Like clockwork, my body wakes itself at 6:55 AM every morning, 5 minutes before the 7 AM alarm goes off and the subsequent “In My Memory” tune plays to welcome the day. I’ve learned to cherish those 5 minutes like the blood that flows through my veins. Somehow, it always feels like that “extra” time would last forever and the dreaded morning drive to work would never come.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy what I do. At 31, I’m finally hitting my stride at work. At the end of the day, I feel personally responsible for bringing every person who takes to the sky home safely. Isn’t the feeling of making a real difference a hallmark of a “good” job? I suppose it is, but 9 years into my career, I’m at a fork in the road with what seems like 20 paths I could take, and each one drastically different than the other.

The easiest and safest path to follow would be the one most taken: stay the course and retire 25 years from now as one of those career old timers. I could further my skills in engineering or even try my hands at management, sales, or join the corporate ranks. But there’s something about that morning drive to work that seems to deflate my enthusiasm before I get to the door, slowly chipping away at the stone of motivation, as do waves on a rocky shore.

Should I quit to live out my days watching palm trees on a hammock somewhere in the Caribbean? This pervasive thought always seems to find its way with the second cup of coffee after lunch. Perhaps the nagging feeling would be remedied if company-sanctioned naps were implemented, or perhaps it’s the finality and certainty of the career life that frightens me the most. Life would certainly throw its curveballs here and there, but this is it. This is what I’ll be doing for the next 25 years. The thought is truly scary.

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