Thirty One

The first year of my thirties was both incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. I started a new decade and a new role as CEO at the same time, and at Automattic we grew to over 300 people and raised money for the first time in a while, both of which I couldn’t have predicted five or even two years ago.

My big takeaway from the year was the importance of habits and small actions for accomplishing big things. To be productive I don’t need any fancy setups or project management software, just a well-groomed todo list and a pomodoro timer. This year on my birthday I find myself in Egypt which is an awe-inspiring place in many ways, but most striking to me has been the enduring beauty of craftsmanship with access to only the simplest of tools.

In running, which I started this past summer while in Italy, I was able to slow down to go further and without injury, and ended up putting in about 140 miles which took my fitness to be better than it’s been so far in my adult life. At least half of those miles were with friends and you can’t underestimate the importance of friends in helping you overcome mental blocks. (Also flew 425k miles in 2014, a new record. You can run anywhere and with minimal equipment — it’s a great way to explore a city.)

Reading and writing, two of the activities still most important to me, benefitted from a “just do it” philosophy of putting one foot in front of the other. I published more words on than any year since 2007, and I find blogging one of the most rewarding pastimes in my life. It was also a year of not trying to be all business all the time: I started reading fiction regularly after a decade away and letting the topics here drift wherever my interest is at the moment. Last year I talked about balance, and I think this is what drove many of the accomplishments I’m looking back on fondly now.

I’m proud of how 2014 went, and I hope to build on that foundation to be a better person and reach even more ambitious milestones in the year to come. Here’s to slowing down to go further, and tackling big tasks with friends.

All birthday posts: 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40.

23 thoughts on “Thirty One

  1. Wishing you a very happy birthday Matt. Thanks for what you’ve written in this post. It’s good I think when one feels at ease with others and in a position to be able to share a little of one’s own personal self as you have done. I think it probably ends up being a two-way blessing.

    That’s quite an impressive amount of air miles you’ve clocked up, and no doubt your travels have been an enriching experience. I wish you well in the year ahead.

    I’ve only been on WordPress a couple of weeks and have only posted one article so far. Hopefully over this next week I will have some inspiration to write my second post.

    All the best, Michael

  2. Wow, I totally remember your last year’s post from Mexico, although it seems like it was only a handful of months ago… “Time flies like an arrow…” This year has a return to fitness mantra, so using you as part of the inspiration (after too many years away). Seriously, enjoy your birthday and thanks for making each year better for me and just about everybody I come in contact with and deal with.

    1. eh *to…should correct that since I’m on the top of the thread here…loooong 12 hour Sunday staring at a screen, have gone boggy brained. Have a great time on your trip!

  3. ol’ fogie. πŸ˜‰ 31? I got 11 years on you. I remember turning 30, I thought my life was over as I knew it. I mostly stayed in my room and sulked. πŸ™ That was 12 years ago now. 40 was easier and it went by so flipping fast too. I’m a bit wiser, I think. 😯

    Happy Birthday Matt. You are doing good job with WordPress, for a skinny white texas kid. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜› πŸ˜€

    Your friend from Detroit.


  4. Happy Birthday Matt,

    I’ts been awhile since we’ve communicated and I meant to email you back when you first announced that you picked up running.

    Most people don’t ever get the chance to learn a crucial lesson as you have “slowing down allows you to go further” and in turn reap the benefits of what comes with that lesson.

    I’ve been an avid runner since 1972 and I’ve never stopped…oh..I had the occasional injury that sidelined me but I usually found something else to help the recovery, like swimming, biking and I learned how to run in the water.

    2 Marathons, 4 Half Marathon’s, 52 10k’s, 37 5k’s “later”….I continue to run…My daughter caught the running bug when she began working for Nike here in Portland, Oregon..about 5 years ago…..we’re about to run our 3rd Half Marathon “together” in May – Rock N Roll Half in Portland, Oregon.

    So, I encourage you to continue running and continue spreading the word about running!!

    Thanks again, Rick
    P.S. See you out on the roads – your a road warrior now!!

  5. What beautiful reflections! I discovered similar things too – looking back and seeing how much gets accomplished just from solid routines, and the sneaky enjoyment of not needing much equipment for fitness or productivity – super life hack! Belated happy birthday and new year, thank you for all you do.

  6. I’m just a few months away from 30 and I’ve been trying to reorganize and get things back on track. I took the last 6 months off from working out and it’s been killer trying to get back. I just finished a 2 year career break world trip and it’s really opened my eyes and thoughts on things. I’ve got ideas now that I’m back home but I feel pretty stuck in the thoughts from the past so I’ve been working on streamlining everything too. It sure seems to completely reduce my stress and give me a lot more free time. Hope you have a great year!

  7. Happy BIrthday, Matt! Egypt is an incredible place for a birthday –on 1/11/11 I was there for my birthday! I spent most of my birthday on a plane traveling from LAX to Cairo, then we went to the rooftop of the place we were staying for birthday cake and sunset photos with –the Sphinx and the Pyramids as we were staying right across the street! That night we went to the former palace for drinks. As a wine blogger, I was very interested in trying Egyptian wine. Very powerful. When I woke from the grog of jetlag, Egypt was in revolution. (PS love the new Rothko-esque color block style blog theme!)

  8. Belated happy birthday, Matt!
    And may you be blessed with skies as beautiful and colorful as I have been in the week of your birthday πŸ™‚ (even better then Rothko) … Greetings from europe.