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I celebrated my birthday last Thursday. It was the first time I took the day off (as far as I can remember), and well worth it. It was a simple, relaxing day, and more than enough. At night, my wife Dana and I met my family for dinner. Dana surprised me with the location—a local restaurant we'd been eyeing up. My older brother Nick and his family couldn't join us (they live in VA); however, my in-laws happened to be visiting, so it was a nice bonus for them to be there.
Sitting at dinner surrounded by family on my actual birthday got me thinking about how much my life has changed in the last few years. Living in NYC, moments like this with family seemed impossible without a grand effort. Now, it just takes a few text messages.
Time moves fast when we have a lot going on, and let's face it—we all have a lot going on. If I don't remind myself to slow down, it seems time moves even faster, and things change in an instant. I know this year will be no different, but at the same time, it will be entirely different because Dana and I are expecting a baby boy in August. We could not be happier.
In the weeks leading up to my birthday, Dana asked me if I wanted to do anything special. It's never easy to coordinate with July 4 weekend, so I kept going back and forth about what I wanted to do, if anything. Then, everyone started reminding me it would be the last birthday I'll celebrate before becoming a father. "Wow." I thought.
But I wasn't sold on going all out as one last hurrah.
Dana and I have known we wanted kids since our relationship became serious, and I've known I wanted to be a dad since I was young. In fact, I used to tell my mom I wanted seven kids and a station wagon; that part has changed. While I can't imagine how vastly different my life will be on my birthday next year, I feel prepared for this next chapter. Like starting a new job, moving to a new city, or getting married—things do change. It can be scary or nerve-wracking, but taking the time to make these decisions makes it easier to welcome their transition with open arms and all they add to our lives.
As for me, I aim to continue on my path of personal discovery and growth. I'm not thinking about what I'll have to give up by becoming a father. I'm thinking about all I'll gain from learning how to raise a son.
With only weeks away until the baby is here, a day doesn't go by when I don't think about the future. In these moments, many thoughts are going through my mind that I can't capture here, but among them, are a few core themes.
In his book The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, author Gary Keller describes the concept of leading a counterbalanced life:
"The idea of having a balanced life is actually more idealistic than it is practical. I’ve found that it is healthier to attempt to lead a counterbalanced life where the issue isn’t that you got out of balance, but how long you stay there. Implicit in the label is an acceptance that, at times, your life will be out of balance."
While there's no doubt our little baby boy will turn our lives upside down for a while, I hope to adapt without losing touch with my sense of self. Finding equilibrium won't be easy, but embracing a counterbalanced life means having the will to get up and exercise, finding 30 minutes to read, saying yes to social gatherings, pursuing new visions, and so on.
I aspire to give our son the best version of myself, recognizing that neglecting my own needs will only detract from that goal. It's also important to me that our child grows up with parents who maintain their own passions and interests. I want him to understand the significance of seeking satisfaction and joy in pursuing his own dreams.
Above all, this new chapter in my life serves as a reminder to prioritize joy. I don't mean the kind of joy that's merely a fleeting emotion, like the thrill of winning a game. For me, joy is the deep sense of contentment I strive for at the end of each day. This encompasses two elements: how I allocate my time and the ability to live in the present moment.
Looking ahead, there will only be more demands and distractions vying for my attention. Prioritizing experiences that bring joy to both myself and my family will be key. Making joy a priority will help me navigate the inevitable challenges and new commitments with purpose.
As my responsibilities multiply, I will remind myself to seek calm, particularly in the simplicity of everyday experiences. There will always be parties to plan, home repairs to address, and laundry to do, but rushing through life from one task to another is a surefire way to miss out on what truly matters.
At times, it can feel like everything is going awry. When these thoughts consume me, I find myself growing more upset, wasting precious time wallowing in disappointment and anger. Gratitude has been a powerful tool for rising above these moments. Pausing to recognize what I have in my life or reflecting on recent positive experiences serves as a sort of recalibration, reminding me that things aren't as dire as they may seem.
I expect there to be plenty of these moments in the years to come, each waiting for a reactive response from within me. I must remember to create space for practicing gratitude. For me, this often involves engaging in reflective writing, like this piece, or quietly expressing my thoughts in my journal. As life ebbs and flows, maintaining discipline and mustering the willpower to push through when it feels most challenging will be essential.
By practicing gratitude, I also hope to someday show our son the invaluable habit of seeking and appreciating the good in our lives.
Lastly, I want to give a shout-out to my dad, father-in-law, and mother-in-law for helping Dana and me paint the baby's room last week. It was fun for our home to be at the center of the action, especially when my mom and brother Justin stopped by. Special thanks to my dad and father-in-law for the other small projects we managed to knock out, as well. This week is a memory I'll look back on with a smile for years to come.
Read here: Sweet Loren's Move to Shopify