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Birthdays make me think

I turned 26 today. 

Does it matter? Yes, it does. Since last year, this day serves as a checkpoint to evaluate what I’m doing in life.

Re-evaluating where I am

I ask myself one simple question: is my pursuit of life in line with my values? 

Have you ever spent time thinking about your values? I think about it a lot as someone who lives far away from family, friends. Is it all worth it? 

Over the years, I have seen my core values shift marginally. It’s crucial to re-evaluate periodically because we might think we are running in a circle when life has become rectangular. 

Today, I list my values below in order of highest priority:

  1. Knowledge: I want to keep learning new things and keep expanding what I know about this world. 
  2. Work & money: Nothing fulfills me other than completing a task with complete focus and getting paid for it. 
  3. Adventure: Accrue memorable experiences in the pursuit of everything I do.
  4. Human connection: Bonding with someone who is in the same “frequency” as like me. 

The above list covers what I consider to be the most important values (not universal). 

What has changed since last year? I had work and money as the highest priority, but soon I realized what I enjoy doing the most is learning something new. 

What made me realize that? At work, I was put on an ancient project. If you ask someone in my profession, they will all digress how hard it is to work on a legacy project, and making things worse, and it was a legacy technology that no one knew how to use.

I accepted the project and immensely enjoyed learning it at a pretty fast pace. When people were surprised to see how quickly I have learned something new, that’s when I know I not only enjoyed it but also was good at it. 

Losing out on opportunities

I recently came across a video from Jeff Bezos’s interview where he talks about a concept called “Regret Minimization Framework.” It asks the question: Will you regret what you haven’t done in life when you are 80 years old?

Thinking in that framework helped me look at things differently and make better decisions. Someone who has a predictable, stable career path will regret not taking on opportunities that came by. 

I’m someone who will regret it, and early on in my career, I even had to make such a decision. 

Change that you can’t control

The Internet is a beautiful thing; for some reason, the YouTube algorithm recommended me ALS-related videos. It’s a rare fatal neurological disease where everyone who gets it dies, which’s worse than cancer.

Soon after one video, I was watching two to three videos every day. Unlike other diseases, people who get ALS are healthy, most of whom are athletes. 

I couldn’t watch videos of young people of my age talking about their diagnosis and how devasted they are without shedding tears. 

Here is a person named “Eric Stevens” who is fighting it with everything he got. You can watch his story below:

In a way, I felt like I needed to watch it; I’m not a sociopath who enjoys watching such videos, I chose to watch it to see how people’s lives change in a moment when everything was perfect. 

I wish no one gets such diseases, but it does happen. In my culture, people are discouraged from asking negative questions, but it has to be asked. 

What will you do if it was you who gets a rare, incurable disease? Asking that question to myself made me make changes to how I spend my time every day. 

That’s all, I don’t know where life will take me in the next 365 days, but I’m looking forward to the journey ahead. 

Filed under: Random Thoughts

About the Author

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Hi, I'm Vasanthan Kesavan. I started this personal blog in the most tumultuous period in the 21st century. My writing focuses on topics like productivity, leadership, self-improvement, and much more as I keep learning new things every day.

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