For nearly 15 years I held an elected office in my home county. I enjoyed it immensely. In 2017 I resigned my post to take a job in Nashville. The past near four years have allowed me to develop a better sense of who I am and who I want to be. I am more of a free thinker and I have expanded my network of peers and mentors significantly. I am happy at this juncture in my life and it’s this happiness that has encouraged me to express myself better and reach deeper in my own life to find purpose and gain a better understanding of the direction I want to go.
Earlier this week, I was browsing around LinkedIn and updating my profile, which was long overdue. I added a new school under the education bullet despite the voice in my head telling me not to do it. A few weeks ago I made the leap to go back for my master’s degree. There is nothing particularly earth shattering about this decision except that I work three hours away from home, I have a 6 month old son, my wife works full time in an executive role, and I just started a new business venture with other partners. I am nervous of the time commitment and my own willingness to power through. So, I added the school with a 2022 graduation date in hopes that putting it out there for the world to see would force me to follow through to save myself the embarrassment of being a quitter.
While adding my new education (in process) to my profile, I decided that I also needed to update the “about me” section. In keeping with my newest desire to be more light-hearted and allow more self-expression in my life, I quickly wrote this to place in my profile.
“Husband, Father, Explorer, Political Junkie, Latin America Enthusiast, Diplomat, Audiophile, Long Weekender, Progressive, Xenophile, Swatcher, Blogger, Piscean, Wanderlust, Pop Culturalist, Nostalgic, Rum of the Americas Collector, Dedicated Coffee Drinker, Lifetime Learner, Big Picture Thinker, Idea Generator, Goal Setter, and Lover of Life.”
It’s a bit tongue and cheek for a professional platform like LinkedIn but I thought, what the hell, this is who I am! The best part is that it allowed me to look at myself at this current stage in life and evaluate both the things I place value on and the things I want to be known for. In other words, it reflects the hobbies and values that I am currently practicing. Some of them are newer hobbies and some are more deeply rooted but it reflects the Rodney of 2021.
I’m rather notorious, especially if you ask my wife, for going through brief stages in my life where I get hooked on certain subject matter and I go all in. For example, I went from hating to read (literally less than a half a dozen books in 10 years) to reading 27 books in 2020 alone. I also went from hating rum to it being my liquor of choice (neat or on ice…no mixers) and building a collection of about 25 rums from the Caribbean, Central, and South Americas. I’m a collector of things and as Callie would say, a marketer’s dream!
Taking time for self-discovery and jotting it down forces you to think about the choices you make and the image that you present to the world in contrast to the image you want to project to the world. It may also cause you to re-align your current trajectory or you may find that you are placing too much or too little value on certain hobbies that currently consume your time.
The pandemic has given me reason to re-evaluate my life again and set some new goals. Some of them are carry overs (that I still have not achieved) but regardless, I am trying to gain the mental capacity to commit and put it in writing. The goals listed here are self-fulfillment in nature and do not include my more personal family related goals (that is another blog post in and of itself). Also, these are not as specific as I want them to be. I am working on re-wording them and making sure they are measurable and actionable and, in some cases, can be broken down into monthly or quarterly steps to stay focused.
- Read 10 books in 2021 (I’m having to slow way down on my reading with a newborn and graduate school).
- Conduct at least 8 interviews and issue a blog post once a month on average.
- Take at least 10 online classes (skillshare.com or masterclass.com) in 2021. More specifically, I want to get better at photography and have a photo used in some publication.
- Get up on a surfboard and a skateboard.
- Complete a two-week language immersion in Guatemala.
- Increase my political and social activism to set an example for my son.
- Start thinking of food as energy and not just as a quick pleasure.
- Take a walk three times a week to clear my head and put fewer miles on my car.
- Successfully complete my first semester of graduate school.
- Get within 5 pounds of my college graduation weight.
- Rock a signature look. This year will be pocket squares and colorful watches.
I know that I need to polish some of these up and break them down into something I can be successful at, but the point is, it motivates me. I like to shake things up often so having written goals will improve my focus. Take a moment and jot down what you want to be known for and how you want to be viewed by the world. Then, re-examine and make necessary adjustments. Think about what consumes your time and gives you pleasure or takes time away from things that are more important. Set goals that align with the person you want to be. Then, share them with a friend or relative or even on social media. Sharing your goals provides an invaluable layer of accountability. We are all busy. We make time for what we want. Now is the time.