by Jane Anderson, Featured Contributor
I struggle. I admit it. Am I the only one at age 58 who still questions if they are living their life to its full potential? Do we ever stop asking that? Are we supposed to stop asking? See? I struggle with that. It isn’t that I feel like a defective part of the human race or a parasitic amebae, because I am productive. Where I get lost is on the path itself. I look ahead and see a jungle of opportunity. I look back and see pools of experience, all of them defining who I’ve become. Therein lies the problem. At the fork in the path, which way do I turn?
When I examine my roots and remember from childhood what I thought would make me successful and happy, I realize they still follow me today. When I was 12, I was certain that I would be an author of books, but today I am just as certain that I will not. Later I was convinced that I would write and deliver strikingly demonstrative training to hundreds of people who were trying to find their way. Today, I am just as convinced that I will not. Persuaded that the future belonged to experts in technology, I bought a computer and read every article and book recommended to me on the subject of development and testing with the side benefit of writing. I have discovered that technology advances so quickly, it requires a dynamo. I am not a dynamo. In fact, I barely keep my head above the water at low tide – but I keep paddling just enough to keep from drowning.
I love all the nuances of project management, tracking and measuring and finding more effective ways to make things better. Because of my drive to always be learning, my favorite activity is research. So where I am going with all this? I have a future out there and know that every decision I make has a consequence; could be good, could be bad. I know that I am passionate about research, writing, and helping others. I wonder am I the only one who wants to live a productive life and finish strong, knowing that they made a difference?
Of all the passions in my life, things I want to do – I’m really not all that great at any of them. But I am a highly skilled helper, friend, and encourager. None of those will ever by found on a annual salary chart. In fact, I expect my salary is fixed right where it is today and will likely decline in the future. So am I the only one who is happy with their life, thankful for all the threads of experience but still question if they are on the right path, one that will carry them productively through their twilight years? Am I the only one who never wants to coast, who wants to make a difference, even if they aren’t an expert at anything? Who wants to have influence even though they have not advanced far from the the bottom rung of the ladder? Is it OK to be content to be a servant lead