It’s sort of a tradition at this point for me to do a post around my birthday (see: 30, 29, 28, 27, 26). This year, I decided to write down 31 lessons I’ve learned in the past few years. Anything older than that tends to become a “known fact of life” and stands out a lot less.

These were initially written with modifiers like “most”, “often”, or “tend to”, but since that makes the points less pithy, I’ve taken them out. However, know that I don’t mean these lessons literally to be true in all circumstances and situations. The universe is messy and the right answer is always: “it depends”.

So without further ado: Continue reading

Let’s talk about the trade-offs between taking the time to do your homework on something and getting ahead through decisive action.

My father is running for a seat on the school committee of my hometown and I’ve been helping him put together his website. His initial list of campaign priorities emphasized broad themes: academic excellence, teacher quality, things that few would disagree with.

I’ve pressed him for details how exactly he plans to fulfill these priorities. More teacher training? New classroom technology? Overhauling the teacher hiring process? He would demur, not wanting to advocate for any specific policies before he has a better understanding of his constituents. Sure, the election is months away, but with a better known candidate also in the race, I’m concerned his nebulous platform won’t win him any new supporters. [1] Continue reading

I turned 29 last month. No contest or giveaway this year, like the last few birthdays. This year we’ll keep it simple. Three simple lessons I’ve learned as I round the last lap of my twenties.

Just because it isn’t on your resume doesn’t mean it’s not real work. This includes relationships, moving cities, calling customer service, organizing around the house, and taking care of parents. It’s easy to just gloss over these things as chores and distractions if you’re an ambitious person but this is the real meat of life.

You can have it, but only if you want it really badly. There are too many books to read, cities to visit, people to meet, fields to explore, projects to start. You can’t have it all, but if something is really important to you, you’ll find a way to get it.

Energy is everything. I mean both physical and mental energy (the two are closely related). Avoid things that unnecessarily drain you and move towards the things that fill you up. If you’re well-rested, well-fed, physical active, doing meaningful work, you’re doing great. Also surrounded by people you love, and who love you? Game over. You win.