Yesterday was my 17 year anniversary at my company. Granted the name of the company has changed 4 times, but I’m still sitting at the same desk. My dad jokes with me about wishing I could keep a steady job. He’s a funny guy. Anyway, it got me to thinking, what have I accomplished in these 17 years? I’m not running the place yet, which my mom thought would only take 5 or 6 years to get to. Sorry Mom. I guess the main thing I have accomplished is that I’ve kept gainful employment for that whole time, and I feel like I’ve helped the given applications I support run more smoothly and helped people increase productivity. I have also learned a few things. I’ve learned a lot about what it means to lead people, to be led, to understand I don’t know everything, and never will. I’ve learned what great successes feel like and I’ve learned how to deal with failures. I’ve learned that I need to work on trusting others to do work, and to fight through the noise and find a path to productivity when feeling overwhelmed. I’ve also helped raise 5 great kids over this timeframe. All in all it’s been a very successful 17 years. Oddly enough though, I still feel angst over what I haven’t done. I’ve become a bit of a jack of all trades but a master of nothing. That sounds a bit harsh and I don’t mean it that way, I just mean that my job hasn’t allowed me to put those 10,000 hours into one thing to become a master at it. I guess that’s ok, obviously I’m not changing that now. The thing I think about most is this is not where I thought I’d be come just about 40. That’s a hard sentence to read back to myself, but it’s the truth, and I’d imagine most people feel that way in one regard or another. There’s something you thought you’d get done or these big hopes and dreams that you had and the next thing you know 17 years have gone by and you’re not there. In some respects you haven’t even started. This isn’t to say that I’m unhappy where I am, far from it. Without hesitation I can say that this is the happiest I’ve been in my adult life. I’m just not done. I know nobody told me I am, but I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want everybody to be reading another blog post in 17 years and I’m sitting in the same spot I am now. If you’re taking the time to read stuff like this, you understand where I’m coming from. It’s a good thing to want to continually move forward. Obviously that notion can be scary. Especially since most of the time you don’t know what that next step is going to be, and for most people change is hard.
Over the last couple weeks I’ve been thinking about graduation speeches. The girls had their 6th grade “recognition” the other day, and that added to my thoughts about this. I was thinking there should be a graduation speech out there for those of us who aren’t graduating. I guess I’m thinking those motivational posters with the kitten telling me to hang in there aren’t cutting it. I’ve been thinking of that motivational speech for the rest of us. What would that look like? What would I say? The more I think about it, I think this is it. I was trying to write something all clever and slick, but it comes down to: Life happens. It happens quickly. No matter what, time keeps marching forward, so if you’ve got something you want to accomplish, today is the day to start, take that next step, or change paths. It doesn’t matter if you just graduated or have been working at the same desk for 17 years. In both scenarios you’ve still got tomorrow in front you. It’s just sitting there waiting for you to make something of it, or not.
In a weird bit of irony it’s been a few days since I touched this blog entry, and in that time a lot has changed at work for me. The boss that I’ve had over the last few years is leaving the company. He’s leaving to spend more time with family and lead the life he wants to lead. No one can blame him for that, I’m happy for him. I hope later in my career I’m able and willing to make the same decision he has. Anyway, he has been a great mentor to me and now it’s time for me to take that next step. I don’t know what that next step is going to be, but I know it’s going to be one that gets me to where I want to be. Two days ago I was dealing with the hypothetical question of what I’m going to make the next 17 years look like, now I’m presented with the very real scenario of making a conscious decision. I just wrote that sentence and I don't believe it. The decisions I had to make a few days ago and the questions presented were no less real than what I'm dealing with today. Today just seems a lot more real because of circumstances. Had this not happened at work, I would have just had an excuse to not take action as quickly as I feel I have to now. There's a lesson procrastination lying in there. I'm good at procrastination. Anyway, this will end up being a good thing for me. I'm not sure how, but I'll keep you posted as things play out. For now I know I'm happy how I spent my last 17 years, and I am eager to see what the next 17 have in store.