If there is one thing I have learned in life it is this: life does not come with a blueprint. There is no clear path to happiness, wealth, or a successful career. Actually, I am inclined to believe that you shouldn’t be afraid to stray from the pack and create your own path.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to question established practices and search for a different set of answers. Some of history’s most interesting and successful figures did just that; sometimes with great success and other times with massive failure. But they weren’t afraid to try. Investigating different options and looking for other answers or a new means to accomplish something spawns creativity and innovation.
Take a Walk Down the Road Less Traveled
Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Contrarian Point of View
There have been times in my life when I went against “traditional wisdom,” and those decisions have shaped me into the man I am today. Probably the best example of this was my decision to join the United States Air Force.
Growing up, I was anything but the military type. In fact, until a few months before I enlisted, I had completely disregarded the military as an option for myself. My decision to enlist shocked those who knew me well, including my family. Why would this honors student drop out of college to enlist in the USAF as an aircraft mechanic?
Never Stop Learning or Pushing the Boundaries of Your Surroundings
My action was against the “traditional” way of thinking. But it was also one of the best decisions I ever made. I learned more about myself and the world around me than I ever would have as a college student, and I have learned to truly appreciate my place in life. I learned to embody the characteristics of integrity, honor, and teamwork, and will carry those traits with me for the remainder of my life.
My military travels took me to over 30 countries on 5 continents. I learned how to use hand tools and power tools and gained a basic understanding of mechanics. I learned the soft skills of how to give orders, and more importantly, how to follow them. I learned to deal with people of various backgrounds and dispositions. I have earned certain veterans benefits that will stay with me for life, and more importantly, it was in the USAF that I met the woman who would later become my wife.
Make Your Own Path; Don’t Follow Someone Else’s
Toward the end of my military career I decided to finish college. I took full-time night classes while maintaining a full-time work schedule. The sacrifice was worth it. I graduated from college before I separated from the USAF, and professionally, I am on par with my age group.
My life’s journey to this point by no means followed a traditional path. But I kept my eye on the ball and I consider my life to be a successful one thus far, however success may be defined.
The path I took is not for everyone. In my opinion, success and happiness and wealth lack a true definition, and you need to feel your own way until you find what they mean to you.
Write a book. Start a business. Take classes for knowledge or fun. Take a job that interests you instead of taking a job only for the salary. Or simply turn left instead of right. The point is to create your own path and make this life yours.