A few amazing things that I recently learned about my maternal grandmother:
She had to drop out of high school in 1939 to help support her family. She was the oldest child of the family, and they needed her to work, so she took a job in a Keds factory, stitching sneakers.
Almost 30 years later, she went back to school, earning her GED in 1967. This allowed her to escape the factory and ultimately become the head of accounting at Woonsocket Hospital.
She didn’t learn how to drive as a teenager and spent most of her life unable to drive, but at the age of 55, she called a driving school for lessons, earned her driver’s license, and then spent the remainder of her driving years behind the wheel of a white Pontiac with a blue top. Later in life, she and my maternal grandfather would spend their days driving around town, delivering Meals on Wheels to elderly folks who couldn’t leave the home.
I told this story to my students, and I offer it to you as a reminder:
Nothing is settled in this life. Change is always possible. We can decide – sometimes instantaneously depending on the choice – to change our lives forever at any age.
For one of my students, this means they can choose to start trying harder in math. Begin doing their homework more consistently. Start treating classmates with greater kindness and patience. Exercise. Practice their musical instrument. Read every day without exception.
All of that is possible as soon as they decide to make that choice.
For you, it might mean finally chasing that lifelong dream. Finishing a journey you once began. Finally asking for that thing you’ve always wanted. Instituting a change in your daily routine that will yield enormous results.
You can go from someone who doesn’t exercise to someone who does right now, just by deciding to make it true.
You can transform yourself from someone who is perpetually late to someone who is always on time by simple deciding to take the actions to make this a reality.
You can purchase paint and a canvas today and become the landscape painter you always wanted to be.
You can step onto the path that will ultimately lead you to the career you’ve dreamed of doing since you were a kid.
By flipping a mental switch and committing to change, you can improve your life quickly and exponentially.
None of us is fully cooked. Nothing is static until we choose for it to be static.
I have a friend who decided to divorce her husband five years ago. Rightfully so, too. It was not a good marriage, and he was not a good man. Given the nature of the circumstances, my friend knew that the divorce would be long, hard, and painful. But I told her that 18 months from now, she would be divorced and finally free of this terrible burden of a marriage. And five years from now, I told her, she’d probably be in love again. Maybe even married. I acknowledged that the next couple years would be hard, but faster than seemingly possible, her life would be different and so much better.
Later this year, she is marrying the man of her dreams.
My grandmother earned her high school diploma in her mid-forties and moved from a factory job to the head of accounting at a hospital. She learned to drive after more than five decades of being driven around town by other people.
A constant refrain of mine since telling my students this story is this:
“You can choose to be like my grandmother and change your life for the better at any moment. So why not now?”
If you’ve been dreaming of changing your own life, why not today?