In a startup, as in life, every year is an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve come from and recalibrate what we hope for.

When you read this, I will be in the midst of celebrating a big birthday.

I turn 40 this month, and I have spent a lot of time this year thinking about how to mark and celebrate this milestone.

For most of my life, my birthday has been the highlight of my year. I have used it as an excuse to do all my favorite things and eat my favorite foods – and avoid chores and anything else I don’t enjoy doing, just for one day.

I thought I would always feel this way about birthdays, but in the past few years it has started to lose some of its luster.

I get why some people don’t like making a big deal about their birthdays, especially big ones: reaching any milestone is a time to look back, to compare where you are in your life to where you thought you would be at a particular age. It’s almost never the same as what you imagined.

In some ways, I might prefer not to acknowledge turning 40. But I knew I would regret that, so I have chosen to embrace the full spectrum of what it means to reach a new decade: the dreams and the disappointments.

I decided to go on a road trip, starting off in the city where I was born, Reno. I’ll spend my actual birthday in southern Nevada with some of the people who have loved me the longest, my grandparents (and I will be hoping I inherited some of my 92-year-old grandpa’s genes). Along the way will be visits to three national parks, including Death Valley, majestic places that remind me that put my place on the planet in perspective.

My hope is that it will be a time of remembering what has happened in my first 40 years, grieving those wishes that have not become realities, and celebrating the potential of what lies ahead.

This month also marks Braid’s fourth birthday.

While a fourth birthday isn’t normally acknowledged as a milestone, in a startup every year is significant. And just as in our personal lives, in an organization every birthday or anniversary is the opportunity to reflect on where we’ve come from, compare that to where we thought we would be, and recalibrate what we hope for.

As Chris has written about in recent weeks, we have spent this summer doing strategic planning for Braid. Much of this work has taken us back to our original intentions and dreams for this organization, some of which seem really silly to us now, but some of which have continued to guide us. And we have used this moment to look ahead to different ways Braid will continue to grow, and how we can help it do that.

So as I am celebrating my own milestone this week, I will be offering gratitude for where we have come together so far in this mission to foster youth and hope that it will thrive for many years to come, even beyond our lifetimes.

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