I saw this list over the weekend:
Know this: it is never too late to do what you love. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to achieve all of our dreams at an increasingly younger age. We beat ourselves up because we aren’t a 30 Under 30 or a 40 Under 40. Here’s my advice: forget about your age. Stop tracking your life’s milestones against someone else’s.
Life is about the long game; it’s about being a little bit better version of yourself today than you were yesterday. That’s the greatest win of all. Your life could change at any moment, at any age. Do something you’re proud of doing. Celebrate your wins, learn from your losses, and most importantly, keep going. You’re going to find your way. You’re going to find what you’re meant to do, who you’re meant to be with, and where you’re meant to be. I can’t tell you when, but I can tell you that if you keep looking and trying new things, you will find your best life.
I’m glad to be a turtle in the race of life. Slow and steady progress makes the wins sweeter and the journey more interesting.
Last week, I wrote about the value of age diversity in the workplace. This weekend, I read this amazing article about Dr. John Goodenough, a 94-year-old scientist who is on the verge of inventing a battery that could turn the way we power our world on its head in a good way. In the very best way. In a way that replaces fossil fuels, and drastically reduces the cost of energy to our wallets and to the environment.
The article goes on to talk about the successes that so many people, particularly patent-holders, find later in life. And by later, I don’t mean their 40s. I mean their 50s, 60s, and beyond. In an age where we find ourselves obsessed with 20-under-20 and 30-under-30 lists, I’m embracing all that is beginning to bloom in my life now and all of the blooming that’s destined to find all of us in the decades ahead. The data shows that the best is yet to come, and I believe in data.
“Just remember, when you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed.” ~ Charles Schultz, Peanuts creator
My friend, John, shared an article in which he’s mentioned. Everyone of every age should read it. It’s about the value of older people in the workforce and that constant tug-of-war between young and not-so-young employees. At 41, I’m in that mid-zone. I call it the messy middle. Not quite young, but not quite old either. I would say my spirit, interests, and curiosity lean younger while my experience level and sensibilities lean older. Lately, I’ve been having this exact conversation about the messy middle with many friends of all ages.
One of the many great gifts in my career has been that in every job except for one, I’ve had co-workers that range from brand-new college grads to those on the doorstep of retirement and everything in-between. (And that one exception was a doozy that I’m glad to have in my rearview mirror! It stands as the shining example of what a lack of age- and experience-diversity does to a team—it makes it stagnant.) Nowhere was this age-diversity more prevalent than in professional theater. At 22, I had friends who were triple my age and then some. Their stories and experience taught me about life, work, and friendship in a way that I never could have learned if I was surrounded by other 22 year olds. And my youth at the time had something to offer, too—a new way of seeing and doing things that hadn’t been done before. These were my very first professional experiences and they have been the bedrock on which I’ve built the last 20 years of my career. That healthy, two-way respect between generations is a foundational element of not only my work, but my life. My friend group still reflects that diversity in age and experience, and I hope it always does.
My point in all of this is that everyone at every age has something to bring to the table that is different and valuable in its own way. We all have something to learn from each other but to make that learning possible, everyone on a team has to remain open to entirely different perspectives. Listen without waiting for our turn to talk. Ask questions. Walk in someone else’s shoes. Try to understand the other side of an argument even though it so directly contradicts our own. Ask for help. Offer help. Support one another. Cheer for one another. Celebrate every win and loss because each offers something we need at the exact moment we need it.
Let’s replace the tug-of-war between generations in the workplace and in life with a hug and smile. We can go further together.
Doreen Pechey just proved to the world that it’s never too late for any dream to come true. As a child, she loved the ballet and would save up her money to attend performances. Her family didn’t have enough money to pay for lessons nor for the costumes needed to perform. At age 71, she just passed the Grade 6 exam at the Royal Academy of Dance, a record for the company. She started taking lessons 10 years ago at age 61 and continued with her training despite having knee replacement surgery two years ago. We no longer have age as an excuse to let go of a dream. With effort, determination, and love everything is possible. So dust off those childhood dreams. It’s time to make them happen.
God willing, I’m not at mid-life yet but the truth is I’ve almost died a handful of times. On a few of those occasions, I barely scraped by. And maybe that’s why I am so driven and impatient. Maybe that’s why I abhor wasting time. Maybe that’s why I am utterly incapable of sitting down longer than 18 minutes a day to meditate. Sometimes, I think this makes me a complete lunatic. And then I read quotes like the one below from Brené Brown, and I realize that yes, I may be crazy, but there’s a method to and a reason for the madness. And it’s all okay. I’m just trying to make my life meaningful and to make my time matter.
”I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.
Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”