Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Year . . . A Renewed Commitment!

"When I was young, I had all the energy but I had no money. Now that I am old, I have money but I have no energy." Dad

"Life is NOT about what you want to do. Most of the time, it's about what you have to do." Dad

Dan, a staff industrial engineer for the feeder department at the UPS Burtonsville Hub in Maryland, was near retirement. I was fresh out of Virginia Tech with a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering and operations research, and feeling good about myself. I paid my dues as a package car driver delivering packages over the peak-season (4th quarter up to the Christmas holidays) of 1990 at the Rockville, Maryland Package Center (lost 25 pounds in the first 3 weeks) and I was starting my stint as a staff industrial engineer for the Twilight Sort of the Burtonsville Hub.

Dan was a man of few words. He seemed to know what he was doing and he accomplished his daily tasks with efficiency and economy. There was nothing superfluous about Dan. He came to the Hub, he did his work and he went home.

I was your quintessential "wide eyed and bushy tailed" new hire eagerly applying as much of what I learned in college in the real world . . . while committing plenty of mistakes along the way. I wasn't working very smart either with fourteen (14) hour work days (5 days a week thankfully) as my norm.

Notwithstanding my youthful professional zeal, I did notice that Dan was overweight and probably not in the best of health. In fact, he appeared to me like a man who had lost his spark, simply counting the days to his retirement. At the end of some of my longer days at work, I would extrapolate my exhaustion over a period 30 years and I would begin to understand how much of life has been sucked out of Dan by the company over the years.

It was common knowledge in UPS that a manager-owner who had worked most of his life in the company (like Dan) would typically retire a millionaire in light of the stock-ownership (not just a stock-option) program of the company. Hence, Dan would probably look back at all his years of work with UPS with some degree of satisfaction. However, I was not particularly thrilled at the thought of how much and how long I would have to sacrifice myself for the organization, regardless of my net worth.

Even at the outset of my professional career, I vowed to save enough years for myself during which to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I was intent on having enough energy to enjoy my money. I was going to save a substantial portion of my life to pursue what I truly wanted to do instead of stuff I was simply obliged to do.

As much as I would like to think that I was "good", I was probably more "lucky" in my career, which allowed me to retire from employment just a few months after my 41st birthday--close enough to my target of retirement at 40. I am turning 47 this February 2015 and I am renewing my commitment to pursue everything I want to do in life!

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