I've had many conversations with women about the things they wish they had done. And often they lament the fact that it’s too late now.
But when is it really too late to start something you’ve always wanted to do?
Writer and speaker Michael Hyatt offers a response in his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. He asks these questions: When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Today.
The same is true of our dreams. Maybe the best time to start was five or ten or twenty years ago, but the second best time to start is now. And really, as long as you’re still alive, it’s never too late to start.
I’ve written elsewhere about how my husband and I married at eighteen and had our first child when we were twenty. By the time I was thirty, we had three children, and I was pregnant with our fourth. I was busy homeschooling our children, teaching childbirth classes, and serving in music ministry with Mike at our church. In my mid-thirties I began thinking again about a longtime dream of going back to college (I had taken a few semesters of college classes in my early twenties). With my husband’s encouragement and support, I went back to school to get my bachelor of arts in political science. I still remember the day I walked across campus to attend my first classes. Looking at all those young people, I distinctly remember thinking, “What in the world am I doing here? I don’t belong. I’m too old to be a college student.” But with a pounding heart and shaking hands, I started anyway, and two years later (one month after the birth of our fifth child) I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I might have been one of the oldest students graduating that day, but my degree was just as good as those earned by those youngsters–and my husband and children celebrated the milestone with me!
As if that wasn’t enough, a few weeks later, I moved with my family from Nebraska to New York, where I started law school at age 35. This was something I’d dreamed of as a teenager, but life intervened and the dream got put aside for decades. Interestingly, I wasn’t the oldest student in my class. One of my classmates was in his late forties! Maybe because I’d waited so long for this opportunity, maybe because I’d lived in the real world before getting there, but I felt like my age actually was an advantage, both in law school and when I started my legal career at age 38.
I could point to any number of people I know who’ve started something new and challenging “later” in life–like my friend who married the summer after she graduated from high school and then many years later went back to school after she’d raised her children. She recently earned her master’s degree with her adult children and their children there to cheer her on. And there's my amazing husband, who just earned his master's in mechanical engineering this spring and started a brand new career–at age 52!
My point, of course, is that it’s never too late to start. If there’s a dream you’ve discarded because you think you’ve missed your chance, please think again. Pull that dream out of the trash, brush it off, and think for moment: what’s one little step you could take today (or tomorrow) to move in the direction of that dream.
What about you? Is there a dream you’ve set aside that maybe deserves a chance? What small step could you take toward making that dream a reality? Perhaps just the small step of saying it out loud? Feel free to share it in the comments below.
**Housekeeping note: I published an “extra” post last Friday, but due to a technical glitch it didn't go out to my subscribers. Bad news, because it included a giveaway of four great novels. If you haven't seen that post, be sure to check it out here (AFTER you leave your comments on this post below) and get your chance to receive a free copy of one of the novels I wrote about.