Looking back and forward on the same day


So it’s my birthday – and my mind is oscillating furiously between being too old and not growing up fast enough . It’s a strange feeling !

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the boat that my 9 year old daughter made for my birthday

On one hand – I do feel rather old . I work in a company where vast majority of people I run into are smart, good looking twenty somethings. At a company party, in my first week there , I heard a woman colleague lamenting that she can’t keep up with the young crowd . So I asked her how old she was – and her answer was 29 ! I nearly broke down in tears ( and under my breath said something like – “shoot me dead now – actually poke me in both eyes before you shoot me, and drop kick me as I fall” 🙂

And yet – talking to several friends my age and older who continue to work at large companies , and not all of them are thrilled with their status quo but for their own reasons they can’t move out – I feel like the young guy with free
spirit 🙂

Ok that was a stretch – practically no one equates me with free spirit , but hey it’s my blog and I am going to take some blogger’s license here .

When I finished my MBA – I had a clear plan for retiring at 35. 35 came and went and I am nowhere close to retirement – which made it rather depressing , but I wrote it off as my MBA naïveté . Now I am firmly convinced that I don’t ever want to retire – I think I will go nuts and will drive my family nuts if I do . What I need is periodic vacations – and I am slowly getting better at taking time off work . It’s one of my goals for when I grow up . The guy I need to thank the most for finally taking time off from work is my mate Dennis Howlett . He told me many times – with and without beer in our hands – how time off work helped him, and it kind of worked out that way for me too .

I used to take pride in my programming abilities – and looking back today, I had no right to be . I can still code in C , ABAP and a little bit in java . And over last few years, I figured out JavaScript and Hana – but clearly I am nowhere as good as I thought . Bad news – I doubt I can get a programmer job anymore to pay bills . I better forget that security net and focus on improving skills I need for my current job . There was a time when I could write 500 lines of code in a stretch with no syntax or compilation errors – and I used to take that for granted . Can’t do it any more – and it hurts !

On the bright side – what didn’t kill me made me stronger . All those hours spent tackling programming stuff is coming in very handy when I learn MongoDB – given my natural way of understanding something new is by comparing and contrasting with stuff I know from past . There is some light at the end of the tunnel after all .

Looking back – I am most thankful to some fascinating leaders I got to work for who paid it forward to let me be successful in my career . And I am incredibly proud of the people who came after me who I could help along their way . I know they will go places – and I would be proud to work for them one day . If I am ever successful in my life to deserve a good legacy – I want to be remembered as a guy who helped create a few more leaders in this world . I could do a lot better on that front than I have done in the past – and I intend to do just that going forward .

Last but not least – if there is one true regret above all others , it is that I didn’t spend enough time with my family and our dogs . I can’t go back in time and fix that retrospectively – but I hope to make up for it, and then some, from now on .

Definitely need to lose some weight too – but then , some promises seem to be meant for following year – on a rolling one year basis 🙂

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14 thoughts on “Looking back and forward on the same day

  1. Hello Vijay, I found you first on SCN and now this blog….I think you are very good writer! Thanks for the great blog. I would be a frequent visitor for sure..:)

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  2. Vijay if we can’t gain in wisdom what we lose in youth then we are freakin’ screwed. 🙂 But in seriousness I’ve noticed some people seem to get better with age and some just get old. I guess you could write a long post on the differences. But intellectual curiosity has got to be one essential factor (not letting your crusty ideas from yesteryear turn into cement). It’s good to see you exercising just that in your blog and in your work in the world…

    I know what you mean about regret too, hopefully that becomes the fuel to do things better. Anyhow I read this post the end of the day it came out and wanted to comment and wish you a happy one. Here’s to new adventures that make us feel young even if we don’t always look it…

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  3. Happy Birthday Vijay! And never underestimate the value of experience over youth. Knowing one has only 24 hours in a day, and 20% of that day yields 80% of your best work. Knowing that much of the drama that occurs in life and in companies will not yield results and thus is not worth the emotional energy, so we pick our battles our battles. Knowing how to smartly solve problems rather than attack with brute force energy – these are things us lazy old people learn from experience.

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  4. B’Day wishes!
    Very interesting pieces of writing – adore the simplicity, from the few posts that I have read so far. And didn’t I comment earlier – leaders take pride on the making of leaders. Fully justified. Leaders make and follow leaders too. Nice reading your posts.

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  5. I’ve been averaging about two pints of good local dark beer a year–that which had no apparent impact 30 years ago (but probably did anyway) is overwhelming today, so wine it is! I agree with you Den; the lack of time off is a real fool’s game I suspect is sourced in a culture that for many of us strive to be accepted and contribute while on the employer side too often tied to power and control. For the self-motivated it’s not necessary–quite the opposite. Lots of ways to kill ourselves–toxic levels of stress is one of the straightest routes. If I had not changed my lifestyle 30 years ago I’d have been dead now for 25…. but hey get a mt. bike anyway:)

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  6. I need to take off a bit more than a few pounds (more like a few stone) and that’s a monster challenge but nothing will stop me from taking downtime when I need it these days. It’s vital to remaining in peak intellectual (if not physical) form and contrary to my own sense of self importance, the world doesn’t end when I take time out.

    I’ve given myself permission to take time out whenever I need to. So knowing I’d be exhausted after the latest trip, I booked a couple of days on the coast for Jude and me. No computer and (almost) no phone. The world didn’t end, no-one got annoyed, no kitties were hurt. And today? I feel GREAT.

    As for diet – I am going Paleo – the biggest loss? Beer…but I can have the odd red wine. Just as well I live where I do then eh?

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  7. Happy birthday Vijay. I see Dennis could take off a few pounds too by some of his videos. I could not afford those conferences for sure as pay back would be too tough. I haven’t conquered the weight battle as the desk chair is too strong of an ally for a complete defeat, but a mix of outdoor activities have helped a lot, especially the mountain bike which got me in better shape for x-country skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Having a wife (30 years next month) who does most of the cooking and is very health conscious helps a lot too. I always thought those mt. bikers were rude and immature–some were, but it whips you into shape and it’s a lot of fun. I started at 50+ and 25 pounds overweight, took it slow (no choice at 7k ft.). Now I go on 40 mile rides at least once per week and have reduced overweight by half consistently. It really helps with all other things in my life, including business and other activities. Among my best investments to date.

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