Sometimes it’s easy to get so focused on status, position, finances and people’s perception that you easily lose sight of something much more important – life.
When you are young and busting your way into the world to make your place or establish a career, you get locked in. You see opportunity and you attach goals to your psyche that begin to control you.
The next thing you know, you’re 50, and the goals have changed with each opportunity. And there is something about that number that does not necessarily mean something negative. But a perspective starts to seep in, sort of a look back with the thought “What the hell happened?”
What Have We Missed?
That look back can be many things, accomplishment, stability, achievement and pride, but it can also offer things like “What have I missed?”
There is so much to life that way too many of us have missed along the way. Some admit it, make adjustments and use this discovery to change. They do new things and learn to invest their emotions and time enjoying all they have worked for.
If you are 50, and this has not been part of your look back, then either you have lived the perfect life, or you aren’t sure you want to look back. Neither way is wrong or better than the other. We all have our own way of living our life and knowing what make us happy (or maybe we don’t).
Inventory of Experience
I remember my younger days (as much as is realistic to expect), and I know I felt invincible. I charged ahead full steam, working 60-80 hours, and getting as much accomplishment as I could envision in my field.
While in the Navy, I was got assignments above my rank and pay grade just because I played softball. But I also busted my butt to stand out in my area of expertise and to legitimize myself in the positions I filled. I had a young son at the time, and even though I eventually figured it out, I missed things that now I look back I wished I had not.
Next up was testing and certifying helicopters for 19 years. Same crazy commitment, same crazy hours and travel away from home, playing softball, going to school. Even with all that, I made a commitment to not miss any of the kids’ events. But I often wondered if the stress around those challenges was properly placed.
Our kids were active in every sport/activity available in school. I think back sometimes now and wish I had said “no” once in a while. That way, the primary focus of my time would have been better balanced. When the pace is too fast, important “little things” are missed.
It’s Never Too Late
It took me a few extra years – like 10 – to realize that I did not make the adjustments, and I stayed way too busy at work. When I took all the extra stuff out, at 62 I am finally getting it.
And after a couple of life events over the last few months, it even makes me realize that the mindset of immortality and invincibility is misguided. I have learned too closely that stuff happens and usually that stuff is unexpected, often not even imagined.
Take a breath, a deep one, and look around to notice where you are. Notice what you have and what you may want. Improve your health and grow your relationships.
It’s never too late to make up for what you missed. Remind yourself, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and remember everything is small stuff.” These are words of wisdom I have heard often from a very wise man I know and respect dearly.