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Scrolling through social media, it’s easy to get sucked into the depressive vortex of thinking that everyone around you is leading a much more interesting or exciting life. Worse than that, you could never do what they’re doing because you’re too old now to even get started. I know I’ve been caught in that thought trap so many times.
The problem with that thinking is that (usually) it’s not true.
The best advice I ever received was in my first semester of college from my freshman composition professor. As context, this was an evening class at the community college, and as such was full of people outside what would be considered “traditional” college students. Most of us were in our mid-twenties to early forties. There were high school dropouts trying to scrape together the education they passed up earlier in life, parents with full-time day jobs trying to move up the job ladder in a career that requires a degree, people who had been laid off and needed to retrain into a different skill set so that they could enter a new job field.
Basically, the weirdest combination of adult students you can imagine coming together in one place.
At the beginning of the very first class, she told us something that I have carried with me since then. Start where you are. Build on the foundation of your history. Your path to this point might look very different compared to the people around you. Let that be your strength as you go forward. Don’t let the regret of missed opportunities in your past stop you from pursuing your dreams in the present.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”
Am I Too Old? These famous figures don’t think so.
- JK Rowling – Didn’t publish her first Harry Potter novel until 32, and the journey up to that point was fraught with difficulties.
- Susan Boyle – Pursued her dream of singing when she participated in Britain’s Got Talent at 47.
- Julia Child – Was 49 when her first cookbook was published.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder – Her story was rejected by publishers when she pitched it as her autobiography. She was 65 when her books were finally published as fiction.
- Grandma Moses – Painted her first canvas at 76!
And these are just some famous examples. Millions change careers, directions, and their fortunes every year that we don’t hear about. You probably even have someone in your life that has done just that.
How do you get started?
How do you get started once you’ve decided to start something new? There are 3 basic steps:
1. Put Your Inner Hater on Block
We all have one. That inner hater that tells us that we are too late or aren’t enough in some way. As we described before, that biatch is lying and needs to be put on mute. My go-to for knowing when it’s my inner hater talking is to ask myself if that is something I would say to a close friend. If no? Tell it to shove off, you’ve got important things to do.
2. Figure Out Your Minimums
Now that you have a quieter brain-space, it’s time to figure out your minimums.
First up, what is the minimum equipment you need to get started?
Writer? Notebook + pen/pencil. Streamer? Gaming console/computer + internet connection. Welder? Access to a … welding gun? Some things may require a bit of research and creativity to determine and source.
- Hot tip: Find out if you can rent or borrow what you need to get started. You don’t need the best or newest, just the barest minimum for now.
As with equipment, you also need to figure out your minimum skills necessary. The awesome thing about this part is that you can pick up just about any skill for FREE or very little online by using YouTube or Skillshare and offline at your local library. The internet is vast and you would be surprised at the level of tutorial videos out there.
For things that require additional formal schooling, don’t let that stop you either. There are night/weekend/online classes available all over with scholarships and grants for many. Your dream may require some creativity to pursue but it is so worth it!
Hot tip: Don’t focus on the amount of time it will take you to finish formal schooling, the time will pass anyway. The question is, do you want to wake up a few years down the road still wanting to pursue this dream or walking across a stage ready to start?
3. Start Now While Building Skills
START RIGHT NOW! You will learn a ridiculous amount just by doing. In many cases, you don’t know what you don’t know until you try it for yourself. Don’t let yourself procrastinate your dream by never starting because you think you don’t know enough yet. That’s just your inner hater wearing a disguise, whispering negativity. Get out there and start doing!
*The exception, of course, being those things that require licensing to do. Don’t go breaking laws!
You Are NOT Too Old To Get Started
Don’t let your inner critic stop you from achieving great things. When you are lost and doubting yourself and your abilities just stop and center yourself. And then start where you are. Following your dreams never has a time limit. Build up from the foundation of your past and let the future worry about itself. Today your journey begins.