There is No Timeline
Has there ever been a point in your life where you have thought, “this is not how it was supposed to be?” Have you ever sat down and cataloged your life and realized that not everything has gone according to your plan?
Maybe you are older than you thought you would be when you started your dream job, or got married, or bought a house; and none of those things have happened yet? Maybe by now you thought you would have traveled more of the world or paid off more of your student loans?
How do those thoughts make you feel, and better yet where do they come from?
Today is my golden birthday. You know, the one where you turn the same age as the date you were born? I know this concept is a little flawed if you were born on the early days of the month, but the story goes that your golden birthday is supposed to be one of your best. I have even heard it said that your golden birthday is actually mean to be a “golden year” of good things.
I’ve missed some milestones.
For whatever reason this golden birthday really got me thinking about my life thus far and what lies ahead. I think it is really easy here to dwell on what I haven’t done in my first twenty-some years of life, that I had thought I would.
Here’s an example: when I started this blog I was blinded by all the young men and women out there making full-time incomes on what really seemed like a sweet hobby. Women my age who had quit their jobs bought a mac and were working from their bed in their PJs with flexible hours and incredible wealth. I was intrigued.
And I thought, why not? I can cook. I can bake. I can write. So I started this little blog. And it has been a lot of fun. And a lot of work. And a lot of learning. And I am so dang proud of all of that, but let me tell ya it’s not earning me a full-time income. I still have to put pants on and go to work weekday mornings.
This is a timeline milestone that I have missed. The success has not come as soon as I thought it would. In fact, success has not come as quickly as it has for other bloggers, which can be a difficult pill to swallow.
Here’s another example: ever since I was a little kid I have wanted to be a published author. One year for my birthday my parents gave me these sweet little homemade blank “books.” They had construction paper covers and blank lined pages and were meant to hold whatever stories I could dream up. I spent hours filling those, and many other notebooks with story ideas.
In high school I told myself I should have a book at least written by the time I was 25. Whelp. That milestone was missed yesterday.
(I have shifted that dream/goal to have a book written and published by 35, so check back with me in nine years.)
Goals are good.
I think having life goals are great. I think having these checkpoints in our minds or written in journals are great tools for keeping us motivated. But I also think it is incredibly important to recognize there are things in life that happen outside of our control.
We don’t have complete control over when some things happen, like a blog gains traction, or someone proposes, or someone chooses to hire us for our dream job. Yes there are actionable steps we can take to make it easier for those things to happen, but at some point we have to accept that much of life’s events our outside our control.
Don’t let your goals, or the lack of reaching them stifle your dreams, or hinder your gratitude for life.
There is no timeline
I don’t know where we picked up this concept that we have to do certain things by a certain age of life. But that is simply not true. THERE IS NO TIMELINE for the ideal life. (I put that in caps because I need the reminder as much as anyone else does). This follows pretty closely to my post back in March about My Hypothesis on Happiness, basically, we have to stop comparing our lives to others’.
I have friends older than me who still live at home with their parents. I have friends younger than me who have a house and multiple children. I have friends still in school, and friends making salaries twice mine. Friends who have paid off their student loans, and those who have just started chipping away at the debt load. Friends who recognize their life’s call and are working it out, and those still figuring out what to do for dinner tonight.
And you want to know the complete truth? At different moments and in different ways I am all of these people at once. In some areas I have met my goals quicker than I ever thought possible. For example, the job I currently work I thought would take me 10 years out of college to get….it took me two. Yet in other areas (like the ones I listed earlier) things have not happened as quickly as I thought they would.
That is okay. There is not a perfect ruler out there with ideal dates with which to measure the fullness or success of our lives.
Progress is perfection.
I think what matters more than accomplishing our goals or reaching milestones in our lives by a certain age, is that we work toward the goals we can make happen and find peace in the waiting.
Today is my golden birthday, and this is my golden year. I will meet some of the goals I have set for myself this year, and some stuff I want to happen, won’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that my life is good, and blessed, exactly how it is supposed to be.
My race is my own, and yours is yours. There is no timeline. There is no perfect age, perfect life, or perfect person. I hope that you will take a moment to think about where you are trying to make yourself measure up, and instead celebrate some the things that cannot be measured: happiness, peace, joy, humility, and love.