In a speech I heard from Earl Nightingale, I learned about the statistics on 100 people that were asked at the age of 25 how eager they were to succeed. All of them couldn't wait to get their life going because they wanted to live the adventure and travel the journey to success. They were all wild with enthusiasm and they knew they had what it takes.
By the age of 65, one is rich, 4 are financially independent, 5 are still working, and 54 are broke and dependent on someone else for their financial needs.
You're probably thinking now about how old you are and wondering if those are really true numbers. And you're probably thinking, "I'm screwed". "Is it too late for me?"
What happened in those 40 years? Life happened. You understand that more than anyone. Things come up. Every time you get ahead, something happens to pull you back. The ones that made it to the top 5% must have had luck on their side or the support of someone along the way, right?
I used to think success meant being on track to live a comfortable life once I've retired. I was living a life, saving for retirement to live my own life. What does it mean to live my own life?
I'd get to travel. I'd get to connect with people all over the world, learn new cultures, get to know the people who matter to me better, start making a real difference in the world.
Success is not making more money than anyone else. Success is reaching the goals that you set for yourself. The problem is when we're living our life for everyone else, we set our goals according to what others expect from us. When you start to think about what YOU want, you'll realize how much of what you do with your time has nothing to do with that. The goals you're setting today are to reach someone else's goals.
I may not have a lot of money, but considering my goals, I consider my life more of a success story than it was when I had money.
I want to share my own perspective on this. Maybe parts of it will resonate with you.
My father was ready to retire at 65. At age 64, he injured himself at work and spent the last few months of his career on workers compensation going to physical therapy for a torn rotator cuff (he wa a union carpenter). After physical therapy before and after surgery and dealing with this for a full year, he insisted the doctor release him so he could retire to Florida, be with my mom for the Jewish holidays and start enjoying the retired life he'd worked so hard to reach.
Three weeks later, he was diagnosed with Leukemia and died 2 1/2 months later.
He had worked his whole life, made so many plans and didn't get to live out any of his dreams, but my mom suffers through living the rest of her life on the money he earned with no one to show her how to enjoy it.
She tries to stay busy with doctor's appointments and activities. She's never been very social, that was my dad. She never learned how to connect with people and she struggles to connect with herself. She wasn't one of the 100 people who were eager for life. She lived in an era and mindset that her job, as a woman, was to get married, have babies and let a man make all her decisions for her.
Why am I telling you that story?
A lot can happen in 40 years that we have no control over. Life happens, right?
The 5% that succeed think in a different way than the rest. The opposite of success is not failure, it's conformity. Whose rules do you conform to? Who makes the decisions in your life? Who's in charge of your life?
If you were abused, are you still holding onto the pain, the guilt or the anger from that? If your health has suffered, have you been doing everything the doctor tells you, despite your body telling you something's not right, even with his cures? If you grew up in the ghetto, are you still there mentally? If your family has been a burden, have you made yourself responsible for taking care of other people's problems because they can't handle it on their own?
How much time do you spend taking care of you? Thinking about YOU and what YOU want? During those 40 years, how many times have you set your own desire to be in the top 5% take a back burner to other people’s agendas or dreams?
It wasn’t until my kids were grown that I started soul searching and realized I wanted so much more, not later, but now. I don’t want to wait until I’m 65 to enjoy my life, make a name for myself or build the legacy I intend to for my children. I want to leave a name and a legacy that my children will be proud to be attached to. I want to offer my children a direction to move in toward their dreams, toward living in a world where they have fewer worries about other people, so they can feel free to live their lives and dreams.
I spent my first 40 years living by someone else’s rules or according to what everyone else wants: my parents, my (now ex) husband, my bosses, even my friends. My life was spent building other people’s dreams, making them happy and wanting only to be recognized or compensated for my contribution. It was all about saving everything I had so I could retire at 65 with a healthy savings.
Forty years feel wasted, in one sense because my dream is no closer than it was when I started. But those 40 years have not been wasted, they were paving the road to this. They were spent learning the lessons I needed to get here today. The good times and the bad all served this purpose.
I’m about halfway through my 40 years that Earl Nightingale spoke of. I was right on track with a corporate career, then I took a risk, lots of risks and went my own way. I’ve failed many times, but I’ve not given up. I have a dream, my own dream to live for. I have my own journey to take. I want to change the world with what I’ve learned in those 40 years.
I see things differently than many others. You see anger, I see hurt. You see pain, I see strength and empowerment. You see regrets, I see lessons learned.
I make decisions by asking myself: When I look back on this moment, will I have regret? If regret has taught me one thing, it’s that it’s preventable.
If you don’t like something, you have 3 options:
If you’re all done with #3, let’s talk about what we can do about it.
If everything in your life stayed the same except for one thing, what would be that one thing you’d want to change?