I read a quote recently that really got me thinking. It was:
'Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.' - Carl Jung
It explained why, all of a sudden, I started noticing a lot of people around me, spending more time thinking about where they are in their life… their lifestyle, time they spend with family, their careers.
Up until then it was about chasing - getting into the right schools, doing the right extracurricular activities, getting into the right college, getting a great first job, finding the perfect spouse to get married to, get pregnant, buy the perfect house.
And then one day around 40, somehow we find ourselves taking a breather and wondering:
“Wait, is this the life I wanted?” “Am I happy with what I’m doing?” “Am I doing all this because I wanted to or because I thought I was supposed to?” “What do I believe I’m truly meant to do in this life?” “Is there more for me?”
I don’t want to be the jerk who opposes a Carl Jung quote but I can’t help but question whether this has to be the roadmap for everyone’s life or even most. Are we all just meant to be on autopilot until age 40 before we start really examining our life and making significant changes that make us feel closer to where we are supposed to be?
I don’t think so. I think this is how we have been programmed to do things because sometimes we don’t stop to look up - we are just in the “go go go” mode. But as a parent, I don’t want my kids to live thinking “life really begins at 40.” Life begins the moment we are born. I refuse to believe that my kids can’t research while they live their life starting from a young age.
Can you imagine telling your kids “Just do what everyone else is doing around you for half of your life, don’t question it, don’t stray too far from the path everyone else is on and then when you have checked all the boxes around 40, you can look up and contemplate and make adjustments.”
That sounds ridiculous and we would never tell our kids to do that yet that's what many many people do. I mean if Carl Jung has a quote about this and the mid-life crisis a real thing people go through, then it must be a common experience.
In the Disney movie, Wall-e the “new world” is depicted as one where humans sit in a chair, they have everything they need at the tip of their fingers and they just move along this conveyor belt, not questioning, not opposing and most importantly, not straying.
“Stay on the path that has been designed for you” is the subtle or not so subtle message. Easy to not take it personally if we think they are just depicting a fictional future but when you realize it may actually be an exaggerated version of reality and where humanity is headed, then it kind of hits you in the face.
Even if I've been on the path of checking boxes for 40 years of my life, it doesn’t mean I can’t change, challenge and dismantle the beliefs around how I’m supposed to live my life.
But it gets harder and trickier at 40 because we have gotten used to life being a certain way. We have people depending on us, we have mortgages, we have a lifestyle and image to maintain.
Our internal belief system is a powerful thing. There are beliefs deep deep within us that dictate how we think, act and speak. They are so deep within us that we don’t question them. They are passed on from generations around what is important and what we should be doing. Sometimes we don’t even know they are there so it’s hard to shine a spotlight on something that we aren’t even looking for in the first place. We just think we are supposed to do certain things and so we do it.
But I believe we are capable of breaking down these beliefs that we blindly follow. My dream for my kids is to have some of the realizations I’ve had in my late 30’s, much much sooner. I think they are capable but where do a lot of our beliefs come from? Parents, teachers, society. It’s all around us.
I realized that if I don’t question and shatter my internal beliefs that are hindering my progression for myself, I need to at least do it for my kids. We will do anything for our kids. This often seems to apply to things like spending a lot of money or staying up all night to make their birthday perfect BUT sometimes it’s the things we do for them that are intangible, immeasurable that have the most impact.
It’s working on ourselves. It’s living a life where we get off that conveyor built and we question what we have been told and have been doing for years on autopilot. We become bold about being authentic and embracing who we truly are and what we believe we are meant to do. How can we give our kids these things, if we ourselves can’t do it.
It’s easier for us to GIVE our kids all the resources they need and make sure they have the best opportunities possible THAN for us to simply work on ourselves.
I’m always baffled that every single human doesn’t grow up knowing that the most important thing and work they can do in their lifetime is working on themselves. The part inside of them that no one sees or hears. Only they know of. Sometimes we are fooled into thinking “well if no one knows about this then who cares, I’ll keep working on the external things that others can see and be impressed with and know that ‘I have made it'’ and that ‘I am officially successful.’” That’s the tricky part of this thing called life.
Life fools us into thinking that the external stuff is everything until as Carl Jung said, we turn 40 and realize we were chasing the wrong things or at least in our chasing, we forgot the most important part - the part that is inside of us.
I believe there are two ways to approach life - you achieve the career, the money and the fame AND then you work on yourself and reflect OR you reflect, look inward, create a strong inner foundation and the rest just falls into place.
Sound scary? I can just feel parents getting nervous and anxious about that approach, thinking “Oh I don't know about that….how do we know for sure that success will come? What if it doesn’t? At least the path I want them to be on, I know will ensure success. At least they will have a reliable, strong career and then they can figure out the rest” … yes, at 40.
We need to make the Inner World the center of everything we do as a child. That is how we are meant to go through this life. Yes, we must perform our duty and the things we are meant to do but the Inner World and the Inner Growth needs to be at the center of our lives no matter what.
There is an awakening that seems to be happening across humanity. We are wondering, questioning, we are starting to look inwards BUT we can’t let that just be on the adult level. We can’t be scared to make this a priority in how we raise our kids and what they grow up believing to be important.
One of the first questions we asked ourselves when we created Hatch Brighter tied back to something we both wondered as we had kids “What is the most important thing we could give our kids or teach our kids.” The conclusion we both came to is what brought us together and started this journey for us.
This isn’t just a business idea. This has become our mission, our passion. We know that as a society we need to prioritize the immeasurable, intangible, “not so sexy and glamorous” things in life that are within us. That’s what it is all about.
We are going about life all backwards - chase and then be happy. Let’s flip this for the next generation.
Too many kids are growing up having all the boxes checked and life looking great on paper but inside they are depressed, anxious and sad.
When we give our kids the tools to strengthen their Inner World, they can handle the career, money, relationships not going as planned. But when we work our whole life to create the perfect exterior and something shatters it, our entire world crumbles.
And then we have the spiritual awakening or epiphany….again, at 40.
That’s not how we want to bring our kids up. Our job is to help them reflect within, strengthen their Inner World and then find all the other answers along the way.
It’s a big shift in how we think as humans, society, parents BUT I believe in this amazing generation of parents. They are wise, they know something is amiss, they know they have to do something slightly different.
Hatch Brighter Co-Founder