chill and a time to be ill

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Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life is perhaps one of the most challenging books I have ever read. It forced me to confront the fact that status and power struggles do exist in humanity. This is something that, for a long time, I had hoped to just ignore. Unfortunately, a lot of people do care about status, and there are people who want nothing more than to have power over others.

This is where we all need to assert ourselves when necessary. In my previous entry, I outline a bit about who I am and what I care about. There are a lot of people that want to define, or redefine that for me. We all face that same struggle. Nobody else should get to chose things like that for us, and when they try to, we need to calmly assert ourselves.

4. Not all escapism is a waste of time

This is something I feel truly bad about. For a long time, I was quite judgmental towards activities I deemed to have no value. This was primarily certain television shows, but sometimes even certain kinds of conversations and activities. As Pitbull put it years back “Everybody’s Going Through Something”. While it is irresponsible to completely avoid our problems, people do need a break from them from time to time. It was unfair of me to judge people based on how this break manifests. There is a big difference between becoming a drug addict and watching something likeĀ Say Yes to the Dress for half an hour.

5. Don’t avoid uncomfortable conversations

When uncomfortable conversations are avoided, the problems that prompted them only become worse. Towards the end of 2018, I had to have a few conversations that I found uncomfortable. They certainly did not make anything worse!

6. Sometimes our adversaries are people we need

I am someone that likes to push boundaries, try new things, and pursue ideas. There are people that are more cautious, preferring to stick to routine and only embracing change when it is absolutely necessary or when the benefits are clear. It is easy for me to view these people as my adversaries and visa-versa.

However, without people to vet ideas before a lot of resources are poured into them, a lot of time and money could be wasted, with little to show for it. Without people on my end of the spectrum, to pursue new ideas and push people, stagnation is inevitable. We need each other.

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Life is full of balances just like this one; idealism vs. realism, optimism vs. pessimism, big picture vs. details, etc. With respect to all of those balances, those that prefer one end of the spectrum need those on the other end to maintain that balance.

7. Laying around is not always the best way to rest

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It is certainly the most obvious way to rest. However, it is often not what we need when we feel we need rest. When exhausted from stress, what we need is to get away from whatever is causing that stress. This is often not achieved by laying around at home, which can mean continued exposure to news and other sources of stress through television and social media. The best form of rest can often mean something like camping in the wilderness, going or a bike ride, or the right social event with the right group of people.

My 2018 End of the Year Note

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It feels strange to be writing another entry that is not about travel. I did travel this holiday season, back to Chicago, but the primary purpose of the trip was to visit family, not to explore new places.

I have also already written about both visiting places I have previously lived and about New Years as a time of reflection. Now that I feel more grown-up, I want to provide what other serious individuals provide, a year-end summary.

2018 in Review

I will always yearn for travel and adventure. However, 2018 took my attention in other directions. The year started with some major trips, including Vegas, Whistler, and Death Valley.

After those trips, I really needed to get my career back on track. The five years prior to this one had seen tons of great adventures, which I catalog on this blog. However, they had not been too great for my career. We all have to earn a living, and it can be hard having to do so in places that are not the right fit.

At first I was going about it in the manner that most do in 2018, looking for opportunities online. By springtime, I decided that getting out there, networking, and meeting people would be a better way to try to create something new in my life.

I ended up catching a break. In August, I started a new job which is both in the field I had originally studied, meteorology, and provides a working environment that is both flexible and collaborative. Not too many people can travel for a living, and not too many people actually want that lifestyle. Having a job where the work itself is fulfilling, and is also flexible enough that I can pursue significant travel and adventure, is probably the best scenario I could have hoped for. Therefore, I can say 2018 was a hard year but also a great one!

Before starting that job, I did go on one more major road trip, in Early August.

Since then, my life has actually been quite busy. In addition to starting a new job with a significant commute…

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I continued some of the freelance work I had been doing prior to starting the job, as well as some of my involvements in professional organizations. There were some weeks, particularly in September and October, where there was very little spare time. I came into the holiday season quite exhausted!

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2019 and a New Sense of Self

In addition to getting my career back on track, I feel that I am coming out of this exhausting but fruitful year with a better sense of who I am than I have had for years. A lot of people talk about “discovering themselves”. I feel this is an appropriate, yet sad, way of putting it. What I “discovered” about myself is stuff that I had known all along. I had just lost sight of them because of some of the disappointments and negative feedback I had received at various points in my life.

I determined I loved weather and science by the time I was five years old. It didn’t take much longer for me to figure out what else makes me who I am.

I often do not match what people expect from me. A lot of people think they understand the world, and the people in it, based on rudimentary aspects of who someone is; race, age, gender, economic status, and partisan politics. It saddens me to see people placing more, not less, emphasis on theses things in the past few years. This is one component of today’s world I refuse to be a part of or encourage, as who someone is is more about what they value and how they treat people.

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For the first time in my life, I actually feel like I am in a position to help people, as opposed to being the one that needs help. With this spirit, as well as my new job and other engagements, I want to encourage the following in the world around me:

  • Bridging the worlds of science and enterprise. I believe this is the best manner in which we can bring the benefits of scientific research and scientific knowledge to the general public, in a manner that is fair and equitable.
  • Encouraging people to spend less time alone, indoors, and seated. There are a lot of mental and physical health problems in my country that are only getting worse thanks to things like people spending more time in front of screens and less time conversing with one another.
  • Creating a more flexible world, particularly in the workplace. This means removing outdated rules and assumptions which are costing many people the opportunity to be who they really are.

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This may not be what some people desire of me, but it is my life. These pursuits were determined by matching my interests, values, and expertise with a desire to improve the condition of humanity.

I personally learned a lot more about life the year, which I will cover in my next entry. In addition to traveling and exploring less towards the end of 2018, a few other areas of my life also ended up getting neglected, particularly my physical health and social life. While going to an event with a professional organization can be enjoyable and productive, I have realized that it is no substitute for taking part in activities with friends. As I start 2019, I plan to place a higher priority on…

  • Physical health and particularly getting active and moving
  • Creating and nurturing some kind of a community
  • Expressing myself, and my unique-ness at all times
  • Finding new activities, new restaurants, new ideas, and exploring new places

Thank you for reading- hope you all have great plans for 2019!

Happy New Years

This is going to be my year! This is going to be the year I land my dream job, meet all the right people, have that once-in-a-lifetime epic experience, save tons of money, buy a new house, become a better person, and lose all of the unnecessary fat in my body! All I have to do is change the following five or six behaviors…

Well, that is quite the tall order for a year that actually started out like this…

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With the primary memory of the first hour being this…

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Which really isn’t too terribly different from how any of the last seven years began for me! And, based on the number of bars that offer $75 packages that include all you can drink and get sold out weeks before Christmas, this is the way a good number of people will begin their year.

Yet, today many of us will put together a list of resolutions that we plan to begin acting upon tomorrow when all of our hangovers subside. Of course, there are those among us that will buck this trend- either choosing to skip the New Years resolution thing, or looking in depth into last year’s resolutions and trying to assess what is realistic in some kind of way. But many of us do follow the pattern that is way more common in the political world than everywhere else; over-promise like the statements that began this post, and then under-deliver. Only, in this case, we are not cheating anyone other than ourselves in this process.

That being said, and even knowing that I am not completely immune to this cycle of over-promising and under-developing, I still made a New Years plan. In fact, it is quite in-depth, and involves six over-arching goals, with sub-goals falling into each category. That is quite in-depth for someone who is now dreading how crowded the gym will be for the next three weeks with people who made New Years resolutions that will last approximately three weeks.

However, the process of reflecting on our lives, and pondering making changes is the entire point of New Years. Without this process, New Years Eve is functionally the equivalent of Blackout Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving). Tomorrow is a day off, so let’s go out and get drunk. And, tomorrow we can be kind of lazy.

One of my favorite people, and one of the inspirations behind my writing style is David Byrne. While with his band The Talking Heads, he wrote a song titled Once in a Lifetime, one of the deepest songs of all time. And, while the lyrics can be confusing, David Byrne describes the song as being about living life on auto-pilot and never questioning or examining the direction it is taking.

Unfortunately, inertia is a pretty powerful (apparent) force in our society. And, nearly all of us slip into a routine where we just operate our day-to-day lives from time to time. In those periods of our lives, that inertia will simply carry our lives in a specific direction. Sometimes that direction is good, but sometimes that direction is less than ideal.

This is why we build into our schedules times like this, where we reflect on the direction our lives are taking, and, often times, come up with plans to make changes. The fact that many of these plans do not pan out over the course of the next few months should not discourage us from taking this time to reflect on our lives and determine what needs to be changed. And, while over-promising and under-delivering is cheating ourselves, never making those promises is even worse. If over-promising and under-delivering equates to our Republican form of government in it’s current state, never making promises, and never asking questions equates to a totalitarian dictatorship. I certainly hope that most would agree that no matter what we have to say about the current state of our country, it is way better than a dictatorship.

I won’t bore you with the specifics of my intricate set of New Years goals and sub-goals. But within this entire plan lies one over-arching resolution that relates to New Years itself, and that is to avoid the kind of “defaulting” that leads people into ruts, and routines, and allows them to simply be carried through life exactly the way David Byrne describes it in his song. By this I mean doing the same things over and over again, watching the same shows over and over again, going to the same websites over and over again, and never even considering trying something new.

In 2014, I published 26 posts on this site. That means that in that 12 month period, I considered 26 experiences worth writing about. One of the things I am trying to avoid doing is write about the same place multiple times. I know I have a couple of times, and I have reserved that for experiences that are different enough for me to feel that another post would not be redundant. So, in a way, the number of posts I make on this site is related to the amount of new and unique experiences I am having in life. So, if my overarching 2015 goal is achieved, I will have had at least 26 blog-worthy experiences in 2015.