On Crossing 35 Part 2: The Action
Last time, I wrote about the significance of the number 35, and why it casts a shadow over previous blissful ignorance of age. I shared some elements can conspire to remind us of this, whether our intemperate actions belie our age or not.
This time, I’d like to share with you the process I underwent when I hit that significant landmark as a reference for what you too could do.
1. Do a Stocktake
At 35, I did a stocktake of my Life.
What had I accomplished?
What were my goals?
Where was I going?
Was I on a path I wanted to continue on?
I realized that, regardless of successes and failures, my core philosophy hadn’t changed.
Years ago, I distilled two guiding principles for myself from hours of brainstorming and masterminding, introspection and retrospection.
- Continuous and never ending improvement in all areas of Life
- Meeting – and adding positively to the lives of – good people around me
I listed down all the things I had done over the last ten years, and decided in which of these two categories they belonged.
I listed actions and situations that did not belong, and asked if they were what I wanted.
Perhaps more importantly, I also listed actions and situations that were actively violating any one of these guiding philosophies.
And because I wanted to face reality, I made a special note of those whch were my own doing, and could have been avoided if I had only adhered to my original principles, instead of taking an easier road.
I strongly recommend you do this too.
1. Identify what your guiding philosophy is in Life. What are your values and your principles?
2. Of all the situations you’ve been in over the last 10 years or so, which violated those values and principles?
3. Of these, which ones were within your control and hence your fault? What different choices would you make in future?
It was a humbling experience. But at age 35, I figured I didn’t have the time to meander in circles. At age 15, 20 and maybe even 25, you could put on blinkers that put that blame for everything that went wrong on anything but yourself, and still have time to correct.
At 35, you don’t have time for this. At 35, if you truly want to live Life to the full, expand on your good work, and correct your bad mistakes, you MUST know the REAL CAUSE especially if it’s YOU, or you’ll reach 40 and 45 without changing a thing.
Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.
By the age of 35, if you still haven’t achieved the results you wanted, then you were either repeating the same mistakes over and over again, or you simply didn’t even try.
So 35 was a good time to account to myself, but it was also a second chance to try to get my Life right. I saw this as a reboot of my Life, a chance to get back on track guided by those two core principles I established years ago, but which I had not always been true to.
2. Determine Directions and Make New Decisions
After my stocktake, I realized one truth.
Where I had failed the most was when I’d lost sight of certain values and directions, which in turn led to misalignment with my two core principles.
In order to manifest a new reality that was in alignment, I had to make changes.
I had to struggle with many decisions. Some were reaffirming, others were painful. Some were vindicating, others were humiliating.
Among the most important:
1. I was astounded that I didn’t feel, or even look my age. I felt strongly that this was due to my commitment to exercise and healthy eating.
Even when things were really tough, such as when I had no home worry about rent from month to month, I continued to exercise.
And this was the secret not only to how I looked and felt, but how I had been able to cope with Life better.
I resolved to spread the message of the exercise promise to my peers.
2. I had to seriously rethink my relationship at that time. First, I accepted the reality that things were not working out, and that continuing on would cause years of unhappiness and non-fulfillment of what Life should be. Second, I had to own up to the fact that I’d made a mistake, and steel myself to initiate the process of going separate ways.
It was tough. Mentally, emotionally, financially. But it forced more willpower and courage out of me than I knew I had, and motivated me to channel this into getting the Life that I truly wanted.
The most important lesson I learnt? You are responsible for your own Life. Including your mistakes. And if you let a major mistake compound because of inertia, you get deeper and deeper, and ultimately pay the price for the lost years, energy, and potential.
I resolved to spread the message that it’s never too late to reflect, rethink and realign your Life. Take responsibility for your mistakes and start living the Life you want.
3. More generally, I decided that I would marry my two core principles into a driving force for teaching and mentoring other people.
I wanted to teach what I had learnt, and learn more so I could teach.
About living Life fully. About happiness. About balance. About fulfilling potential. About recovery.
I thought I was mature at 21 but I really wasn’t. I only had potential to be, potential which the challenges of Life were developing.
I used to counsel people when I was young, and thought I was pretty good at giving advice. But in many areas I didn’t yet have the Life experiences to back it up.
Now I do.
I resolved to use my Life experiences to help people through living example.
I am excited now when I meet younger people with full Lives ahead of them, and have the privilege of sharing some of these lessons.
Conclusion: URGE and URGENCY
Whether you’re past 35, or approaching it, you may have fears, concerns, doubts. You may have hear people talk about it as being many awful things you must accept.
You may feel that an accounting milestone has been reached, with nothing to show for it.
Tremendous success may have been achieved in some areas, which only bring out the empty ones in stark contrast.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Life is about choices.
1. The choices you have made in the past.
2. The choices you are making right now.
3. The choices you will make in the future.
Examine the first; it will help you with the second.
Pay attention to the second; it will influence the third.
Yes, you may have made bad choices in the past. The important thing is recognise them, learn from them, and know that you can CHOOSE to make better ones now and in the future.
Age 35 may be the PERFECT time to do a stocktake of your Life.
Identify the challenges. The failures. The incongruences with your inner self and deepest values.
And after doing that, decide, determine, resolve to make the most of the Life ahead of you.
If you really want to live Life to the full, you’ll have the strongest URGE to do this.
It’s not going to be easy though. You’ve got to be honest. You’ve got to stop wanting to ‘look good’, to self and others, and sugarcoat your Life so far.
At 30 you can always look to a better tomorrow. Near 40 if you don’t CARVE that better tomorrow it will soon be 45, 50, 60…
And if you are truly concerned about AGE, there’s going to be a sense of URGENCY which wasn’t there before. It’s going to propel you to greater heights, further beyond the comfort zone than you have ever gone before.
No more excuses. No more procrastinations.
Do a stock take.
Make some decisions.
Write them down.
Then report back here in five years.