I wrote this a few days ago in preparation for my 30th birthday. Deep honesty follows. Consider yourself warned.

Today is my 30th birthday. I paused for reflection these last few days and I want to share my honest evaluation, divided into two parts—things I’m proud of and things I’m not.

Let’s start with the things I’m proud of. At the risk of sounding like a resume, I’m proud of my Carolina education. I wouldn’t be where I am without my UNC SILS undergraduate and master’s degrees. I’m proud of my determination. I’ve started one successful conference and two growing businesses. I’m proud of my bravery. I left a six-figure job to become an entrepreneur and it’s the best thing I’ve done for my career. I’m proud of my relationships. My friends and colleagues are all amazing people and I’m honored to know people all over the world. I’m proud of my two books. I never dreamed I’d be an author, much less a somewhat successful one. Finally, I’m proud that I’m gaining control of my health. I’m not my lightest today, but I’m also not my heaviest.

And for a dose of humility, the things I’m not proud of. I’m not proud of my social life. I’m more socially awkward than I want to be. Perhaps even introverted. The net result is that I’m not good at building strong relationships, especially romantic ones. I’m not proud of my health. There’s so much more I must do to get in shape. I’m not proud of my financial habits. I’m simply not as frugal as I should be—I tend to like the finer things, as many of you know. I have more debt than I’m willing to admit. I’m not proud of my ability to talk less and listen more. I crave my turn in the spotlight, but I want to shine the spotlight on others more often. My relationship with God isn’t as strong as it should be. I feel guilty about that. I spend too much time worried about appearances and am not my authentic self. I don’t know how to be alone, but I also crave time alone. Balance isn’t my strong suit.

And if you’ve made it this far in my stream of consciousness, you might be wondering if the good outweighs the bad. It absolutely does. I am grateful. I understand that I am who I am because of my strengths and my weaknesses. In fact, if I examine my biggest failures, they were because I wasn’t being my true self. And my biggest successes? They’re when I’m using my strengths 100% and I’m so engaged, I don’t realize how hard I’m working.

So, in the next five years, here’s what I want for my life:

  • I want to have a healthy, sustainable weight.
  • I want a family of my own—I’m not sure exactly what that will look like yet.
  • I want to see business success for myself, but also for my business partners.
  • I want to have a strong financial position with no debt, other than a house perhaps.
  • I want to live life to the fullest. That means doing the things that fulfill me, stopping the things that do not, and having the wisdom to tell the difference.

Five hundred words. Five big goals. Five whole years.

Let’s do this.

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