Am I too old or just look too young?
Written: 11-23-2014

There’s an old Neil Young song that goes,

Tell me why, tell me why
Is it hard to make
Arrangements with yourself
When you’re old enough to repay
But young enough to sell?

Gary's Age

The line has been stuck in my head for the past few months. It comes and goes, but nearly each day there is something that triggers the song. Each year, around my birthday – I take at least one day to evaluate my priorities, goals and current progress towards those goals. I often share some of that process with others in one way or another, but this year I didn’t take the time review and process where I was at. There were more important priorities at the time, as Nikki was still in the hospital and we were trying to manage the acute realities that were being faced.

When I think about the question, “Am I too old to reach all of my goals?” I initially scold myself, because there are so many examples of people doing amazing things at twice my current age, of 36 years old. But, then I’ll listen to a podcast with a start up founder, who is in their mid 20’s and I wonder why I wasted a decade. I heard one founder state the other day that at 30 years old they were an older statesmen in Silicon Valley.

Part of the issue that I face is that two areas that I spend most of my mental energy on – sports performance and training, along with technology / health related start up discussions, being 36 is not exactly youthful.

I do fear that I’m missing my opportunity. I have this fear, despite the fact that I know there are many examples of individuals leaving their legacy late in life.

That really is my concern – what will my legacy be?

It is valuable to understand that question, if only because it allows one to focus their actions on the right questions and develop the ability to ignore the tangential items that come along our paths.

Historically, I’ve been easily distracted by less than important things. I like to experiment with ideas and interesting issues, which can be educational. It has brought me some very cool experiences in my life thus far. It has also distracted me.

I did share last year that from 30 to 35, I didn’t achieve most of my personal goals. When looking at them quantitatively, I failed on many of them. The qualitative review would show that it was not all that bad.

That’s why it is also important to understand how you are going to measure success. There are a few metrics I wish I had kept track of, such as:

– the number of runners I’ve helped cross a finish line
– the number of runners I’ve helped set a personal record
– the total days of exercise, I’ve enabled a client to complete
– the number of clients I’ve helped decrease the medications they were on
– specifically, how many diabetics have decreased their insulin dosage or were able to completely stop taking their oral medications

I could probably think of some more, but it all boils down to being able to define a legacy by the number of people I serve.

When I look at those metrics as a way to define success, I realize that my current age is not a barrier in any way. In the process, the legacy of the work should stand on it’s own.

Will I be a professional athlete? The chances of that happening are zero – however there are some endurance sports that have pretty loose rules on what is defined as “professional”. Will I coach an Olympian or professional athlete – not exactly high on my list of desires anymore. Will I be the founder of a large health related company?

Those are questions I ask myself, each time I hear a discussion and think, Am I too old to reach my goals? The reality is that they are not even the right questions to ask.

I know that I will help serve many more individuals, helping them make running a part of their lives. I also know that I go to work daily, with many others at Retrofit, with the intent on serving clients that want to change their lives by becoming healthier and losing weight as a key component of that process. Those are the tasks at hand.

Do I just look too young to be taken serious?

The ironic reality that I deal with at times, is that because I look young – I don’t feel as if I’m taken as serious as I might be, if I looked older. It is interesting to see what comes up in the google analytics results for how people find my websites and blog. I took a screen shot of a google search, which I find interesting, as it includes “Gary Ditsch Age”.

I participate in enough races that require my age as a part of registration that I’m sure there’s a great many pages of race results with my age. I find it interesting, that when I pull up my blog – I see that there’s almost always someone out there looking to see how old I am.

Maybe if I had different grooming habits or decided to stop wearing hooded sweatshirts 85% of the time – I’d come across as a little bit older?

Most recently, my age became an issue when I went to order a beer at a local brewery. I got asked for my ID, as I nearly always do – but for some reason the individual didn’t seem to believe the information. This started a game of 20 questions. I always find this game enjoyable, because I take it as a compliment. The drinking age is 21 and at 36, I still need to be quizzed about my address, birth date, etc. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. As the questions and interrogation continued after the beers were poured, but were then not given to me. The game of 20 questions and my life story stopped being fun – I just wanted my beer and to sit with my friends. (I got the beer in the end).

People say I should feel lucky. The truth is, I do. As long as I don’t go looking 20 to 60 overnight.

The moral of my age obsessed thinking

When left to my own obsessiveness, I worry that I’ve missed my window of opportunity. Until I’m reminded that I look too young to be taken seriously, then I wonder what I need to do to mature.

Age isn’t a determining factor to reach the goals that I’ve determined would define my life’s work a success. To be successful, I just need to keep serving those that are willing to ask for my advice.