I graduated from high school at 17 and was ready to take on life — full blast, gas to the floor, pedal to the metal, and get there as quickly as possible.


I had a head start because I had already fallen in love when I was 12 years old, so check that off the list. To make a fortune, live large and have fun was my next goal! I’m shocked that I did understand I needed an education, so off to college I went.


Unexpectedly, out of nowhere, my wife was pregnant, and we were just babies ourselves. I worked more hours to pay our bills and stayed up until 2 a.m. studying at night for college while we became young parents.


We both worked hard, and all our plans were somehow diverted to a back burner somewhere that we never looked at again.


I stayed so busy working, raising my family and studying that I didn’t even realize that memories were being made — memories for which I wouldn’t trade a million dollars!


Andy Rooney once said, “Everyone wants to live on the top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it.”


I’ve come to realize that every person has a different mountain to climb, and the top of your mountain may be completely different than the top of mine. So, if you’re happy while climbing, the mountaintop can occur at any stage. At this moment, you’ve achieved success, wherever you may be.


That life I had planned sounded great, but the path God sent me down has put me at my mountaintop. I’m extremely content and although I plan on staying around much longer, if I’m called home today, I wouldn’t trade my climb for anything else in this world.


Rick Stanfield is a syndicated columnist, motivational speaker and author. His latest book is “I Can and I Will.” For more information, visit his website at www.rickstanfield.com.