Thirty Three

Developing a new mantra

I turned 33 a few weeks ago.

I remember when my gymnastics coach turned 33 and told me about it. I was 12. He was not only my first serious gymnastics coach, he was one of the owners of the gym. He was in charge and he seemed to know everything.

I replied by saying that he had run through a third of his life. Probably not what he wanted to hear and but given he was a smoker, it was actually a pretty optimistic forecast.

Turns out of course that you don’t have it all figured out at 33, … Read the rest

Starting Over

Due to an unfortunate combination of bad actors and my own neglect, I’ve had to do a full reboot of my blog. I should be able to recover / republish many of the posts over time, but backlinks may be an issue, perhaps indefinitely.

While this is of course frustrating, there’s also a sense of relief. A fresh start. There’s something uplifting about a blank slate and having a chance to redefine myself and what I write about.

Early on, I tried to make everything I wrote a direct reflection of personal experience. My shield was always “this is what … Read the rest

31 Lessons at 31

Reflections after another year

It’s sort of a tradition at this point for me to do a post around my birthday (see: 3029282726). 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 … Read the rest

30

Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash

About a week ago I celebrated a major milestone and turned *gasp* 30. Over the last few years, I’ve kept very careful track of how much time I had left until thirty, which was the age I thought I needed to have “made it”. In retrospect, the anxiety was unwarranted and thankfully in my old(er) age, I’ve gained the wisdom to see that.

Yes, in getting older, I’ve lost some naïveté, I look a bit more before I leap, and I get hangovers. But I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for building new things, and … Read the rest

The Extraordinary Power of Self-Reflection

I recently stumbled across an old document on my laptop. It was a PDF with journal entries from several years ago. While many of the entries were typical day-to-day activities, I also found about 100 short lessons that I had captured during this journaling period and I shared a few on Twitter.

Some of them were very specific:

As a panel moderator, you are the advocate for the audience – don’t just suck up to the big shots.

— Jason Shen (@JasonShen) July 16, 2015

Others were more generally applicable:

A few gems: If you don’t set clear expectations about

Read the rest

29

Three Short Lessons for the Last Year of My Twenties

I turned 29 last month. No contest or giveaway. 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 … Read the rest

28

How Has Your Perspective Changed?

Photo by Jagoda Kondratiuk on Unsplash

A few years ago, I started a birthday tradition on this blog, where I ask readers to respond to a question, and give away a sweet prize.

When I turned 26, I asked “What’s one thing you wish you knew when you were 26?” When I turned 27, I asked readers to tell me about an important decision they had made.

Last week I turned 28, and it’s time for a new birthday question giveaway!

One random commenter will win a hardcover or Kindle copy of Think Like a Freak, a … Read the rest

My Experience with Toastmasters

Don’t Start Sentences with “Soooo” and Other Things I Learned

I always thought Toastmasters was like one of those quaint support-group esque membership organizations, in the same category as  Boy Scouts, Rotary clubs, and Alcoholics Anonymous. And indeed, some quick Googling reveals they were all founded in the early 1900’s.

I like public speaking, having done an Ignite talk and spoken at my high school graduation, but I think I could get a lot better. I’m particularly bad at off-the-cuff speaking – I tend to freeze up and sound neither natural nor professional. I remember once looking around for Toastmasters clubs when I lived in the Bay Area, but … Read the rest

27

What’s Your Big Decision?

So I turned 27 about a week ago.

Last year, for my 26th birthday, I had a giveaway where I asked you, readers, to share your biggest lesson you wish you learned when you turned 26 — or who you hope to be by then if you were younger than me.

That was a lot of fun, so let’s do it again!

The giveaway: Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath – a phenomenal book about making better decisions, not through a soulless spreadsheet, but with sound and proven psychological principles. One lucky commenter gets a free copy (closes June … Read the rest

There’s Nothing to Complain About

Reflecting on my father’s life

Photo: My father reunited with some of his old friends

My father was born in China as the middle of three brothers. His father rose through the ranks in the local college to become the Dean of Foreign Languages – the only one without a PhD. When he was 16, the Cultural Revolution occurred and young people everywhere were sent to be “re-educated” in rural China.

My father spent his later youth and early adulthood living and working on essentially a rice farm with his brothers. They woke up at dawn, worked in the fields, ate giant bowls of white … Read the rest