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. Seo Marketing Services

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to come back once again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


    May 7, 2021 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. fiberglass repair shop near me


    May 7, 2021 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Digital Marketing Association

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!


    May 7, 2021 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Content Marketing Quote

    I used to be able to find good information from your blog articles.


    May 8, 2021 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Social Media Marketing Consultants


    May 8, 2021 at 02:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Social Media Marketing Shop

    Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the issues. It was really informative. Your website is useful. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 8, 2021 at 03:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Social Media Marketing Teacher

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It's the little changes that produce the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!


    May 8, 2021 at 04:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. LbsoZisse

    cialis generic cipla https://ucialisdas.com/ – brand cialis 20 mg cialis buy australia

    May 8, 2021 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Internet Marketing Consultant

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little research on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this issue here on your website.


    May 8, 2021 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Digital Marketing Agency Orange County


    May 8, 2021 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Content Marketing Irvine

    There's definately a great deal to find out about this issue. I like all the points you've made.


    May 8, 2021 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. rv parts and repair

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the finest sites on the web. I will highly recommend this blog!


    May 8, 2021 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Local Marketing Center

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful blogs on the internet. I most certainly will recommend this web site!


    May 8, 2021 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Content Marketing Agency

    Hello there! This post could not be written much better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I'll send this post to him. Fairly certain he'll have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!


    May 8, 2021 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Seo Marketing Service

    I want to to thank you for this great read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you book marked to check out new things you post…


    May 8, 2021 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. AnooEncox

    viagra experiences blog https://llviagra.com/ – viagra side effects itching viagra 100 mg how long

    May 8, 2021 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Digital Marketing Agency California


    May 8, 2021 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Internet Marketing Consultants Near Me

    I was able to find good info from your content.


    May 9, 2021 at 00:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RebfZisse

    how much is cialis in canada http://rcialisgl.com/ – cialis dapoxetine canadien pharmacy no prescription cialis

    May 9, 2021 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Video Marketing Near Me


    May 9, 2021 at 02:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. LebnEncox

    best canadian pharmacy online drugs top online pharmacy india

    May 9, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV AC Riverside

    I was extremely pleased to find this page. 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 saved to fav to see new information in your site.


    May 9, 2021 at 05:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Local Marketing Ideas

    May I just say what a relief to uncover somebody that genuinely understands what they're talking about over the internet. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people need to check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you are not more popular because you definitely possess the gift.


    May 9, 2021 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Content Marketing Job

    I love it when folks get together and share thoughts. Great website, continue the good work!


    May 9, 2021 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Local Marketing Agency Costa Mesa

    I need to to thank you for this very good read!! I absolutely loved every bit of it. I have got you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…


    May 9, 2021 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. FmrfEncox

    levitra vs cialis http://cialisee.com/ – cialis dapoxetine canadian pharmacy no prescription generic cialis

    May 9, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Windows Riverside

    Right here is the perfect website for anybody who would like to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject that has been written about for decades. Great stuff, just great!


    May 9, 2021 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Google Marketing Service

    I could not resist commenting. Well written!


    May 9, 2021 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Social Media Marketing Consultant


    May 9, 2021 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Local Marketing Jobs


    May 9, 2021 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Social Media Marketing Businesses Near Me

    Excellent post. I absolutely appreciate this website. Keep writing!


    May 9, 2021 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Social Media Marketing Quote


    May 9, 2021 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. FmrfEncox

    cialis a domicilio new jersey https://cialisee.com/ best ed cialis pills

    May 10, 2021 at 05:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Digital Marketing Consultants


    May 10, 2021 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Internet Marketing Jobs San Clemente


    May 10, 2021 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. GtnbCrulk

    viagra tumblr http://jokviagra.com/ – what does viagra look like does generic viagra work

    May 10, 2021 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Google Marketing Programs


    May 10, 2021 at 21:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Social Media Marketing Businesses

    I was able to find good advice from your content.


    May 10, 2021 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Digital Marketing Pictures

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a means you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    May 10, 2021 at 22:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Local Marketing Association


    May 11, 2021 at 00:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Internet Marketing Specialist

    Great info. Lucky me I found your website by chance (stumbleupon). I have saved it for later!


    May 11, 2021 at 02:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Content Marketing Masters

    Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thank you for sharing!


    May 11, 2021 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Digital Marketing Programs

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is very helpful. Thank you for sharing!


    May 11, 2021 at 03:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Internet Marketing Jobs Near Me

    Having read this I believed it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this information together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    May 11, 2021 at 04:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Social Media Marketing Consultant


    May 11, 2021 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Video Marketing Business


    May 11, 2021 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Internet Marketing Club


    May 11, 2021 at 13:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. LbsoZisse

    viagra levitra cialis offers https://ucialisdas.com/ purchase cialis with paypal

    May 11, 2021 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Social Media Marketing Jobs Orange County


    May 11, 2021 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Mercedes Benz Collision Repair Sprinter Van


    May 11, 2021 at 21:15 | 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 msmjewelers.com


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.