So today marks a pretty significant milestone in life: turning 35.
Even writing that out just now seems surreal, but here we are. And to be honest, I’m pretty excited about it. Why? Well, it gives me an opportunity to really look back on a sizable chunk of my lifetime and think about where I’ve come from and where I’m headed. Most of the highlights from the past can fit into some solid numbers now, as far as amount of years past.
- 20 years ago: I got accepted into the prestigious SEAP (Science & Engineering Apprentice Program) at George Washington University to do a summer internship at the Naval Research Lab. The following summer I was accepted again and worked a summer at Walter Reed doing forensic toxicology. Not bad for a teenager, right?
- 15 years ago: I was neck deep in learning as much as I could about public health after taking an elective taught by the brilliant Dr. Donna Howard (now a great friend/colleague/inspiration) at the University of MD. This marked a huge turning point for where I would be putting my professional energies. Goodbye to aerospace engineering and hello to social determinants of health.
- 10 years ago: Wedding bells!
- 5 years ago: Leaving corporate America and launching Pulse + Signal as a digital strategy & branding consultancy for healthcare
- 2016: The honor of giving the commencement address at my alma mater & becoming an Aspen Institute Spotlight Health Scholar. Huge.
- 2017: Expanded family (hi Zoe!) and a critical sense of focus/clarity for the next phase of my body of work
On Personal Growth
Phew! They say life is a journey right? If there is one thing I can say about the past few years of my life, it would have to be about the tremendous amount of internal work that I became intentional about. Breaking down fears, going after things outside of my comfort zone and more importantly, taking a hard look at how I spend my time.
A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it. ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
And so, 35 feels like I’ve shaken loose from some sort of quasi-slumber and awakened to a new perspective. Obviously having someone to take care/raise is a big part of that perspective shift. But also the sense of graduation from an academic program – a program in which I had a fair share of learnings about people, priorities, investment & seeking validating solutions from everyone else but myself.
Newsflash: no one is living your life but you. A novel concept? Of course not. Difficult to understand when you’re striving for greatness and don’t want to fail? Absolutely. (p.s. failure is part of the greatness journey)
And when I truly look back over the past several years, the genuine relationships that I’ve been fortunate to build with amazing people really shines through. And when I mean genuine relationships, I mean consistent mutual investment in which growth/friendship is sought out and there is an alignment of character. Some advice I give out to folks these days on that: learn to know how to identify those [few] you want in your closest circle outside of family – then invest heavily into that circle.
Each circle of people/colleagues/acquaintances after that will naturally not get the same level of investment. It’s just how things go, especially if you want to be intentional about where you spend your time and focus. Not everyone who says they want to invest in you or help you or (insert positive building verb) is cut out to actually do that. Prune your circles. Not everyone has to/should have your highest level of investment.
On Build Mode
This year also represents a shift in another aspect that goes a little beyond just being intentional about time: taking action. After cutting back/out heavily on hazardous (to my attention span) things like Facebook, Instagram – I’ve had time to actually let my brain have space to think and create my next moves. I’m currently working on a venture that’s been on my mind (and in my notebook) for 5 years. It’s most definitely time for it and I gotta say, I’m very excited (I’ll write about it here soon).
This will be a new phase and with all new phases, there will be new broken comfort zones, frustrations and hard lessons – but I’m here for it, as the kids say. So when you see moves being made, just know it’s not a fluke or luck. I’ve been in build mode.
To wrap up, 35 ain’t too shabby and I have a lot to be grateful for. Onward.