Starting Over or Branching Out: Why It’s Never Too Late to Live Your Best Life
If you are a frequenter of this blog, you already know that I am a hardcore nerd. I guess it just comes with the territory of helping people be their best self. This goes back as far as I can remember. As a kid, when my friends and I were playing soccer, I was the weirdo who didn’t mind being on the bench. After all, it gave me a chance to do my best yelling, “You can do it! I BELIEVE in you!”
… And I stood there trying to raise my voice loud enough to quiet the kid next to me telling me to shut up or he would promptly shove his nachos up my nose hole; I began to perfect the ability to project my voice (and heal a bruised nose bridge at the speed of light.) I still use that neat little party trick when I speak to college kids, yelling things much like I did as a boy, “You can do it! I BELIEVE in you!”
Noticing Why You Are Here
I think if we all look back on our lives, we all have moments when we realize that destiny has been trying to speak to us and through us ever since we can remember. Often, those moments are not recognized until we find ourselves where we are supposed to be and take the time to look backward a while — but I am a firm believer in this inner voice and the guidance that it has to give to us. If we take the time to listen, it will never lead us astray. (Unless your inner voice tells you to rob a bank or steal a basket of baby kittens. In which case, break up with your inner voice immediately because at this point your inner voice is like that drunk friend from freshman year who always tried to convince you how much cooler watching Diehard was when you’re wasted — and you listened, wished you hadn’t and felt like you might die… the hard way in the corner.)
When speaking at universities one thing I get asked about often is “How did you know what you wanted to do with your life?”
That’s a tough question.
But basically, I took the time to realize what I did well and how doing what I did well made me feel on the inside. Helping other people makes me feel like the me-sized hole in the universe, no matter how small, is filled up now because I am doing what I am supposed to do. It is always a full-circle moment when I see the lightbulb go off for someone else because I know that little glint in their eye and that subtle smile on their face. I know what contentment looks like. I know that they have that fitting-together-of-the-puzzle moment that I had all those years ago. It is like finding the middle piece of the puzzle that you lost under a table leg or found behind the bookshelf. That moment when that Dutch windmill starts to looks like…a Dutch windmill. (I told you I was a nerd. Wanna play puzzles with me? Hours of entertainment.)
Older Bloomers Are At An Advantage
Even though this is often something discussed at large with younger audiences, you would be surprised, however, at how much more often I get asked this question by people pushing 40, 50 or even 60 who still feel like they are not where they are meant to be. It is incredibly common. There is no wrong age or bad time in your life to figure out where you are going. In fact, the older you are, the more likely you are to, as the Greeks would say, “Know thy self.”
If you have reached a crossroads in your life or career, your inner navigational system is trying to tell you something. It is not necessarily to “jump ship” or “start over.” In many cases, that inner voice is only trying to get you to branch out, expand your reach and pay attention to what is bugging you. It is seeking to get you to ask it a few questions.
Unhappy in your marriage? It may not be time to call it quits. Maybe it’s time to call up your spouse and make a chance to connect. You just might find that you fall in love all over again.
Bummed about your cubicle job? Maybe your purpose isn’t leaving the cubicle. Everyone around you in those cubicles may be feeling the same way. Find fun ways to make now better. Then, decide if you want to run away to join the circus.
Are you positive it is life-changing time? Then, branch out. There is no shame in realizing that you hate being a lawyer and want to become an actor, a clown, a mime, a doctor or a unicorn.
There are no wrong answers. (If you chose unicorn, though, I would like to come over and watch you attempt to become a unicorn. I feel like you are my protégé already. You are my spirit animal. I will bring popcorn because that’s what unicorns eat.)
Only the right questions.
Ask yourself what you want out of life. When you know the right questions, you will be able to find the right answers, with your inner voice as your guide.
If your inner voice is bugging the hell out of you and keeps telling you to make U-turns into dark, creepy forests like Siri, it is ok to ask for directions. And in case you needed to hear it, in case you are having one of those days, in case you have nachos and an urge to send them in the general direction of my nose, let me just say, “You can do it! I BELIEVE in you!”
Originally published on joshuaharrell.com.