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The Road Less Traveled

I hate being uncomfortable. I hate it more than anything. Weird for me to say that since I have put myself in dire situations of total discomfort and uncertainty voluntarily. I have always come out on the better side of an uncomfortable situation but never knowing what the result will always weigh on my mind.

I think living in this fear of the unknown is what makes life either great or horrible. Sitting down with my girlfriend’s great aunt who happens to be a young 92 years of age the other night, listening to her words of wisdom made the unknown more accepting. She had been through a lot but always came out on the right side of things. Even as long as she has been alive, she accepted the unknown of tomorrow. She laughed whenever she spoke about death as if it was a long lost friend.

Guess when you get older, you become more accepting of things that you cannot control.

Recently, I came to a fork in the road in my professional career. For a long time, I drove myself to be a self-starter, a motivator for others to emulate. Everything in life is always unknown. I started to see that all my hard work in some of my professional career wasn’t paying off. I believed wholeheartedly in no matter what, if you work hard, you will be rewarded, but now I believe in something else.

Hard work aligned with opportunity pays off.

So as I metaphorically stood at the beginning of the fork, the path on the left looked easy, safe, and seemed like a national park clean up crew had taken care of it. It was a path to jobs that were semi-stable, slow growth, and beer keg Friday. If I walked down that road, I would have been working in software sales for the next couple years, slowly moving my way up the ladder at a small to mid-size company. With my ambition and work ethic, I probably peak at the director level maybe VP by the time I was 40.

House, kids, two dogs, you name it.

It was all laid out for me. It looked tempting to take the first steps and live a life of comfort.

But then I looked at the path on the right. It presented instability, unlimited growth and opportunity with no guarantee I would have the life I want. It didn’t look like it was well maintained, had a steep incline followed by numerous peaks and valleys. Not a lot of folks looked like they went on that path either.

If I walked down that path, I could be homeless, broke, and hungry (hungry being the worse out of all of them.) I could slip walking up the steep incline or fall and roll down into one of the valleys. It was unsafe. By the time I was 40, I would have encountered multiple failures, enough to go around for thousand people.

Broke, unstable, hungry, you name it.

But as I stood at the fork, looking down each path carefully considering what lied ahead of me, I thought of life as an endless journey. It's marathon, not a sprint. Its full of unexpected risk. Even if I took the path on the left, would I be satisfied? 

Did I want to wake up one day at 40, with a good paying job, a family, all the things the American dream was built on?

I do eventually but why stop at comfortable? I didn't want to regret never walking down through the peaks and valleys of the path on the right without knowing I could end up on top of the world. I didn’t want to be comfortable with settling for the American Dream.

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