I retired from the Army in 2003. Haven’t put on a uniform in years. Yet every so often I run into someone who asks if I was ever in the military.
I guess I’ve got a bad case of Resting Military Face, if there is such a thing.
Sometimes the “How long were you in?” question shows up. When I respond that I did a little over 22 years, I normally get the “thank you for your service” response that you'd expect. But now and again, I run into a veteran who got out after their first or second enlistment.
Life in the military has significant ups and downs. A full career is definitely not for everyone. For quite a few people, a single tour with an honorable discharge is the exact right amount of time. The epitome of success.
What surprises me is the number of times I’ve heard, “If I didn’t get out, I’d be retired now.” When I hear that, I always think that it must suck to be dragging around a rucksack full of “woulda, coulda, shoulda's.”
From a practical standpoint, worrying about the path you didn’t take doesn’t make a lot of sense. Once you take a fork in the road, it doesn’t matter what’s opportunities exist down that other fork.
For all intents and purposes, that other path doesn’t even exist. And whatever's down there isn't an opportunity since it's not available to you. Fretting over something you have no way of changing is a colossal waste of your today.
I once read a book with an interesting title: “All You Can Do Is All You Can Do But All You Can Do Is Enough!”
Among other things, it talked about setting big goals and going for them.
That’s an outlook that you can jump on at any point in your business timeline. If you're like me, you've made a ton of decisions in your business where a do over would really come in handy. Doesn't matter. They happened.
I used to refer to the road rash I picked up from those ugly decisions my stupid tax. Now I call them business tuition. Just as there's a price tag for the learning you do on a college campus, there's a price that must be paid for the learning you do with your business. There's no getting around it.
So regardless of the bumps and bruises you've accumulated up to now, spend more time looking forward rather than looking back.
The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is right now.
So from wherever you find yourself at this very moment… get started. After all, “You ain’t dead yet.”