Life Lessons: Astronauts and Presidents, Is It Too Late?

by John Zajaros on June 4, 2010

Where Do We Fail? The Death of Dreams

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we end up, where we end up. It may be a consequence of my getting older, notice I didn’t say “old,” but I believe there is more to life. How do we define success and what defines a failure?

Perhaps it has grown out of my own life experiences, combined with my experiences, hopes, desires, and even frustrations as a parent. I don’t know, perhaps it is just one of those things we begin to think about as we age? But for whatever reason, I think it is a subject worth writing about…so here goes!


Have you ever wondered what happened to the little boy or girl you used to be? You know the one I am talking about, don’t you?

The dreamer, the little kid who wanted to be a fireman or a doctor or an astronaut or even the President of the United States! We have all been there, or almost all of us…haven’t we?

Yes, some of us are those things but, unfortunately, most of us have settled for less, much less than we once dreamed of becoming. At some point on our journey through life, we threw in the towel!

So, what happened to that person?

I know, I know!

We grew up, right? Life intrudes. We got older and more responsible.

Wrong, that’s a cop out!

Or, more plainly…horse manure!

The fact is, we get beat up…at least the majority of us anyway. Now, I’m not talking about a physical beating, although that is certainly part of it for some, unfortunately, I am talking about the way the system (i.e., schools, friends, and even well-meaning family members) systematically teach us to be “realistic” and “practical” over a lifetime until we finally settle for less than we had once envisioned.

The dreams of our childhood become the flights of fancy, youthful exuberance, not to be taken seriously. We are taught to fit in, to be good team members, to tow the line. Our creativity and imagination are sytematically attacked and ultimately dismantled, until the dreams and visions of childhood are a fleeting memory.

Sad but true!

How many grow up saying:

“I want to be a middle manager at a downtown warehouse!”


“I really want to be a short-order cook for the greasy spoon down by the highway!”

Right, me too!


Now, imagine being in your 40s or 50s and looking back, wondering what happened. Interestingly, while many of us have had these moments, not many talk about them. Heck, no one will even admit to having these thoughts!


Because to do so is an admission, we are saying that somewhere along the line something went wrong, terribly wrong, we settled, we allowed others to derail our grand designs for an exciting life…we allowed life to define us instead defining our lives!

So, you are 40 or 60 or 70 and you look back at your life and you don’t like what you see.

Welcome to the club!

Are you too late? Is it too late?

Many would believe it is, many would have you believe it is, and many would tell you it is. Significantly, those closest to you will argue it is; and, that you need to be “practical” and “realistic!

Remember those well-meaning friends and relatives?


They are also the same ones who have shot down every new idea you have had over the span of a lifetime.


Not for you!

For them!

Because, after all, what if you do succeed? What if you do something amazing? What will that say about them and their lives?

Do not kid yourself, most people at a very primitive level, do not want you to succeed because that would make them feel bad!

Interestingly, it is not too late, that there is plenty of time. You can, and should, step back and reassess the tragectory of you life, beginning anew. To do otherwise is a waste of life!

Let me ask you this?

Let’s say you are 40 years old. And, let’s say you are miserable, that you dread waking up in the morning and facing another day of your life as it is, that you can’t understand where you went wrong but you are ceratin of one thing…it is all wrong!

If you do nothing, how old will you be in 20 years? 30 years?


You will be 60 or 70 years old!


Now, you have a choice, you can be 60 or 70 years of age and have enjoyed the past 20 or 30 years, doing what you want, what excites you, and what makes you happy. Or, you can be 60 or 70 years of age and have lived, if you actually survive another two or three decades doing something you dread each and every day, facing even more of what you have dreaded for decades, the life you despise.

What life-trajectory would you choose?

Now, let’s say you are 30 or 40?

You have at the very least 4 decades of your life ahead of you!

Do you wake up every day glad to be alive? Are you doing something that excites and fulfills you?

If not, bail!

Do it yesterday!

I know, I know!

Here’s the party-line, what the majority will think and respond with:

“But I have a family, I have obligations, I can’t just walk away from my responsibilities!”


Your family will be there for you, if they truly love you and want the best for you, they will support you. If your family is so caught up in their life own lives that they cannot see you are suffering, that you are in terrible pain (the cave you are in), then it is time to look hard at your relationship.

Do you honestly believe anyone who truly loves you will have you live another 30 or 40 years doing something you detest each and every day?

That, in and of itself, is a death sentence!

Somewhere along the line, some of us, many of us, have allowed someone, or more likely a series of someones, to derail our hopes and dreams for an amazing life. We went along with what they were selling and, when we woke up half of our life was gone.

I am telling you today you can still have it, you can have it all! It is not too late!

We have all heard the Colonel Saunders story. Broke and on Social Security he carved out a new life selling his chicken recipe.

Limiting beliefs?

You can do it again and you can do it all over, beginning today!

Just like when we were kids, you get a do-over each and every day. It is up to you how you use it. You can never go back but the wealth of knowledge you have collected over a lifetime makes you a better person, more likely to succeed at whatever it is you want to accomplish.

Again, it is up to you.

I call do-over!

From this moment forward you can cave in and forever resign yourself to an existence as a resident of Plato’s cave…or you can step out into the light of life and do something amazing. True, you might not qualify for astronaurt training but I understand Richard Branson is taking reservations for Virgin Galactic!


Call it out…begin anew…begin today!

Contact me anytime!

John Zajaros

216-712-6526 (home)
440-821-7018 (cell) (personal email)

PS, If you have children, guard their dreams carefully and nurture their imagination and their creativity. The people who can truly think creatively and imaginatively will be in demand throughout their lives. Heck, they are already! Seth Godin calls them Linchpins, I call them indispensable!

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