My father, Dean, worked in Pest Control for most of his life. He went through times owning his own business and working for others. He was good at his job and it paid the bills. However, he was unhappy. As early as I can remember I watched my dad come home bored, and unstimulated. His motivation was to provide, not to necessarily find meaning in his career (forever grateful for all my dad has sacrificed so he could provide for me). 

He found out the Airforce had removed age requirements. My dad had always wanted to be in some sector of the military. 

At 46 with a wife, three kids in private school, and a full-time job, he decided to attempt the rigorous application process. I watched his mind and body drastically change as he began a strict exercising regime, healthy eating, and many nights studying. 

After he was accepted he was required to spend a year away from us doing extensive training. This was during my year 12 HSC year. Yes, my family had to sacrifice a lot and my Mum carried the weight of us three kids, (Mum, you’re incredible). But I’m so glad he went for it and prioritised his happiness. 

To this day he has quiet self-confidence, he’s softer, kinder, more encouraging, and has more room for those around him to listen and laugh with (which now includes his grandkids). He spends less time trying to ‘escape’ through things and more time actively enjoying himself- bike riding, camping, cooking, and gardening.  

I’ve learned that there is no age you reach where you shouldn’t enjoy what you do. I haven’t learned this by him telling me, but by watching him pursue what makes him happy.  

And now I’ll always carry this belief throughout my life.  

Years later, beaming with pride, he was able to walk me down the aisle in his uniform. He inspired my brother to also join the Airforce (who is still enjoying a fulfilling career in his position). 

I’ve learned that life seems to almost have numerous life cycles within it. The idea of just putting up with something because “there’s not enough time left” is wasting time. To a 40-year-old, 30 is young, to my Grandmother (who reached a whopping 91 before she passed), 70 was young. Time is relative. 

The truth is my dad had 20 years left of his working life when he made the transition.  Life is long, use your time well. Your family is watching and learning from you (yes, even when they are teenagers and young adults).

– Brianna Stafford, Marketing and Admin Assistant to Anna Black