To understand where you’re going you need to understand where you came from. After working 16 years straight in IT I’m starting to feel burnt out. It was fun working at a consulting firm after grad school. Every 6 months brought a new client, a new challenge. I was assigned to projects in Florida and Belize during what would’ve been cold winter months back home, which worked out nicely. There was also a lot to learn as a junior IT consultant. Days were anything but routine.

After a couple of years the travelling bit got old so I quit the consulting gig and found a client right here in town. Not surprisingly, work was interesting at first but over a decade later I can do what’s required with my eyes closed. There is no room to grow but it’s a stable job that pays well.

Recently I find it progressively harder to find the motivation to go into office each morning. Really, the only reason I’m still here is money. Good, easy money (pay vs. effort). I’m starting to get a sense that that alone can only keep you working for so long.

My wife is in a similar situation. She spent over a decade working at a corporation. It was a small company that got bought by a bigger company that was swallowed up by a Mega Global Corp. The place where she works now is a complete 180 from the place where she started. And she hates it.

At least where I work there is no drama. I come in, do my job, leave at 5 and don’t think about work until next workday. My wife’s Mega Corp experience is just what you’d expect – office politics on top of constant restructuring/meetings/deadlines/layoffs… At this point she is there mostly for health insurance and other benefits. Talk about bad reasons to show up to work each morning!

I think I can put in a couple of years at my client to pad our savings and investments. My wife – well lets just say she’d quit today if she got a green light.

“Let me get this straight. A couple of middle-aged people complaining about low job satisfaction… Big deal! Welcome to reality most people face every single day – those lucky enough to have the cushy office jobs! So many would kill to be in your shoes with everything that’s happening today in the world”

I get it. None of what I wrote so far should be taken as a complaint or whining. Simply setting up the stage for what comes next.

Job dissatisfaction is a tip of an iceberg. Deep down we all have emotions that rarely bubble up to the surface. Tragedies, like an early passing of a loved one, can plant a seed that takes years to grow into something that will change your life way down the road. The burial ceremony is often not the end but a beginning.

My wife lost her dad a year after our son was born. We were at her brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner when her father took the two of them aside and, in a matter-of-fact voice, said “They found a brain tumor… but it’s probably nothing”.

Less than a year later, at age 65, he was dead. His ashes were scattered at Killington, VT near his favorite ski run called Superstar.

My dad died from cancer shortly after I turned 11. He was 38 years old. I have a few great memories of my father but most of what I know comes from the stories told by my sister and my mom. My sister was 17 when our dad passed. She’s always said that he was the best father one could ask for. My mom says he was the best husband one could ask for. No other man could ever measure up. My mom never remarried and still lives by herself three decades later.

Some may say it’s sad but not unusual… I agree. So many people lost their loved ones too early. My co-worker was all set to retire at 65 this year after working 35 years in the same organization. She died a few months short of her retirement party. I just received an email announcing her replacement. The world must go on.

In your 20s you feel invincible. In your 30s you start realizing a few uncomfortable truths. In your 40s you really start appreciating the value of time. The 5 years since our son was born are a blur of cellphone snapshots. My sister’s kid is 27 already. My sister’s daughter just got accepted to college. When-did-that-happen?

Remember the seed growing silently in all those affected by a personal loss? I know what it is for me. It is the realization that it can all be over in an instant. Today I am 4 years older than my father was when he died. He was healthy all the way up until the diagnosis. No one knew or suspected anything. Poof – gone.

On the morning I turned 38 I remember laying in bed and thinking to myself – this is crazy… How could my dad die so young? I may be 38 but I feel like I’m 25. My son is only 1 years old.

One of the reasons I started this blog (around the time I turned 38 – coincidentally or not) is to have something tangible left behind in case the unthinkable happens. I’d give anything to be able to read my father’s letters, to get into his head, to understand him myself, rather than relying on stories of others to fill the many blanks. No blogs back then so all I have are a few black and white pictures from the family album. There are no home videos. I do not even remember the sound of my dad’s voice. 

Phew, this sounds darker than it should! I believe I’ll live a long happy life. I just think it’s not a bad idea to be aware of all of this stuff happening below the surface. I don’t use it to depress myself or anyone else – I use it for motivation (and occasionally to write stuff like this!)

So that’s what we talked about on our drive up to the mountains. We had 4 hours so we covered a lot of ground but this is important. Knowing why you are doing something is half the battle.

The only thing left is to agree on where we are going and how we will get there. A piece of cake, huh?

5 thoughts on “Why

  1. A lovely thoughtful piece of writing and I never thought of a blog being something to leave behind before, just make sure you back it all up and it’s easy to access!

    Your Dad sounds like a cool guy, I’m sure he’d be very proud of what you’re doing and your writings you post on here.

    All the best from cold but sunny England 🙂

    • Yep, good point about backups. I usually write in Google Docs and then copy/paste into WordPress so all of my posts are saved in Google Drive. I also have a WordPress plugin that backs up the whole site in case something happens and I need to restore it. Hopefully that covers the bases.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  2. “In your 20s you feel invincible. In your 30s you start realizing a few uncomfortable truths. In your 40s you really start appreciating the value of time.”

    Love this.

    It’s so important to remember that you won’t always feel the same way as you do now, and to plan for the future in a way that makes the most options available to yourself.

    • Exactly! “if only I knew then what I know now”… But it’s never too late and I think it’s easier now than ever before to get back on track. There are lots of people sharing their stories – all you need is to listen and decide on the next steps.

  3. Pingback: Where Do We Go From Here? | Insourcelife

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