A phenomenal Quora thread/answer came across my Twitter feed* the other day.
The original question…
I am turning 27, and feel I have wasted a lot of time. Is it too late?
Nearly every ‘life’ conversation I’ve had with 20-something year old friends recently has turned to the topic of work and careers
However, this isn’t a post on the millennial generation.
I can say, without diving too deeply into generational observations and stereotypes, that many of my friends have ‘the next step’ on their minds.
These are friends who have worked 1 to 2 jobs, for 1 to 5 years post-graduation.
They have different appetites for risk.
They all want to do something important, something that makes them happy.
But they all have hesitations.
This answer does a perfect job of responding to those who are hesitant to jump to the next project, venture, or position.
I wanted to cherry pick a few great lines, but I think the post as a whole deserves a read.
Pay attention to the last three paragraphs on sunk costs. The words couldn’t be more spot on:
Too late for what?
If you slept through your 26th birthday, it’s too late for you to experience it. It’s too late for you to watch “LOST” in its premiere broadcast. (Though, honestly, you didn’t miss much.) It’s too late for you to fight in the Vietnam War. It’s too late for you to go through puberty or attend nursery school. It’s too late for you to learn a second language as proficiently as a native speaker. It’s probably too late for you to be breastfed.
It’s not too late for you to fall in love.
It’s not too late for you to have kids.
It’s not too late for you to embark on an exciting career or series of careers.
It’s not too late for you to read the complete works of Shakespeare; learn how to program computers; learn to dance; travel around the world; go to therapy; become an accomplished cook; sky dive; develop an appreciation for jazz; write a novel; get an advanced degree; save for your old age; read “In Search of Lost Time”; become a Christian, then an atheist, then a Scientologist; break a few bones; learn how to fix a toilet; develop a six-pack …
Honestly, I’m 47, and I’ll say this to you, whippersnapper: you’re a fucking kid, so get over yourself. I’m a fucking kid, too. I’m almost twice your age, and I’m just getting started! My dad is in his 80s, and he wrote two books last year.
You don’t get to use age as an excuse. Get off your ass!
Also, learn about what economists call “sunk costs.” If I give someone $100 on Monday, and he spends $50 on candy, he’ll probably regret that purchase on Tuesday. In a way, he’ll still think of himself as a guy with $100 — half of which is wasted.
What he really is is a guy with $50, just as he would be if I’d handed him a fifty-dollar bill. A sunk cost from yesterday should not be part of today’s equation. What he should be thinking is this: “What should I do with my $50?”
What you are isn’t a person who has wasted 27 years. You are a person who has X number of years ahead of you. What are you going to do with them?
The past is important. Lessons learned propel us forward.
Nothing is more important than the relationships we’ve made.
But the future is a blank slate.
What will you do with it?