Why it's not too late for you to change your life
One of the biggest self-criticisms I hear in my coaching practice is: “I’ve wasted time, I wish I’d changed my life younger/sooner/quicker. It’s probably too late now.”
I’ve heard these words from clients in their 20s and 60s so it seems to affect people no matter what stage they’re at.
In my experience, it’s never too late and there’s still time to take step by step action (without a big panic!).
In his book, ‘Never too Late to be Great: The Power of Thinking Long’ Tom Butler-Bowdon says that due to our increased lifespans and the fact that most great things have taken many decades to achieve, we have far more time than we think to do what it is we want to do. Even at age 60, you still have 33% (20 actual years) of your productive years left if you want (I can hear 60-year-olds everywhere groaning at that, saying I thought I could retire!) and at 40, you have 40 productive years or 67% left. Isn’t that nice to hear?
Of course, there are those people that hit the success jackpot in their early 20s. However, despite what our modern youth obsessed, fast results culture tells us, they aren’t the norm. One of my favourite examples of this is ‘West Wing’ and ‘Desperate Housewives’ actress Kathryn Joosten.
Kathryn didn’t begin acting until the age of 42. Until that point, she raised her children and worked as a psychiatric nurse. But on hearing her mother’s deathbed regrets at not pursuing her dreams and going through a divorce, Kathryn revisited her childhood dream of acting. She began taking acting classes and the rest, as they say, is history.
But Hollywood actors aside, what about you?
How are you holding yourself back from that new job, trying that tango class, asking that person on a date or changing that habit because you think you’re too old or it’s too late? How is your self-judgement stopping you from moving forward or making you panic?
Seeing time in the right way can be the perfect motivator. It’s all a matter of perspective. Here’s how to do that:
- Close your eyes and imagine that you’re standing on a road, this road represents your life.
- Behind you is your past. You can take a walk down this if you like, you might get a sense of shapes and colours or see big life events.
- Whatever the past has been, feel grateful for where you’ve come and what it’s taught you.
- Now turn and see the road ahead. This is your future. Can you see that no matter what age you currently are, you have time. But also that this time is important and precious. It won’t last forever.
- So, what would you love to fill this path with? What’s important? What would you love to be walking into? Where do you need a plan?
The truth is that you can’t be anyone else other than wonderful, unique you. You can’t be anywhere else than where you are right now.
There will have been tremendous lessons even from the most difficult past life events or the times you felt stuck. There’s no need to regret, just notice what you learnt and the see the choices that you have ahead. They may be far greater adventures possible than you’ve let yourself see or believe.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
- (Gandolf) J.R.R Tolkein, 'The Fellowship of the Ring.'