I sometimes wonder whether we each have unique life paths.

If we were to assume, for a moment, that this were true, it would take the pressure off a lot of areas you might consider yourself a “failure.”

Maybe you’re 40 and haven’t gone on your first date. Maybe you’ve been a visual artist for 30 years and have never sold more than five paintings. Perhaps you’ve been trying to expand your political career but can’t seem to catch a break.

Whether it’s the legendary comic book writer Stan Lee, 16th U.S. president Abraham Lincoln, or American businessman of KFC fame Colonel Sanders, what they all have in common is they weren’t successful until later in life.

What if that was the perfect life path for them? What if, becoming successful earlier, for whatever reason, would have been inconvenient?

What if a few significant areas of your life were set in stone before you ever began your journey – such as who you would marry and when, when your business would finally become successful, or maybe even how long you would live.

How would that make you feel about your life? Would it start to look like less of a mistake?

I’m not saying that freewill doesn’t exist. All I’m saying is, maybe what seems so obvious to you isn’t to others because it’s not their life path. They have something to fulfill on before they learn to drive. Or they have a life situation they need to overcome before they’re given that big promotion at work.

It’s easy to contrast and compare. To look at someone and go, “well, you know, the reason they aren’t married is because they’re ultra-picky and frankly creepy.” That might not have anything to do with it at all. It might be that they have situations that need to be resolved before they can be in a healthy relationship.

It’s easy to make light of people who we think should have taken their education further, or should have started their own business, or should have married by now. It might not be their life path. They may not have a life path that adheres to accepted norms and timelines.

If you focus more on your life path, not only will you find it more rewarding, but you will also be more accepting of those who seem to defy categorization. Criticizing others for what’s obvious to you (and maybe not so obvious to them) knowingly achieves nothing, and in the long run can only hurt you.

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