There’s this dangerously inaccurate misconception permeating the Western world that says we have to have everything totally figured out when we’re young, and that whatever we attempt to achieve has to be an overwhelming success as soon as we’re out of the gate. It’s what I like to call the ‘Spielberg Effect.’
Unless you’ve been drifting in orbit around the planet Neptune for the last 30 or so years, you know who Steven Spielberg is. A living icon, Spielberg started making crude 8mm films before he got his first pimple, was signed on as a contract director at Universal in his early twenties, and before he reached 30 had already directed the world’s first official ‘blockbuster’ Jaws in 1975. Untold success followed immediately thereafter, with his current net worth leveling out at just over $3 billion, making Mr. ‘Wunderkind,’ as he was labeled back in the day, one of the richest people in the world.
Let’s take a healthy step back though. Unlike Spielberg, most people don’t zero-in on what they want to do with the rest of their lives when they’re 12 years-old, and even if they do, the sweeping majority don’t become billionaires or icons in the process. It’s more like a complex matrix composed of pure chance, cosmic timing, and hard work than anything else.
More accurately, life is an endless series of steps forward with many more steps back. It’s re-starting again when things aren’t necessarily working out the way you’d like them to. It’s having the courage to realign your focus during those uncertain times when everyone’s whispering in your ear to: ‘just give up and settle.’
Fortunately for us, history’s loaded with tons of examples illustrating exactly this oft-neglected concept . . . that it’s never too late to redesign your life.
After retiring from accounting at 65, Peg Phillips set out to realize her life-long dream of becoming an actor. Seven years later she landed a co-staring role in the hit TV series Northern Exposure. Phillips was 72 years old when she officially became a professional actor.
On an intuitive impulse, author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle abandoned a promising academic career in London and moved to the west coast of North America. His friends and family thought he had lost his mind, until years later when, at the age of 52, his first book The Power of Now reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. As of 2010, The Power of Now had been translated into 33 languages including Arabic.
Celebrated American statesman Sam Adams failed at every business-related endeavor he tried (ultimately running through the family fortune that was left to him upon his father’s death) until finally finding his niche in life as a statesman and writer, when the Bostonian revolutionary was nearing his 50th birthday.
Everything needs a little ‘redesigning’ now and then, whether it’s your life plan or your approach to business. It’s normal, healthy, and more common than you might think to step back from where you’re headed to see if wherever you’re going is really where you want to end up.
And it makes no difference what your profession happens to be: writer, actor, film director, statesman . . . you name it . . . the time to get that novel idea of yours going, to breathe some new life into what’s become hopelessly stagnant, to throw out the game plan and start inventing some fresh rules for success and happiness, are right now. Not tomorrow, not at the stroke of midnight as you’re ringing in the New Year . . . but today. Have some courage, ignore the naysayers, and just get it all moving forward.