I have a love/hate relationship the Olympics. It’s mostly love for all the skill, athleticism and hard work on display. I hate the reminder that I’m too old. I will never be an Olympian. There was a narrow window as a toddler to pick a sport and start training 10 hours a day. My parents missed that window. Now, I’m 42, and it’s too late.
The Olympics are a bit of an exception. For just about everything else, though–there’s still time to start something new. Whether that’s starting a business or switching careers, you’re never too old. None of us know how much time we have. It’s the most important reason to start now.
Whether there’s something that you’ve always wanted to do or you just got a great idea this morning, the time to try something new is now.
I recently talked with someone who said that they felt they’d wasted years not taking their career seriously. Now well into midlife, they want a fresh start. They want to start again with a new perspective, new energy, and a new vision for the future. And that’s great.
But you know that. So, why do we continue to delay, put ourselves last, or make excuses? There are two reasons:
- Believing that it’s too hard to start something completely different this late in life. It is too hard–that is, if you’re trying to go from where you are now to complete in any arbitrarily defined time period. The only way to overcome this is to break the first step down into the tiniest possible pieces you can imagine and do them, starting today. And then wake up again tomorrow and do the same thing. It’s the daily practice of asking yourself, “What one thing can I do today to move closer to my goal?” Those tiny steps add up overtime. Writing a measly 500 words per day, for example, adds up to book-length in just four months.
- Worrying that the result won’t look exactly as we imagine, or as others have imagined for us. And, it won’t. Some parts of it will surprise and delight you, others will be disappointing. But when you take a step back, the whole picture will be satisfying. Here’s the thing though–few of us ever reach the finish line when it comes to career changes or big projects. Most continue to move the goal post indefinitely. And that’s okay too.
Reaching little milestones along the way has a way of inspiring side trips, new goals, and changes in direction entirely.
You’ve heard it all before. And the reason we tell ourselves this story over and over again is because it’s true, and it requires almost constant reminding. Before you move on to your next task, take five minutes and do two things–write down your goal, identify one step you can take right now towards that goal, and then do it. I might be in the stands but I’m determined to make it to the Olympics. It’s never too late.