There are plenty of excuses that show up throughout our lives and threaten to keep us from doing and accomplishing all of the amazing things we wish we could. But when we reach “a certain age,” we begin telling ourselves I’m too old to do the things or create the changes we really want in our lives.
Maybe we feel that way because we see others our age allowing their ambitions to fade. They’re looking back, thinking about what might have been, and settling for the idea that there were things that just weren’t meant to happen in their lives. They’re winding down and strolling slowly toward the exit.
But the truth is, we have a lot of time left! And so much more knowledge and wisdom and life experience on which to build anything we want, and do anything we please! It’s also likely that we have more resources to invest in our dreams than we’ve ever had before. We have the potential to make this an amazing time in our lives.
So what’s with the “I’m too old” excuse? And what might be hiding behind it?
The “I’m too old” excuse is a clever disguise for doubt, which keeps us stuck. It prevents us from taking risks and doing things that we really can do. We use doubt as a shield to protect ourselves from fear and failure ahead of time.
What that means is, if you doubt you can make a big change in your life —like going after a big promotion — because of your age that doubt might keep you from applying. And if you let your doubt convince you that you shouldn’t go for it, you won’t have to face the fear of putting yourself out there. Or the possibility of failing to get the job.
The “I’m too old” excuse is also a way to avoid the discomfort of risk or change. But our ability to take risks or make changes in our lives is directly proportionate to our willingness to be uncomfortable. When we stick with what’s familiar, even if it’s unfulfilling, that keeps us comfortable. But it also keeps us languishing in an I-wish-I-could life.
It might not be easy, but discomfort is required if we’re going to make changes in our lives. We have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. With doing things we’re afraid to do, don’t want to do or that take some sacrifices. That’s how we learn and grow — even if we fail.
When we use the “I’m too old” excuse, often “I don’t know” is hiding right behind it. And “I don’t know” is a sneaky little sentence. Because when we say we don’t know, we don’t even give ourselves the chance to figure out whatever it is we claim we don’t know.
When you say you don’t know, you block your intuition and your intelligence. You’ve had plenty of life experience. You’ve accomplished a lot. You have a lot of knowledge, a lot of resources and a lot of wisdom to tap into. But saying “I don’t know” keeps you from having to figure things out and take action.
And “I don’t know” has relatives! “I don’t know what to do” is often followed by “because…” and other excuses. It turns into a vicious cycle that keeps coming back to “I don’t know.” For instance: “I don’t know what to do because I’m too old and way behind on technology,” or “I don’t know where to start.” And with that, you don’t! Flip the script and ask yourself what if I did know? What if I had done this before? What if I was open to figuring it out?
The “I’m too old” excuse allows us to procrastinate (arguably forever!) because we’re feeling afraid, or lazy or overwhelmed. Procrastination is so tempting because, when we put something off, we get an immediate sense of relief. We think awesome, I don’t have to exercise right now. But then we spend enormous amounts of energy beating ourselves up, and worrying about or dreading actually still having to do (or wanting to do) the thing that we didn’t.
Procrastination can cause us to miss out on so many opportunities in our lives. But more significant in the long term, is that we lose trust and confidence in ourselves. Over time, this causes us to believe that we can’t be counted on to accomplish what we set out to do, which leads straight back to the “I’m too old” excuse.
It’s important to avoid the “I’m too old” excuse because our brains believe whatever stories we tell them. Then they go to work finding and creating evidence that those stories are true. Yes, our excuses can become self-fulfilling prophecies! And if we keep telling our brains we’re too old to take risks or make changes, then we’re shutting the door on so many amazing opportunities in our lives.
So tell your brain a new story: “I’m the perfect age to succeed at whatever I choose to do,” and start making the rest of your life the best of your life!