2016: The year of personal integrity

I want to be able to say this every December.

What. A. Friggin. Year.

Travelled a lot. Experienced outrageous firsts. Launched a brand new product, twice.

I’m profoundly grateful for all of that. But there is something I’m even prouder of.

Let’s roll this story back, way back, to pre-2016.

Deciding to take the job at PN still stands as one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. One of the main reasons [for the pull to PN] was because it afforded me a lifestyle, which allowed me to travel — and travel often. Those who know me, know how insanely important travel is to me. Even so, the decision felt impossible at the time. Deep down in my gut, I knew the right answer so why the difficulty and hesitation?

There was a choice to be made. On the one hand, there was fear, self-doubt and in-security. On the other, there were my personal ambitions, dreams — me. It was a decision between should and must. This time, with some help, I mustered up enough courage to choose me. It was a close call, and I’m eternally grateful for that choice because otherwise, I might’ve never done things like this, this and this.

Fast forward to today, 1 year and 1 month later.

I’ve been planning on getting some new ink (sorry Dad). On it’s own, this is not blog-worthy news. But here’s a little backstory: The tattoo is meant to serve as a reminder of the end game, so it should be seen by me everyday. The desire of a daily reminder, plus an affinity towards forearm tattoos, made the flat side of my left forearm the natural choice.

But up until the point that I was sketching with my tattoo artist, I was doubting the placement.

Ah, but I could get the same piece on my ribs…
and it’ll give me more options to hide and show it…
my dad wouldn’t find out and lose his shit….

Eventually, (and out loud) I said fuck it, I’m doing it.

Another choice to be made. On the one hand, there was non-judgement, fitting in, others’ expectations. On the other, courage, being different and knowing what’s important to me. A decision between should and must.

I want to clarify the difference between personal integrity and selfishness. Because I think they can be conflated in our minds.

Personal integrity: the quality of being honest with yourself and others, and living a life that is aligned with your moral principles.

Selfishness: being concerned excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others.

How can you tell the difference? Well, if you’re anything like me and my personal integrity, you’ll catch yourself using the word “should” to talk yourself out of a decision, and usually out of change.

I should just suck it up, everyone hates their job. 
I should buy a house, people say it’s a good investment. 
I should get married soon, all my friends are. 

Every decision you make, whether it’s choosing to say “hi” to the person you haven’t seen in 10 years while walking down the street or looking at your phone, hoping they won’t notice you, or choosing to rent instead of buy, is either a step closer or further away from your personal integrity.

And decisions add up. Each one moving you closer or further away from the life that you want to live. We’re all, actively choosing the life that we live. And how we live it. Everyone’s dealt a hand: the environment that they’re born into. But regardless if you’re born into the hands of Mark Zuckerberg or into the slums of Dhaka, your life is made through a set of decisions that you need to show up and make.

The importance isn’t on the actual choice selection but on the realization that 1) you are making an active choice and 2) you understand what that choice represents. You need to be the one to actively think through what’s actually important to you and make decisions towards that significant because at the end of the day, you’re living with these choices. If you want to live out the choices of your parents’, friends’ or society’s — do so with your eyes wide open. Otherwise start asking yourself, what’s really important to me? And what’s not important (but everyone tells me otherwise)?

One of the most compelling books I’ve ever read on this is The Crossroads of Should and Must, which I picked up in September 2015, days before I quit my job. It gave me the 20 seconds of courage to make a decision I was almost too afraid to make and I’m forever grateful for the timing.


Given it’s the holidays, I want to pay it forward and help someone choose their must. If you want to read The Crossroads of Should and Must, I want to mail you one, on me. Let me know via DM, email, carrier pigeon — I accept all forms.

Especially if we haven’t talked in a while (or ever), please reach out — no it’s not weird, no it’s not selfish. I’d love to hear from you, so email me: etang20@gmail.com with subject line: I want to choose must. I’ll snail mail as many as I can before the new year (to be precise, Dec 31st at 11:59pm EST). My only ask is that you read it, put it into action, and if it compels you — help pay it forward.

Alright, that’s it for now. And for 2016.

As always, thank you for reading. I hope you have a great holiday and wishing you happiness, courage and epic shit in 2017.

Let’s make it the best one yet.

P.S. Dad’s definitely gonna kill me… oh well :)



Moonshots @insidePN. Growth Alumna @OpenCareHQ. Member of @Growthhackers. Lifelong Student. Collector of Experiences. Can be seen writing on a good day.

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