scott higgins, 60
rocket engineer, burbank ca

There are practically-minded people, and there is Scott Higgins.

“Some people take it day by day,” he says. “Being an engineer, I put together a 5-year personal plan.”

In his 30s and early 40s, the rocket engineer picked up three advanced degrees in the span of 13 years. In the last few years, he’s mastered the art of maintaining a steam punk engine he owns from 1916, learned blacksmithing (at an expert level) and leather working. Wanting to mingle with people a bit more, Higgins began attending steam punk events, and threw a mini festival at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum in Southern California. 

“And I have a plan to play a guitar next,” he says. “I have no background and that’s exactly why I want to go into music. If you do things you’re comfortable with and know how to do and just get a bit better at it, that’s fine. But the real challenge is to work on your weaknesses and make them your strengths.” 

Actually, the real challenge is to develop a plan to work on those weaknesses. Or as Higgins puts it, “Goals are easy, execution is hard.”  Exactly. And once he masters something, he moves on to the next thing and jumps in feet first. “I take particular interest in things that people tell me I can’t do,” he says. 

Whether he’ll retire in five years or ten, or the whether something comes up that he can’t anticipate, Higgins is relaxed. The most important thing about having a plan, after all, is the wisdom to know when to change it.

“I think I’m just starting to get into my good zone, where I’m starting to realize how important some things are,” he says. “And I’ve developed some skills and talents and I have a great network of friends; I just feel like I’m starting to live now.”