I became interested with “success” when I was about thirty years old. I had been working at GE for about 10 years, and bounced from one salaried position to another to keep one step ahead of CEO Jack Welch’s annual 5-10% mandatory headcount reductions.
The positives of my time escaping the pink slips? I remained employed during my total of eleven years there before leaving of my own accord. I broadened my experience as I moved from one role to a new one – leveraging what I already knew and building upon it. I finished my undergraduate degree (B.S.B.A. in Business Management) over a six-year period of night school – paid for by GE’s tuition reimbursement program. All these things factored together in an important way because my wife and I had two young pre-schooler twins we were raising.
Certainly there are a myraid definitions for Success – both personal and professional. My original thoughts were around what so many others perceive as the most common: Financial Independence. Doing something for a living to make a beaucoup amount of money so we could buy just about anything we desired and retire early and young.
For some people, that means climbing the corporate ladder and achieving more than your parents and/or peers – in both stature and salary. My 20s were spent during the Reagan-era wherein business/professional success was on the minds of all “Yuppies.” It was an appealing message. My only problem: I didn’t like what I was doing, neither the industry nor my expertise. I despised it actually. I had no desire to get promotion after promotion only to be a big-wig slave to the coprorate masters.
I needed to come up with some way of making a boat-load of money so I could quit my corporate job and live independently in the world of entrepreneurship. My perceived escape? Selling “How-To” information.
Don’t laugh. 🙂 I actually became fascinated by various people who claimed to make a lot of money in this arena. Without going into details, I hung on to that dream for many years. But much like most procrastinators/perfectionists I never actually launched anything real. Successful entrepreneurs take action and make course corrections as they proceed. For me, everything had to be “perfect” before I could put my “neck on the line.” You can’t succeed unless you get start, so I failed in that dream from the starting gate.
I eventually dropped that vision. I just didn’t have what it took to be an entrepreneur.
How much money is enough?
In my 30s and 40s I thought it meant millions of dollars in the bank. I realized over the years that success, wealth and prosperity meant much more than dollars in a bank account.
I left GE after eleven years and landed at Louisville’s largest employer – a health Insurance company: Humana. Starting out as an IT (Information Technology) programmer, the salary was generous, the benefits good, the work tolerable. It became apparent fairly quickly that doing a competent and thorough job made you a high perfomer for managers who typically had to deal with somewhat lazy and slow people.
Once you’re into a position in a large corporation, every couple of years or so, you can look for better opportunites with higher pay. I decided early that I did NOT want a Manager or Director’s position where I was hiring, managing, reviewing, baby-sitting and firing employees. I wanted to remain an individual contributor and go as far as I could as a Project Manager or similar position. This focus worked out well.
I was able to do my job full time making a good living, take care of family/social responsibilities, and pursue my passions of research and learning during late nights of reading and relishing in exciting topics.
As of this writing I’ve worked at Humana for 24 years and have done pretty well. We live a comfortable and abundant life for many years. Our kids are educated and married to wonderful spouses and are creating excellent lives for themselves too. The future looks bright! Between my wife and I our 401k accounts have a large enough balance that we can retire in the next year and have enough money to cover us until we’re about 90.
No, we’re not multi-millionaires. No, we don’t own our own businesses. No, we don’t own multiple homes or a lakehouse. No, we don’t own exotic sports cars or boats. Yes, we do travel the world when we can (it’s one of our passions). We have enough to be very comfortable living a middle-class life until we depart this Earth.
Most of all we relish life. We live in gratitude and beauty. Our home is our Elysium (paradise). We cherish time with family and friends on outings and vacations. We’re thankful for what we have, and at this point – thanks to eliminating all our debt – we can pretty much buy whatever we need or want (within reason) for cash. We lack for nothing. We LOVE life and all it entails.
My wife and I find oursleves with wealth and success – and genuine prosperity.
I never thought I could say that when I first became interested in “Success.” Every now and then I would read about someone saying pretty much the same thing I outlined above: claiming happiness and redefining success, wealth, and prosperity as being possible with a moderate amount of income and money in the bank. My gut reaction was always: BS. It has to be directly related to millions in the bank.
Now I know I was wrong. Success is about finding happiness and joy with what you have, rather than always focusing on what you want (desiring more or perceiving you need more).
For years we struggled financially with near-zero savings. When our kids were very young I took a cut in pay to make a career change from Manufacturing into IT. We found ourselves shopping at thrift stores for clothing and toys, buying used furniture, used vehicles, etc. All the while, we moved forward as best we could for our family and its needs/priorities. One step at a time. We didn’t expect, nor try to, accomplish everything for our home and family at one time. We met basic requirements and splurged when we could on DIY home improvements, DIY vehicle repairs and improvements, DIY landscape gardening to create our paradise – our Elysium. A little at a time, over a long period of time. Taking advantage of opportunities as they arose. This “working” approach actually facilitated something I learned over the years – which is:
- You value more that which you have to work for, sweat for, labor for, struggle for, pay for.
The results of our efforts are a bountiful fruit we greatly appreciate – every single day! Life, home, family, adventure, experiences ALL contribute to a successful. wealthy and prosperous life!
Carpe Diem my friends!