I am writing this as much for myself as I am for others men out there, struggling with decisions we have made that did not work out as planned.
I went to the doctor this morning for a routine visit. They have a new check in process that involves an IPad type device. You update your information, make payments, etc… In addition, it asks health related questions. I got to the point where it asked a series of questions about depression and it caught me off guard. While I’m not depressed, I have not been happy.
I am happy in my marriage, my kids are awesome, health wise I’ve never felt better. All these things are great, but man is not fulfilled by those things alone. Hollywood would like you to believe they we are, but it is not the case. Your wife does not want to be your mission. She wants your love, respect, loyalty, protection, but does not want to be your only source of fulfillment. That’s a tall order to ask of anyone.
Your happiness is ultimately up to you. For men, this comes from having a mission in life outside of your family. Don’t get me wrong, your family is number one in your life, but your mission is realized outside of them.
Retirement, while awesome in some ways, has left me with no mission. I have spent my life making safe decisions, always with my family in mind. Retirement allowed me to step outside the constraints of operating in that frame. I was offered a very good job in law enforcement about the time I retired and started in real estate. I turned it down, taking a chance with the unknown. For the first time in a very long time.
I have come to the conclusion that I screwed up. There lies my problem. I am far from perfect, but with decisions like that I’ve always made the right call.
I have been successful in real estate. It has been fairly lucrative, but it lacks something. I cannot get excited about it. There is no danger… No challenge… I was a hunter (of bad guys… and deer when I have time) during my career, 19 of those years as a detective, the last five doing some undercover, working with drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes… aka Human Trafficking… My partner and I were very good at what we did. I loved it…
I thought I could transition to another field seamlessly. I was wrong. Instead of having the fear of dying on the street, I now have a fear of dying of boredom. Fear is what keeps a man alive. Men need the fear, the hunt, the challenge, the adrenaline. It is hard to describe. All I can say is once you get a taste of it, everything else is bland. There is no mission in real estate, no helping people. It lacks a real purpose… for me anyway.
So I am getting out of real estate and on the hunt for another job. As I’ve looked, I see the mistake I made when I turned down the job offer I had. I question myself as to why I deviated from my normal decision making process. I have not been happy about it.
What I’ve realized is I have made a whole lot of good decisions, one bad one does not define me. Really, it hasn’t cost me much, in fact made me some money. It also helps to look at the good decisions you have made and realize how far you have come.
I look at my family, my kids are awesome and successful, my wife is happy, at almost twenty five years of marriage we have sex daily. We hardly ever argue. I have a new home with a minuscule mortgage, and damn, I have a 1994 Jeep! How bad can life be when you can jump in your Jeep topless (the Jeep not me… well, on occasion…).
Life throws a lot of things at us. There are many decisions to be made. Nobody will get them all right, so don’t expect yourself to. Each day is a gift. Each experience is a learning opportunity. Look at the good and the bad. Don’t give either too much weight. If you make a bad choice, dust yourself off and figure out how to change your circumstance. Don’t let things drag you down. Shake them off and rise to the challenge.
After all, that’s what we are supposed to do as men, as leaders of our families, as our ancestors did throughout history, giving you the opportunity to be here today. Don’t disappoint them or let their sacrifices be wasted.