Pursue Your Passion No Matter What
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”…Thomas Edison
Do you harbor unfulfilled dreams or yearn to begin a new career at forty, fifty, sixty, seventy or beyond? Becoming a flourishing artist, entrepreneur, or even homeowner is not limited to one particular age or career. The truth is that many successful people embark on their passions later in life. Along the way they overcome disappointment and failed attempts yet with a hefty dose of tenacity press on. My grandfather opened his own designing shop at 87 years old. He had always wanted to be in business for himself and decided it was time. Ignoring age stigmas, he was an inspiration and source of strength to others. Elizabeth Jolley, a famous Australian novelist, was first published at 56. In one year she had thirty-nine rejections, then went on to have fifteen novels and several short story collections published. Ricardo Montalban, a well-known actor, built his dream house at 68 and performed voice-over work in his eighties. What then, is the recipe for living out dreams no matter your age or circumstance?
· Debunk the age myths and break loose from stifling stereotypes. Dr. Mario Martinez, a clinical neuropsychologist, has studied centenarians (people who live into their 100’s) for over thirty years and found that we learn to value or limit ourselves based on what he calls “cultural editors” (parents, teachers, clergy, physicians etc.). He goes on to explain that when we learn to let go of debilitating belief systems that keep us stuck, we learn to live with passion. What wonderful news! You don’t have to subscribe to the stories that surround ageism.
· Learn to appreciate failure; it can be our greatest teacher. Think back to when you had to take a test in school. Most of us remember the questions we got wrong. Then after going back over the material and finding the right answer, it sticks with you. When you try and don’t succeed at something, you have the opportunity to investigate where you need to improve. Like learning any new skill, you practice over and over again to become proficient. Re-defining failure as a tool for success alleviates self-defeating thoughts and provides a fresh perspective. It is part of the refining process to getting it right. When that “a ha” moment comes, you can relish in the tremendous sense of satisfaction for your hard work.
· Cultivate tenacity and positive persistence. Developing confidence in your ability to climb a mountain (achieve a goal) can be the impetus that gets you to the top. A healthy refusal to never give up on yourself differs from being stubborn. Persistence and tenacity help us break through doubt. Being stubborn simply stops progress. Anyone who has pursued a passion, no matter the magnitude, knows that dusting yourself off and getting back on that proverbial horse is what it takes to be successful. Reflect back at the accomplishments in your life (from learning to ride a bike to landing a job). They all required persistence. Persistence has no expiration date and knows no boundaries. It can be cultivated at any time in your life when you need it.
· Create clarity around what you want and don’t look back, head out on your journey. Remember that along the way, you can’t please everyone. Seek counsel or advice from experts or those who have traveled in a similar direction, but others’ opinions may not always be supportive of your dream. Sift through suggestions that propel you from the advice that derails you. Stay clear of the doom and gloom folks; surround yourself with people who are not afraid to embark on a new chapter in their lives and don’t succumb to stereotypes.
· Think beyond your immediate situation. The adage “the one thing we can count on is change” is a positive mantra, particularly when you feel discouraged or in a slump. The wildly successful author, JK Rowling (Harry Potter), was on the brink of homelessness but she had a vision. No matter how large or small your dream is, it’s yours. Being happy and accomplished doesn’t have to involve being famous. Suffering and turmoil aren’t requirements for success, but stepping out of your comfort zone is. Transitioning from your present reality, toward that dream, is like going on a long vacation — packing and sorting through what you don’t need isn’t fun, but necessary.
· Keep Dreaming. The power of the human imagination remains an unsolved mystery to scientists. Visualization exercises used by elite athletes produce incredible results and it is never too late to visualize a dream. Imagination is ageless, it may get a little rusty at times from under use but it is always available to you.
No matter what age or point you are at in your life, know that you are always allowed to reach for your dreams and ambitions. Make your aspirations come true one step at a time and enjoy the victories and defeats along the way. Before long, you will be in the midst of those who dared to dream.