Don’t Lose You
Earlier this month I woke up and realized I had just turned 45. Holy crap, how did that happen? Hell, when did that happen?
I still feel like I’m in my twenties.
According to my wife I still act like I’ve got the maturity of a teenager. My kids don’t treat me as if I am 45. I look in the mirror and aside from a few emerging gray hairs, I don’t feel like I’m looking like I’m 45.
Not that 45 is bad. It’s just not where I ever expected to be at this stage of my life. The kid in mean still thinks, damn that’s old. Clearly it’s not.
But the reality is I am what the calendar says I am right? But age is just a number and though the numbers don’t lie, they don’t always tell the whole story either.
I look back in the youthful version of myself and still remember that burning desire to make something of myself – to prove myself as an entrepreneur and one day to be viewed as a business bad ass. I had so many lofty goals that I was going to really make my individual mark on the world. People were going to know my name and I would build an empire that people would envy and admire. Ahh youthful ambition and lofty goals, they sort of make me smile now.
I had lunch with a good friend of mine a few weeks back that was already talking about retirement. Every day of his life now seems to revolve around this next pivotal life’s goal. Twenty years ago it was just to survive. Make enough money to support the wife, have some kids, buy a nice house, make a little extra dough to enjoy some of life’s pleasures like traveling and driving nicer cars. Everything revolved around acquiring more and more of whatever we could achieve and buy and that seemed to consume my every waking thought.
Now at the age of 45 I look back and realize how empty that way of thinking was. Sure I look around now and I have a few of those thing. I’ve done alright for myself but I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination. I haven’t set the world quite on fire like I thought I might. Inc. Magazine hasn’t called even once to put me on the cover of their magazine. But I’m happy. I’m happy living my life, doing my thing and though I may never achieve all the crazy ambitious things I once had hoped for myself, I’ve done alright. I have a wife that loves me. I have two amazing boys. I have a few incredible companies that afford me the flexibility of living a true entrepreneur’s lifestyle. And I get the opportunity to share this thing I call The Ripple Effect with people like you all over the world.
My friend, who is just a few years older than me, has enjoyed much more financial success than me. Has achieved far greater success financially than I probably ever will. He has achieved most of the lofty career goals and ambitions he set for himself early in his career and yet somehow, as we talked about where we both are and what’s next, I sensed a bit of sadness in him. His life isn’t happy. His life isn’t really all that successful in the grand scheme of things. He is ambitiously tired, morally bankrupt and generally an uninspired shell of his former self. His only goal in life now is to make enough money to retire early and perhaps then his “real life” can begin.
That was a wake-up call for me. Are we working our asses off with the hope we can “someday” live the life we really want to have? That seems like a big waste of time if you ask me.
I’m 45 years old and if all that I have to look forward to in life is my next great personal milestone, retirement, then wow that sucks. That really sucks.
I realize the fire that I had burning 25 years ago in the pit of my stomach still burns. It’s flame flickers from time to time but I still have the same creative and youthful outlook on life that I did back then. I still want to achieve great things. I still want to build great companies and leave big marks on this world. I don’t think I’ll be the next Mark Cuban or Richard Branson but that’s okay. I am the only version of this Steve Harper and at 45 I’m pretty alright with that.
I want to avoid the ho hum of punching the clock and letting life just consuming me like it seems to consume so many people. My friend included.
Why do we feel the need to give up ourselves now in hopes of earning our real lives later?
I refuse to accept that. To let the fire die out and my passion for building, creating and making shit happen ever peter out. I outright refuse to do it whether I am 45 or 75. It ain’t gonna happen to this guy.
I have no idea where you are in your own journey but the best advice I can give you at this point in mine is don’t lose yourself. Don’t lose you. Stand up and fight. Don’t let life just happen or it will and it probably won’t turn out the way it should have been.
I woke up and realized I am 45 and my life begins now. There’s big stuff I still need to do. I’m a long ways from being finished.
What about you?