Maybe it’s the economy. Maybe it’s something in the water. Whatever the cause, I’ve noticed a lot of people these days who are going through experiences of “blowing up” their lives, getting laid off unexpectedly, suffering major financial or personal loss, and/or closing the door on major parts of their lives.
To add insult to injury, the older one gets, the more loaded these “setbacks” are with emotion and expectations. We have timetables in which we’re supposed to have “settled down,” reached a certain level of financial comfort and made our mark on society. So when things aren’t going as planned, we begin to believe we’ve failed or lost our only opportunities. Then we start talking to ourselves in a way that gets us stuck and keeps us there. Here are some comments I’ve heard recently:
“I’m too old for that.” “If I don’t have that by now, I never will.” “This is as good as it gets.” “It’s too late for that for me.”
The problem is, these comments aren’t coming from my retired parents, my 100-year-old grandfather in the nursing home, or other senior citizens nearing the ends of their lifespans. The comments were by people in their 40s and early 50s — people who are giving up on having (let alone reaching) dreams with 40, 50 or even 60 years left on their lifelines.
I get it (I’m the Getting Unstuck girl, after all). It’s easy to feel discouraged. Our society exalts those who succeed at relatively early ages — the young internet billionaires, the hot young stars in Hollywood, the fast-climbing executives, the married-for-lifers who met their soul mates in high school, the gifted athletes so idolized. We’re made to believe that if we haven’t reached our dreams, met our own expectations, or discovered our passions by a relatively young age, then it’s too late.
This post is aimed at giving us all a little encouragement about the gift we have when our lives change dramatically. We get the opportunity to shift gears, pursue passions in a different way and be a “late bloomer.” Our life experience brings with it invaluable insight, knowledge of self, creativity and skills that give us an advantage. It is absolutely possible for us to make the next stage better than the last, no matter one’s age. Here are some examples of people who took their time in creating their greatest successes:
- Mary Baker Eddy founded the Christian Science Monitor at age 85.
- Best-selling author Sydney Sheldon began writing his first novel at 53.
- At age 60, Frieda Birnbaum became the oldest woman in the U.S. to give birth to twins.
- Julia Child didn’t publish her first cookbook until she was nearly 50.
- Colonel Sanders began his famous Kentucky Fried Chicken chain in his 60s.
- An everyday grandma became an internet dancing sensation this week at age 90. (Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LW-ADgjRdCU)
These success stories, and countless others, are testament to the fact that it’s never to late to find a new path in life. Take a step. Stumble on something. As George Eliot said, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”