Yesterday was my birthday.Yup! It’s happening again. Same time every year. This year, I’m turning 48.
Yes, Mommy. I just told the world how old I am. No, I’m not 29. I’m not even 39. I’m almost 49. WOW.
The way I see it, I have two choices on my birthday: count my wrinkles, or count my blessings.
Counting wrinkles is really no fun at all … so I am choosing to count my blessings. Of those, I have many. In fact, after my first cup of coffee this morning, I decided to celebrate this birthday by writing down all the things I am grateful for in my life. I knew I had a lot to be thankful for, but watching my list grow and grow and grow was a powerful experience. If you’ve never done that before (made a list of all the things you are grateful for), I highly recommend it. Did you know that there are 7 Scientifically proven benefits to giving thanks for the positive things in your life? https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-menta...I’m going to hold on to my list of blessings. I know that it will come in very handy next time I face a dark and stormy day.
I have another big choice today: count my regrets, or count my opportunities.
I bet you can guess which one I’m gonna choose today. Yup … I choose to count my opportunities.And when those regrets start to seep into my brain, I’m gonna look at the wonderful quote my dad gave me on a magnet ten years ago:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
So, here goes: Today, I’m making a list of opportunities (aka “cool things I really want to do”). I’m excited about it, because I know this: the very act of making a list (writing them down) increases my chances of achieving my goals by 42%, according to a recent study by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University in California. https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/this-is-way-you-...
… but there’s a battle ahead.
After I finish my list of cool things I want to do, I will need to brace myself for battle.You see, I know what will happen next: my inner critic will wake up and start whispering – loudly - things like this: “Are you sure you want to do that?” or “Are you GOOD enough to do that?”
And then ...for the big and scary things on my list ... my new little voice will rear its ugly head and ask me this: “Aren’t you a little TOO OLD for that?”Now, THIS voice started showing up somewherein my thirties. The worst part? I almost let that voice win!
When I was little, I desperately wanted to grow up to be a singer. I used to gallop through the forest on horseback, all by myself, singing my heart out. Every time I saw and heard a singer on stage, my heart would leap out of my chest and I would think “I want to do THAT!” So, I entered a singing competition when I was 12. And I totally choked. I forgot the words, froze on stage, ran off the stage and burst into tears. I was mortified and humiliated. My mother (with the good intention of protecting me from further hurt) said to me “Well, there can be only one Barbra Streisand. It takes some really special skills to become a professional singer.” What I HEARD was “You’re not good enough.”
I never stepped on stage to sing again.
I did, however, keep singing to myself at home. And then, years later, I walked through my fear and started singing to my husband. And then … to my two little boys.
We all need a little push sometimes.
When I turned 40, my husband bought me singing lessons. Singing lessons! I said to him “Thank you … but WHY????? What am I going to do with singing lessons?” With a grin as wide as the Yangtze River, he said “Sing! You’re gonna sing! Anywhere. Everywhere. Somewhere. But first, you’re going to go see this voice coach and see what happens.”
Instantly, my inner critic leapt up to stop the madness: “It’s too late. You’re too old. That is just silly.”
Lucky for me, my husband wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. I went to see my voice coach. And this is what happened:
Am I too old to sing? No way!
Am I too old to become a global singing sensation? No! At least, not if I really want it. Just ask 65-year old Robert Finley as he brings down the house on America’s Got Talent: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/robe...
I have no interest in competing on America’s Got Talent. For now, I am having a BLAST singing in my own backyard with friends. Last weekend, my band played at a Woodstock Reunion party. I got to channel my inner Janis Joplin.
Here’s how I overcame my fears: I did the inner-critic knockdown:
I have the PERFECT strategy for knocking down that inner critic. I’ve learned how to go to battle with my fears. I’ve learned how to talk back to my inner critic. When she says,“Aren’t you too old / too late for that?” I ask her these two questions:
- “Too old / too late for what?”What, exactly, do I want to do? Maybe my dream isn’t nearly as big and scary as I think it is!
- “Says who?” Am I getting rejected by the people who really have the power to tell me no? Do they have the power to stop me from achieving my dreams? Or, am I simply listening to critics? Am I simply listening to people who care about me and are afraid for me?
If I wanted to become an Olympic swimmer, then yeah … I’m too old for that.
But I am NOT too old to become a triathlete. Just ask Hiromu Inada, an 86-year old ironman triathlete. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2019/04/05/lifes...
If I wanted to become an astronaut, then yeah … I’m too old for that.
But I’m NOT too old to get a job working with real astronauts in any number of places. I could easily leverage my current skills to get a job at SpaceX https://www.spacex.com/ or even NASA https://www.nasa.gov/. Or, I could do what my dad did; he retired down in southern Virginia close to the Virginia Air & Space Museum - https://www.vasc.org/. Then he got a job as a docent (tour guide) and had an absolute ball taking people on tours, working with other pilots and former astronauts.
What are you afraid that you’re too old / too late to do?
As a Stripe Changer and Career Coach, I meet people almost every week who tell me “Well, I wanna do XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, but I’m too old for that.” They assume that what they want is unattainable, and they give up on their dreams, without even trying. Don’t do that to yourself!
What are you dreaming about doing?
Make a list. Read it out loud. Share it with others. And then, I double-dog dare you to do the inner-critic knockdown … and then just do it! Try it out! Start small and see what happens.
I did, and I gotta tell you: life on the other side is much more fun!
Catherine & the Arbez team