Have you ever questioned whether or not a dream or goal has passed you by because of your age? More than likely you have just like so many other people. Guest writer Jim Bullock shares a story about discovering age being only a number when it comes to completing goals and following your dreams.
Why Are We So Hung Up On Time And Age?
We, Americans are so time conscience. We all start school at roughly the same age, progress through school, graduate, and go to college – all by roughly at the same age. We have to be married by a certain age, have kids by a certain age, and be at a certain point in our careers at a certain age. This strict adherence to a time line may have some positive effects but I believe that it also causes stress and undue burdens on our psyche; when we aren’t where we feel we should be at a certain age. I’m not aware of any other society that puts this much emphasis on age!
How I Learned That The Action Itself Is More Important Than The Time Of the Action
I had a rough start in my college career. Like everyone else, I fully expected to graduate by age 22, get my Navy Commission as an Ensign and spend the next 3 years on active duty. (I was in Naval ROTC) I wasn’t sure whether I would stay in the Navy longer or get out and pursue my love of automobiles and racing. One obstacle became painfully obvious in my first semester in college: I was not academically prepared for a curriculum in mechanical engineering! After 3 discouraging semesters, I was invited to leave school due to academic deficiency. My adolescent dreams of becoming an engineer and Naval Officer were gone. So was the time frame that I had set for myself.
I spent the next few years in the distractions of many young people who are forced to re-evaluate their lives and life’s work. The military draft was still in effect and the Vietnam War was raging. I decided rather than to wait around, get drafted and get shot at, I would go into the Navy. So I joined the Naval Reserve for 6 years and spent two of those on active duty at sea. That was a great investment of my time. After active duty, I was focused again and went to a small community college and got my Associate Degree in Applied Science.
That degree led me to a job in automotive engine development, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I got married, bought a home and began the American dream. In the back of my mind, I still wanted to get my Bachelor of Science degree even though I was making more money than many people with a B.S. I began to look around at the local colleges and for a curriculum that I may be interested in but decided I’m too old now. I was 32.
A New Way To View Time
I shared my desire to return to school and my concern about my age with a friend and co-worker at lunch one day. This co-worker, whom I will call “Who”, was an engineer, Army veteran and fellow gear head. He had just returned to school to get his Master’s Degree in Economics. “Who” listened to my lament then he said something that was so profound that it changed my outlook on time and age.
“Who” said, “ Look at it this way, you’re 32 now and you said you will be 35 when you get your B.S.” I said, “Yes, that’s right”. “Who” said, “Well, if you live, you are going to be 35 in 3 years anyway! Would it be better to be 35 with your degree or without it?” Wow, I hadn’t looked at it that way! So I returned to school and got my B.S. in Engineering Technology at the young age 35.
Set New Goals
I’ve been considering getting a Master’s Degree for several years now. Why not? I am 64 now and I will be 66 or 67 by the time I get my degree. If I live, I will be 67 in 3 years anyway! May as well be 67 with a Master’s Degree than without it!
The next time you want to achieve something and that old nagging American malady of “I’m too old” creeps into your mind, remember the wisdom of “Who”: “You may as well go after your goal now because you are going to get older whether you have achieved it or not!”