Last week, Nick D’Aloisio became one of the youngest millionaires ever after selling his company to Yahoo for around $30million at the mere age of 17. It’s enough to make the average latte drinker feel quite inadequate. I’m sure I wasn’t the only the only 17 year old all those years ago where the biggest issue at the forefront of my mind was how I could fabricate a cover story to my parents so that I could attend the coolest party of the year.
There are many others that make the rest of us feel like underachievers. Sebastian Vettel was the youngest Formula One World Champion in 2010, and has now won three consecutive Championships and he’s only 25. Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook and became a billionaire by the age of 23. Closer to home, Jessica Watson was the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop, and unassisted around the world at the age of 16. And Dr Sam Prince is a medical doctor who started a successful chain of Mexican restaurants whilst at medical school, and has several philanthropic ventures to improve healthcare of underprivileged people, and he’s only 28.
Most of us travel on the “normal” life trajectory of finishing school at 18, perhaps going to university or completing an apprenticeship until 21, starting a career, seeing a bit of the world, experiencing love and broken hearts before marrying and popping out a kid by the age of 30. However, for the extraordinary few, they have big dreams, strong will and determination, and sacrificing all those parties and slothful television watching of our youth to achieve amazing things before the rest of us have even figured out how to make spaghetti bolognese for the first time.
As I’ve written before, the vast majority of us are destined to be ordinary despite being told from a young age that we are special and different from all the other kids. We had high expectations as children and teenagers that we would rise above all the others and be extraordinary. However the reality is that, even if a lot of us have that big dream, a lot fewer of us are prepared to make the sacrifices and put in the incredibly hard work required to make the dreams happen.
Even the relatively simpler dreams we had when were teens don’t necessarily come true. At the age of 16, I had expected that I would be happily married with two gorgeous children as well as juggling a successful career at the age of 30, because that seemed to be the done thing, and besides, 30 seemed so far away and old. I know I’m not alone here, which is why so many of the sisterhood hit the age of 30 and feel depressed that they hadn’t achieved anything close to what they had expected.
Unfortunately, some things, such as meeting the man or woman of your dreams, can’t be solely achieved through hard work and perseverance. However, many other things rely on discipline, dedication and sacrifices. Rather than sinking into a hole of depression and wallowing in the pile of leftover Easter eggs and buttery hot cross buns, what we can do is to look to Nick D’Aloisio or Sebastian Vettel as a source of inspiration for our careers, our aspiring weeknight footballing, our friendships and relationships, or our hobbies and business ventures. If we work hard at these things, we will no doubt have a lot more satisfying and fulfilling jobs and social lives, and feel a greater sense of achievement than if we were just sitting down at the pub and talking about what our lives could have been.
As the quote goes, shoot for the moon and if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.