“It’s never too late to become what you might have been.” – George Eliot
Many people miss many opportunities in life because they didn’t know the answer or take steps to change their future. Meet Angela Thompson. One of the biggest mistakes she feels she ever made was turning down a full grant to attend college. Years later, she had a similar opportunity to teach at a local business school. One of the perks was attending classes for free, and she again turned it down. She had been given a second chance to make up for the biggest mistake of her life, and she didn’t take it. She was full of self-doubt and lacked confidence, but also something bigger, her biggest fear was failure.
Does this sound familiar? Have you ever been presented with that golden opportunity that you knew you wanted, but didn’t take? What stopped you? Who were you afraid of letting down – your family or yourself?
It wasn’t until Angela Thompson turned 50 that she discovered something. She wasn’t afraid of failure, she was afraid of success. She got so used to the status quo, that she didn’t know what she would do if she actually did succeed. How would her life change? Was she ready for it? Would she know what to do? She knew how to struggle, but if she reached success could she pull that off? Could she become a leader or would people see through her and realize she was a fake? She didn’t know, but she suddenly knew she had to try.
More than half her life was over and she hadn’t really accomplished anything. She was no further ahead than when she graduated. Her life had turned out nothing like she planned. She felt like she had been sleepwalking through it with no idea of where she was headed or why. It was a major turning point for her. She finally discovered the person she was meant to be. She stopped worrying about what others thought or how they perceived her. It was what she thought that mattered. She had dreams and goals and she was determined to achieve them. She knew if her life was going to change, then she had to do it. If it’s to be, then it’s up to me, became her mantra.
Life took on new meaning. She decided that fear would no longer keep her from experiencing joy in her life. She didn’t want to just exist. She wanted a life filled with passion, happiness, success, and freedom. She wanted to try things she had never done before. She wanted to have fun!
She had an opportunity to test this when her daughter took her out for dinner at a little pub. Angela’s daughter asked if she had ever played pool before. Angela told her no and she had no intention of starting now. Angela’s daughter knew her fear of being in front of people and trying new things. Then Angela remembered the promise she made to herself. Angela would not let fear hold her back anymore. Feeling very subconscious, she walked to the pool table and let her daughter proceed to teach her how to play. She even let their waiter give her some pointers. And the most amazing thing happened. Angela beat her daughter at the first two games. Angela felt like she had hit the lottery. It wasn’t because she had won, but because she had stepped out of her comfort zone and tried. She had also taught her daughter a valuable life lesson – “It’s never too late to become what you might have been.” ~~ George Eliot
This new confidence inspired her to do something else she wouldn’t have attempted before. She attended a convention by herself, where she knew she wouldn’t know anyone. A little hesitant, she walked into the room, sat down and started a conversation with the person next to her. Later that evening, she introduced herself to a girl that was standing alone and they spent the rest of that evening and most of the convention together. She found herself approaching more people and starting conversations. Her fears of being rejected were unfounded. People responded to her openness and honesty and she made new friends in the process. She was so excited. Each time she stepped out of her comfort zone, her confidence increased.
She became aware of how her thoughts and words, whether positive or negative, have on our lives when heard over and over again. They have the power to shape the person we become. Just like a song you’ve heard and can’t get out of your mind for days after, negative thoughts can affect us the same way.
Studies show what you focus on most, you’ll move towards. If you focus on all the negatives in your life, then you’ll attract more of the same. These thoughts eventually become habit. You start to believe them and your life becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy. That’s why affirmations are so powerful. They work the same way. Focus on positive thoughts and you’ll get positive results. People are attracted to those that believe in themselves.
Here is a relevant quote to illustrate the point:
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
~~ Frank Outlaw
Decide now what it is you want. Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 or 20 years if you continue doing the same things? When presented with an opportunity or a challenge, ask yourself some questions. What will happen if I don’t take any action? What will the outcome be? Well, most likely, nothing will change. You’ll stay stuck in your job, struggle to pay your bills, or live in fear. Now, ask yourself what will happen if you take that risk? You could find a job you love, be earning more money, or have more time with your family. Which of these scenarios appeals to you most? You have a choice. What actions you take or don’t take next will determine the course of your future.
Deciding what you want is your first step. Once you know that, make a plan and know your WHY. Without having a clear focus as to what you want to achieve, it will just be a wish. Next, visualize it. See it, feel it, as though you have already achieved it. Visualization is very powerful. If you see it and believe it, your mind will find a way to make it happen. Now, put your thoughts into action.
There is more I want to learn and experience and I’m ready for the challenge. I hope you are too. There’s a saying, “the journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.” Are you ready to take it? If not, what’s holding you back?
(Angela Thompson has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. She has owned a cleaning company, been a Realtor and has been involved in several home-based businesses. She and her daughter are currently independent distributors for Mia Bella Gourmet Candles. Her desire is to help people realize their potential and fulfill their goals.)