The Person I Want To Be

I came back from a week trip to New York last night. I go about every two months, and each time I make the trip, I'm amazed at how steady friends and family are progressing. Growing. Advancing on in their lives. An engagement here, a job promotion there, a new house, new apartment, new hairstyle, diet, hobby, child. Achievements and disappointments, life events both big and small. And I think it's because of the 2-month cadence of my visits that make the growth itself seem meaningful - not too great that the changes are dramatic, not so incremental that I don't notice the difference. It's a great feeling to watch your friends continue to become great people. It's also hard not to reflect on your own life.

The mini-jet lag of an east coast trip normally doesn't bother me. I basically get to oversleep by a couple hours and still get into the office at 9 AM. Today, I woke up at 6. No big deal, keep sleeping. I couldn't. I knew that I should take the opportunity while it presented itself to get to the gym early, seeding two habits that I had been wanting to establish for sometime. On occasion I've been able to get to the gym semi-regularly (read: once every 2-3 days) and sure there have been stretches of weeks that I can keep up a 7 AM wakeup, but inevitably my schedule reverts to my norm: 9 AM, no gym. Health and discipline replaced by comfort and comfort food.

There's a big difference in the person I am and the person I want to be. It's not a sad thing, and I'm not writing this to be a 90's pop ballad, but it's true and it's something that's sort of hard for me to admit (transparency and openness being on the list of things I'd like to be much better at). It's the kind of thinking that occurs to me in a big wave every New Year's Day and after my birthday (the two dates being two weeks apart, creating a nice layered effect) and customarily results in me signing up for a half-marathon or class that I entirely regret.

I hate running. It's a tangent, but I thought I'd put it out there. 

There are a lot of reasons why I'm not the person I want to be. Personal prioritization, genetics, lifestyle, upbringing, philosophy, etc. Somethings I don't have control over (I've gracefully accepted I'm not growing any taller), and somethings I do exercise control over, but are so ingrained in who I am that it's hard to change. Take speaking to authority figures for example: as a first generation asian-american, I learned early on to respect and defer to those in perceived power positions. I struggled with this when I first started working as a management consultant, often feeling panicked in high-profile meetings with senior clients or partners. I couldn't help it - I actually feel my body reacting to those situations (dry mouth, rapid heart beat, and the inability to think clearly). Time and practice eventually helped me deal with it better, but to this day it's still something I struggle with. 

Then there are things that I have full control over, but just choose not to do. These are the qualities in the person that I want to be. They haven't really changed for sometime. Since keeping to myself has so far yielded no results, I'm going to try putting them out in the open. At the very least, it'll help with item number one and two. 

The Person I Want To Be...

  • Is transparent about both successes and failures in life. Most importantly failures and things that didn't go quite so well.
  • Is open about sharing with others and allows himself to be vulnerable.
  • Makes time for people and health. It's been very easy to prioritize the actions that bring instant impact in life, which generally means working another hour, but that typically comes at the consequence of relationships and personal health. 
  • Does meaningful things both in work and in life. One of the things that you tend to notice working on a startup is that in the early days (i.e. right now) it's easy to be led down product tangents. Sometimes this is a good thing, as you're honing in on the real value proposition for customers, but sometimes you find yourself so far gone from your original vision that it's hard to recognize why it is you're working on what you're working on. Anyways, the person I want to be always is clear on why he's doing what he's doing.

Another way you could read this list is "Characteristics I'm not great at". I suppose all we can ever expect of ourselves is to keep trying, and when something doesn't work, try something else. Anyways, I'm going to work at it. 


No one read or edited this. Forgive my syntactical and style errors. I wanted to finish and publish this quickly so I could make it to the gym.