Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Where to From Here?

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Maybe it's because I am approaching the 50 year mark, maybe it is something else, but over the last year, I have begun to assess where I have been over the last 47 years and then started looking ahead.

It is almost like De Ja Voues. I can remember enrolling in college all those years ago and wondering what the heck should I take? What the heck am I going to do as a career? What do I want to do with my life?

At this point, it starts out more like, "What have I done with my life?" and "What would I like to do different?"

I have taken advantage of numerous opportunities over the last 25 years to supplement my education with various courses of study that have continually opened doors along my career path and have prevented me from running into the stonewall of a particular path that was dying away. In the technology world, I have seen that happen multiple times and have been fortunate enough to step over into another path and continue moving.

Right out of college, I was writing compiled BASIC microcomputer programming code and COBOL mainframe programming code. I began to see the handwriting on the wall that PCs would eventually take the place of the bigger systems and began to grab any opportunity to learn more about the connectivity of PCs and assembly and repair.

Eventually I took several Novell networking courses and began to work networking PCs, building PCs, repairing and upgrading PCs.

Microsoft made a full scale assault on Novell, and I began to work in both circles supporting Novell Networks and Microsoft Windows Networks. I managed to take courses on various Microsoft technologies and have since been supporting various Microsoft technologies.

In the midst of all of this, I have sought to find a meaning for my life. Seeking it through my career seems pointless. Every three years, everything I assemble or create gets ripped out and replaced. It is the nature of technology and has been for years. It is just the natural cycle of the industry. Nothing about it has staying power and nothing about it is positively impacting peoples lives.

So, I have volunteered with Kairos Prison Ministry, various motorcycle ministries and with Habitat for Humanity. And this is why I am going to Venezuela this year and why I have applied to volunteer deeper within our church. I want to impact peoples' lives in a positive lasting manner.

I am currently attending night school. I have a general idea where I am going with my supplemental education, but I am still pondering the emphasis. As I ponder the direction of the final 15-20 years of my career, I feel like I am in Statesboro 25 years ago wondering, "What should my major be and what do I plan to do for the rest of my life?"

I am continuing to pray and give careful consideration to these important questions while researching matters.

Have you ever been at a crossroads and had to make these kinds of decisions?

How did you go about deciding the emphasis of your major?

How have you decided your career path?


Unknown said...

We have a lot in common, I left college following the computer dream (I'm a geek), started building PCs, then became a Novell CNE and later a Microsoft MCSE. Sometimes one has to make a hard decision, I made mine 26 years ago when I sold everything in SA and with less than $5K came to America to start a new life. It was the best thing I ever did. I have been thinking about my life too, specially now, I just turned 50, what next? I have so many dreams, traveling, seeing my kids educated, helping others but it seems work is all I do. Whatever you decide I'm sure it will be good.

Mike said...

It's amazing thing when we look back on our life and see the handy-work of God. You're doing the right thing - stay close to Him!

Unknown said...

As a fellow geek and having just turned 46 I am quite literally standing right with you. I haven't figured anything out yet but will sure let you know if I do.

Maybe we should all take a road trip together. A band of geeks setting out to find america and themselves. Anyone know a commune we can visit? I know plenty of redneck towns.

Hang in there


Learning to Golf said...


Oh those many years ago I chose to work with my hands instead of my brain and went into construction. At 40 I was pulled toward working with kids and became a teacher. A profession, or passion, seems to select the individual not the other way around.

I'm sure your Faith will guide you to where you are supposed to be. Best of luck as you start toward that awful growing up stage of life. Just remember to always remain a kid at heart.

redlegsrides said...

Quite an coincidental confluence of career paths we've got going here...I too left the Army, got a CNE, then working with Cisco and Juniper switches/routers and F5 load balancers at the enterprise level.

I am on the other side of the 50 mark, it's not so bad....


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

irondad said...

Navigation has become even more difficult. I read that magnetic North is actually moving a bit each year.

I don't really have a career. It's always been a case of doing something honest that I enjoy to take care of my family. They have been my "career". The rest is merely a vocation.

Secondly, I always figure our worth is determined by what value to add to others. Based on that, I'd say your compass needle is pointing in the right direction.

On the other hand, I'm just me so bear that in mind!

RichardM said...

Great post and equally interesting comments.

Also well past the 50 mark. At 25, I left my engineering job in southern CA and started grad school in physics in Alaska. I never looked back and I'm still here after almost 30 years. According to my sister, I still have never held a real job. I guess I'm also part of the geek group commenting here. Been working in IT since the mid-80's (Fortran, Cobol, Pascal, C, multiple low level assemblers). Started with Novell since v1.02, taught database design and programming, linux and MS sys admin and lots of network classes over the years. Taught Cisco CCNA and CCNP certification classes, was the campus IT director for about 7 years and now just work on "special projects". Still teach IPv4 multicast and IPv6 workshops around the country for Internet2. I also still mess around with Perl and PHP for my projects....

Allen Madding said...

Ya know this probably has generated the most interesting comments of any post I remember making.

It is really interesting how many of us are geeks and motorcycle folk. Only thing that keeps us sane, I'm thinking.

I appreciate the encouragement.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Maddening:

I have been to the crossroads of my life three or four times, and have always taken the path of safety. This has assured me a life of corporate mediocrity, subject to the whims of corporate morons, and near disastrous decisions made by those who wear golden parachutes.

I am 57 years old and made the mistake, for the second time in my life, of telling a corporate asshole the truth. (They can't handle the truth.) As a result, I was catapulted off a rat-ship caught in the maelstrom of anonymity.

There comes a time when a writer stands by his work, confident in its power and magic, knowing that people are waiting for the next chapter and verse. I'm good at two things: drawing in the reader and getting them emotionally involved. Now I'm going to make a good living at it, and enjoy the remaining years of my life.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe
Twisted Roads