As both of you know I had a milestone birthday earlier this year.
I am now fifty years old.
Well — not exactly. I am actually forty years old according to my mom who says she is not old enough to have a 50-year-old son.
Love you mom. You do not look a day over 60.
In a previous blog post, I wrote about the hard truths from my first 50 years on earth. Several friends and readers provided positive feedback about that article so I am going to build on the idea.
Good mentors make you think critically about your life
Late last year I met with a mentor from work. This mentor is a really great guy — highly successful and respected by all. I have known him for many years, but do not work with him on a regular basis.
I let my mentor know that I was turning 50 and somewhat frustrated with my career. Neither my life nor my career was moving at the pace I hoped.
The role of a mentor is to make you better by asking hard questions.
They are supposed to get you out of your comfort zone with the ultimate goal of helping you grow, develop and mature. Good mentors do not tell you what you want to hear. Rather they make you think critically about your life.
My mentor was helping me find the truth
My mentor asked a bunch of hard questions to determine where my head was on several key topics. I answered the best I could but quickly realized there as a lot of work I needed to do.
He said I should stop and reflect more on numerous facets of my life before moving forward. I was turning 50 so there was no time to waste.
He was right.
I was really energized by the conversation and went off to reflect on how my life was going. The results were eye-opening, to say the least.
The truth was that my life was nowhere near where I expected to be.
I am glad that my mentor was willing to help me find the truth, no matter how painful it was.
Life was pretty good back when I was 25
I started thinking about what my life was like when I was 25 years old.
I was an Army Officer assigned to the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC, married to my college sweetheart, and ready to take on the world.
We did not have any kids — you would arrive later.
I loved my job. It was a lot of fun jumping out of airplanes.
I was in great shape — you do a lot of physical training in the 82d.
We lived in a small condo I owned and we had plenty of money since both of us worked at the time. Life was good.
Back then I did not think much about the future. But if I did I never would have guessed what my life would be like in 2018.
I am much different than my younger self
If you were to ask me in 1993 what my life would look like now I would have guessed wrong by a long shot.
I probably would have said that we live a nice house with a couple of great kids. I would have a good job and receive a decent military retirement check after a long career. Life would be pretty easy. Almost none of that came true.
Patty and I have two great kids. But, the rest is different.
We went through a nasty divorce several years ago. I will not elaborate about the reasons why here. It would not be appropriate.
I did not stay in the military long enough to retire — a decision that I do not regret. I was ready to leave the military when I did.
I do not own a house these days.
I still own the condo and live in a great condo in Reston Town Center. Life is challenging, but that is how I like it. Living, learning, and growing.
And you may ask yourself, “Where is that large automobile?” And you may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful house”. And you may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful wife”
Once in a lifetime by the Talking Heads
Many things changed along the way
Over the past few decades, many things changed in my life.
Some things improved a lot.
Both of you were born and are on the path to becoming fine young men. I am really proud of both of you and love you very much. Being your father is one of my greatest joys. I treasure spending time with both of you.
I earn a lot more money than I used to as an Army Officer.
Unfortunately, a lot of it goes towards alimony, but I am better able to provide the support you need these days to include college tuition and travel soccer.
Some things became much more challenging
Other things became more challenging.
My relationship with your mother is non-existent these days by choice.
Without going into detail I will simply state it is best that your mother and I stay away from each other. Sad, but true. It is the reason I decided to move to a different town.
I am much happier living in Reston than if I had stayed in Bristow. It was the right decision. I do not regret it. But, there is a down-side to that decision.
As a result, I do not get to see either one of you very often. One of the realities that we have to deal with on a regular basis.
You have to change your goals based on where you are
I also had to re-calibrate many of my personal and professional goals after the divorce. While I reflected on my new goals I realized that I am making great progress on many of them. But I am also far behind on some of them.
In fact, I came to the hard conclusion that several of my dreams are done.
They simply are not going to happen.
How do I know? The time limit for the goal has come and gone, and it is not complete.
The cold hard truth.
Not all of your dreams will come true.
In fact, some of them will die.
Next week I am going to talk about what I did when I realized that several of my dreams were done. You may find that part of the story more inspiring.
It is worthwhile to gaze into the rear-view mirror
In the meantime I want you to know that it is worthwhile gazing into the rear-view mirror every now and then to find the truth.
You may be surprised by what you see and learn. I know that I did when prompted to do so by my mentor.
Make sure you do not stare into the rear-view mirror for too long.
Just like driving a car — it is more important that you keep your eyes on the road looking at what is ahead of you, not behind.
You cannot fix the past — only learn from it.
I write a blog for my sons called Doug Keating Letter to Sons. I am sharing content from my blog here. I hope you enjoyed it. All feedback is welcome. Thanks for reading it.
Originally published at www.lettertosons.com on April 9, 2018.