Clean Breaks and Fresh Slates

"The sooner you realize that everyone here is an admissions error, the better off you'll be." 

I'm taking a Stanford Graduate Summer Institute course on leadership and innovation, and that's how my professor opened the first day of class.

I think everyone knew what she meant. I definitely did. It's good advice.

A lot of people start new jobs/schools/adventures with timidity and deference, not quite sure if they're good enough. Not sure where they fall in the pecking order. I've been in that place before, and I think it's a huge mistake. It's a mindset that leaves you vulnerable because it entertains the idea that you might not belong.

My master's program is only 9 months long. There's no time for messing around or lacking focus or internally debating whether or not I belong here. Not if I want to get the most out of it. So I'm jumping in with both feet.


I can pretty much tell if I'm going to be successful at something based on my mindset before it starts. A few months ago, I was pitching the idea of this blog to Kirk -- one post, every single day, documenting the experience of being a grad student at Stanford. He asked if I would do it every day for the whole year, and I said something like, "Yes, every day that I feasibly can, except if I'm super overwhelmed or really sick." 

"Already making excuses for yourself," he said. 

So true. That's the perfect mindset for a mediocre project that flames out after a few weeks. So I adjusted mentally, committed to it publicly for accountability, and downloaded the Squarespace blog app on my phone, so even if I'm away from a computer I have no excuse to post content.

What's cool about going to grad school (like any other new beginning) is that it's the perfect opportunity to press the reset button. Start over. Cut out all the negative, toxic, superfluous nonsense and build something better. Start writing a new chapter.

The best thing I did to prepare for my year here is audit all the things in my life that I wasn't happy about.

The first was diet. I ate relatively healthy about 70% of the time. I want it to be 90-95% of the time. The second was fitness. I was running maybe 2-3 times a week, but would sometimes take a full week or two off when I traveled, and didn't actually do real, efficient gym workouts until the last three months, and even then they weren't regular or scheduled. The third was deep internal unrest because I didn't feel like I was challenging myself enough or creating enough. I felt stagnant. Creatively stuck. The fourth was lingering disappointment from an unfulfilling undergraduate experience. Just like high school, I rarely applied myself academically and skipped a lot of classes. There was one class that I literally showed up for the first day, the midterm, and the final -- that's inexcusable laziness. 

So this is my chance to fix all that. A clean break and fresh slate to learn from past mistakes, to commit to long term health, happiness, and success, and to be accountable to myself. It's all there for me, I just have to be disciplined enough to take it.