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It's Never Too Late

Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the November 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

My brother-in-law Stu turns 40 next month. And with that momentous birthday comes a dream unfulfilled. One of Stu's goals was to be featured in Entrepreneur's "Young Millionaires" issue and, sad to say, he's never going to be. Stu still toils in the corporate world, planning to start his own business-

I'm not putting Stu down. He's one of the most creative people I've ever met, and I'm certain someday he will be a successful business owner. But Stu is not alone. How many of us haven't yet accomplished the goals we set last month, last year or last decade? I'd say most of us.

I say this not to make you feel bad that you didn't do what you set out to do, but to implore you to take action and decide what you are going to do about those goals in the future. There are no pat answers here. Sometimes you just have to let go of a goal. Sometimes you need to embrace it or re-evaluate it. But in most cases, before you can do any of those things, you need to figure out why a particular goal has gone unfulfilled.

For some, it's simple fear that holds us back. Most of us are afraid of something, and we often let that fear interfere with our goals. So first ask yourself "What am I afraid of?" You need to identify the source of the fear before you can set about overcoming it. Fear of failure is a common one, but chances are, since most of you are fairly well along in the course of your businesses, this by itself is not at work in your psyches.

But you may not be accomplishing- even setting- because you're afraid to take those next steps. You've got a good thing going, and you don't want to do anything to mess it up. So you're content to maintain the status quo. At least, you think you are. The truth is, for most entrepreneurs, "status quo" is a dirty word. So there's likely an internal struggle going on in your brain between needing to grow and fearing to grow.

Or perhaps it's fear of success that keeps you from disturbing the status quo. Will success change you? Change how your family and friends perceive you? Challenge your comfort level? Maybe it will, but is that necessarily a bad thing? At some point in our lives, we all need to get uncomfortable.

Some goals will never be accomplished because they are no longer relevant or realistic. Others may still be attained, just not in the time frame you originally imagined. But you need to revisit those goals before you can determine that.

Goals don't come in one size. Some dream big, like Fred DeLuca and Howard Schultz, two of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time. (Read about how they achieved success in "Serving Up Success.") Others have smaller ambitions. No matter which category you fall into, don't ever stop reaching for the stars. Even if, like Stu, you miss hitting one or two of your targets, you will, if you persist, be sure to connect on another.

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