Exactly one year ago today, I began my job as a recruiter at a Fortune 500 company; after a 6 month stint of being thrown into the role of stay at home dad, when the company I had recruited for and managed retention for 12 years closed down their branch at my location.
For half a year, I applied for over 100 jobs; while also focusing on my 5 online side hustles: running two YouTube channels, managing the SEO for a majority university here in Nashville, plus selling guest blog spots and planting Amazon links here on my website.
When I started my new job a year ago, it undeniably pushed me to my limits and challenged me in ways I had not been before. There were moments I had serious doubts I could survive it. But the position did come with a more than 62% pay increase compared to my former employer; so I did what it took to not only survive at my new job, but to excel.
By March 2019, I was the #2 recruiter out of 31 nationwide for my company for that month.
My wife and I had become debt free (other than our mortgage) 6 years ago, thanks to following the strategy and teachings of Dave Ramsey. (That includes tithing 10% to our church.) By the end of 2018, we had the recommended amount in our savings, according to Ramsey Solutions.
That’s when we were able to start investing money at Charles Schwab, in a serious effort to have at least $2 million by the time we retire; assuming there will be no social security left for us Millennials.
So in January of this year, my wife and I were finally able to start planning the replacement of my 2004 Honda Element; which I bought the same month I started my recruiting career, in January 2006; before I even met my wife!
I was considering a Hyundai Veloster, as some sort of a consolation to my dream vehicle:
A Jeep Wrangler.
The first time I announced my goal on this blog of eventually owning a Jeep Wrangler was back in December 2012, in a letter I wrote to my son:
“If we can find a way to be content with what we already have, then happiness becomes a by-product of the integrity of that lifestyle.
Yet at the same time I recognize my personal need for a materialistic goal to inspire me to work harder. Strangely, mine is a Jeep Wrangler.
Actually, you and I both have a bizarre infatuation with Jeep Wranglers.
It all started several months back when Jeep Wranglers became one of the first vehicles you could identify by name. Despite being completely content with my Honda Element that I drive you around in, I had never really noticed how, at least here in Nashville, it appears that for every 10 vehicles on the road, one of of them is a Jeep Wrangler.”
Then, after 7 and a half years, the dream began to come true when my mom showed me where on her Facebook feed, her dentist’s sister was selling a 2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport 6 Speed for much less than market value.
I was the first person to call. It was mine as long as I could be the first person to show up with money to pay the asking price.
The problem was that I live 5 hours away from where the seller was in Georgia.
Good thing I have amazing parents. On April 1st, they drove over 3 hours to go pick up the Jeep, on a Monday night; in order to beat another would-be buyer who would be there to buy the Jeep the following morning.
My parents didn’t get back to their house in Alabama until after 1 AM; my dad was able to sleep about 3 hours before he had to go back to work the next morning.
Not to mention, they decided to buy my Honda Element as a spare vehicle, or as my mom calls it, their “farm truck”.
On April 29th, thanks to several divine interventions (as buying a vehicle outside of a dealership means a much more complicated process!), I was able to get the title signed over to me and get my very own license plate for the Jeep.
My entire month of April was consumed with me finally obtaining my dream vehicle, while coincidentally, my 38th birthday was on April 20th.
I am extremely grateful for all I have been given and all I have worked hard for in my life. Now that I finally own the vehicle I have been aspiring toward for 7 and a half years, and my goal is met, I am able to realize this:
At age 38, I have now officially made it to the top of my own Maslow’s Hierarcy of Needs Pyramid.
That means not only does a person obtain a comfortable state of financial means, but they also reach a great understanding of emotional intelligence.
For example, I no longer live under the delusion that I am a “good person”. As long as a person perceives they are “good” (comparing themselves to others who they believe are “bad”), they are in danger of believing they deserve goods thing to happen to them, but that they also don’t deserve bad things to happen (like the “bad people” do).
In reality, it is often the “bad things” that happen to us which are actually crucial life lessons we need to learn in order to mature in life. Believe me, I personally have experienced many of these. (See the 1st paragraph of this article, for an example.)
By age 35, I had learned the importance of not allowing other people to control my emotions: to hurt my feelings, to disrespect me, or to offend me. Because just like with forgiveness, it’s always a choice.
It’s a personal decision that we all get to make on a daily basis; to control our own emotions in relation to other people.
Similarly, making it to the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid also means a person independently and internally understands who they are; no longer depending on society to confirm their identity, purpose, or value.
In an age where people are constantly posting on social media, subconsciously seeking confirmation and/or secretly judging others in a sense of “at least my life is better than theirs” voyeurism, the concept of not basing one’s self-esteem on the perceptions of others is somewhat revolutionary.
If I am fortunate to live as long as the average lifespan of an American man, then my journey of life is halfway complete.
No, it doesn’t make me feel old knowing that my 20th high school reunion is coming up in a few months. Because I’ve never had more focus and life experience than I have now, for Life: Part 2.
If the American Dream is a real thing, I am aware that I am currently living it. This is what the American Dream looks like. I am able to process that these are the good ole days.
But unlike the man who slaves away his life for his career and loses his family in the process, or the lottery winner who still isn’t happy when he instantly becomes millionaire (only to be broke a few years later due to poor money management), I am able to recognize, in real time a very important truth:
I have been blessed by God, and I know that every good thing I have comes from God. I believe it is no coincidence that as I strive to lead my family in God’s teachings (including the Biblical model of wisely managing money and talents), God has honored my efforts; though I fall short on a daily basis.
At age 38, I have come to the same conclusion as King Solomon:
“A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God; for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
Photo above by Mohamad Alaw.