My older son just graduated from high school. As he’s embarking on this next part of his life, he asked me some questions about my own life. I guess milestone moments like graduation encourage this kind of curiosity. He asked me how many years Susan and I have been married. I told him we were married in either 1994 or 1995. For some reason, I just can’t immediately remember the year. So I thought for a minute and then told him our wedding date was May 13, 1995.
He responded, “You know that’s today, right?”
Earlier in the week I had remembered our anniversary, but by the time the actual day came around, I had forgotten again. (I’ll chalk that up to a whirlwind week that really was all about our son and his achievements.) In any case, his questions made me stop and think—especially when he said, “That was 22 years ago. What did you think your life would be like in 22 years?”
Since I didn’t write down where I thought I’d be two decades out, I told him a little of what my life was like 22+ years ago.
I had struck out on my own and launched my business-coaching company. That first year as a self-employed coach, I lived and worked in a one-bedroom apartment. The second year, I upgraded to a two-bedroom apartment so my office could move from the kitchen table to the extra bedroom. The third year, I moved into an office near my apartment.
My vision of success back then was simple: lots of business and a fulfilling relationship with God. I was 37 when I met a cute girl from Atlanta whom I would ask to be my wife. I still wasn’t making much money, and she was the bigger breadwinner in our little family for a while.
Now 22 years later, I’ve grown my business, and we’ve happily grown our family. Our oldest is heading to college, another is in high school and our “baby” is in middle school. And I am not the center of my own universe. My family is my focus, and our lives have revolved around years and years of Boy Scouts, gymnastics, basketball, soccer, school plays and a host of other children-related activities and events.
I couldn’t have predicted all this, I told my son. I didn’t imagine a life so full of everyday blessings.
A Little Introspection
So what about you? Twenty or so years ago, did you think you’d be where you are, doing what you’re doing today? When you were in college, did you imagine the life you’re living now? When you first started working, did you think you’d have the career you have today? If, like me, you’ve been working for a while, have you achieved what you thought you might achieve? And finally, if you are retired, is your life what you thought it would be at this point?
If your life is full, if you’ve achieved and are still achieving your goals, that’s great. But you still might ask: “Now what?” If life has thrown you more than your fair share of zingers and set you on a path you didn’t envision, have you still made the most of it?
Nothing is ever perfect.
No matter where you are, you can calibrate your work and your life. George Eliot put it this way: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”