2010 – A Year in Review

2010 has been a whirlwind of a year for me. So much learned, experienced, and changed that its almost hard for me to believe it has only been one year since I graduated KU.

I started off the year with a graduation trip to Miami for a week vacation over the New Years. And I ended it with a vacation to the place I graduated; ringing in 2011 by clanging glasses at a bar on the always bustling Mass St. in Lawrence.

In no particular order, I:

  • Found a job in March and worked remotely for 4 months.
  • Went to India for a week to attend a wedding.
  • Spent a month exploring the Bay Area in California including San Francisco and San Jose.
  • Travelled to Seattle for the first time.
  • Went to Chicago.
  • Started a company with one of my best friends.
  • Saw my favorite artist Ben Folds live in concert for the second time and lost my voice singing for over an hour.
  • Moved out of Kansas for the first time in my life to Fort Collins, CO.
  • Met some amazing entrepreneurs and freelancers.
  • Joined a Coworking space.
  • Discovered one of the best street vendors and had the most delicious soft tacos and quesadillas on a regular basis.
  • Tried snowboarding for the first time.
  • Fell down while snowboarding.
  • Went shopping at a Farmer’s Market in 8 different cities including one in India.
  • Saw the sun rise on a coast in India while waiting for the freshly caught fish to come in from the fishermen that morning.
  • Ate the most delicious fish ever.
  • Talked with Chris Guillebeau on his Unconventional Book Tour and got inspired to be passionate in life.
  • Read numerous books on entrepreneurship, businesses, freelancing, minimalism, and cooking which I will be adding to a Reading List soon at the top of this blog.
  • Quit my day job because life is too short to spend in a lifeless cubicle when there’s so much more to life that is possible through self-employment.
  • Started a blog.
  • Never have been more confident or optimistic about the future and all the opportunities it will bring.

What experiences in 2010 have shaped you as a person? What have you learned that will carry on with you in 2011?

Life as a Tree

The bark of a tree is a lot like most people in the world who find themselves stuck in a daily grind. It is the largest part of the tree and and grows straight up and vertical. It is the same cylindrical shape around most of the tree. Its the part of the tree that hardly changes and remains in the same spot. Its the least riskiest part of the tree because it has the most support and will likely not break off.

The branches meanwhile are like those individuals who brake off from the main part of the tree and create new paths for themselves. It is from these new paths that newer branches are created and numerous leaves are formed all around the tree. The branches produce these leaves which capture the energy needed by the Sun for the tree to survive. These small little branches give back to the larger whole tree in a symbiotic cycle that embodies in many ways the circle of life.

Are you the bark or a branch?

I Quit

I put my two weeks notice in today.

There are those who may look at what I’ve done and say I’m throwing everything away. All those years going to college and getting a degree and I’m throwing away future opportunities by leaving the corporate world. There are those who will say I’m giving up a high paying job that I have taken for granted in such a tough economy and that it won’t be very easy to get back to where I was. There are those who will look at what I did and say I’m crazy for not thinking about my future.

The irony of the last statement is that a big part of why I quit is because I began thinking about my future.

Let me pose a question: “What do you want to accomplish or be in 5-10 years?”

Do you want to be the manager of your department? Do you want to have saved up enough to buy that car you always wanted? Do you want to have moved into a larger house with a bigger yard and nicer neighborhood?

I remember being asked this when I was still in college one christmas, and I froze without answering. The idea of knowing where I’d be in 5 years was beyond me. I had never stopped to think about what I really wanted to do with my life. Like many of us do, I passively went to middle school, then high school, then college, and then to a job. I’d begun what many would consider a successful career.

But the real question is, “Will you be happy doing what you are doing 5 years from now? 10 years from now?”.

Can you see the path you’re on currently and say you will be? Will you at the very least be able to look back and have no regrets?

Do you wake up every morning and look forward to what you’ll be doing or do you live for the weekends?

If you are happy with what you’re doing, happy with where you’re at, and happy with where you’ll be, then I’m glad for you. There are some of us though that want to be in control of our lives. We want to instill positive change in those around us and make a lasting impact in our community. We want to do work that doesn’t seem like work to us because we’re so passionate about it. People talk about having a work-life balance, but why can’t we just have a life that includes work as an afterthought?

That’s why I quit and am choosing to invest in myself rather than buying into the idea that working a 9-5 will give you safety, security, and happiness. Now more than any other time in recent history, job security in its traditional sense is slipping away for my generation. Newer graduates are finding it harder and harder to get the jobs they want, and those with jobs are sometimes having to settle for lower wages while competing with people newly entering the work force. Real job security in this new global economy comes from being able to find and generate wealth on your own terms. Especially in a struggling economy, the ones innovating and creating new ways of doing business are the ones that will shape the way of the future.

When you’re older, how will you look back and remember the past years of your life? Will you have done something meaningful and purposeful that you can be proud of?

Life is too short to be sitting in a cubicle getting paid to do mostly unproductive and unsatisfying work. It’s time to make a change and choose how you want to live your life. Its time to find your passion and pursue it.

In the coming weeks I’ll talk in more detail about how this isn’t just a dream and can be achieved by anyone no matter where they are currently in life. I’ll talk about how I went from getting a job earlier this year to starting my own company on the side, and growing it within 4 months to the point where I had enough confidence to give my two weeks notice this morning. I’ll include all the books I’ve read, the people I’ve met, and the lessons I’ve learned because I didn’t get to where I am today without the inspiration and help of a lot of people. I’m doing this as a way to understand myself better and connect with other passionate individuals, and I hope to inspire other readers who may be thinking about doing something on their own but just haven’t figured out how or found the courage yet to start.

So join me as I begin this new adventure by signing up for my RSS feed or connecting with me on twitter and facebook. I’d love to hear your feedback.