Age is just a number.
Some people would agree with this statement and others wouldn’t. This is the difference between a growth or a fixed mindset.
People with a growth mindset see it as just a number and don’t let their age or their current stage in life hold them back or define what they’re capable of. You get one life. There’s no re-doing it if you miss the opportunity to live it to the full.
Let me give you a scenario.
Michael and I were doing local book signings a few months back. We had one in a bookshop and our friend came in with her mum. They each bought a copy of our book to support us, and we had a little chat.
Michael and I were talking to her mum about the topics that we cover in the book and she said “I love what you guys are doing, but I’m too old to change”. My immediate response was, “you’re never too old!”
I think a lot of us use that as an excuse not to change what we’re doing or even give it further thought, that’s our automatic defence mechanism. It might make us uncomfortable, and it might be challenging because we’ve always done things a certain way.
Shifting the way we eat, live and think is a significant adjustment in our mental state, and some people are just not prepared to go there because it’s not a priority in their lives.
We may even use the excuse that we have more important things to think about or do. But honestly, what could be more important than saving and nurturing our planet and all living beings on it?
Which in return would give you a greater purpose in life and a more fulfilling outlook? It would also make you feel better and more deeply connected to yourself and all that’s around you.
After becoming vegan four years ago, Michael and I both wished we had done it sooner. But there’s no point in dwelling what could or should have been.
All we have within our grasp and control is what we do now and moving forward. Even if it were to happen when we were 50, we would be grateful that we came to the realisation no matter what age we were.
One habit change can be hard enough. But some, turn their whole life around. To emphasise the point of age not being a barrier, I’ve selected examples of a couple of people that have changed their habits and in the case of the first person, their whole life.
I’m not saying become a professional athlete at 60 or turn your life upside down, but see this as inspiration to give yourself permission to change your habits for the better at any age. Just because you’ve been doing something for a long time, doesn’t mean that you can’t change it.
These people have turned their lives around because they have a growth mindset.
We’ve been fans of Rich for a few years now. He’s a fellow vegan and an ultra-marathon runner that turned his life around at the age of 40. He was overweight, out of shape, an alcoholic and an attorney in the entertainment industry.
The day before his 40th birthday he made a promise to himself and his family that he would get in shape. So he adopted a vegan diet and started exercising.
His motivation came from being out of breath climbing stairs to get to his apartment, fearing he would suffer a heart attack.
Only six short months later, he entered into Ultraman and came 11th overall. That’s a pretty amazing effort for someone that felt like they were knocking on death’s door only months prior.
He has since completed many ultra-marathons, and in 2009, he was named one of Men’s Fitness magazine – 25 Fittest Men in the World.
“I think the important thing to bear in mind, that’s been incredibly helpful to me in many instances in my life, is to remember that mood follows action. I think it’s very easy to say I’ll get to that when I feel better or when I’m in the right mood, then I’ll do that, or when the universe aligns and everything is perfect, then I’ll dust off that dream, but it never happens. The action has to come first. You have to take the action before you know where it’s going to lead you without knowing the outcome and irrespective of your mind-set or how you feel at the time.” Source
Just shy of her 96th birthday, this grandma became vegan because she wanted to protect animals and get off her heart medication. This came after watching the documentary “What The Health” with her granddaughter.
She has been vegan for a year now and is loving it! Anne is a prime example of how age isn’t a barrier even when you’re close to hitting 100.
You can follow her story and inspiring spirit on her Instagram account.
Age is not a barrier, it’s a limitation
When it comes down to it, it’s all about the mindset that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. You can change it from a fixed to a growth mindset, it just requires more openness and patience.
Changing habits, which our friend Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits talks about a lot, requires attention and planning. Here’s a great article that helps break it down step-by-step. We’ve found his methods very helpful over the last few years.
Many of us put off change because we find it difficult and unattainable. But no one can shift their patterns and habits just by clicking their fingers.
When you have a strong enough why for the change, you will put in the work. This is why it’s so important to get the reason behind the change you wish to make.
In many cases, people create new habits because they want to be healthier and be a role model for others. But the older we get, the bigger the barrier for most. Why is that? Because you have been set in your ways for so long, you think that it’s impossible to shift that now?
If Anne can do it at 96, using age as an excuse just became obsolete.
On the other hand, some people create barriers for themselves because they feel like they are too young for others to take them seriously. I was one of them.
A decade ago, I used to think that I was too young to have my own photography business and charge clients thousands of dollars for my work because I was only 20. No one would pay me that kind of money.
This was my mentality. But once I shifted that and realised what I was producing and offering my clients was a quality service and product, that all changed.
See, I was the only one that was holding myself back. Age is just a number, and it took me a couple of years to realise that and feel comfortable and confident in myself.
You just have to switch on the TV or browse the internet and see what people of all ages are doing to realise that we can achieve anything we put our minds to. Habit change is exactly the same. If we want it enough, we will make it happen.
How to take action
When you feel like time isn’t on your side, and you feel trapped and lost, take a step back, look at all the possible options and write them down.
Do you want to continue living like this for the next 30, 40, 50 years? If the answer is no, then what will you do to change that?
Habits can also be created around career and what you’re doing for a living. So many people are in jobs they don’t like but also don’t give themselves the opportunity to try something different. Or they may have done studies for multiple industries and are still unsure.
There’s nothing wrong with continuing that curiosity. Don’t settle. Every experience will help to shape you to where you will eventually end up.
I believe everything happens for a reason, so what if you’ve done a Degree in Naturopathy and then chose to go and study Floristry to now not knowing where to go from here?
Give yourself the permission to continue without guilt until you find what you’re meant to be doing. Don’t settle for anything less than that. You only live once. Settling just for the sake of getting on with life is a big mistake.
Many people also have multiple careers in their lives. There’s no rule book to say that once you’ve picked something that brings you joy now, that you must be doing the same thing in 10 years time.
If you’re prepared to follow your gut and do things because they feel right, not because you were told to do it or it was the safe option, you’re on the right path.
Never let someone else tell you how to live out your life. You came into it alone, and you leave here alone. Take control and make it happen.
Now, I want to make it clear, I’m not saying for you to be irresponsible and tell everyone else to bugger off. But I want you to remember that you’re never too old to change your life and live the life that you deserve.