Stop Creating a Timeline for Your Life
At the end of the day, we’ll each find our own version of success at the time that’s right for us
I used to read a lot of those advice-centric articles along the lines of “30 Things You Should Do Before Turning 30” or “30 Places to Visit Before Turning 30”.
Those articles always really annoyed me.
They annoyed me because they put so much pressure on checking off boxes that may not necessarily be available to us at that exact moment in our lives.
I’m especially annoyed by these articles now that I myself am quickly approaching that actual age and am realizing how difficult (and often unrealistic) those to-do lists actually are.
In about a month and a half, I’ll be turning thirty — which I’m finding hard to believe given the fact that cashiers still ask for my ID when buying a lottery ticket (yes, a lottery ticket).
I remember all throughout my twenties, there was always this invisible countdown to turning thirty.
As I made my way through my late twenties, whenever a birthday was right around the corner, there was always that all-too-familiar phrase of “only a few years away from thirty!” inserted into every conversation.
I don’t know why, but because of that silly invisible countdown, turning thirty just seemed like it would be some sort of monumental life event.
Now, being in the middle of a global pandemic, turning thirty hardly seems like a big deal in the grand scheme of things. And honestly, I don’t really expect anything spectacular to happen.
I don’t anticipate some sort of life-altering epiphany or a sudden sense of peace, or relief, or anxiety, or any other feeling that had been fictitiously built up in my head prior to turning thirty.
It’ll just be another day.
And in all reality, that’s all a birthday really is — another day of life.
Yes, a birthday means that we’ve made it to another year of life, that we’ve completed another journey around the sun, and that we get to eat cake, but the idea that something magnificent instantly happens on your birthday is simply a myth.
We need to stop creating a timeline for our life.
We need to stop creating this invisible countdown in our heads that certain things should happen by a certain age…because that’s just not how life works.
We need to stop creating a timeline for when major life events and major milestones should happen because we can’t control what life will throw at us or when.
We need to stop believing that if something doesn’t happen by a certain age or a certain time, that it never will. And we need to stop pressuring ourselves to accomplish certain things by a certain age because sometimes, life has a different plan for us.
We each have our own timeline.
We each have different goals and methods for attaining those goals. We each have different agendas and different priorities, so you can’t compare your own timeline to another person’s because you don’t know what they have or don’t have on their plate.
There’s no timeline for success because it’s not something that just happens overnight. So, detach yourself from someone else’s timeline and focus on your own, no matter how long it might take you.
Your situation is unique to you.
As humans, we have the ability to connect with one another on an emotional level. We have the ability to feel sympathy; to feel empathy. We can feel these things because we all experience these same emotions. However, regardless of the situation you’re in and how difficult it may be, your situation is unique to you.
Though someone may have gone through the same situation as you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they reacted or handled it in the exact same way. Our situations, though sometimes similar, are not the same. So, stop comparing your situation to others’ and know that we all have our own battles to face.
Run your race.
One of the best pieces of advice that was ever given to me was to “run your race”. At the time, this advice was specific to the literal act of running — it came to me during a season of cross country in high school. However, I still carry this piece of advice with me in both running and in life because it’s applicable to any situation.
We each have our own race to run even if we’re running amongst thousands of other people. Don’t pay attention to the person who’s on your shoulder, or the person who’s miles ahead or miles behind you. Focus on where you are. Focus on your race.
Of course, saying all of this is always easier said than done.
There will always be times when we look at another person and wish we had what they had. There will always be times when we wish we’d find success quicker than it’s actually happening. There will always be times when we wish we could speed up or slow down time in an effort to not miss anything.
But again, life doesn’t play by our rules and thing don’t always go according to plan.
At the end of the day, we’ll each find our own version of success at the time that’s right for us. So, stop hanging onto that invisible timeline and enjoy life as it comes.