I turned 29! Lessons from my Birthday

I just turned 29! Happy Birthday!!

You know, I always used to freak out around this time of year. I thought that growing older was something to be afraid of.

Not this year, though. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished throughout 2020, and everything I’ve learned this year is something that I’ll continue to be able to use the rest of my life. And that’s exciting!

Almost as exciting as learning that Minecraft Steve is now a Smash Bros. fighter! (Playing against Steve and his wonky attacks, on the other hand…that’s another matter.)

Here’s what I’ve learned this year.

Everything starts with a plan

Looking back, I’ve accomplished a lot this year that I’m really proud of. In 2020 I’ve…

  • Bought a house
  • Landed multiple job offers during a pandemic
  • Learned how to speak, read, and write in Chinese

I’ve learned that everything starts with a plan. We often think highly of people who just “dive right in” to getting things done. That actually used to be me!

When I tried to learn Chinese in the past, I would try a bunch of random tactics such as buying flashcards, playing apps, and listening to random podcasts. Eventually I’d get nowhere and give up.

The same thing happened when I tried to switch careers in the past. I’d write a resume, send it out to 50+ random positions on LinkedIn, hear nothing back, and then give up.

I’ve learned that accomplishing something truly difficult involves starting with a plan. Here’s what that looked like for me:

  • Finding a job:
    • Research your target job role
    • Write your resume
    • Network your way to the job
    • Host a killer interview
    • Negotiate your salary
  • Buying a house:
    • Decide what criteria is important to us in buying a house
    • Find a realtor, lender, and attorney
    • Coordinate with those three to make the offer
  • Learning Chinese:
    • 90 minutes with teacher on MFW
    • Review lesson materials for 1 hour every day
    • Study flashcards for 1 more hour every day

Okay, so what’s the difference between what I was doing before and what I’m doing now? A lot of the individual steps still look the same—I’m still using flashcards to learn Chinese, for example—but now I’ve also created an overall picture of how those steps fit together. In other words, I’m still following much of the same steps but I’m no longer doing it in a haphazard fashion.

How to start with a plan

Start off by researching the ever-loving crap out of what you’re trying to accomplish. Read books, Google it, watch some YouTube vids, even consult other people who’ve already done what you’re trying to accomplish.

For example, I heavily utilized my own parents when it came to buying a house because they’ve been through the exact same process before. And I’ve consulted with my wife’s family on how to learn Chinese because they already speak it!

Use what you’ve learned to come up with a plan. It doesn’t have to be super sophisticated—something along the lines of what I’ve drawn up above is fine.

Then follow though. Then, adjust if necessary. Are you getting the results you want? Good, then your plan is working! On the other hand, if you’re not seeing results or you’re not getting there fast enough, then it may be time to step back and re-adjust what you’ve drawn up.

Thanks for being a loyal reader of Quietly Romantic. It’s my honor and privilege to write for you, and I look forward serving you for a long time to come. Thanks again!

P.S. To whoever’s listening out there–God, Buddha, Flying Spaghetti Monster–a Joe Biden win tomorrow would make a great birthday gift as well. (On that note, go vote if you’re a US citizen and you haven’t already!)

P.P.S The presents I’m holding in the picture above turned out to be a steel water bottle and a fire extinguisher. Yes, someone actually gifted me a fire extinguisher.

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