Posted by: Korry | November 10, 2011

I’m 30. Now what?

This past Tuesday, I turned 30. While my twenties were a great ride, they are officially over. Now what? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for at least the last ten years.

Ten years ago, in November 2001, I turned 20. I was in my second year at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida and was already working as a flight instructor teaching other students to fly and even signing them off to solo (which seems crazy now since I had just barely over 300 hours of flight time compared to almost 7000 hours today). 


Soloing one of my flight students

I was getting paid (a pittance) as a pilot…but now what?

I had more goals to achieve and was driven, so I took extra classes in order to graduate college early, and I completed two internships, one with a regional airline and one with a major airline, before getting my degree in 2003.

On steps of CRJ at regional airline internship

But I still needed more flight time to get to a regional airline…so now what?

I landed (pun intended) my first post-college job with a flight instruction and charter company with a salary of $14,000 per year. I still don’t know how I survived on that salary, but it definitely taught me that I can do a lot with a little if need be. 

Seven months later, I was hired into my first airline job at age 22 flying Saab 340B airplanes out of Dallas/Ft. Worth. I flew to exotic destinations like College Station, Texas and Lawton, Oklahoma. 

Korry with Saab 340B

But the Saab was just a turboprop…so now what?

A year later, I transitioned to the Embraer Regional Jet and finally started to feel like a real airline guy now that I was flying jets across the country and building time for the majors.

And then, while waiting in the Pensacola, Florida airport to get picked up by an amazing woman I’d met a few weeks beforehand named Jen (who would later become my wife), I got the call I’d been dreaming about for years: an offer to interview at a major airline. I guess Jen has been and always will be my lucky charm because I got the job!

So there I was, 24 years old, a pilot at a major airline, flying Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft to major cities in the U.S., Europe and even South America. By hard work and a lot of dumb luck from being in the right place at the right time, I was fortunate enough to do in only a few short years what often takes many more years to do. The goals I set in my own flight plan for life were achieved. I was where I wanted to be for the rest of my career (or so I thought).

After a short while, the glow of being at a major wore off, and I kept asking myself…so now what?

I needed a new goal. I needed a new plan. So I went to grad school and got my MBA…and I got married…and then I decided to try out a new airplane (the 737). 

…And now I’m 30.

When I look backwards, I can’t believe I’ve done all of this in only 10 years! And yet still, in the back of my mind, I keep hearing that same, simple question that I’ve heard so many times in my life: Now what?

Have you asked yourself “Now what?” Have you ever dreamed that you could squeeze a few more ounces out of life?

To me, one of the most inspirational parts of life is that there are always options. Sometimes, those options may not seem practical, ideal, risk free, or even visible…but they’re always there. And “Now what?” is the question that unlocks those options! It’s the question that forces us to never accept the status quo, to always keep moving, and to remember that life is a journey and an adventure.

On the other hand, failing to ask “Now what?” is settling. It’s accepting fate, not creating it. It’s acknowledging the end of the road, not a new beginning. And in the end, what fun is that?

Both my parents asked “Now what?” and it led them to totally new careers. Steve Jobs asked “Now what?” after he was fired from Apple and it started a journey that would ultimately reshape industries and touch the lives of millions. Alan Mulally successfully ran Boeing Commercial Airplanes and then asked “Now what?” before going to Ford and leading the turnaround of the historic automaker. All of these people found options and they took them…even when it didn’t always seem like the smart thing to do.

Which brings me back to the question at hand: I’m 30. Now what? I’m getting closer to finding the next answer to that question for me, but the even better question is this:

Are you?

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  1. The best advice I got for my next 30 years came from Tim McGraw:

    Specially starting at marker 2:17….the whole song is awesome either way.

    Good luck in your next 30 years, which I’m sure will be as successful as they’ve been so far.

  2. […] Kluth wraps the book around the story of Hannibal, the great Carthaginian general who surprised the Roman army by bringing thousands of soldiers and even elephants across the Alps. We remember Hannibal’s great successes against the Roman army on the battlefield; however, we don’t often consider that he never actually achieved his main objective: the end of the Roman empire. Kluth weaves modern-day examples of people like Tiger Woods, Steve Jobs, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman and many others into his book, all the while leaving the reader with one over-arching question about their own life: now what? […]

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