I started learning a lesson about the time I was eighteen that I’ve kept learning throughout my life. And that lesson is that every new phase of life brings a new challenge that I’m going to have to deal with – especially when I think I’m golden.
When I was getting close to graduating from high school, my dad gave me three options: go to college, go into the military, or get a fulltime job. I didn’t want the military or the fulltime job, so I went to college to study computer programing. By the way, I thought I was going to be programing computer games and that I was going to be golden! But, then I found out very quickly I was going to be programing business systems. I hung with it anyway.
Close to the end of my first semester, my grades were not great and I was ready to give up. Dad reminded me of my other options again, so I gave it another shot, and was able to turn it around. I faced my first big challenge in life and I graduated a couple years later.
And then I get a job as a programmer. Awesome! I was golden, right? But you know what? I hated my job from day one. I’m programming inventory systems for battleship construction. I didn’t even get to be in the battleships! It was mind numbing work. Ugh! I didn’t even talk to my boss but four times in the year I was there. So, I decided the next phase of my life was to live somewhere else… so that I’d be golden.
My friend Scott lived in Memphis, and so I picked up and moved down there. I moved in with him and slept on his couch. My goal was going to find another programming job in the first couple weeks and I would be golden. Well, that was the plan.
Three months later I still didn’t have that job. And, one day, Dad, on a business trip, appeared in Memphis, to say, “What’s going on dude?” I told him that I had been looking each day for jobs. Well, he found an ad and a phone number in the newspaper that I had not called yet. It was for a computer sales job. I didn’t want to sell anything, but if I didn’t get a job soon, I’d be moving back home.
The manager, David, interviewed me, but it felt more like a conversation. I thought, “Man, I got this job and I’m going to be golden!” Well, David reappeared a few minutes later and said, “I don’t think the sales job is right for you… but, there’s another role I think you might be good for. How about building computers?” And when he showed me what that was, I was like, “Yes! I’m in! I want to do that!”
I’m like, “Great! I’m golden!! I can rent my first apartment, and everything will be ok.” Well, I was working 60 hours a week in this job and I had just $50 to eat a month. $50! I was getting good at eating with this small budget and it stayed that way for a few months until the next challenge came up. But, my skills grew and an opportunity to get a better paying job came as well. I grew as a person, too.
Here’s the thing: at each of these challenging phases, I kept thinking “If I can just get past this, I’ll be golden.” And, for us, when the challenges of life come and go, it seems like we tell ourselves nothing else will come our way.
But, every new phase of your life is going to bring you a new and bigger challenge. So, let’s set the expectation that these struggles are an inevitable part of life. And, if we think we are golden, it’s a great indicator that life is trying to teach us another lesson that Easy Street is not realistic. We are better off living on Challenge Way. It’s where the growth happens.