I sit here trying to organize my thoughts so that I can have a productive day. By productive I don’t mean that the house is maintained, the laundry put away, and dinner taken care of; all these only make for a normal day. To have a productive day, I must write. It would be great to be able to complete a piece, but even a first draft is something.
There’s a digital sticky note on my screen that says ‘To Do.’ All six of the tasks are either directly related to writing (write a blog post, finish character interviews, do writing course) or are marketing related for my upcoming release. I try to get things done before my kids come home because once they get here, no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot work. Is it the fact that they demand too much attention, so I simply can’t concentrate? Is it that even if they aren’t demanding attention, we live in an apartment, so their playing is always too loud and too close for me to concentrate? I think it’s a combination of those factors. But the truth remains – once they get here, I don’t get anything done.
This fact started me to wonder how my life would have been different if I had chosen – like the majority of my high school and college friends – to focus on my career right out of college. If I had had the encouragement and discipline then to begin my writing career, where would I be today? Would my name be known? Would I have more than two books published? Most of my friends focused on their careers directly after college and are now in impressive, advanced positions. Some have married and started families, and their oldest children are in the range of seven to eight years old. I took a different path; my oldest is thirteen.
So, which is better? Which of the two paths leads to the highest level of success? Can someone who has surpassed thirty start at the bottom while their peers are all in managerial positions? At that age, will they have the necessary drive to prove themselves and fight to get ahead? Or will it become too overwhelming? And on the flip side, can a thirty-five year old woman have the same patience and energy to raise a child as a twenty-something year old? Is one path better for the overall happiness of a person?
I’ve come to this conclusion: none of those questions even matter. The truth is that if you want to succeed professionally and have a family life, you’ll find a way to do it. Life is about give and take, and this is a perfect example. Yes, it will be challenging to start raising kids at thirty-five or forty. But you know what? It’s challenging raising kids in your twenties, too. Yes, it will be challenging to realize suitable career opportunities and ambitions. But you know what? That remains true no matter what your age.
We build lives that best suit us. Sometimes we can prioritize and sometimes life has a way of screwing up our plans. Honestly, if I had continued with a career after graduating, it would not have been writing. Although it has been my dream ever since elementary school, I didn’t find the encouragement I needed from my folks to pursue writing as a career. I was enrolled in optometry school when my younger brother passed away suddenly, a tragedy that forced me and my parents to reevaluate the plans for my future. As I was already engaged at the time, we decided starting a family was more important than spending four extra years just to earn the title ‘doctor.’ Although I am sure my father wishes I had earned that title (and it saddens me that I have – at least on some level – disappointed him), I have never regretted that decision. And I’ll bet most of my friends who chose to begin their careers early on never regretted their decisions either.
The keys to achieving success and happiness have nothing to do with age. The keys to achieving success and happiness are accepting where we’ve been, embracing where we are, and acknowledging that goals have no expiration date. As long as we are blessed with life, whether we are twenty years old or one hundred, we must continue to dream new dreams, and strive to fulfill them.