A case for why success can come later in life

A case for why success can come later in life

Do you ever feel like you have a biological clock ticking inside you, telling you that if you don’t do something by a certain age, you’re a failure? You’re not alone.

Other people think success has a limitation, asserting that you’re officially ‘old’ when you hit 30, and you better have accomplished all your goals.

However, that’s just not realistic. Life doesn’t end at 25 — you still have so much more to accomplish.

While success in youth is admirable, success is success at any age, no matter how long it takes you to accomplish something.

Why is success tied to youth?

Many times, when people talk about success, they bring up a young celebrity who has dominated in their field.

People throw around names like Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish, citing their accomplishments and how everything worked out well for them.

While their feats are something to admire, there isn’t a deadline for success. You don’t have to figure everything out by 25, 30 or even 40.

If you ever interview for a job, the hiring manager may ask if you consider yourself successful. While you shouldn’t lie, it’s an excellent opportunity to evaluate your past accomplishments and see if you feel driven toward achieving things in the future.

If you think success has an expiration date or only the youth can be successful, then you may not know how to answer the question.

After seeing success appear to happen instantly to people much younger, society adopted the idea that success only means something if you’re younger.

Suddenly, life becomes a race to see who can be the youngest to achieve something. You may feel like you’ve failed if you didn’t achieve your dream job by 30, get married by 25, or graduate university by 22.

Often, you need to look into the past to see what has stopped you from achieving success before. Is it because you think you’re ‘too old’ to accomplish something? Maybe you’ve been held back from starting because the timing has felt wrong due to the busyness of your life.

Finding success in the future

While several famous young people have found success early in their careers, they are few and far between.

You can still achieve any goal you want at any age. Jennifer Coolidge won her first Golden Globe at 60, while Michelle Yeoh won hers at 61.

For as many Rodrigos and Eilishes in the world, there are just as many Coolidges and Yeohs. There’s no time limit on how long it takes you to realise your goals.

While recognising that the future leads to several pathways to success, you also need to give up on the idea of being perfect. Nobody is perfect when they start — they typically practice repeatedly before getting it right.

Practising gratitude for what you have and how far you’ve come can keep you in a positive mindset as you work toward your new goals. There’s no ‘perfect’ time to get things right.

Only your own perception of success is holding you back. You think you need to achieve success because successful stories are so heavily broadcasted in the media.

When the world emphasises youth and success, you might feel like there’s no room for you — in reality, all you need to do is challenge that thinking. Remember that life is a journey. You don’t have to reach the destination at a young age because the experience itself is valuable.

You can experience new things no matter what age you are. Volunteering or spending time with loved ones can make you feel fulfilled and as successful as a new career move. Learning to nourish your body and move enough can be just as important as celebrating an award.

Steps to create your own success at any age

Success doesn’t happen overnight.

You have to ensure you know what you’re working toward and why you want to feel successful. Though it might feel tedious, every step forward is a step in the right direction.

Follow these techniques to curate your success story, no matter how old you are.

1. Define ‘success’ in your own terms

What does success look like to you? There’s no right or wrong answer — you just need to figure out what you need to achieve.

Does success resemble creating a lasting morning routine that sets you up for the day and feels good? Or is it closer to writing the next best-selling novel?

Determine your definition of success. That’ll put you one step closer to achieving it.

2. Make small, actionable goals

Opt for a goal you can measure during a certain amount of time and that’s easy for you to act on.

SMART goals, ones that are time-bound and easy to execute and measure, lead to greater success and motivation than the loftier goals you may make.

For example, instead of just ‘get a job’, you could start with tasks like ‘update resume’ and ‘save three job listings a day’.

You can even speak with your partner about their goals. Doing so could lead to a better relationship due to increased communication and a better understanding of each other. Having people to keep you accountable might help you achieve your desired success.

3. Be lenient with yourself

The steps to make your goals a reality are just guidelines. You don’t need to accomplish them in quick succession, and you can go out of order if necessary.

Allow yourself to make mistakes — that’s how the best lessons are learned. If you have to scale back on your goals for your mental or physical health, that’s okay. You don’t have a time limit.

Success doesn’t look the same for everyone

You may look back and think you’ve accomplished little in a designated time frame. Realistically, finding success in your first 20 years of life is rare and not a standard to hold yourself to.

Women are often too hard on themselves if they can’t do it all — especially if it takes a little longer than ‘normal’ to do something.

So what if you don’t get married in your 20s? You still have decades ahead of you to find a partner and figure out what you want in a marriage.

Did it take you until you were 50 to graduate from university? It’s an accomplishment that you could go back to school and tackle classes with all the other demands of life.

Your success might look different from someone else’s, but that doesn’t undermine the fact you did it. Celebrate yourself at every age — you deserve it.

Mia Barnes - Writer - She Defined

Mia Barnes

This article was written by Mia Barnes.

Mia is a freelance writer and researcher who specialises in women’s health and lifestyle. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.

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