A message for AEDC's 60th anniversary

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- As I thought about an appropriate topic for this special "birthday edition" of High Mach, I was drawn to a sign I have in my home. The message fits today's events perfectly. A new year, a fresh crop of New Year's resolutions (some already broken!) and the cold, harsh reality that I'm one step closer to the "half century" mark. Today, the immortal words of President Abraham Lincoln remind me of my goal for 2011.

It's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years.

I can't think of a better theme for 2011.

In many ways, 2011 looks to be a bit of a repeat of 2010. The economy is showing faint signs of a rebound, the housing market seems to have recovered from freefall and the stock market is looking a little more stable. The labor reports are optimistic, and the tone from industry is less ominous.

But the new Congress is facing many of the same challenges we faced in 2010, with rising national debt looming large on their agenda. The impact to AEDC is still unclear, but it's unrealistic to expect that we'll see an increase in our budget, and it's unlikely we'll receive an unplanned test that would offer some cushion to our fiscal outlook.

This time last year, we put out a "call to arms" asking for everyone to help us find and eliminate inefficiencies, cut waste and streamline our operations. We've implemented countless initiatives since that time and despite a significant budget reduction, we were able to keep the impact to a minimum.

But as we continue facing "lean times" our work along these lines is far from over.

So what does that have to do with Lincoln's words? Lincoln's words remind us we have to make every day count, both in our jobs and in our lives "off base." The new year offers us new opportunities to recharge our efforts on both fronts. It might sound odd, but the idea that "you get out what you put in" applies both at home and at work.

I find work a ton more rewarding if I'm accomplishing something, and most of the time, I can accomplish more if I just focus on the task at hand. And the more I get done, the better my chances are of having the flexibility to get home and focus on "mom and the kids." Lincoln tells us to avoid just getting by, and I don't think he meant to limit that advice to recreation.

Life will always be a balancing act, and my hope for everyone at AEDC is that the new year will bring a renewed sense of balance, accomplishment and most of all, achievement. I think that's where New Year's resolutions really come from ... our innate need to accomplish something, a goal that we set for ourselves.

So here's one: "I want to do more in 2011 than I have ever done!"

Setting our sights that high can make a big difference in our lives, and might even put a smile on the former president's face, not to mention everyone around us. Happy New Year!