Some people think that motivational advice is for younger people, to make something of their lives, but not for older people. I say if you have a passion and a potential that you have not pursued, then it’s time to chase it now, at any age.
This has nothing to do with an obligation to do something that you really don’t want to do. This is about a drive and a desire that you have suppressed due to laziness, or external pressure or embarrassment. Breaking free of obstacles that stop you from maximizing potential is an important life decision. Failing in this decision is the most pure and true form of failure in life.
It’s not that other people will judge you as a failure. It doesn’t matter what I preach at you. Real disappointment in life has nothing to do with what other people say. Real disappointment is when you are older, and you end up judging yourself, and hating it.
The most terrible fate is to look back at your own missed opportunities, and feel sickening anger at yourself, that you didn’t seize those clear opportunities. The saddest life is to spend your last years grief-stricken, devastated, and heartbroken from your own failure to realize potential that you knew you had. This anger is all too common, that you want to go back in time and beat the living crap out of your younger self for letting it slip by. (Definition of Hell: “On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.” – Zdravko Cvijetic.)
Motivational re-alignment towards your passion is not just for people in their 20s. If you’re 50, act now. When you’re 70 you will be so happy you did. If you’re 70, act now. When you’re 90 you’ll be so happy you did. There is no deadline.
Depression over missed opportunities at age 60 doesn’t exonerate you in your own judgment when you’re 80—because at age 80 you will still look back at your 60-year-old self, knowing you could have done something about it then, but didn’t.
Many people have no particular passion. No one has to have such a thing. Plenty of people are happy with whatever job, taking joy in family and friends, a nice house and a decent car, and have no special need to go crazy over any particular passion. That’s great, and I admire it. So this article is only about those who had a hardwired genetic desire to chase a well-defined dream with clearly God-given potential, but sat on it, didn’t act. Ultimately they are the most miserable ones.
Some of the top regrets in one study* included: should have worked harder and been more motivated; should have chosen a different career direction or area of study; should have pursued a professional interest more; and should have developed personal abilities more. The common theme in the top regrets is failure of fortitude, failure to accomplish things that could have been accomplished, but weren’t.
A regret can be psychologically destructive. It can also be a call to action. There is no deadline.
Save yourself from becoming your own worst enemy as you grow older. Your younger self can become the best friend of your older self if you welcome the pain today, to work harder on accomplishments that are true to yourself.
*Nina Hattiangadi, et al. “Failing to Act” Int’l J. Aging and Human Development, Vol. 40(3) 175–185, 1995. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. http://www3.psych.cornell.edu/sec/pubPeople/tdg1/Hattiangadi.pdf
The topic of this post is explored further in THE BOOK Call of the Active Mind.
©copyright Robert Rose-Coutré 2016