Is It Too Late for Me?
Photo courtesy of frankieleon.

Is It Too Late for Me?

Written by Neil Hughes

Topics: Lifestyle Design

At some point, everyone worries if it’s too late. Time comes for us all. Our lives drip away at a constant rate of one second per second. This is – to put it mildly – slightly worrying.

Worse, we can’t escape the realization that every choice we make forces us to leave all other paths untaken. Decisions made in childhood can prevent us from entering whole professions decades later.

Then there’s the media, “helpfully” presenting constant images of youth, subtly reinforcing the idea that if we haven’t achieved enough by the time we’re twenty thirty forty whatever age, we have failed.

And so our brains put a ticking clock on every dream, and we wonder… “Is this it for me now? Am I stuck? Is it too late?!

It’s amazing how young we are when these thoughts begin. I remember worrying in my early twenties that my life was over, that I was stuck with my decisions and condemned to the track I was on forever. This seems ridiculous to me now.

It’s not just me. Since I started to write about anxiety, I’ve regularly heard from college students who are anxious about having “missed their chance,” terrified that their decisions have trapped them irrevocably. From outside, it’s obvious that they still have the whole world to choose from, but it doesn’t seem that way to them.

I’ve also met people in their fifties and sixties who are making huge, inspiring life changes. No doubt they see me – merely in my early thirties – as having the potential for even huger changes, just as I see those younger than me as having practically infinite freedom compared to me.

As usual, we humans are terrible judges of our own situations.

It’s Never Too Late, Right?

Luckily, there’s plenty of pushback against this depressing narrative. We’re told “it’s never too late,” at least in theory.

And it’s true: there’s certainly no rule preventing us from changing career or developing a new skill at whatever age we like.

The universe does not impose such rules; we create them in our heads and act accordingly. As such, I firmly intend to be doing new, interesting, and surprising things until I physically no longer can.

Still, there’s that nagging voice in the back of my head saying, “suuuuure… it’s never too late, but…”

It’s a Little More Complex than That

While in one sense we’re limited only by our dreams, we shouldn’t ignore that we’re also limited by – you know – actual limitations.

It’s not too late for me in general, but it’s definitely too late for me to be a professional footballer, dancer, or astronaut. (This is a mercy for anyone who likes football or dancing. Or space, for that matter.) In fact, I freely admit that these dreams are impossible at this stage of my life.

But many other dreams are certainly not impossible, though they may be harder than they used to be to achieve. If I wanted, I could retrain as a lawyer, or a doctor, or get a degree, or take up pottery…

At every stage of life, there remains a tremendous number of possibilities open to us.

The Death of One Dream is Not the Death of All Dreams

But if it’s true that we always have many options, why is it so common to believe “it’s too late,” even when we’re young?

Apart from the (huge factors) of media pressure and the nature of time itself, I think it’s because we are naturally short-sighted when we desire something.

When a dream is unrealized – via failure, rejection, circumstance, or even our own choice – it can feel as if the whole world has ended. We have zoomed in so much on only one possibility that we forgot all others existed. But these other options didn’t stop existing just because we failed to notice them for a while.

Now I like to think of it like this:

It’s never “too late.” Until our lives are actually over, it can only ever be “too late for these things in particular.”

This is a useless idea unless we know how to apply it.

If we’ve truly missed the window for a dream, there’s no sense in battling the universe. We have to accept that this particular idea will remain a dream.

This doesn’t necessitate letting go entirely. Even if we missed being an astronaut, we could channel that passion somehow. Maybe we’d be happy simply reading books about space. Or working at a space centre supporting astronauts, or whatever.

Letting go of impossible dreams, or finding a healthy outlet for them, frees up our energy for the many goals that remain achievable.

Our cognitive biases come into play here. It’s easy to convince ourselves that difficulty is the same as impossibility.

“I’m too old to get into law… to start my own business… to become a writer… to open a cafe…”

We must figure out if that’s actually true, or if we’re just making excuses for any of the normal reasons. Perhaps these thoughts will help:

  • It might not actually be too late for this dream. Have you really thought about it, or have you just assumed you’re too old?
  • What would you say to someone younger than you thinking about doing this?
  • If you heard that someone ten years older than you did this thing, would you find the story utterly unbelievable? If not, maybe you can do it too.
  • Would someone older than you believe you could do it at your age?
  • Others have had success at every age. And we get to choose what success means for us!
  • You have to put your time into something. If you don’t put it into what you want, you’re putting it into something you don’t want.

Very often, it’s not too late. We’re just scared. Of success. Of failure. Of our own lack of motivation.

If you’re worried it’s too late for you, you have a choice: accept it and let go, or chase the dream. Anything else is not worth your time.

Your Turn

Have you ever believed it’s too late for you? Do you still believe it? What would you say to someone struggling with the idea that they’ve missed out?

neil_authorbioNeil Hughes is the author of Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life, a comical and useful guide to life with anxiety. Along with writing more books, he puts his time into standup comedy, computer programming, public speaking and other things from music to video games to languages. He struggles to answer the question “so, what do you do?” and is worried that the honest answer is probably “procrastinate.” He would like it if you found him at www.walkingoncustard.com and on Twitter as @enhughesiasm.

70 Comments

  1. Silvina says:

    Hi!
    I started ballet classes at 27, singing lessons at 29, and drumming lessons at 31. Each time I felt “old” (only because most of the people in my classes were teenagers), but I was so happy that I was finally doing things that I had been wanting to do for years!
    Greetings from Argentina :)

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I love this attitude! I hope to be the same no matter how old I am – maybe I’m older than people doing something, maybe I’m not, but either way it just doesn’t matter as I can be happy I’m achieving my goals.

      Greetings right back, Silvina :)

    • Keith Kehrer says:

      One of my favorite music students was a 75 year old man named Howard. His family owned the biggest automobile manufacturing screw company I believe in the world. His brother and him would run the company had their pet charities. His serious brother would contribute to hospitals and the like, but Howard was a music and art lover in a big way and had his own foundation that would fund all kinds of creative projects. He was from Chicago and every winter would come to Phoenix to get warm. He saw my music teaching ad and decided to come and take voice lessons. He wasn’t bad and we were doing some classic standards that I hadn’t done in a while. That the first year. The second year he came back with a different mission. He wanted to write a collection of songs and go into the studio and record them. He wanted to learn that process. He picked about 10 stories from the newspaper and advertisements and wrote lyrics for them and I put together the songs and arrangements for them. Then we went into the studio with me and some musicians and singers I hired and we ended up with a wonderful recorded collection of songs. I never heard from him again, but that experience really made that winter magical. He would come in his old Jaguar and pick me up. We would go to lunch and the studio. What a joy that was.

      Keith

      • Surya says:

        Now that is a great inspiration and will rejuvenate new energy to accomplish our long cherished dreams.

        This is Surya. I am 27. And I am always enthusiastic to learn something new, something different and sometimes I like to challenge myself and everyone else around me to achieve the impossible and make it look plausible for others to look at.Haven’t achieved great so far(on my own terms) but have the everlasting energy to achieve in due course of time. Hoping get more of such inspiration.

        Thanks
        Surya

  2. Virginia says:

    Totally needed this today! It is so easy for me to encourage others to pursue their dreams, but I often feel like my time has passed. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  3. Karen says:

    I’m totally on board with this when it comes to hobbies and things we want to learn. Where I run into a problem with this is when it comes to dreams that just aren’t practical or wise to pursue. I think this is the problem that people in their early 20’s have in thinking that they no longer have a choice. Because education is so ridiculously expensive, once they’ve chosen and path and invested in it and gotten a degree, begun a career, etc. there is so much debt to pay off for that education. Now they feel stuck. Going back to school to pay for another degree to be a doctor or something seems unachievable because of the debt they already have and the larger mountain of debt it would require to change now. What would that mean for quality of life? How long would it take to repay all that? Then we start families and we have to consider those who need our financial support and their dreams. The resources to follow our own grow smaller and smaller. I think this is why many feel they can’t pursue their dreams – there are too many factors that make it impractical or just unwise. I also think this is why so many people in their 50’s are suddenly making big changes and starting businesses, etc. They’ve paid off their college debt from long ago and their children have gotten through college and moved on. Now they have the time and resources to do those things. So, I agree that it is never really “too late,” it is just not wise “right now.” Unfortunately, with our cognitive distortions we feel like if we can’t do it now, we’ll never be able to. We forget that life has seasons. Some of them VERY long, but seasons none the less.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I absolutely agree with all of this – these are the points I was trying to touch on in the “It’s a Little More Complex” section… sometimes we’re limited by very real limitations such as finance, family responsibilities, and even lack of ability or physical fitness.

      So I think you’re right, we have to live within our limits. But we also have to not ’round up’ and think “it’s too late for me to do this, therefore it’s too late for ME”. We are always more than any one goal.

      Thanks so much for your thoughts, you’re spot on :)

    • Gul says:

      Karen, you have put into words exactly what is going through my mind right now as a 21 year old. i guess there is no solution.

  4. dragonchild says:

    “Too late” in my case isn’t a matter of age, but things that come with age. Responsibility, to be specific.

    The things I want to do in life entail risk. I’m OK with risk of failure. I’m OK with risk of rejection. The show-stopper is exposing my family to risk. Unfortunately I live in a country with no safety net, so I can’t go chasing dreams if I can’t keep them fed, clothed, sheltered and insured. The first three, no problem — I don’t need a handout. I can definitely provide, have done so and will continue to do so, but I just can’t replace employer-provided health insurance with a solo risk pool. So I work long hours at a job I don’t need, and will do so until I die, because apparently I have to fulfill some sort of Puritan work ethic.

    Do I have something to offer the world? Hell if I know. Too bad we’ll never find out.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I hear you, dragonchild. This is exactly why I try not to say anything like “follow your dreams” without at least qualifying it – in the real world we have to make tough decisions about what is possible. Sounds like you’ve considered all your options and come to a sensible conclusion (which, honestly, the world needs a lot more of!)

      Apologies if this is a stupid question, but is there a particular dream you wish you could make progress on, and is there any way you could make a little progress on it even while juggling everything else?

  5. Joni Ryan says:

    It’s never to late. I am in my junior year of college working toward a Bachelors in Psychology. I’m currently maintaining a 4.0 and looking for the best fit for graduate school. I turn 55 this summer. I will be 61 by the time I get my Ph.D. But I will be 61 even if I don’t pursue it. The only thing that stops you is you.

  6. Pilar says:

    Hi everybody,

    First of all sorry because I am not an English native writer, I am sure it will be obvious in my writing :)
    I am a 42 years old woman and I have been more or less the half of my life searching for a passion, only one. I have not accepted my multipotentiality until now, twenty years later. I am accepting myself at last and I am clarifying my mind quicker than in all my life, and this is thank you in part of the process and thank you to posts than this. Thank you very much! I am so grateful! Best wishes. Pilar

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Your English is very good, Pilar! And you’re very welcome. Thank you for sharing, I’m so happy you’re accepting yourself and learning about yourself. Good luck :)

  7. Antje says:

    Actually, I read about a woman who became a professional dancer in her late 70s. And another one who went on to live all the dreams she had almost forgotten she had after her husband died. Yes, for some of us that won’t be possible anymore due to actual physical limitations. It is important to face, accept and mourn them. But some of them are only in our mind, keeping us from seeing what would be possible. It’s only too late if you think it’s too late. It’s only too late if you don’t start now.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      This is a good attitude. I think I try to grasp lightly – so if I don’t achieve my goals, that’s fine. I can still try. It’s all about finding the right mindset, and as you say, that can be achieved at any age.

      Also, you’re right that some barriers exist in the real world, some exist in our minds. Learning the difference is hard though. At least for me. Thanks :)

  8. ahmed ossama says:

    I detected that I m scanner since 2010 , I was 26 yrs old but I assured from that basically 1-2015 , I was 30 yrd old

    still struggling

  9. Andy Murphy says:

    When I was about to reach the golden age of fifty, I announced the goal of getting a master’s degree. This was going to be no easy feat, since the only school available to me didn’t offer the possibility of doing these studies in my own language. Some mainly younger friends and relatives discouraged me, saying that I would be fifty-five years old when I finally completed it. I simply asked them, “How old will I be at that time if I DON’T do it?”

    I went on to obtain my degree, and I became the first English-speaker and non-native speaker of the language of instruction in the history of the University to accomplish this.

    At this point, I add my voice to those who have said that as long as there is no statutory regulation to the contrary, we can indeed accomplish any dream that is physically possible. My fifties are a thing of the past, and I look with excitement at the contributions I desire to make to the human race.

    Retirement??? Bah Humbug! There are too many things to enjoy!

  10. Aby says:

    Me identifiqué como multipotencial a los 40. Ya había hecho una carrera en Informática, otra de docencia, desplegando toda mi multipotencialidad en la crianza de mis cinco hijos mientras trabajaba de desarrollo de software. Tengo 48 y acabo de empezar la pasión de mi vida: Licenciatura en Psicología. Estoy feliz! Fue toda una espera: que mis hijos fueran más grandes, organizar el trabajo y la parte económica. Pero confieso que el reto más grande es vencer el “qué dirán”, el estigma de “no sabe lo que quiere”, “está encarando siempre cosas nuevas por no comprometerse con lo que tiene”. Aparte hace años que pinto y canto. Ya estoy participando de salones y exposiciones y yendo a un instituto a perfeccionar guitarra y canto. Siento ganas de tantas cosas! Aunque a esta edad, como bien lo describe el artículo, uno tiende a compararse con los logros consolidados de gente más joven que uno, y uno se ve todavía “en camino”. Pero, como dice Serrat, “Se hace camino al andar”!

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Gracias Aby! He olvidado mucho de mi español, pero entiendo tu historia y lo me gustó. Estoy muy feliz que estas feliz! Bienvenido :)

  11. Stardust says:

    Really nice article. I’m 31, re-adjusting my life, transition phase, bla bla, and I find myself thinking this quite often – like this morning-. I just got a degree in Musicology after years spending wandering between social work, medical anthropology, psychology and music.. I used to perform – and be reasonably good at it – but I haven’t done it in a while and now it feels “too late” to me to be a.. single 31 woman starting to perform again after a couple of years break?!? Yeah, I wrote it down just to see how ridiculous it sounded. Sure, I need to get an income asap, but does that make “performing as a musician” impossible or “too late”? There are plenty of ways…And I’m not looking forward to be a rockstar..I just want to perform and use it somehow to create my own multipod career path and do other things in the meantime… But you know…Lots of people younger than me, “more specialized in music” than me, makes me think “Am I being childish in not letting go of this?”. This is about fear isn’t it?

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Exactly! These are the sorts of thoughts I wanted to write about… how when we write it down it suddenly sounds silly to fear. Of COURSE you can perform again at the age of 31 after a few years break. You could do it at 61, or 91… it would just be different.

      Maybe the career in music won’t take the form you expect, maybe only part of your income (or none) will come from music, but you can certainly live some of that dream and see what comes of it.

      I hope you find a way to make music work for you. Do share the journey here too :)

      • Stadust says:

        Thanks for the encouragement :-)

      • Kisha says:

        Thanks to the both of you for this post. I’m 44 and I’ve always loved to dance, sing, write songs, perform, etc. I tried to go down this path in my early 20s but had kids and was limited. Now that they’ve grown up and I’m single again, I have this opportunity to try this path again, through my own initiative by collaborating with other musicians (actually a little older but with youthful energy). I’m so excited, but there are days where I think I’m just fooling myself–“it’s too late”. Nevertheless, I keep going. Thing is I actually look like I’m in my late 20s early 30s to some. I’m encouraged by this article and the posts to keep going–I may not be a superstar–but I will be flexible to see what can unfold. Possibly something I’ve never dreamt of! At the end of the day, I can say “I did it” and I am happy for it.

    • ally says:

      Speaking from a multipotentialite that is much older than you — Go For It! No it’s not too late, you can perform your entire life. Weave that into your path, along with other things that together keep you fulfilled. Those of us in our later years don’t want to hear music from teenagers. We want to detect that you have some life experience, have traveled life’s roads and gained some wisdom along the way. It will be evident in your music and make you that much better of a performer, in my opinion. Please honor us all buy making sure to express your talent, and not bottle it up.

  12. Sheryl says:

    Thanks for the picker-upper. I am working on my first novel–at age 50. Some days I wonder if it’s too late to excel at something so new and different for me. Other days, I say, “Why not?”

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Why not, exactly that :) Sometimes there’s a good reason why not. Often there isn’t and we just imagine there is. It sounds like you’re in the latter situation – I hope to hear about your novel soon, keep us posted! :)

  13. Timebandit says:

    Oh, what an interesting and timely topic! I’ve carried the feeling of it “being too late” for me since I was a child. Bit of a gloomy upbringing that led me to disbelieve in the concept of future, and embrace the belief that I wasn’t success or formal education material. Still, the future inevitably happened, and I found I had a passion for many things that I dove into exuberantly, teaching myself, practicing, and implementing in my life. However, time and time again, I encountered “pedigree-ism” and could only go so far in any chosen direction. So, at the age of 41, I started college for the first time ever, thinking I should at least get one degree under my belt. Obviously, I had a lot of catching up to do, and I hit it hard for a couple of years, working full time (operating my own business) while going to school full time. I burned myself out pretty bad, but enjoyed it immensely! And lo and behold, it turns out I am an excellent student! That was a huge boost to my self esteem. I’m a few classes away from an associate of science degree, and will be tackling calculus this fall (trembling a bit).Haha, I actually want both science and art degrees. ;) While my family shook their heads and sighed, many of my instructors were my age or older, and themselves teaching while pursuing additional degrees. It was a very supportive and encouraging environment for someone like me (us), and I would recommend returning to school at any age, to anyone. At this point though, yes, I agree, we might have to admit that there are some windows of opportunity that don’t remain open after a certain age. However, I also believe that some version of these things can still manifest in our lives. It’s just going to take some more of that good ol’ reliable creativity to make it happen, and the faith in ourselves that has propelled us forward (sometimes against many odds) through life so far. That is what I would say to someone who feels that they’ve missed out, and exactly what I need to be telling myself this morning! Thanks for the article. It was just what I needed to read and think about today.

    • Hi Timebandit, I too started college later in life and earned my Bachelor of Science degree when I was 55. I loved learning with all ages of people.

      • Timebandit says:

        Hi Linda,
        The biggest problem, of course, is being confined to one field of study! Browsing the degree programs is awfully intoxicating. Hoping the BS will provide some good crossover options.

        I enjoyed your post below. Living authentically is certainly a top priority for me as well. The dream journal is a great idea, letting the very existence of those dreams be a source of joy, rather than frustration. Such a small, but effective perspective change. Think I’ll start one!

        So many inspiring posts in response to this article. The enthusiasm for life here is just wonderful.

        • Hi, guess I should have elaborated on the BS. It’s a degree in Theatre and Theatre Therapy, so it’s given me lots of crossover options for sure. I was able to design my own degree program at Empire State College.

    • Lawrence Burlo says:

      Hi timebandit, thankyou for at least reassuring me in not losing hope.
      I have to pull myself out of this sense of ‘how could i of been so stupid’attitude.

  14. Kat says:

    It’s never too late for your dreams! I’m 51 and applying for grad school- I’ve always wanted to go back to school and get my Master’s degree(MPA). Life is constantly changing, so should we!
    Kat

  15. Blake says:

    I have had a number of successful careers and owned many small businesses. I definitely fall into the multip category as I always want to try new things and learn them from the inside out. I retired from my consulting firm at age 57 and took up what I always wanted to do, day trading stocks at age 58. No employees and you only answer to yourself. I was told that this is a young man’s game and it takes 10 years to master it. After a year and a half I am trading profitably and making a good income at age 60. I travel whenever I want and plan my day however I want and earn a living at my computer. It is not easy but it is rewarding when you can finally become profitable. I plan to write an e-book on how to earn a living after retirement day trading and swing trading stocks. Thanks for the the great article.

  16. Karen says:

    Great way to start the day – dreaming about the possibilities. As a mom, I see my child going down this path too and I struggle to help him keep the wonder of the world, and balanced against achieving in this world to keep all doors open to him. When he was four – he was struggling with problem and didn’t want to share but when he finally opened up, he was filled with anxiety because for the Mother’s Day concert. At the concert, each child had to say what they liked best about mom and what they wanted to be when they grew up. He didn’t know what to say because he wanted to be an astronaut and a scientist and couldn’t choose. I told him that many astronauts were also scientists and since that day he has had about 4 or 5 favourite things to do on his list. I now have to live up to my own words….

  17. Jon says:

    What has happened to the quality of Puttylike posts of late? All about browbeating multipods since the change of writers. I mean, do you write these things for clickbait? It’s bad enough being a multipod in this world without this website that purports to ‘support multipods’ wanting to put them down and instil more doubts (like that article ‘Is MP the same as ADHD?’) Emilie’s posts were always celebratory and motivational. I guess you guys must be running out of topics.

    No, it’s never too late to be whatever you want to be. Multipods live multiple lives, who are you to define what they can and can’t do, based on nothing but your opinion and own doubts? People do not live the same kind of life as each other, or follow the same path, I hate to break it to you if you think they do

    • Sara says:

      You don’t have to read the posts that aren’t relevant to you… some multipods have doubts, and this is for them.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Thanks for the feedback Jon! I’m sorry you’re feeling browbeaten by the article, of course that wasn’t the intention.

      Re-reading your comment, it sounds to me like we are actually in agreement. As you say, people don’t live the same lives as each other, and we all create our own individual paths.

      Multipod or not, I would never presume to tell anybody what to do with their lives. I’d like to encourage everybody to live to the maximum of their potential – and also to realistically consider what tradeoffs that might entail with their lives. That way everyone can decide for themselves how to create their path by combining their dreams with what is possible for them.

      Perhaps I was unclear about the encouraging side of that, although reading back I did say “At every stage of life, there are a tremendous amount of possibilities open to us”, and also that it’s never too late until we’re actually dead. So I’m not sure how much more clear I could have been!

      Still, I will take the feedback on board and endeavour to be more clear in future. Thank you very much, and I hope you’re enjoying your own multiple lives on your unique path!

    • It’s worth pointing out that both the articles you mention (this one about it being ‘too late’ and the ADHD one) are responses to questions that Emilie is asked a lot. Going on the amount of times other multipotentialites have asked her about these things, it seems that these are issues that lots of multipotentialites worry about. I agree that celebratory posts are important but I also think it’s important to address the concerns many of us have.

    • J O says:

      Jon, it sounds to me, like you actually agree with the article.

  18. I’m 68 and through personal evolution, I am living an authentic life. This enables me differentiate between my dreams. The feasible ones are no longer unfulfilled. Last year I launched a career as a Speaker. No, I don’t get a lot of gigs, but I am a Speaker. I also started writing creative non-fiction. No, I don’t have a lot published, but I write every day, so I’m a writer. This year I am going to take violin lessons. An example of a non-feasible dream at my age is learning how to surf. I’ve had two hip replacements, so I won’t risk it. But I can still walk on the beach, swim in the ocean and right now I’m in a condo on the Gulf of Mexico listening to the pounding surf. There’s often a slice of your dream that can still be realized.
    The fanciful dreams, stored lovingly in my imagination, can be revived and relished without regret. One of my favorites – my grandmother told me that I’m a distant relation of the queen of England. I can, in my mind’s eye, play at being Queen and delight in the thought (though my husband doesn’t play along). Then remove the crown when I return to reality. Not all dreams need to come to fruition.
    If you are feeling a sense of frustration because of life choices you’ve made, I suggest starting a dream journal. It’s admirable to stay in a job that might not now be of your choosing because you have a family to support. By starting and keeping a dream journal, you will find aspects of your dreams that are feasible and that will inspire hope and joy in your life.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I absolutely love this, Linda! So many great comments on this post. Yours really made me feel very warm inside.

      The tale about surfing and realizing a slice of your dream is wonderful, and exactly what I was getting at about finding ways to make dreams feasible at any age.

      I wish you the best in your speaking and writing and fanciful dreaming – thank you so much for sharing :)

    • christine says:

      Great to read this as I am feeling very old today! I’m 59 !!!and French! In France , when you are 60, you are finished. I’m dreaming of coming to work in Britain and hope people feel differently in your country!

  19. LarryB says:

    Neil — There’s wisdom here. Thank you.

  20. George Cassini says:

    Because people think in ” successful ” lost initiative , THINK in the richness of experience and you beat the obstacles.

  21. Thais says:

    There are tones of stuff I still want to do. Acting (childhood dream), Psychology (teenage dream), learning several languages (I’m in French now) and so on. I think I can at least dedicate some time in my life for these things. I can take acting classes, read psychology books, but not necessarily make a profession out of them (I am a translator now, that how I earn my living). The key is to find things I’m passionate about and follow them along!

  22. George Cassini says:

    Thinking this help me through my ” multipontialite live ” : that don’t beat me make me stronger ” , Frederick Nietzsche

  23. George Cassini says:

    Late will be when I died, think about eternity of live and nothing that you do is a waste of time.

  24. Steve says:

    I subscribe to the idea that although options narrow, it is never too late to do what you choose. The price may be higher and you may still fail, but for heavens sake at least try. Don’t go to your grave with you dreams in your back pocket because you were too chicken to step up to the plate and take a swing!

  25. Keith Kehrer says:

    Well, I have been a musician my whole life but two things are changing at 58.

    1. I am pursuing DJing (supposedly something for youngsters)
    2. I am becoming entrepreneurial with my music business rather than having someone do the business for me. I mean full blown, working with other producers, forming a team, looking at VA’s and interns etc… I have always done things alone, even when I was in bands, I was the leader or just stayed in the background if I wasn’t the leader.

    Keith

  26. Tama says:

    At 53, I embrace my multipotentialiteness and am grateful that I have more flexibility to be that way than my mother or grandmother did in their day. I also see that my daughter has realized her ability to be a multipotentialite much earlier than I did.Ironically, it was my grandfather, who lived to be a very active 94 year old multipotentialite who has been my inspiration.

    Our current culture may not yet be fully embracing the concept of being a multipotentialite but it is getting better all the time, which may help others realize their potential at any age. Some of us may need to let go of previous learning in order to be ready to embrace the new freedoms to be a multipotentialite.

  27. Keith Kehrer says:

    The comments for me were more simple like “Why don’t you get your head out of the clouds” or why don’t you be more responsible.

    KK

  28. Dan says:

    Great message Neil. And some of the posted comments are awesome. I am 54 and I’ve been struggling a bit with the following. I believe I should be “further ahead” in life at this point. Yet I can’t even really define “further ahead”. It’s probably just what society “put” in my head through various messages over time.

    I can retire in a year and a half from my full time work. I am looking to transition into my own business. Also, I have been a songwriter and I really would like to have a “major” breakthrough in fil/ads/television show or with a big artist. That is something I can do up til my final day!

    Thanks Neil

  29. Judy says:

    At nearly 53, I am glad to discover the multipotentialite frame. The “is it too late” question has been on my mind, accompanied be mountains of grief. I always thought I would be a mother, would nurture, enjoy and support children, and have all the physical and emotional experiences of birthing and mothering. Even after my mid 40s I thought maybe adoption or foster care would be options for fulfilling at least part of this desire to give these gifts that want to be given. Life has not unfolded that way, partly due to circumstances and events beyond my control and partly due to unconscious and conscious decisions. I tell myself there are still ways to tend this dream, that I can create and give and mother in other ways, and I truly am open to that. Still there is the mountain of grief. I see my sisters and friends become grandparents and I know I will never experience that either. Sometimes it feels like trying to keep this dream alive with some reinterpretation of it is cruel and foolish. I tell myself to just let it go. But then I feel a hardness in me. A hardness that closes something inside me. I remain open, as painful as it is at times, to the possibility of birthing and mothering somehow in this life. Thank you for the opportunity to share from this tender place.

  30. Watching our eighty-six-year-old father carry the burden of regrets to his grave, my wife and I vowed to never live another day with regrets. We went on a quest to live our dreams before it was too late.

    Without that catalyst, I’m not sure if we would have found a way to get “unstuck.” In my prior role as a Financial Advisor, I saw both pre- and post-retirees who had plenty of money but were stuck in their comfort zones. We had seen what it was like to live with regrets and our vow helped us get through the marathon of the middle; the difficult trek between where you start and where you want to go.

    During our rehab of a century-old building located in a small town, we faced the uphill battle of staying within our budget while making our special place fun and attractive. Upcycling saved the day. We call it “loft living in the country!” We used a variety of old things to stay somewhat true to the steampunk era, including an industrial look but not too stark. We love it! If you’re curious, you can see at a bit of what we did on our About page: http://www.retirecrazygood.com/about/

    Like others, we had to transition from corporate America to doing what we love. Not easy but well worth the effort.

    All this came about because we began a quest to define what matters most, escape the comfort zone, solve the money problem, downsize our lifestyle, rehab a 1906 building, and enjoy life on Main Street in a small town.

    I’m so thankful for the multiple life experiences that helped us make this the adventure of a lifetime.

  31. Willem says:

    I have asked this question of myself many a times and thankfully have also many a times pushed those doubts aside, and still perused my interests. Great article!

  32. Don says:

    I’m 64. At age 58 when the economy was in recession, I started a new business. I also pulled out my bass guitar and sharpened up my skills at about the same time. And my gardening and cooking skills have improved measurably over the last few years. I’m thinking about culinary school and opening a restaurant. (I know, it’s a tough business.) As I look at retirement in a few years, my only question is, “What’s next?”

  33. Nora says:

    Thanks Neil, love the article!

    It’s all about attitude. To be young at heart and keep the connection alive with our curiosity, passion and the possibilities.

    Understanding what is not possible -starting a professional dancing career at 40 for example- is key, but finding ways to still enjoy dance and even dance every day, is very possible.

    In a similar way, dreaming big is alright even if it doesn’t seem very realistic at the time. Scaling the big idea down and starting small then grow organically is the way to go and it will take you to the big dream that we started (this is something Emilie helped me realized, thank you Emilie :)

    David Thoreau said: if you build castles in the air, your work needn’t to be lost; that where they should be. Now put the foundation under them.

    Happy dreaming everyone :)

  34. J O says:

    Thanks for the article.

    This quote,

    “Worse, we can’t escape the realization that every choice we make forces us to leave all other paths untaken.”,

    is the one thing on this whole website, and concept in general, that hits me the most.

    In general, I haven’t felt that this whole concept fit me, because it’s generally about people, who actually did accomplish something, and did make choices and committed to one or several paths.

    I could never stick with anything for very long, even though so many things do interest me, and you nailed the reason.

    For my whole life, I have been (and still am) in constant fear, of all the paths I exclude, by choosing something, and the fact that I can do other things at the same time, or move on to other things afterwards, doesn’t help. Every choice does require some of your time and commitment.

    (For me this doesn’t just apply to career/education, but also to hobbies, travels, clothes, everyday choices, friends, and even partners)

    Almost everything interests me, but nothing interests me enough to choose it before other things. I am a little good at everything, but not very good at anything. Pick almost any skill, and I can generally do it better than someone who doesn’t have that skill, but can’t compete with someone who does have that skill. I’m a little bit in every group, but not enough in any group to really be part of it.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I totally get this, J O. I’m very much the same. I think what’s helped me is reading some existential writings which grapple with these kinds of issues, about how all choices by necessity require us to let go of the other options, and working on accepting that. It is hard though, and it doesn’t come naturally – sounds like you can relate.

      I’m glad it resonated with you and I hope it helps you out in living your life :)

  35. Dan R says:

    I can kind of relate to what J O is saying. The “mental element” (not total regret), but the impact on your psyche when you choose one particular path over another. You don’t go there “100% psychologically”. It weighs on you.

    I think the other component J O is touching on is the following. If you are not havong a degree of success with a particular path you have chosen, it might begin to take some additional resources (money, time, energy). It can really wear you down.

    I believe I do fall in the Multi Potentialite category, but it can be extremely challenging if you don’t get your “mindset right” and have some degrees or levels of success.

    This whole “psychic energy” is an area that I believe is often ignored with a lot of the self-help, personal development, and real estate and financial building type of programs.

    We all have families and commitments along with they “type” of human beings we are. Being a multi-potentialite can really be challenging and we have to get our “mindsets right” as things will not always go our way. If we have chosen a couple paths, there could be some tough moments. If multiple areas of your life are not going well, it may be more challenging to a Multipotentialite.

  36. Kaci says:

    I always wanted to be a gymnast, cheerleader, and dancer, but wasn’t offered any of these opportunities growing up. When I became an adult I taught myself (thank you, internet!) how to dance and entered a few competitions when I was 39 and 40. Between obsessively watching elite gymnastics and watching my kid’s classes I learned how to coach gymnastics and started doing that at age 32, and through that experience I got involved in coaching cheer. It’s not the same as participating in the traditional sense but I at least got to be a part of the activities I always dreamed of doing. I don’t think it’s ever too late if you really want to do something. There’s always a way.

  37. It is never too late for me. Until now I’m still trying to make my dreams come true even if I’m already 30. I missed a lot of things during my childhood because of our family status such as traveling around the world, eating in different restaurants, singing, dancing, learning new language and more. After I graduated and start earning money, I slowly achieved my dreams. Even now, I still continue reaching my goals in life. For me, as long I’m still breathing, it is not to late to accomplish my dreams.

  38. sandip vishwakarma says:

    I am at my 22, I wonder all the things written in these articles relates to my life very much. I too develop new skills at almost every year or two. like ,recently I learnt to play table tennis at my college’s hostel and I have started dreaming of becoming a pro, not even a year i have started playing I have defeated almost everyone in my college. talking about my music career , I am veru gud at composing since childhood and I am thinking of releasing my album as I am also a good singer.currently I am a tech engineering student. nowadays very much anxious about table tennis career . Is it too late to pursue a sports career after learning it at 20s?

70 Comments Trackbacks For This Post

  1. To read - Beyond | Pearltrees
  2. Favorite links 3/5 - Prepare For Adventure