"It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot, English novelist (1819 - 1880)
Recently, as I sat at a restaurant with friends, eating dinner, I was approached by a woman who had recognized me from a recent TV appearance. She was extremely overweight, and I felt waves of sadness coming from her. She said, "Charles, I have tried everything and failed. I see you help so many people and I need you to help me!" I reminded her of her own personal power to change and she went right to what she considered the cause of her problems, saying, "I'm too old. It's been too long since I've been healthy. I've tried so many different things and I think there's something medically wrong with me. I just can't change!" She was right, there was something seriously wrong. And it wasn't anything medical. It was her mindset! She was defeated before she even tried because she already created an entire list of ways to justify not giving it her all!
When you think of a way you want to succeed, whether that is losing weight, getting organized or starting a new business, you may find yourself saying something similar to what that woman said to me -- whether you are 15 or 85. We all get stuck in our own ruts, we all have terribly challenging events thrown at us -- sometimes when we least expect it -- and we all have habits that can seem like they're impossible to break. The truth, however, is that they are just habits! It can feel like you've tried to improve your life so many times you just can't believe it could work. It's easy to look back over years of wishing, and perhaps some action, and come to that conclusion. In reality, you've simply conditioned yourself to do the same things over and over. It's said the average person has 60,000 thoughts a day. The problem is, 99 percent of people have the same thoughts they had yesterday, and thereby produce the same results!
Age does not dictate success, or lack thereof. It's not your age, it's psychology that will determine the quality of your life! Why are you spending time thinking "I should have ..." when you can make change happen instantly by focusing your mind on action? My dear friend and mentor, Tony Robbins, once said that there are just two pains in life -- the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Right now you undoubtedly wish you had truly put yourself on the journey to success a year ago. Isn't that true? And one year, five years, 10 years from now you will wish you'd done it today. So do it today! It doesn't matter that you did not achieve your desire in the past; the past cannot be changed, but it can be reinterpreted! You can decide your future right this second by looking at your past as a gift that has brought you to this very moment, finding this particular blog and opportunity for transformation. Don't you want to live your life becoming the person you've dreamed of being, the person you deserve to be? If so, then don't settle for less than you can be. Don't so freely accept the opinions of negative people around you. Do your homework! There is always a way when you're committed to something -- always.
Many in our culture have fallen victim to the hypnosis of blindly following others without thinking for themselves. They pass their decision-making to others and therefore are following a blueprint they never designed. It's like saying you want to take a vacation and asking a person with totally different interests from yours to plan your itinerary! When you accept responsibility for your life then you will experience the enjoyment found by mustering the energy to map it out and go for it. The difference between those who succeed and those who don't isn't a matter of ability -- our potential is never the question -- it's a matter of choices.
Ernestine Shepherd, 75, was seen by millions earlier this year when a photograph of her smiling after completing a marathon went viral. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Ernestine is the world's oldest competitive bodybuilder, but she doesn't look like you might imagine a bodybuilder to look; she just looks incredible. She gets up very early in the morning to meditate and run, she teaches classes at her gym and, of course, trains with weights. At 75, she could easily pass for 55, and a pretty darn good-looking 55 at that. It would be easy to tell yourself that she must have been fit all her life, but the reality is she didn't start until she was well into her 50s, when she and her sister decided they didn't like the way they looked. She didn't look around and ask permission to go for what she wanted. If she had, she'd likely have been stopped before ever lifting a dumbbell. She found it in herself to be persistent, to see herself as she could be when no one else could, and now she's living that vision. Our bodies and health are a printout of our thinking -- of what's going on in our heads -- so change the inside and you'll find your outside will follow!
When Father Ted Vitali first came to see me many years ago, he was 70 years old and weighed 244 pounds. Suffering from high blood pressure and years of yo-yo dieting, he could easily have decided it was too late for him to live a life of health, fitness and vitality. After all, he was 70! He could have resigned himself to the blood pressure medication his doctor had prescribed, he could have accepted the persistent ache he felt in his knees and legs, he could have said that more lay behind him than in front of him. But he didn't. Instead, he chose to become the person he wanted to be. He got charged up by the possibilities he saw in other people I'd helped and he started to create a vision in his mind of what his success would be -- how he would feel, how he would look, the new energy he'd experience. He chose to take control of his health with my coaching, changing his eating and exercise habits to lose his excess fat. He lost an amazing 70 pounds in under a year (and lost more since!) -- and even more exciting was that his doctor was able to eliminate his blood pressure medication. The aches and pains he had thought were chronic disappeared, and he now does 100 sit-ups every morning along with 45 minutes on a stationary bike -- at 3:00 a.m.! He teaches full-time at a university and says he is stronger and healthier than he was in his 20s!
Stories abound about people who started later in life and achieved dramatic success. As much as I despise fast food, Colonel Sanders didn't start his fast-food chain and become a financial success until he was 65. Laura Ingalls Wilder's first Little House on the Prairie book was published when she was 65. Grandma Moses, famously, did not start painting until she was in her 70s. Some people might ask why bother? I ask you, why not bother? Grandma Moses lived to be 101. She had 25 years as a successful artist -- a full career, which started when she was 76 years old! While J.K. Rowling was not older when she wrote the Harry Potter series, she did so despite the death of her mother -- her biggest supporter -- and the fact she had been turned down many times over by major publishers who "knew" what people liked. Had she listened to them, she would not have written the biggest-selling series the world has ever known.
We often make choices in our youth that end up bringing us to a place we don't want to be, like quitting school or going into a field of work we dislike but our family expects us to enter. Sometimes those choices are made for us, like when our parents fed us junk food and kept us inside playing instead of getting exercise. We accept where these bad choices brought us because we don't want to expend the effort to explore other avenues or risk the pain of disappointment, but I ask you, what's more painful: realizing that something isn't right and changing it now, or being 95 years old reflecting on how you never really put yourself out there and went after your dreams because of fear?
Whatever choices or chances have brought you to the place you are that you're unhappy with right now do not matter. The only thing you have now is now. Decide where you want to be, such as 75 pounds lighter. Decide what you need to do to get there, in this case, following a healthy diet and exercise program like the one I recommend in my book, Think and Grow Thin. And then take those first, second and third steps in the direction that lead you to your goal. It's never too late and you'll get there, one step at a time!
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