2015: What if it’s a gift?

Earl at Smithsonian Zoo

A young teen opens up his Christmas presents to find an Xbox One. It’s a huge upgrade from the hand-me-down PlayStation 2 he used to play as a kid. He loves it and immediately becomes addicted to Halo 5, playing it for hours on end, even sacrificing school work and pickup games with friends. A couple months later, while playing Halo 5, the boy curses and chucks his controller at the console. Clink! The controller knocks over a cup of water perched on a coffee table between the boy and the TV set. The water splashes all over the console, and few seconds later, the screen goes blank. Worried, the boy runs to his father and asks him to fix it. The father walks over, tinkers around for half an hour and declares, “Son, you’re Xbox One is dead.” “No! Why! This is the worst!” the boy yells. The father, calm as the blank TV screen in front of him, looks his son in the eye and says, “It’s your fault you lost your temper, son.” “But, it isn’t fair that my Xbox broke so soon,” continues the boy, tears forming in his eyes, “Who knows when I’ll get a new one!” The father smiles and tells his son, “Oh, but what if it’s a gift?”

While reflecting on 2015, I found it hard to come up with one story to tell, one lesson I learned, or one change that happened. How is one supposed to fit an entire year, 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes, or 31.536 million seconds into one reasonably short blog post that won’t bore people to death?

But then I realized that everything that was running through my head really boiled down to this: Think big.

To be specific, think big in the face of change. A lot changed for me in 2015.

  1. I graduated college and left the place I called home for the past four years.
  2. I forged amazing friendships with and mentored some freshman during my last year at Yale but then moved hundreds of miles away from them.
  3. I met and dated a girl who made me really happy, created incredible memories together, but then lost her.
  4. I became a product manager at FiscalNote after spending almost two years writing code and took ownership over several large initiatives—growth, metrics, and our API.

Change can be a blessing, but it can also be hard. It doesn’t discriminate between health, money, relationships, or career. It touches everything in your life, seemingly at random.

There’s a quote I love that goes, “Victims are frightened by change; leaders are inspired by change.” This is one of the mantras I try and live by. I’m not going to lie. At one point or another, I was frightened by every change that happened this year, but that fear and discomfort, slowly but surely, changes to inspiration. You think bigger than the past, the present, and the what-if. You begin to see opportunities born out of the current situation, out of change. How fast that shift happens—if at all—depends on your mindset.

On a similar vein, I don’t believe in karma. I don’t believe in luck. I don’t believe in destiny. I believe everyone is in control of their life. It’s easy to give in to external factors. It’s easy to say, “That’s not fair,” or “It’s out of my hands.” Once you believe something is out of your control, that you should leave things as-is, then you don’t have to work. However, there’s always something you can do. By blaming external factors, you victimize yourself and give up your power. If you take a step back and think bigger than that one change—if you turn a little to the left or to the right and take a few steps forward—then you’ll be able to look over and see that being forced to change paths was a gift.

Read on for my 2016 resolutions!

2016 Habits
  1. Compliment or strike up a conversation with 1 stranger every week.
  2. Connect with 1 friend every week—send a random text to ask how they’re doing, or ask to video chat.
  3. Do 1 thing that scares you a week.
  4. Write an article or essay every 3 months.
  5. Read 1 book a month.
  6. Visit a new country every 3 months.
  7. Write 1 journal entry a week.
2016 Goals
  1. Make 1 new close friend.
  2. Be at a healthy and lean 150 lbs and around 10% BF.
  3. Build a small business: PostQuarter, iOSalytics.
  4. Squat 335 lbs.
  5. Snatch 195 lbs.
  6. Clean and jerk 245 lbs.
  7. Date a girl that makes you happy.
  8. Compete in a weightlifting competition.
  9. Become Head of Growth at FiscalNote.

About Earl

Hi, my name is Earl. I am a student who loves to analyze food and eat healthy. My careful eye for food has caused me to become interested in the science behind food and cooking, and I write about my explorations into food on my website Toastable.com. While I believe in sticking to whole, natural foods, I'm not afraid to work with avant-garde ingredients and equipment such as constant temperature water baths and sodium alginate. I also love photography, technology, and journalism.

10. January 2016 von Earl
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