Rodolfo Barreto

Don’t Let A Timeline Define Your Success—You Have All The Time In The World

Growing older means abandoning those strict timelines you have implemented along the way. Your future is not and will not be merely defined by lists or goals you made decades ago. Remember that you should not be afraid of getting older because you can succeed and achieve whatever you set your sights on at any stage. While we all have a desire to feel accomplished early on, we should break away from wanting instant gratification because hard work can take years. To get where we want, we must be extremely patient. Comparing ourselves, seeking success quickly, and not appreciating the present will only have a negative impact on our mental health. Understanding that we should not feel restrained or limited by our age or our past actions will allow us to feel much happier in the long run. Appreciating that getting older can only open doors, not close them, and understanding that success can be achieved with patience and when the moment is right.

Before turning 30, my obsession with achievement clouded my judgment and caused me to fall into bouts of depression when I did not feel accomplished. I would hear critiques from people, asking why I had not finished graduate school yet or comparing me to others. Thankfully, I did everything at my own pace. You can easily plan for a career path and life might bring you some surprises that can push you to switch goals. These detours can be temporary and will serve to refine those plans and aspirations to achieve your dream destination. If you failed the first time, try again. There is always something greater for everyone, and limiting ourselves with deadlines will only contribute to feeling trapped. Think outside the box. If you have not achieved your goals in the present, that just means it could become easier in the future. It all comes down to persistence and faith. Focus on the things that make you happy and through that happiness you can even uncover what you are truly passionate about and see a new path emerge that can bridge you closer to your dream.

Learn to be more in the present and don’t fear the future. I foolishly questioned the outcome of my successes based on the goals I had set for myself decades ago. As I noticed that my list was not even close to completed, it really took a toll on how I perceived success and my own self-worth. But I have learned that I should never limit myself to a checklist because I have time to achieve my dreams. I feel confident as I look forward. By removing the age factor and viewing the future differently, it freed up my stagnant way of thinking and unleashed a world of new possibilities. A pivotal moment for me was in 2019, when I met a woman who was in her mid-60s. She knew I was working on my masters and asked if I was considering a doctorate. The thought of going back to school had not crossed my mind because I thought I was too old. This woman shared how she had finished her degree at 61. She had prioritized being a mother, so it took her nearly 30 years to finish. Hearing her story was motivational and showed how much I was holding myself back by not thinking ahead and visualizing a future of possibilities. It was a powerful realization; that I could do anything, and my past goals were not going to hold me back. It’s never too late to start.

Experience has allowed me to change my thought process from “maybe I can” and evolved into “I will.” My goal would not be defined by a specific time or age, but I was aware I’d work on it in the future. Graduating from my master’s program made me understand that imposing limits on myself is useless. My original plan was to finish my master’s at 25, but I did it in my early 30s. We can do whatever, whenever at any age, so don’t worry if things aren’t going as planned in the present. It can all change.

Enlightenment comes from facing challenges and overcoming tougher chapters in our lives. What I used to view as “failures” from the past are successes for me now. These are moments of empowerment that have contributed to the many great qualities that have shaped me into who I am. They have also taught me to value and pursue my dreams ferociously without fear. Understanding that we are not defined by our achievements was imperative to move forward, and I am appreciative of the lessons learned and will continue to apply them in the future. There is always time to continue building and creating goals and I refuse to ever limit my vision. Life begins whenever we want it to begin, and our biggest journey is well on its way. Age is just a number, so we should not limit ourselves because of what others say or declare defeat if we have not reached that milestone we had planned a year or a decade ago. The past has allowed me to evolve, learn, and think differently about the present. Meanwhile, the future seems wild, new, and unpredictable. I am excited to see what it will offer because I know I have more opportunities and chapters to make my dreams a reality.