What I Learned in 2017

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to 2018! Below is a short recap of what I learned last year. Lots of life events following my mother-in-law’s death at our home in late December of 2016. My role with a tech reboot here in KC ran its course and I’ve supplemented my semi-retirement job search with consulting which has kept us mostly whole. Our eldest Logan bought his first house. Lucas, our middle son, got accepted to the Peace Corps and left for Rwanda in September. Lina and Jody are doing well so it’s good to have everyone healthy and excited for what this year holds.

You can give up something cold turkey. So this really happened in late 2016, but the fact I sustained it through 2017 is pretty amazing. I had a pretty bad Diet Coke habit. It was pretty much all I ever drank. Mornings included a stop at QuikTrip and I guzzled cans throughout the day. It’s funny I don’t remember the exact date, but I just decided to never drink it, and other diet sodas, ever again. I did it cold turkey. When dining out and others get a drink with their meal, I’ll indulge in a real Coke, but never diet. So you can give up something cold turkey if you really want it.

Getting to bed before 9pm is magical. One little benefit of my consulting and semi-retirement is I can occasionally get to bed before 9pm. And it’s magical. What’s nuts is you wake up before 6am fully rested. This is something I have never experienced in my post-high school life. Like my mother, I’m pretty nocturnal so staying up past midnight is still pretty common. The problem is my day starts the same time as everyone else. But getting to bed at 9pm means you can wake after eight hours of sleep and still lounge in-between awake and sleep for an hour before getting up at 6am. Wow.

Money is the only thing that matters in politics. Some of you know I’m still flirting with running for public office at some point in my life. I believe in public service, and believe most of the folks we have in Washington are not there to serve the electorate but their constituents (donors). Earlier in the spring of 2017 as I was exploring a challenge of Kevin Yoder who represents the Kansas 3rd US Congressional District I was dismayed by what I learned. After meeting with a wide range of operatives, candidates, donors, and insiders it became clear to me that sole measure of your viability as a candidate was solely your fundraising ability. Not your record of public service, the fullness of your heart, your stand on the issues, your willingness to bring change to our country; just how much cash you raise from donors. And we’re surprised our system is so dysfunctional.

Searching for a great job after 50 really sucks. I’ve already written a longer piece about this on Linkedin (http://bit.ly/2Cw6Fdu) but it has been amazing to me how soul crushing this job search as been for me. I don’t want to believe it’s related to my age, but sometimes it’s hard to deny it. I’m also a misfit; having a career path split between management, marketing, tech, and nonprofit. And I don’t help since I have the luxury to be relatively picky. I want something that’s rewarding and leaves a positive impact on the world. My search started with a short list of five and has extended to about 50 firms. I’m not looking anyplace else, but it has been a challenge. What has been most frustrating is only a few of the companies on my short list have even treated me with common courtesy when I reach out. I’m being careful to be a light touch, but for God’s sake I would think my background would be of interest to folks. Focusing on the positive I”ll give big shout outs to Mozilla, Samasource, Box.org, Salesforce.org, and Nethope.org. The wall of shame is pretty much the balance of 50 if you’re ever interested.

Retirement will not be enjoyable for me. There have been weeks were the job hunt was light, like over the holidays, and I was going nuts. I don’t really have any relaxing hobbies which means having lots of free time sometimes feels like punishment. I like being out doing things and of course the winter weather here in KC doesn’t help. Sure I can go for a run or walk, but what will I do with the other 23 hours of my day? I love solving interesting problems, working with great people, developing plans and measuring our progress, and getting on plane to make things happen on the ground. Sitting by the beach reading a book (which I tried for a short while) was torture. In fact I feel asleep I was so bored. But maybe that’s what you’re supposed to do when you retire.

Mantras help keep you focused. Several years ago I discovered a poem from Diane Ackerman that really moved me. I added to it and every morning of 2017 I recited it to myself. It helped keep me focused and positive in my quest to be a better person, live a healthy life, and leave a positive impact.

In the name of daybreak and the eyelids of morning,
And the wayfaring moon and the night as it departs,
I swear I shall dishonor my heart with hatred or greed,
But instead I shall offer myself up humbly as a guardian of nature,
A healer of misery,
A messenger of wonder,
And an architect of peace.

For the beats and breaths that sustain my life,
For my passions and those yet to be discovered,
For my children, and their children to come,
I swear I will not dishonor my body with idleness and glutenny,
But instead I shall eat to nurious and never simply entertain,
I will exercise and stretch daily,
Drink water relentlessly,
And maintain a healthy weight of 185.

So I don’t always follow through, but I always get a fresh start every 24 hours. No I haven’t lost that much weight yet, but I’m still slowly making progress. Raising an iced Coca-Cola to you, your family, and your vocation on a great 2018!

 

 

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