Do you ever let your age define your goals or expectations from life? Have you ever thought to yourself, I wish I could still do “this” or I wish I could learn to do “that”, but decided not to act because you thought you were too old, or too young, or not qualified, or afraid to be vulnerable, or just flat out scared? You’re not alone. EVERYONE has these moments. Moments of doubt and uncertainty. It’s hard to overcome these fears and tackle your goals or challenges head on. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone, do what you know well and only maximize your strengths. If you take a risk, there is a chance you will fail. There is a chance you won’t make the team, or get the job, or surf the wave, or get the part, or lose the weight, or do well in the class. But how will you know if you don’t give it everything you have and try to be GREAT?
The key to that last point, is “everything you have.” If you choose to go for a new job, prepare hard for the interview. If you choose to try-out for the team, get in the best possible shape you can. If you choose to lose ten pounds and increase your muscle mass, then set a plan and stick to it. You won’t ever know what you’re capable of unless you fully commit. And if you don’t succeed the first time, it will only make you stronger and more inclined to try again. You won’t regret what you did, but rather things you did not do. Here are three tips to help you lead yourself to greatness.
- REMEMBER THAT AGE IS JUST A NUMBER
Don’t let your age stop you or define you. Success isn’t based on your age, but rather on your actions and accomplishments. I started playing lacrosse when I was 13 and earned a scholarship to play Division I lacrosse four years later. I started working for Nike after college and was the youngest person in my sales division by more than ten years. I’m in my 30’s now and much to my husband’s dismay, I just started learning how to skateboard. Sure, I’ve been cut from teams, passed over for more qualified candidates, and taken falls on my skateboard, but I’ve always tried to not let my age hold me back. I firmly believe that it’s a mental state. And I believe that if you choose to think that you’re “too old” or “too young,” then that’s simply an excuse NOT to do it. History would be quite different if these people allowed their age to hold them back…
Julia Child– Worked in advertising and media before writing her first cookbook when she was 50.
Ray Kroc– Spent his career as a milkshake-device salesman before buying McDonald’s at age 52.
Diana Nyad– Became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage. She was 64 years old and it was her fifth try in 35 years.
Vera Wang– She didn’t design her first dress until she was 40.
Fajia Singh– He completed a marathon at the age of 101.
Mark Zuckerberg– He launched Facebook at the age of 19.
Juliath Brindak– Began creating sketched characters at age 10, and then developed a complementary social-media platform at 16. Her company is now worth an estimated $15 million.
While these people all made a notable impact on society, reaching your GREATNESS could just be for YOU. Being selfless is an amazing quality to have, but sometimes it’s okay to spend time on yourself. Go play pick-up basketball, start a blog, get a personal trainer, learn to golf, start a non-profit, take a cooking class, learn to paint or attend a conference. Take initiative, say “YES”, and act now!
- DEVELOP YOUR DAILY HABITS
Setting a goal is the easiest part – But reaching an end goal can seem daunting or overly time-consuming. That’s why it’s important to form daily winning habits, to help you reach your goals. Routinely doing something every day, even if it is just a little bit, builds big momentum in the long run.
“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” – Tanzanian Proverb
As you complete these tasks, it will also give you little bits of confidence along the way to keep you moving forward. It will help make your end goal seem more attainable and within reach. This may require you to step out of your comfort zone on a consistent basis, but it will eventually become more natural. One of my goals this year has been to take better care of my body. I decided to create four daily habits to support this goal. They may seem simple, but they’re things I typically have struggled with in the past.
- Drink eight glasses of water per day
- Floss my teeth once per day
- Don’t stay sitting at my desk for more than one hour at a time
- Do some type of physical activity and vary the intensity and types of workouts every other day
The more defined and straightforward your habits are, the more likely you’ll be inclined to accomplish them. If you find yourself slipping – do something to hold yourself accountable. Hang up a note in your bathroom, tell your significant other to ask you about them, or set reminders on your phone. There shouldn’t be any excuses. Having some defined habits will become a familiar part of your daily routine and this will give you a sense of ownership, order and organization that will help you achieve your goals.
- CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE, if needed
How you feel about your age will greatly affect your attitude towards your capabilities. It will also affect the way other people perceive you and your age. It’s certainly important to celebrate your age and the wisdom and experience it has provided you. However, always have that “what’s next?” and “how can I push myself further?” mindset. It’s okay to get uncomfortable.
I’ve learned that it’s critical not to think too hard about how others might judge you. When it came to playing lacrosse – on the field, I believe I always had a rather optimistic attitude. It was likely because of my willingness to try new positions, new techniques, push the limits of my skills and my desire to win. It was off the field where I would have liked to see myself get uncomfortable more often and be less focused on ‘fitting in.’ Especially as an underclassman, I cared too much about what other people might think of me.
In particular, I missed opportunities to speak up in huddles or meetings. I also could haveleft the comfort of my own zone and step out of the athletics bubble more often. There were times when I could have immersed myself in the college community – attend theater productions or art exhibits or guest speaker keynotes. I think I was too narrowly focused on athletics. I’m sure these would have been great cultural and learning opportunities. I am proud of my focus and dedication to athletics and academics, as I think that commitment is what helped make me successful – but there were various opportunities where I could have been more open-minded to exploring other things.
Whether you’re 54 or 14 years old, you can follow your passions, large and small. Never be afraid to pursue your goals and dreams and don’t allow your age to get in the way of your path to success. Avoid complacency. Stay curious. Test your limits. Be a better version of yourself. It’s not too late—or too early—to chase your dreams and lead yourself to greatness.