Are you too old to go after your dreams?

by | Nov 13, 2019 | Life | 0 comments

When I ask my clients what they really want out of life, a feeling of freedom, excitement, and anticipation fills the room as they imagine themselves starting a business, heading in a new career direction, going back to college, learning something new, going after a long-held dream, or finally ridding themselves of a problem or issue that’s been putting a drain on their lives.

Then the excitement vanishes almost as quickly as it appeared as they ask the fated question…

“Aren’t I too old to do this?

I think it’s too late for me.” 

This is a surprisingly common objection that arises inside us when we are standing on the brink of something bold and new. 

When you hear it from someone who’s retired or nearing retirement, you might be tempted to give them a pass.  After all, society has trained us to believe that by the time we reach our sixties, seventies, and eighties the ‘best’ years of our lives have already been lived.

When you hear it from a middle-aged person in their 40s or 50s, you figure that they’ve probably got some time left, but still might be persuaded by the idea that they’ve already invested 20 to 30 years in a particular career or life direction and think, “Does it really make sense to start over now?” 

“Does it really make sense to start over now?”

But when you hear it from someone in their early to mid-twenties – and I DO hear it from clients this young – you can’t help but see it for what it really is, which is nothing more than a self-limiting belief.

The truth is, we ALL fall victim to this thinking sometimes.  And regardless of how many years we’ve lived, or have yet to live, it’s ALWAYS nothing more than a self-limiting belief.

Whenever I think about taking on a new goal that I know is going to realistically take me 10 or even 20 years to fully realize, I certainly have my moment of doubt:

“It’s too late for me.”

“I’m too old to start this now.”

“It’s just not in the cards for me in this lifetime.”

And here’s the question I ask myself…

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“Am I going to be alive 10 years from now?”

Now, none of us gets to know how long we’re going to live, but as I stand here at 43, it’s a pretty safe bet that I’ll still be kicking it at 50, 60, and beyond.

“So, if I’m still going to be alive 10 years from now, what do I want that life to look like?”

Do I want to be dealing with the same challenges or problems I’m currently facing?  Do I want to be stuck in Groundhog’s Day where life is the same day after day?

Or, when I wake up 10 years from now, do I want to be living the life I’m dreaming about right now?

I’m sure you can guess my answer.

But if asking yourself those two simple questions isn’t enough to get you off the fence, here are nine examples that prove it’s never too late to go after your dreams…

  1. Ray Kroc was 52 years old when he opened his first McDonald’s franchise. Prior to that he’d been an average milkshake mixer salesman.  Yet, by the time of his death he had opened 7,500 McDonald’s stores around the world and amassed a personal fortune of $600 million.
  2. Samuel L. Jackson didn’t have his first breakout movie until the age of 43, and it came immediately after hitting his personal rock-bottom and coming out of rehab.
  3. Stan Lee wrote his first comic at age 39.
  4. Julia Child worked in advertising most of her life and didn’t write her first cookbook until she was 50.
  5. Rodney Dangerfield got his big break at 46.
  6. Vera Wang entered the fashion industry at 40.
  7. Colonel Sanders franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 62. Ever notice that all the images of the Colonel depict him as an older, white-haired gentleman?  It’s because that’s how old he actually was when he started KFC!
  8. Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa at 77 after spending 27 years of his life in jail.
  9. Then there’s the lesser-known – but no less inspiring – Nola Ochs, who held the world record as oldest college graduate.
Nola was born in 1911 and first took college classes in 1930.  Then life happened.  She got married, raised 4 sons on the family farm, and had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

When her husband of 39 years died in 1972, she started taking classes again, but once again life circumstances delayed her progress.

Finally, after learning she was only 30 hours shy of earning a bachelor’s degree, she moved 100 miles away from her family, lived in a university apartment, and graduated in 2007 at the age of 95.  Her 21-year-old granddaughter graduated at the same time.

But Nola didn’t stop there!

Later that same year, she decided to pursue a master’s degree which she received at the age of 98.

She continued taking classes and was a graduate teaching assistant at Fort Hays State University in Kansas until she was 100 years old.

Not too shabby!

When we’re standing at the crossroads deciding whether to embark on a new goal or dream, we tend to judge ourselves against a handful of highly-publicized, whiz-kids – the Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world who drop out of college and become self-made billionaires by the age of 23.

But the reality is,

‘youth’ is not a key ingredient to success,

and for most of us, achievement comes later in life.

And it’s the perfect time.

By the time we reach middle age and beyond, we’re much wiser than any 20-something could be.  We’ve made our mistakes and learned valuable lessons from them.  We’ve gained knowledge and experience, both of which are huge assets to creating lasting success.  And finally, we’re more firmly rooted in our values which makes it far less likely that we’ll fly off the rails when achievement strikes.

So, if you’re asking yourself if you’re too old or it’s too late to go after your goals and pursue your dreams, the answer is no.

It’s time to let go of the idea that the best of our years have already passed us by.  Success is not written in the stars.  We are the ones holding the pen.  And as long as we continue to wake up in the morning, there’s still time.

Whatever it is you’re dreaming about, and no matter how old you are, you can still achieve it.  So, start today, and live every day you have left in pursuit of the life you want!

Leave a comment below sharing a dream you thought it was too late for.


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