Turning 28 in Birmingham

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View of Birmingham, Alabama from the top of Red Mountain.

I’ll tell ya, I never thought this is where I would be at 28.

That’s, by no means, a negative statement! I’m in a wonderful city with deep history and friendly people doing what I love to do. I just never imagined it.

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My coworker Jamie brought me a cupcake for my birtbday!

There’s something about your birthday that makes you realize your place in the universe. It could be the fact that I’m so far from my family and friends back in Texas, that I’m still making friends here or both. For the first time in my life, I’m on my own. That’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time!

27 was such an amazing year. It feels like 28 is starting out less than great. I have to remind myself that I’m in the driver’s seat. There’s no excuse for 28 not to be the best year of my life!

Now, all I need to do is actually get out bed and go do stuff…

Defining Life at 26

KBTX is the first station I’ve worked for post-graduation. I worked here before graduation, too. I was very lucky to get a part-time job as a photographer. Very quickly I met people here that have changed my life. Many I consider to be best friends. Working at KB feels like being part of a large family.

Our General Manager, Mike Wright, does a great job about reminding us about the “family.” He asked us to come up with a set of defining statements a few years ago in one of those painful all-station meetings. “Write down why you think we are important to the community,” he instructed. “Why should people care about what we do?” he continued. After smaller sessions and some filtering, he came out with four simple axioms:

I trust KBTX.
KBTX does not waste my time.
KBTX is easy to watch and easy to do business with.
KBTX cares about the community and about my family.

He also made them into tiny cards to keep at our desk, or in my case, my wallet. I carry it around everywhere. I don’t think about it nearly as much as I should.

The other day, in an department meeting, our Internet Director Thomas made a presentation about forward planning. He’s the newest departmental head hire and began by talking about our defining statements. He had just been made aware of them. It could only have been done by an outsider, but he managed to sum up the four statements into four words:

Thorough – Relevant – Efficient – Ethical

It blew me away.

Thomas managed to put our philosophy into four succinct words. He also made the point that these four ideas are pretty good personal life goals as well. We should all strive to be thorough, relevant, efficient and ethical.

Again, he blew my mind.

I’ve never taken the time to sit down and write out my position on topics. Journalists take the easy way out and say “objectivity” keeps us from having strong opinions or feelings. It’s not entirely true. We all have to stand for something. Those four words hit me like a brick house in that meeting. Suddenly, I was taking notes. I was speaking out when asked for input. Suggesting ideas for 2013.

It’s been only a few days since that meeting, but I find myself looking at the card more. Trying to remember why I need to be thorough, relevant, efficient and ethical in my job and life. Being relevant to the people I love and care for. Be thorough in what I’m doing, at work or at home. Efficiency goes with being thorough. Get it right the first time, but don’t dally. Being ethical is a sterile way of saying “make the right choices.” Doesn’t always apply to the group. You have to make the right choice for you.

I turned 26 five days ago. I was struggling to rediscover my relevance in life. I wasn’t being as thorough as I wanted in my job. I know I wasn’t being efficient in anything. As for ethical, I haven’t broken any laws or made any regrets, mainly because I haven’t made any choices at all.

I was in a rut.

Hearing Thomas’ brief, personal message about how it’s important to have definition in your life pulled me up out of the muck.

Does anyone else have personal defining statements? Do you have them written down? How often do you look at them?