Another year has gone by. I would say I’m another year older, but I don’t feel like I am. In fact, my brain still thinks I’m 15 years old. My body issues sharp reminders on an hourly basis that I’m not.
Time is relative. Or maybe the perception of time is relative. I remember as a kid hearing adults talk about how fast time goes by and thinking “Sure. Right.” Now I pass for an adult (yeah, I’m as surprised as the next person) and I have to tell you… the weeks, months, and years FLY by. I strongly suspect the Earth is spinning faster.
A coaching client who is maybe a few years older than I am brought it into focus for me. He said, “I figure I have 12 years left to make my mark.” If you’re 25 years old, 12 years is way into the future – almost half a lifetime. Most 25 year olds aren’t thinking beyond the end of the month or they may have a one or even five year plan. But 12 years out is not on most young people’s radars.
But for my client and me, we know 12 years is the blink of an eye. We know how precarious our perch is on this planet. Like many of us, the economy hit the reset button on him in 2008. He is successful, make no mistake about it. But he is not at the level he was at before the reset. Many of us have spent five to ten years playing catch up.
Making Your Mark
People, most of us anyway and probably all entrepreneurs, want to make their mark. They want to matter, they want their lives to have had some meaning, to leave some lasting impression. There are lots of ways to do this. Writing a book is just one way and it may not even be the best way. Somewhere between three-quarters of a million and a million books are published each year and, on average, they sell fewer than 250 copies each. Becoming a legitimate bestselling author and gaining fame and fortune requires a combination of skills – strong writing, a popular topic, ability to market, perhaps some connections, and an element of luck. Most of us writing business books really don’t need a bestseller – we just need to reach the people we are trying to help. Our impact comes from the work we do; the book is merely a marketing tool that helps us connect with our people.
Building a company, something that can outlive us or something that can be sold to create a family legacy could keep you in the family’s Thanksgiving toasts for generations to come. Creating art, building skyscrapers (make sure they can’t pry your name off the top), establishing scholarships, donating to charities, fighting for social change – these are all ways to make your mark on the world. Hell, tutoring a struggling kid and changing one life is making a mark. As they say, to that one person, you are the world.
All Roads Lead to Rome
It really doesn’t matter which path you take (and you may take one, some or all of them). What matters is that you will be able to one day look back with satisfaction and say, “I did that. I made that. I changed that.”
It really doesn’t matter how old you are because all of us are here on short time. Make your mark as early and as best you can. Then make another and another. Yes, you’re increasing your odds of being remembered. More importantly, you’re creating a body of good works. Not everyone can do that. Not everyone was given the time to do that. The window of opportunity grows smaller with each passing year.
So if you want to carve out your legacy, your place in history, the time to do it is now. Start today. Because one day you’ll look up and wonder where the time went.
Another year. Cheers.