by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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So, which is it?

Have you ever really thought about what drives you to push forward?  One has tremendous potential to fulfill and satisfy you in its pursuits, and the other does not.  Yes, in my opinion it is that black and white.  Allow me to explain…

If you have been pushed to get straight A’s throughout school, graduated in the top .5% of your class, and this was just the beginning, you’ve been put on a tough path.  Keep in mind, you didn’t come with an instruction manual when you were born, and your parents did what they thought was best for you.  Some of the parenting skills are inherited, for better or worse, and some of it may be based on the opposite of what was done to them.  Either way, we are ALL making sh*t up as we go to some degree.  When you hit age forty, you will start to realize that your parents are the same as everyone else in this aspect, despite what you (and they) may have thought all along.

What’s next after a “successful” high school career?  Most likely college, and if you’ve been on a track of excellent grades you have have lots of options to choose from.  Or, you may not, because your grades were not as stand-out-ish as you would have hoped. (yes, that’s a word, as of now…) If the goal of your family was for you to go to the best school in the country, keep in mind, this is the goal of lots of other families too.  If you had to “settle” for Stanford because you didn’t quite get the grades for Yale, don’t think your life is over.  I can tell you as someone on the hiring committee for their company that this is factored into most (but not all) jobs far less than the school and your parents would like.  Just getting into a “good school” no longer guarantees your future is secure.  Ultimately this is what your parents want for you, a secure and happy future.  But is this the right path?  Not for everyone; which brings me to the crux of this blog…

At some point in your life, you going to need to make a decision.  A tough decision, and it comes down to this:

Are you trying to achieve greatness for yourself, or avoid disappointment from others?

If you have found something you want to do for yourself, I believe you are on the right track.  If you are trying to avoid disappointment for someone other than yourself, how are you going to be happy in that equation?  If you didn’t want to become a doctor in the first place, how does being a Doctor give you a chance at a happy life?  Ever wonder why some doctors have such a bad bedside manner?  My guess is that they fell into the “avoid disappointment” category.  Imagine waking up every day for the rest of your life and going to do something that you just don’t want to do.  Remember how school felt at times?  Yeah, amplify that feeling over a lifetime and you’ll have some idea of what I mean.  Add to it being saddled with a huge amount of debt from school, a practice to run to support the job you have (but didn’t want) and you have the recipe for an unfulfilled life.

Money does not by happiness, but fulfillment does not always pay the bills.  I’d suggest aiming in the middle.

I have written about this before, and I still firmly believe that this needs to be discussed more often, and considered sooner in life.  I took a different path in my life, and I am so thankful for it.  My Dad didn’t follow the classic path of high school>college>corporate job, and so I had an alternative blueprint to follow to some degree.  Better yet (and luckily for me) I had free license to do what I wanted to do with my life, within reason of course.  I knew that I was never really in danger of getting ostracized from the family when I made the announcement that I wanted to be a Pro Racquetball Player.  Don’t get me wrong, they were less than thrilled to hear about my decision, but I knew that would pass if I became successful in my pursuit.  And if I didn’t, I would have to endure a few “I told you so’s”, but that would probably be as high as the penalty would get.  I knew school would be waiting for me later on, but at that time in my life I had no clue wanted I wanted to be when I grow up other than a Pro Racquetball Player.  As an athlete, you have a small window in your life when you can be skilled enough to touch greatness and to stay at your peak for as long as possible.  Ninety-nine and a half people out of a hundred don’t make it all the way to the top, but I do not believe that this should deter you.  Maybe you’ll be the one who does; maybe not.  Either way, you are going to learn and grow a lot by undertaking a wild and crazy goal that most would shy away from.  To quote Fredrich Nietzsche, “The best life is to die in pursuit of something thought impossible to achieve”.  Bam…there you have it.

At some point, you have to start carving your own path.  Just because the family wanted you to become a doctor doesn’t mean A. that you can, B. if you do that you’ll be a good doctor and C. that you’ll make lots of money and D. and most importantly in my book, that you’ll be happy doing it.  At a certain point in life, you lose the chance to do something crazy like trying to become a pro athlete and settle down. As soon as you get a house, a spouse and a few kids, you life is in in servitude of others.  You have to make smart, financially responsible decisions in order to take care of and provide for your household.  In other words…

If not now, When?

The answer to that is pretty easy, if not now, likely never.  Can you live with that?  Can you sleep at night, for the rest of your life, knowing you had a shot to do something great or ambitious or crazy, and you didn’t?  Ask anyone over 60 years of age and they will tell you, regret is a terrible thing.  Most people’s lives are peppered with regret, and most of that is regret for things they didn’t do.  Yes, there may be a few uncomfortable conversations necessary to get on the path you want to be on, but if you don’t bear the burden of those conversations now, you will be bearing the burden of regret for the rest of your life.  The choice is yours…grab your nuts and jump!

 

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

 

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