What I have felt fear about is missing the boat… The opportunities, the accolades, the new ventures… Based on the choices I made in my twenties, I sometimes wonder, “If I’d done it differently then, would I be somewhere different now?”
Here’s the answer: Yes…
But that answer’s not going to help me, at 36, get to where I want to be by 40. In fact, even asking that question is keeping me stuck in a past time, at a past age, doing a past thing that I, today, cannot change.
So what do I do when I find myself wishing for a better past?
1) I recognize the fear of it.
2) I find the hope in it.
3) I take the next step through it.
1. Recognize the fear of wishing for a better past. Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. When you’re afraid that you missed opportunities in the past, what you’re really saying is, “I messed up. I could’ve been here, here or here and, instead, I’m HERE…” It’s a great, underhanded, super-subtle way to play the victim without you even knowing it. Rather than tackle the victim story, a good way to approach the fear is by asking, “What are all the things I’m afraid that I missed out on and how can I get to those things in the future?” Let’s break this down even further. Pull out a sheet of paper. Draw a line down the center. On the left column, write, “What I could’ve achieved by now.” On the right hand column, write, “What I need to achieve to catch up.” You know what’s really funny about that exercise? My answers for both columns were EXACTLY the same, meaning, what I thought I could’ve achieved by now and what I still want to achieve are one in the same. Clearly, I didn’t miss the boat. I simply need to catch a speed boat and land myself back on the yacht. The lesson here is powerful.
You NEVER miss where you’re supposed to be.
Your dreams don’t die because you turned 30, 40 or 50. They may be delayed or deferred but they aren’t dead.
2. Find the hope in it. As long as you’re breathing, you still have a chance to go after and achieve what you want. Let me back up here for a second. Certain dreams (there are very few of them that apply to this) have time limits on them. For women, having babies is one of them. If you want 10 children, you currently don’t have any, and you aren’t even dating someone AND you’re 36, let me help you out: you’re running out of time. Regardless of how the past went, if you’re SUPER serious about this goal, you’ve got to change your strategy, come up with a plan and do your best to get it done. However, for most other goals, you’ve literally got an entire lifetime to get there (even more lifetimes if you subscribe to the belief in reincarnation). What decides whether you get to the goal or not is not your age or your financial situation or your level of family support (or lack thereof); it’s your commitment.
Your grit, persistence, and ability to roll with the punches has a lot to do with whether you’ll stay the course or fizzle out.
So keep your hope because hope fuels commitment.
3. Take the next step through it. It’s about one foot in front of the other. Stop planning. Start doing. Take the next step afraid. Don’t wait for permission from other people (you won’t get it). Stop wondering if it’s worth the risk (it usually is) and get over the idea of knowing HOW it’s all going to work out. You don’t. That’s why it’s called a risk. Remember that regret is far worse than wisdom. No matter how the end game turns out, if you go for what you want, you never lose. You either win or you learn. If you don’t go for what you want, you ALWAYS lose. You end up old, disillusioned, and disappointed with how your life turned out.
And the best part?
In this moment, right now, you get to decide how the story’s going to go.
What life story are you writing for yourself today?
Leave a comment and let’s go after the dream!