How to Stop Feeling Behind in Life [Practical Exercises]
Have you ever felt behind in life? As though it’s already too late?
Too late to start that business. Too late to change up your career. Too late to have a family. Too late to build your dream home. Too late to chase that adventure.
It feels like life’s moving past you, on a timeline that’s slipping further away whilst you’re just trying to hold on.
I used to feel like that every January.
Behind the scenes: this is why I felt behind in life
Every January, I’d sit down and create an endless list of goals for the year. There’d be wishlists, new years resolutions and plans galore.
And then January would come and go, and I’d feel like I hadn’t achieved anything. So I’d check social media to see what the rest of the world was up to, and that’s when the comparison started.
I’d feel even more behind. It felt like everyone was out there, smashing their goals. And we were still in the first month of the year! I couldn’t help but ask myself “am I doing it wrong?”.
Here’s the thing: their timeline is not my timeline. And it’s not yours either.
When you feel behind in life, create your own timeline
We’re socially conditioned to want the things that the rest of society wants too. We follow the same upbringing, same education and are set up to pursue the same things.
But a good life doesn’t work like that. It’s not about following a set path. It’s about defining success on your own terms.
How does success feel to you?
It’s time to create your own version of success. Which means looking internally, not externally.
What does a successful life look and feel like to you? What needs to be included in a life you’ll love?
Create your own measures of success
Success is traditionally measured in material things. The bank balance, the fancy house, the luxury vacations. But your feelings, life-work balance, family life and emotions need considering too.
How can you create your own scale for success? What measurement can you use to decide how “well” you’re doing in life?
Reminder: it’s never too late to start
All those 30 Under 30 lists have us thinking that if we’re over 30, that’s it. We’re stuck. And nothing’s going to change.
Well, a quick search of the internet will show you otherwise. Some of the world’s most famous success stories are from people who started chasing their dreams later in life.
They pivoted, changed career paths, picked themselves up after countless setbacks and then finally made it.
It’s never too late.
Fashion designer Vera Wang started life as a figure skater and journalist, before getting started with fashion at the age of 40. She’s now a leader in the luxury space.
Julia Child worked in advertising before writing her first cookbook at age 50. She’s now a household name across the world.
Eric Yuan only created Zoom at the age of 41, after a career in the tech industry. He left to launch his new business in 2011. He’s now a billionaire.
Author Toni Morrison wrote her first novel when she was 40, whilst working as an editor. She won the Pulitzer Prize when she was 56 and the Nobel Prize in Literature when she was 62.
So repeat after me: it’s never too late.
This is how you finally harness the power of goal setting
It’s time to fulfil your potential
Feeling behind can be a good thing (if you let it)
When you make a change later in life, you’ve got so much more at your disposal to help you grow.
You know what you want (rather than chasing what society asked you to). You’ve got life experience to help you succeed (and bypass unnecessary mistakes). You’ve usually got more resources to help you out. And you can be more mindful, as you chase a dream that really means something to you.
This is why age diversity is a good thing.
“And a 50-year-old founder is approximately twice as likely to experience a successful exit, meaning the startup is acquired or goes public, compared with a founder at age 30.”Business Insider
Practical exercises to stop you from feeling behind in life
Conduct a life audit
Take a deep dive into what’s making you feel behind with a life audit. Ask yourself “what do I actually want?”. And then consider what changes need to be made to get you there.
Tools like the Wheel of Life (which you’ll find inside Confusion to Confidence: The Life Audit) can help you decipher which areas are most important in your ideal life. You’ll then be able to measure how well you’re doing in each life area, whilst highlighting which key areas need a little extra attention.
Create a Sunshine Folder
We always focus on how far we have left to go. But when was the last time you looked back at how far you’ve already come?
That’s where your Sunshine Folder comes in. Every achievement, every piece of positive feedback, and every proud moment (no matter how big or small) needs to go into your Sunshine Folder. You’ll soon realise just how far you’ve already come.
Uncover your values (and use them to set your goals)
When you know your life values, you can use them to guide you. You’ll learn what really matters to you in life, what you value and how you can use those values to guide your decisions.
Goal setting suddenly becomes a whole lot easier. As you focus your values on a new purposeful direction. The result? Powerful goals that’ll help you create the life you want.
So take some time to reflect on what values you hold dear. What are the key ingredients of a good life for you?
Now, it’s over to you
Remember this, there’s no rush. It’s never too late. There’s always a way to get to what you want, and the first step is figuring out what that thing is.
We live in a world where everything is instant. But success isn’t. Even “overnight success stories” have been working hard behind the scenes for years.
You can’t see what’s going on underneath the surface. So focus on yourself, what you want and what you can control.
Don’t worry about everybody else.