As I grow older each passing summer, I try my best to reflect upon how I’ve grown, the things I’ve learned, or how my perspective has shifted throughout the year. I’m bad at capturing this into words though. My goal for the year is to become a consistent with journaling, but also to write things down to revisit as I grow. Here’s my attempt at documenting profound, interesting, or impactful things from my 32nd year on this planet.

  1. Savor the little things with those important to you. Life can be brutally short sometimes, so savor what little time you have with loved ones.

  2. Always continue learning. I’ve gone to college twice; I love to learn. I think it makes you a better and more interesting person. But it can also lead you to experience and have conversations you may not have thought of. Investing in your own learning will pay off too.

  3. Be kind, no matter what. You never know what someone else is going through in their own life. It isn’t worth it to get mad at the waiter when your drink isn’t refilled fast enough, or when someone cuts you off while driving. These little annoyances are just that - annoying. Your kindness will go a long way to someone who is struggling.

  4. Don’t be afraid to put a book down. I love reading, but as I grow older I have abandoned more and more books. I give it roughly 15-20% and if I’m not into it, I move on. My book backlog is always growing, there is always more to read (or watch, or listen to, etc. This doesn’t have to apply to just books!).

  5. Stop and pet the dog. In my opinion, most people are friendly and will strike up casual conversations. No more so than dog owners or people doing something they love. So ask them about their dog, the flower they are planting, or whatever their hobby may be (do not be creepy). Just strike up those casual conversations, you may even make a friend out of it.

  6. Put your best effort forward. Don’t just do the bare minimum to get by. Put out your best work both for yourself and for your employer. You’ll feel better about your output and get a sense of accomplishment. And hopefully your employer will reward you for putting out consistent work. If you work for yourself, this is even more important. Be proud of your output!

  7. Get outside more. Get out of the house or the office. You will get some vitamin D, stretch your legs and maybe work up a sweat, and see something beautiful. It also stimulates creativity.

  8. Sing loudly, and dance till your feet hurt. I am by no means a good dancer. I even refused to dance for most of my life and probably missed out on some fun times. But as I grow older I find myself dancing more, especially at weddings. I don’t really care if people think I look stupid doing it. Go have fun, lead your spouse or your date to the dance floor. And sing loudly while you’re at it. Life is short, go have fun while you can still move around.

  9. There’s more to life than work. I’ve never been a classic “workaholic” but between moving across the country during a pandemic, being unemployed during parts of the pandemic, and going back to school to change careers, I’ve discovered that my family and friends are a lot more important than whatever job I have. I’m not saying don’t have passions and aspirations with your career. Rather, don’t let your identity be your career and climbing the ladder. Find balance and hobbies and a good circle of support. And if you love work, that’s okay too. It just doesn’t have to be your identity.

  10. You can always improve yourself. I’ve been married almost 4 years now (not long I know), but throughout my life I’ve figured out that it is difficult to get others to change - it is much easier to change yourself. Take a step back, figure out why you react this way, or why that matters to you. Evaluate what’s important to you and if it’s worth fighting for or not. If it isn’t, change yourself and grow from these lessons.

  11. Find a system that works for you. This is in regards to your organization and productivity. I’ve spent way too much time trying countless apps, tools, and systems, trying to mold my system to fit the latest trend. Don’t do that. If pen and paper works for you, great! Keep doing that. Just make sure you’re getting your tasks and work done instead of playing around with new ways to track your work.

  12. Real friends will help you move. If you’ve ever moved, you know how awful and tiring that process can be. A good gauge of who your real friends are, is who volunteers to help and who agrees when you ask. The ones that make up excuses aren’t the ones you want to surround yourself with.

  13. It’s okay to do nothing. I quite enjoy my silence and solitude. I take public transit half the week for this reason - I can decompress after work and zone out. It also is a great way to catch up on podcasts, audiobooks, or music I’ve wanted to listen to. “Me time” is okay, in fact I’d argue it’s necessary. Don’t be afraid to take it.

  14. Have your own interests. My wife and I don’t share all the same interests, and that’s okay. You don’t have to do everything together with your spouse. That doesn’t mean your relationship is failing. However, this isn’t an excuse to not spend quality time together.

  15. Spend more time with your parents. As I grow older I tend to drift away from my parents both literally and as I have my own careers and family. I’m now halfway across the country from mine, and I put every effort to call each parent individually throughout the week on my commute home. They aren’t getting younger or healthier, so it falls on us as their children to prioritize quality time with them. Do it. You will regret it later if you don’t.

This was very challenging for me to write, and I feel very vulnerable sharing it all. I hope you get something out of it or at least stop and think of a new perspective!

P.S. It is not my birthday till August, but I felt like getting this out now 😁.