Annual Birthday Reflection, version 35.0

On account of my Vegas vacation, I was unable to perform my annual birthday blog post, a tradition extending back to 2006. But let not your hearts be troubled: Here’s the post, albeit delayed a bit. Forgive me; I’m old.

  1. Never assume you’re sitting pretty, particularly in politically charged environments. At the hospital, for example, my comfortable pseudo-leadership of my team underwent a full-frontal assault for no other reason than the org chart changed. Play the long game and avoid making strategic errors over tactical challenges. At the same time, although capitalizing on uncertainty has its benefits, it comes with a downside: As soon as someone doesn’t like the fact you’re filling a role unofficially, it becomes a crisis of epic proportions. Once the foot is in the door, cultivate certainty and reduce ambiguity in your work and in your relationships with others.
  2. This marks the fifth consecutive year I’ve celebrated a birthday at a different domicile. This year, the apartment/house downtown. Last year, the house on the upper west side. The year before, the apartment in Standale. The year before that, the condo in Walker. And before then? The apartment in Kentwood. I’ve been more transient than I’ve realized.
  3. Goal setting is great. Revising your goals is great. Revising your goals to kick the deadlines back six months, year after year … not so great. Do, or don’t do.
  4. Apparently my cousin did a full-on Ironman triathlon last week. Wow. She impresses me. I am going to try to psych myself into performing at her level. I’ve had good luck, pre-Vegas, at slimming down. A winter of training and dieting will put me in fighting form for the spring. Fifth Third Riverbank Run, anyone? I’ll be damned if I’ve peaked physically in my early 30s. I want to be that old guy in the gym who still runs 50 miles a week well into his 80s.
  5. I’m growing in the opinion that the ping of self-worth you get in the moment when you take care of someone else isn’t worth the long-term price. Know when to cut losses and attack a problem from a different angle.
  6. Solving problems when they arise usually works better than sticking your head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away.
  7. My disposition continues to move away from acquiring material things and toward acquiring a rich diversity of experiences.
  8. It seems of late that people are flaking out more often — family, friends, co-workers. The real question is how to deal with it. Do you accept the inconsistency to maintain the relationship and pretend it’s not an issue, or do you sever the relationship and focus on building social roots elsewhere? Not an easy question.
  9. I’ve started smoking three to five cigars per week, as well as enjoying adult cocktails (not to the point of intoxication!) more frequently. Usually while reading the news and commentary of the day. The practice marks a successful way of unwinding — of creating a wall of separation between “work time” and “personal time.” A salutary habit, even if I get grief for the alcohol and tobacco by various do-gooders in my life.

My 34th year, all told, wasn’t bad. Things went reasonably well at the hospital, I had my best year yet as a freelancer, I moved into a comfortable downtown apartment, I’ve slimmed down and am more fit than a year ago, and my finances have stabilized in the green. I went to Vegas twice and Miami Beach once. These are all good things — perhaps a platform to grow upon in the year to come.

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