IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE
By Vincent Lyn
Doesn’t matter if you’re 25, 35, 55 or 85 — it’s NEVER too late to change your priorities.
Because that’s what creating the life you want is really about: changing your priorities. Making room for more meaning. Figuring out how to focus on what really matters to you. No matter how old you are when you realize you want do this, it often feels like it’s too late. Like you squandered away the last two or five or 10 or 20 or more years focusing on the wrong job, the wrong business, the wrong person, the wrong you.
But it is absolutely NEVER too late to create the life you want. Why? Because you have tomorrow. And hopefully the next day, and the day after that. And each of those days is there for you to spend how you choose. The pure fact that they haven’t yet happened, that they’re waiting for you, means they hold so much more potential than what you’ve already done.
If you allow this to be complicated, it will be. You will come up with one BUT after another, and each will hold you back. Yet you can also choose to see this as rather simple: You only have one life. How do you want to spend it? Sometimes considering — and debunking — the underlying reasons WHY we think it’s too late can help us move forward. So here are a few common excuses we use:
It’s easy to get caught up in this line of thinking, and the longer we put off making a change, the more power we give to this excuse. Except here’s why it won’t help you in the long run: because that path you’ve been following is useless if it’s not what you want.
Plus, changing course does NOT mean throwing away what you’ve built. Even if the path you’ve forged so far feels like it will be of absolutely no use in your new life, it will serve some positive purpose. You’ve no doubt learned skills during those years that will transfer toward what you want to do next, even if you can’t easily transfer the primary skills. Chances are, if you’re looking for a change, you don’t want to use those primary skills anymore anyhow!
Even more importantly, the path you’ve taken until now has made you who you are. It has helped you discover what you want and what you don’t want. It’s easy to say in retrospect that you should’ve done something differently a few years ago, but how would you have known that then? You’ve learned it NOW for a reason: because NOW’s the time to make your change.
But are those really backward steps? In a lot of ways, they’re actually more forward than the steps you’re taking now, if they’re moving you toward something that will make you happy. Think of them as backward steps in your old life, but forward steps in your new one.
Let me ask you this: Are these the same people who are also unhappy with their lives? Who are living stagnantly? Who would never make a change?Probably. That’s why you need to surround yourself with go-getters. Find people who are living the lives they want, and look for ways to spend more time with those people, whether that’s online or in person. The more you surround yourself with people who are living “differently,” the more normal it will feel.
Soon it will seem crazy NOT to create the life you want. Soon you’ll be wondering why so many people are working jobs/stuck in relationships/fulfilling obligations that don’t make them happy. Why on earth would you spend your one life that way? Maybe you don’t have enough money. Or you’ve got a phobia. Or you simply can’t see how to get from A to B. The truth is, if you want this bad enough, you can work through whatever stands in your way.
Yes, you will have to make some sacrifices. You will have to make changes to how you live, will likely have to give up something else to gain what you want. You probably won’t be able to have it ALL, but you can have what you decide is most important to you. Most of our obligations are actually choices. That means if you truly want to live your life differently, you will find a way around or through these scary obstacles, or maybe discover a new path altogether. The point is, it IS possible. And the first step is realizing that none of these BUTs is big enough to hold you back.
1. Figure out what you want. For some of us, this is the most difficult part. But even if the answer seems out of reach, it is somewhere within you. You have ideas, feelings and urges, and you probably know more about what you want than you think; your ideal career might even be staring you in the face. The mountain here is tying all of those ideas together into a concrete WANT, a desire you can act on.
Sometimes we can’t figure that out on our own. Sometimes we need help from someone who has thought through issues like this before and can see things in you that you might not be able to see yourself. That’s why I often recommend people in this situation consider a career coach. I used to think it was hokey to talk to someone about stuff you feel like you should be able to figure out yourself, but collaborating and brainstorming in a safe space can be a powerful thing. It might be the quickest way — or even the only way — to your ah-ha moment.
2. Make a plan, and break it into mini action items. This is the approach I take for everything, because it makes even the most daunting task seem doable. (It’s also the way I present my courses.) Plus, if you do ONE thing each day to work toward your goal, you will make serious progress, no matter how tiny that one thing is.
3. Execute! Little by little, cross items off your list, taking baby steps toward your goal. Don’t become one of those people who says they’ll make a change and ever does. You DESERVE to live the life you want! But only YOU can make it happen. Only YOU can give yourself this gift. The rest of us can root you on, encourage you and make a meaningful life seem normal, but only you can actually make the change.
CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children
Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization
Economic & Social Council at United Nations
Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency
Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts