Recently, I was sitting on the porch, sipping an adult beverage, reflecting on “the way life should be”. Times today are pretty turbulent, regardless of where you live, so I had plenty of room to daydream about improvements. But as usually happens, my mind drifted, and I began thinking about “the way things were”. I thought back to my early twenties when I was first entering the workforce. About all I had to offer was a young guy, fresh out of the military without a college education or any marketable experience for that matter, unless of course you were in the market for a jet engine mechanic.
Fortunately for me, it was a time when a college degree was not the price of admission, so I was able to land an entry level job with a major company. I ended up spending 37 years with them in various positions with increasing levels of authority. I guess you could say I was successful, depending on how you quantify it. I know that I mostly enjoyed what I did, and looked forward to opportunities for further advancement, whatever they may be. I believed that hard work and integrity would see me through, and therefore I committed what today would be seen as an unpardonable sin. I never set any goals. I never aspired to be a captain of industry, or even a senior manager. I just thought that my efforts would be recognized and I would advance, and to some degree, I was right.
So there I was, sitting on the porch with my adult beverage, thinking “what could I have become if I had set and pursued specific goals”? I know I climbed a lot of the same hills that the guys with degrees did. It is just that they were moving toward something while I was moving beyond something. I can never remember in all my years ever saying “I want to be a (fill in the blank), and this is how I am going to do it. Instead, I would see an opening that sounded interesting and decide if I felt qualified to apply. If I did, I would make sure my desires were known and would avail myself of all the people that could help me make it happen. Sometimes it worked. Many times it didn’t. But somehow through multiple consolidations and organizational shakeups, I always came out the other side. I survived to work another day.
I never attained great wealth, not did I ever seek it. I was more interested in a secure income with opportunities for increased compensation. As long as we were able to pay our bills and live comfortably, I was OK with that. I wouldn’t exactly call myself complacent, but I definitely was not a Type A personality.
But what if I had set goals and had formulated a plan for achieving them. What could I have achieved. Today, I could own a grand home or homes. I could buy whatever I wanted and not worry about the cost. I could take vacations whenever and wherever I wanted. And if I was really successful, I could be sitting on a porch somewhere, sipping an adult beverage.