Today I’m going to try a self-assessment. Where do I stand? The good, the bad, and the ugly. I am not sure what the best frame is – current me versus 10 years ago me, current me versus the top ten middle managers in the video game industry, etc – or if any frame at all is really necessary. One thing I am realizing, just four days into this writing journey, is that maybe I should not jump write in, perhaps I should formally allocate my hour. Please bear with the detour here. Here’s an example
10 minutes – outlining the post
35 minutes – writing the post
10 minutes – reading and light editing
5 minutes – posting on the blog
Less words, but more coherent perhaps? Ok, let’s look into that tomorrow.
Back to the self-assessment. Let’s start with a comparison against the old me. Versus my 30 year old self, what’s changed. That’s about 9 years.
- My physical health is hugely improved. This is what I would consider to be my best achievement over the last nine years. I can’t prove this, but I think at 30, my physical body was closer to 40. Bad habits across the board back then (intoxicants, diet, sleep, stress, lack of exercise). And now at 39, I’ve turned back the clock and I’m maybe 35ish? This correction should pay dividends assuming I can keep it up.
- I have better relationships with my family. I’ve seen my parents everyday for the last four years versus a weekly 30 minute phone call for the previous 15 or so. I understand them better as people. I also have gotten to know extended family more, and my family’s history as well.
- I have more humility. I think this is the by-product of general maturity, and realizing that the entire world is not revolving around me. Everyone is the star of their own movie is another way of putting that same realization. Try not to take myself and my situation too seriously.
- I have a better handle on my mind. This is from meditation, sitting back and seeing how thoughts constantly pass through you. Finally starting to realize that you don’t have to identify with your thoughts.
- Work is no longer the central pillar of my identity. This was a big and painful change over the last few years. But a beneficial one, since it’s going to happen at some point whether you want it to or not. Might as well get it out of the way early.
- I am more well-rounded. At 30 my sole focus was work, travel, and sports. No longer having work in my life I had time to pick up other things. History, Philosophy, US Politics (regretfully), sciences, etc.
- My personal finances are in order. It’s a little embarrassing, but while I was working, in a financial planning capacity no less, I never really bothered to keep close tabs on my personal finances. But that’s changed over the last few years. I have a handle on my portfolio, made some good bets and some bad ones, but the overall effect has helped to mitigate the loss of wages.
- I have become a lot less materialistic. Is this because I wanted to or because I have less money in general? Probably both, but I have everything that I need so I am not lacking in the least. What’s been cut almost completely are status symbols – I have a better understanding of these conceptually now, and also how I was using them in the past. I think it’s going to be tough for me to go back now to be honest, since the idea makes me cringe.
- I am much more routine driven than I was in the past. I am not 100% convinced that this is positive, but on balance I think it works for me. Health in the morning, studies in the afternoon, family and entertainment in the evening. It’s boring, but it keeps me headed in the right direction.
- I am less goal-centric than I was in the past. This lesson was learned by consistently falling into the trap of setting high expectations for the effect of achieving goals. It never really worked! Pleasure for a short period of time then another goal pops up and it’s on to the next. Cliche, but it’s all about the journey!
- I’ve gotten clearer on my values and how I want to live my life. I also understand that there are going to be sacrifices. You can’t have it all, need to make choices. I wouldn’t say I’m all the way there, but at least I have a working draft of the things that are important to me.
- In general I’d say I’ve simplified my life to a huge degree. This is reflected in many of the points above. Less stuff, less on the go, more routine.
- I have a better handle on my emotions, and can identify triggers. Absolutely still a work-in-progress (see below).
Ok, that’s a pretty good and reflective list of the positive changes I’ve made when compared to 30 year-old me, but I’ve lost some ground in other areas.
- I have a less active social life. I realize that the majority of my social circle was co-workers, so when the job went away, most of those friendships faded too. In my new locale, I have not done well making friends. Actually I would say I haven’t put in a good effort.
- I have a lot less spending money – wages are gone, living of savings and portfolio returns, trying to make sure my principal is never exhausted so there are limits.
- I am not as in the know and sharp when it comes to the work I was doing. I am fearful that I might have lost a step, and would not be able to compete with other candidates if I needed to go back and work in the type of job I had before.
- I have a lot less professional ambition. I am not sure if this a negative, but at least in a corporate setting, I do not aspire to be in the C suite anymore.
- I don’t get to do as much “cool” stuff, or impressive stuff, or maybe interesting stuff is the best way to put it. Less travel, less events, meeting less international contacts.
- I don’t live in as nice a city? I’m not sure about this one – I like the city I live in now, but on it’s merits it probably can’t compete with Vancouver or Singapore.
- I no longer am on the trajectory I was on before, for better or worse. I think it’s better, but for many other people it would be worse. Not going to be a 7 figure annual earner most probably.
What’s the net?
I think I’m in a much better place, namely because of the improvements to my health (physical and mental), breaking the career to identity bond, becoming more well-rounded, etc. The cost has been some money, less travel, and less friends. I can absolutely deal with the first two, but I need to get back on track socially.
With that said, I am still far, far away from where I want to be. That’s funny, I just wrote about the futility of setting goals, and here I am doing it again ten minutes later. I have some self-improvement goals, or if I want to avoid using that term, areas of focus. Here’s the list:
- I am still indecisive. I can easily arm-wrestle myself to a stand-still. I am extremely vulnerable to paralysis by analysis. This is affecting me professionally primarily. Can’t commit to a specific pursuit or location.
- I have not been able to develop real relationships. Even when I make a half-hearted attempt to meet people, there is always a motive. How can this contact help me down the road, etc. I have cloudy motives.
- I still worry about how other people view me all the time. I have not been able to cut off the tendency full stop, and it creates anxiety. People are going to think I lost my mind, etc.
- I still think about money a lot, it occupies a disproportionate amount of my time and attention. I am fighting an uphill battle on this one – my prior career and upbringing make this topic stay top of mind.
- I spend a disproportionate amount of mental energy on thinking about my parents specifically, and what I need to do for them as they age. I feel responsibility and duty, but sometimes that responsibility makes me angry and resentful.
- I still lose control of my emotions, over the most trivial things too. I can see it after the fact, but sometimes can’t control it before.
- I am self-absorbed and selfish. My whole operating model is built on making sure I am covered, but it’s tight (at least in my mind) and requires me to turn a blind eye to a lot of other areas where I can and should be helping others. I reluctantly help my family, but not much at all beyond that, either financially or with time and effort.
- I have a strained relationship with my sister, and my stubbornness and unwillingness to be the bigger person prevents me from correcting it. This has spilled over into a non-existent relationship with my niece.
- The void not going to work everyday has created has slowly been filled by the other things I do in my routine – reading, working out, meditating, general healthy and simple living. I feel like I am now overly-dependent on these things.
- My drive to go places, to explore has decreased, and I want to get it back. I am not sure what I am scared off – it might be being too old, not having enough money, being by myself.
- I waste time. Each and every day. Usually on the internet. I think a lot about time allocation, but I don’t always practice what I preach. What I’m preaching in this instance is valuing your time and protecting it above all else.
That’s a good start, and should give you all an idea of where I’m at. I am confident that I’m headed in the right direction at least, and feel like my foundation is considerably stronger than it was 9 years ago. So that’s progress! But far, far away from being where I want to be.
I want to write out my values and priorities as well, but think I broke that out as a separate entry. Confirmed – day after tomorrow. Stay tuned! 1857 Words. 54 Minutes.