I thought it would be fun to write a little letter to myself… musing on several key topics.
Do you remember that time when you were 13 years old… you begged and begged your dad for a new laptop (since they were becoming affordable mass consumers). You pleaded your case for why it was soooo necessary for school, but you really just wanted to play Counter-Strike with a fast computer. When the pleading and begging had ended with a hard no, you stormed off to your room and fumed in the darkness, sitting in your rage and disappointment.
I hope a lot has changed since then for you. That was more than 1/2 a lifetime ago and here we are now. I can’t begin to explain to you how parenthood has had such a profound impact on my life, but the only thing I can say is that being prepared isn’t only about studying or reading books and talking to people… it’s about being mentally and physically prepared for nothing the previous 33 years of your life had trained you for. We’ll cover parenting some other time as I’m only a few months in and have barely even begun to see what’s below the tip of the iceberg.
In reality, I wanted to open up about three things that I’ve either struggled with or have found some balance with in the past decade or so. So here we go…
You’ve always had trouble in this department and the solution isn’t to go cold turkey and cut-off all together, it’s about finding long term value – not just monetary because most material things are depreciating assets, but what will satisfy the near term thrill of something new and shiny vs something you’ll go back to time and time again. Some of my most adored possessions are also gifts or considered purchases with significant others. You’ve been one who cycled through expensive hobbies, shuffling through 8 cars in 17 years, picking up photography and finding reasons to change/upgrade gear, cycling and fashion (though I’m still arguably not fashionable haha).
It may sound obvious to others, but I’ve come to realize that I don’t need that extra kit for cycling, or that expensive lens I’ll use rarely, or even that next pair of limited shoes. But that’s not going to stop me from indulging once in a while. I think I’m finding a balance with allotting $XX per month and sticking to that. We’ll see though 😛 I think my wife will disagree that the $XX per month is still too much.
I’m definitely not a workaholic, but after spending years at start-ups, it’s easy to find myself “on” for more than just 8-to-5. It used to be something like this… wake up, check my phone, go to work, come home and check my phone throughout the night and/or fire up your laptop.
Now it’s more cyclical, but I do signed feel like I’m taking back into the trap of working whenever I can. Perhaps it’s coming back to a slightly different role. Maybe I feel like I need to catch up? It’s probably the meeting heavy culture that I work in which means any real work just be accomplished outside of 9-5… In any case, with getting priorities at home, it’s becoming an increasing prioritization of work vs getting things done at home.
Irregardless of what happens at work, one thing is clear, the is a small finite amount of time I get to spend with my son with I’m home. It’s pretty tough at times thinking I leave before he gets up and sirens 2-3 hours with him before he goes to bed. I wonder how other working parents do it? More thoughts on that in the future.
This is something that growing up Asian makes it difficult for me to articulate. Love for your parents, siblings and partner. I’ve learned to ball up all of the good and even some of the bad and keep it close to my chest. Being a little hot tempered as a kid made snapping at small things and expressing displeasure quite easy… But saying I love you too my father was basically once in a lifetime.
Fast forward to being in a relationship with my wife, it’s been an exercise of being persistent and consistent. As with all things in life, to be great, I gotta practice. And that applies (arguably the most) to love and compassion. The simple kids before bed, before leaving to work and coming home from work has lasting effects.
The same practice happens with our child. A smile and “good morning” when he wakes and a kiss and “good night” when we put him to bed. We can only hope that he’ll grow up in a safe and happy environment. Love doesn’t conquer all, but it can make your life a helluva lot better.
The next chapters if your life are still to be written. The only thing that I know are sure are the ones we love and the time we choose to spend with them. Everything else becomes less important over time.