Something that’s really aided me in accomplishing the goals I’ve set for myself lately is this thought:
“It’s never too late to do something well.”
It’s a mantra I’ve embraced after hearing (and overhearing) so many people in their late 20s and early 30s say things like,
“I’d go back to school, but I just feel like I’d be starting so late.”
“I want to start a business but it’d take me years to develop it…I just feel like I’d be so late to the game.”
“I’ve already invested so much time in a career I don’t like, but it’s too late to start down a whole new career path.”
If you’ve ever found yourself saying something like this, here’s an exercise you can try.
Think of your goal, whether it be career, creative, or personal. Imagine details, including why you want to pursue this goal and the people who will benefit from your efforts. Finally, imagine in vivid detail the joy you will have upon achieving your goal.
By meditating on the successful completion of your pursuit, you are actually training yourself to receive it. You are preparing your mind to be open to the possibility of success, and are therefore much more likely to receive it. (Source: https://case.edu/provost/ideal/doc/Boyatzis_2006_idealself.pdf)
Now, after completing this exercise, say this:
“I will do this for the rest of my life.”
Whether your goal is to run a marathon, start selling your crafts on Etsy, or found a fashion blog, telling yourself that you will do it for the rest of your life eliminates the feeling of starting too late.
If the average life span is 70-80 years – let’s say an average of 75 years- and you don’t begin pursuing your goal until you’re 40, you have 35 years to grow, develop, and improve upon your goal. If you don’t start until you’re 50, you still have 25 years to lend to your pursuit!
Of course, there are exceptions. But plenty of well-know historical figures didn’t embark on the careers they later became known for until they were older. Fashion Designer Vera Wang, for example, was a competitive figure skater and art history major before launching her career as a fashion designer in her 40s.
When you tell yourself you will work at something or pursue a career or creative project for the rest of your life, you are essentially giving yourself the gift of time. You’re saying, “I’ll be working on this – and perfecting it – for the next 20, 30 , or 40 years.” This is so much better than comparing yourself to those who began their career in their 20s. It’s better than worrying that you need to reach the heights of success within a short period of time.
Be advised: This mantra is not an excuse to lay around and play with your fidget spinner. You should work toward your desired eventuality every single day. An athlete rarely misses a day at the gym, so apply the same discipline to yourself. Re-imagine and re-purpose your goal, but don’t give up on it.
After all, it’s your retirement.