Today is my birthday, and I love taking milestone moments to stop and reflect on life. Because this is the first birthday since I started this website and blog, I’ll start sharing some of these personal thoughts with you. I’ll be organizing these ideas into three areas – Lessons Learned, Victories Accomplished, and Future Improvements to Work On
This year provoked a lot of learning, growth, frustration, introspection, and change. I see this year of my life as a critical point to set me on my new path. Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way:
- Don’t let fear drive your decisions. This is something I am still constantly working on, but I have let it be untrue about my life all too often. I’ve made a lot of decisions in my life based on what is easiest or most comfortable, rather than on what is truly “right” despite my fears or inhibitions. I’ve taken some decisive action this year beyond what I’ve had the courage to do before, and that feels really good.
- Don’t neglect your most important relationships. I’ve taken a lot of additional stress and projects on this year – an MBA program, a job shift, and more – and that has put a load of stress on my shoulders. Through it all, I’m continuing to realize just how important it is to nurture my critical relationships, even if time is limited. My wife and kids are most important, but I’m trying to stay better connected to extended family and close friends too.
- Truth is a gift. It’s a bit crazy that I had to learn this, but I have natural tendencies to avoid conflict and difficult conversations. Yet as I’ve worked on having more honest, authentic discussions with others, life becomes less awkward and more clear. Avoiding conflict is not the way to go, and when I tell myself and others the truth, better things happen.
It’s always nice to look back and see what you’ve accomplished. I don’t like to toot my own horn very much, but it feels good to know you’ve done something worthwhile.
- Completed my first year of my MBA. Taking on an additional 15+ hours/week on top of full-time work, family, and community responsibilities seemed like a tall order. No doubt my wife shouldered a lot of the burden as well in our household, but we are working hard together to do our best in all areas of life, and we’re getting through it.
- Completed a digital transformation of a manufacturing operation. In my previous role I built a team and led a project to transfer and deliver manufacturing work instructions at the point of use to increase productivity and quality by capturing tribal knowledge. My team did a TON of work to make it happen, and the system is way more accurate and useful than what was previously implemented.
- I created More Than Engineering. This is the beginning of what I believe will be my life’s work. If you’re reading this soon after I write it, you’re joining me earlier than most. There are a lot of uncertainties ahead, but the opportunities are even greater.
Future Improvements to Work On
I’ve got many areas of life I want to improve and grow in. It seems like there are always too many that I want to do, and not enough time and energy to do it all. Below are my top three for the moment.
- Establish better habits of focused work. I can be easily distracted by so many voices and enjoyable media and articles to consume. I recently read Deep Work and just today started reading Atomic Habits. Little by little it’s important to be better in this area so I can drive more productivity and value.
- Be more present. When I’m with family, friends, and new contacts, I tend to listen to reply than listen for understanding. My mind can wander to other topics, places, or problems I’m dealing with. I will continue to work on my practice of meditation and prayer, and really being present in the moment so I can truly give my whole self to the people I love.
- Surrender control. Often I try to control my circumstances and the behavior of others. It can stem from a place of trying to help or do good things, but it doesn’t usually happen in the most healthy way. I’m learning that by surrendering my desire to control actually brings forth better outcomes.
It’s been a great year. Mostly, I’m just grateful. There is so much to be thankful for in life. The little comforts, the joys, and even the sorrows – it all comes together in beautiful ways to work for our good. Here’s to another great year!
Let’s all be a little more grateful