Never too late to find your path in life
September 22nd, 2011
10:27 AM ET

Never too late to find your path in life

Editor's note: CNN contributor Amanda Enayati ponders the theme of seeking serenity - the quest for well-being and life balance in stressful times.

“Late bloomers? Late for what? What is it we’re late for?”

I had called Shilloy to discuss late bloomers, chiefly because last year, in her early 40s, she made a dramatic shift in her career as a marketing exec and went back to school to become a therapist. But as I began our interview, it was clear that something was putting her on edge.

“The term ‘late bloomers’ pushes a button for me,” she admitted. “Part of it is that for decades I bought into this whole paradigm in our culture of blooming when you’re supposed to. And I was on track! I was keeping up with the Joneses - with the education, the salary, the home, aiming for the 2.5 kids by a certain age. I was living in New York City, working for a blue-chip firm, and I was going through the motions of what you should be doing when you’re successful. Maybe my work was still not answering the question of who I was, but I justified it as ‘I’ll make all the money I want to make and then I’ll do what I really want to do.’”

In 2006 Shilloy was recruited by a start-up technology company. Within three years, the company went bust, along with the economy. “I was brought to my knees. I was bleeding financially. My relationship had fallen apart in the midst of all of it, and I was left with nothing.”

She fell into a deep despair. “I stayed in bed for most of the four months that followed. I cried and prayed and wrote about what I wanted. And I grieved. I mourned the person I thought I was going to be. I mourned the company I thought was going to take off. I mourned my home, my car, all the material things I was surrounded by that, in the end, had nothing to do with my comfort, my happiness or my salvation.”

With her savings spent, she packed up her home and placed everything in storage. And she did what had once seemed unthinkable to her: She moved back to her parents’ house. “I needed to take some time to think about what was happening.”

Within months, she identified that missing thing that had eluded her all those decades. “What I was meant to do fell into place. There had always been an inkling of it in my life, but I had never even slowed down to contemplate it. I was so driven by all the other things I thought I was supposed to do and so I made these unconscious decisions, and eventually the unconscious living shaped my life.”

But once she was forced to stop and look around, the path she was meant to take became clear. And then it was just a matter of simple details: which school, which program, which classes. “I was having one of those magical moments. It was smooth like it was meant to be. As if the script had been written and I was finally willing to read it. It felt right and good.”

I considered Shilloy’s objection to being called a late bloomer. Though unemployment is a huge source of stress for many Americans right now, that burden is especially heavy for older workers, particularly those in their 50s and 60s. Older workers fear being passed over for jobs because of their age. They fear never recovering their former salaries. They fear being discarded from the workforce altogether. Add to all that the often unspoken anxiety that because they have failed to achieve a measure of success by a certain time, they are a failure.

These concerns are real and can be incredibly stressful. But consider this: In his book, "The Genius in All of Us," David Shenk writes about the science that suggests that “few of us know our true limits, that the vast majority of us have not even come close to tapping what scientists call our ‘unactualized potential.’”

And if it is true that every cloud has its silver lining, perhaps what we’re seeing amid this widening crisis we’re living through - economic, social, political and environmental - is the quake that is forcing our hands without discriminating about age, gender, class or any other life circumstance. One that is making us tap into our unknown potential, forcing a bloom, demanding that we stop and rise to who it is we are and what it is we can do. Maybe we are living through the calamity that creates providence.

“There is pretty much only one way to become an early bloomer. On the other hand, there are an infinite number of ways to become a so-called late bloomer.” So observes Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive scientist and psychologist who is working on a book about late bloomers. “There are no predetermined paths to greatness. There are paths that have already come and there are those that have yet to come - ones we can’t know or predict ahead of time.”

But, according to Kaufman, while we as a society are fascinated by younger people who show precocious, rapid development in comparison with their peers, those early bloomers very rarely go on to become trend setters or innovators. Late bloomers’ achievements, on the other hand, can be far-reaching because they tend to require quite complex abilities that are often years in the making.

“The bigger picture here is that a person can make a career shift at any time,” says Tony Schwartz, best-selling author and performance expert. He changed careers at 47, from journalism to the path that would culminate in his founding The Energy Project, which helps individuals and organizations perform better and more sustainably. “You can begin a new career at 75; at 85, if you’re healthy enough. You’re capable of excellence at any age. I myself expect to have one more career before I’m done - maybe at 59. It is purely a question of your desire and willingness to invest the time and energy required to build skills in a particular area. And there is no greater fuel for excellence than the feeling that what you do matters.”

In his work with clients, Schwartz has identified six keys to achieving excellence at any age, laid out in a 2010 Harvard Business Review piece: Pursue what you love; do the hardest work first; practice intensely; seek expert feedback in intermittent doses; take regular renewal breaks; and ritualize practice.

Shilloy’s experiences bear these out: “I am working harder than I ever have. And I’m happier than I’ve ever been. The thing that has become most important to me is my connection to my purpose. People constantly say to me, ‘I wish I could do what you’re doing.’ And I think to myself: ‘Why can’t you?’”

Shilloy recalls putting pen to paper one morning during those four months of depression and asking herself: “What do I want?”

The answer she scribbled down that day still hangs nearby: “A life where I am present. A life where I serve. A life where I don’t resent others. A life that allows me the chance to make a difference. A life that is extraordinary. A life where I laugh often. A life full of love.”

One year later, almost to the day, Shilloy's dreams are her reality. “If that is what’s called being a late bloomer, so be it. But I don’t know that I could have gotten here any earlier.”

And if not a late bloomer, she is, at the very least, a woman in full bloom.

soundoff (941 Responses)
  1. rv repair videos


    May 26, 2021 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. rv collision repair near me

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit once again since i have saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


    May 26, 2021 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Bedroom California

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me as much as this one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, nonetheless I actually believed you would have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy searching for attention.


    May 26, 2021 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Remodeling Los Angeles

    Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to generate a great article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.


    May 26, 2021 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. ZisseVed

    how to buy cialis from canada https://krocialis.com/ – how long before sex cialis grapefruit and cialis

    May 26, 2021 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Van Sliding Door Repair


    May 26, 2021 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me


    May 26, 2021 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Van Rust Repair

    I'm excited to uncover this great site. I wanted to thank you for ones time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you bookmarked to look at new information on your blog.


    May 26, 2021 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Nearest Mercedes Service Center


    May 26, 2021 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rv parts orange county ca


    May 26, 2021 at 23:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. EncoxAni

    Epivir-HBV https://pharmacyken.com/ – how to order prescription drugs from canada canadian drugstore online

    May 27, 2021 at 00:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Valerie Skillett

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe this amazing site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the advice!


    May 27, 2021 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Anibal Machowski


    May 27, 2021 at 05:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. repair rv door

    This page truly has all the information and facts I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 27, 2021 at 06:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Bathroom Orange County

    It’s difficult to find educated people in this particular subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 27, 2021 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Mac Riston


    May 27, 2021 at 07:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Batteries Orange County

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It's the little changes that produce the most significant changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 27, 2021 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Bernard Bruffee


    May 27, 2021 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Frederic Seiter


    May 27, 2021 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. CrulkAsd

    cialis buy online canada https://cialisjla.com/ – cialis generic date generic cialis usps priority mail

    May 27, 2021 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Forklift Dealer California

    It’s hard to come by well-informed people in this particular topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 27, 2021 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. seats near me


    May 27, 2021 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. rv for sale in orange county


    May 27, 2021 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Content Marketing Agency Near Me


    May 27, 2021 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Internet Marketing Firms


    May 27, 2021 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. camper body repair


    May 27, 2021 at 20:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. EncoxGtv

    discount online canadian pharmacy dilaudid online pharmacy canada drugs pharmacy checker

    May 27, 2021 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Lincoln Tosti

    Great site you've got here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 27, 2021 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. truck shops in orange county

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously feel this web site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!


    May 28, 2021 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Inspection Orange County


    May 28, 2021 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. chassis repair shop near me


    May 28, 2021 at 02:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. american leak detection orange county

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I do think that you ought to write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo matter but usually people don't talk about such subjects. To the next! Best wishes!!


    May 28, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. MileSwa

    next day delivery cialis https://ckacialis.com/ – cialis extra cialis fastest shipping

    May 28, 2021 at 03:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Beds California


    May 28, 2021 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Alignment Near Me

    Hi! I simply want to offer you a big thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I am returning to your site for more soon.


    May 28, 2021 at 04:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Internet Marketing Mechanics


    May 28, 2021 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. solar panels orange county ca

    I blog frequently and I genuinely appreciate your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your Feed too.


    May 28, 2021 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Upholstery Los Angeles

    Hi there! This post couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I am going to forward this article to him. Pretty sure he's going to have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 28, 2021 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. rv awning repair near me

    You're so awesome! I do not believe I've truly read anything like this before. So nice to find another person with a few genuine thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that's needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!


    May 28, 2021 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. EncoxGtv

    buy drugs from canada legal [url=https://pharmacyhrn.com/ ]rx pharmacy near me[/url] definition of prescription drugs

    May 28, 2021 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Washing California


    May 28, 2021 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Armpit Hair Fetish


    May 29, 2021 at 03:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. EncoxDev

    restasis canada pharmacy [url=https://cjepharmacy.com/ ]pharmacy wholesalers canada[/url] canadian pharmacy viagra prices

    May 29, 2021 at 05:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Mercedes Camper Van Repair Shop


    May 29, 2021 at 05:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. EncoxAni

    viagra brand canadian pharmacy https://pharmacyken.com/ – metcare rx pharmacy addiction to prescription drugs

    May 29, 2021 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. MileSwa

    is online cialis safe https://ckacialis.com/ – uninsured cost of cialis how to buy cialis from us stores

    May 29, 2021 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. EncoxHtf

    cialis australia online shopping https://cialishav.com/ – cialis in egypt cialis black buy in australia

    May 29, 2021 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Internet Marketing Specialist

    After looking over a few of the articles on your site, I honestly like your technique of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site too and tell me what you think.


    May 30, 2021 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. ZisseVed

    generic cialis testimonials https://krocialis.com/ – cialis with out perscription does insurance pay for cialis

    May 30, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Zisseloh

    cialis over the counter https://rcialisgl.com/ – montreal drug cialis mexico pharmacy cialis

    May 30, 2021 at 05:23 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Leave a Reply to RV Repair Store Near Me


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.