I’ve talked about this before, but being in graduate school and being constantly surrounded by hungry, eager 18-21 year olds has a funny way of making you feel inadequate if you’re a 30-something. Sometimes I’ll be sitting having lunch, surrounded by undergraduates, and I’ll feel so far from anything like success. This kind of thinking leads me into a tailspin where I start doubting my career choice, and wondering if it’s time to pursue something else. However, I recently realized that I spend a whole lot of time thinking about a dilemma” and not actually doing anything about it. Being a cerebral person, I often assume I can think my way to an answer. But as we learn in screenwriting 101, thinking is not an action. We would never pay money to watch a person ‘thinking’ on screen.
So I’ve been trying to implement not thinking so much about my career, and just trying to get moving. Have you heard the expression, “You can’t steer a parked car”? Well, there’s a lot of truth to that. If you feel lost, discouraged, or behind in your life or career, just take one single action in the direction you may want to go. And you’re bound to make some mistakes, but that’s part of the process.
And, never, ever believe it’s too late…There are so many people who achieved great success later in life. Here are some famous examples.
- Rodney Dangerfield didn’t succeed in comedy until his 40s. Before that, he sold aluminum siding!
- Ray Kroc was a milkshake salesman into his 50s until he founded McDonald’s at 52.
- Raymond Chandler, wrote his first novel at 52!
- Tim Zagat quit his job as a lawyer in order to create his namesake book of restaurant reviews when he was 51.
- Toni Morrison didn’t start writing until her mid-30s and her first novel was published when she was 39.
So, don’t ever let the notion of time get you down. Just shift your car out of parked and start driving.