“I should have started sooner.”
“It’s too late now, anyways. What’s the point?”
“So many people I know are much further along than I am. I’ll never be able to catch up.”
I’ve spoken to many people of all different ages about finance. One common thing that I hear from people in their 40’s, 50’s and beyond is that they often feel dejected that they didn’t begin saving and investing earlier in life. They feel like they are behind the eight-ball, and won’t ever be able to catch up to those around them that started sooner.
This mentality really bothers me.
Sure, it’s true that if you had begun at an earlier age you’d be in a better position. But that can be said about anyone, about anything!
There is a lot of talk in the finance world about compound interest and how powerful it can be in the game of wealth-building.
Some people see the graphs showing the impact it can have on their finances, and this usually causes one of two affects.
- Some get excited about the opportunity to leverage such a powerful force. They realize the potential it means for their future and they strategize ways for them to leverage such an awesome force.
- Others – typically, those later in life – feel like they’ve missed an opportunity by not taking advantage of compound interest earlier in life.
It’s true, if you didn’t start at a young age, you’ve missed some potential growth. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of the future growth you can achieve by starting today! There’s always more potential.
There is a great Chinese proverb that goes:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is today!”
You shouldn’t be upset that you missed the “best” time to do something. If you still have an opportunity, you should take advantage of it.
THE “I WISH I HAD” MENTALITY
This mentality isn’t unique to investing and building wealth. You see this “I wish I had started sooner” thought process in many different areas.
When I left my corporate job and began my firm, I received a number of phone calls from colleagues, family members, and friends. Many of them called to wish me luck and congratulate me. And a lot of them said things like “I wish I had done what you are doing.”
That might sound like something you’d hear from someone late in their life. But many of these people were only in their 40’s.
This was quite amazing to me. It’s as if when you get past your 20’s you no longer have the option to start something new – whether that is investing, a business, or even change careers.
Sure, if you are 90-years-old, it might be a little late to build an empire. But no matter where you are and when you start, you can always improve your situation. Even a 90-year-old has the ability to improve their life in some way.
No matter what age you’re currently at, if you have no savings and then you work toward saving up $5,000, your finances are now stronger than they once were.
THE COMPARISON MINDSET
A lot of this mentality comes from the fact that instead of trying to improve ourselves for our own sake, we are comparing ourselves to others.
There is a great saying that goes,
“The only person you should be trying to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”
If you were only trying to improve, you wouldn’t be worried about how you compare to others. You’d only be thinking about how you could be in a better situation a year from now, no matter where you are today.
It’s when you see other people at the same age in life and see they are “farther ahead” than you, and it makes you feel like you’ve already “lost.”
The truth is, if everyone thought that way, some of the most iconic brands we all know today wouldn’t exist…
Did you know that Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart store when he was 44 years old?
And at the age of 62, Colonel Sanders franchised his secret recipe “Kentucky Fried Chicken” for the first time.
These iconic brands wouldn’t exist if these men had adopted the same mentality that it was “too late” for them. Or that they had missed their opportunity earlier on in life.
Today, Walmart is the largest corporations in the world by revenue (2018) with over $500 Billion in sales, and employs 2.2 million people. There are over 5,000 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, alone.
I think about the gentlemen I know in their 40’s who feel like it’s too late for them to get started, and it’s mind-boggling to me.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO IMPROVE
Imagine what our daily lives would be like if people like the ones I just mentioned gave up on their dreams because it was “too late” for them.
Better yet, think about what kind of impact you could have on the world if you start living out your dreams, today?
Think about what kind of financial foundation you could create for you and your family if you begin working at it right now?
So, stop dwelling on the past, and thinking that it’s too late the begin your wealth-building journey.
No matter where you end up, it will be in a better place than if you never start at all.