“I cannot change myself. I am an old man! I know that I have my ways and shortcomings. But I have accepted the fact, and it is not possible to become someone I am not. That would be self-sabotage. You just come to terms with who you are, and embrace it.”
The above quote is something someone close to me said recently when he was confronted with some harsh but well founded criticism (it really was, and didn't come from me. It was something spoken in the group of close people in which we held the talk). Quite frankly I was appalled by this statement and immediately rejected that line of thought. For me it is fundamentally untrue; something that I always knew to be false subconsciously but never could grasp as clearly as I can now. And as with so many things it boils down to priorities.
Change is a matter of priorities and not of age. Change is possible at all time as long as you prioritise it correctly. It has to be important enough for you to actually act on it. And of course this requires the realisation that change is necessary. And for me it almost always is. No person is perfect and everyone will discover some detail about oneself that requires changing, even if it's minute.
But telling yourself that you cannot change any longer because you are too set in your ways, or because you are too old to change. That is the easy way out. It's chickening out. It's just another (softer and less strict) way to say “it's not important enough to me”. And for me that is fundamentally wrong, because what other goal is there in life to strive for something more and something better?
Of course that's not implying that every step of the way has to be pure dedication. It is very important to give yourself some slack otherwise the pressure will wear you down. But be honest about the fact that you have other priorities right now. You want to lose weight but want to focus on your work for a few more months? Sure, don't sweat it. There will be less stressful times. You think your attitude towards others might need some adjustment but …? No biggie, people will like you this way a little longer. Yes I chose the most stupid examples possible. Don't worry, I have a whole list full of real things for myself to work on, but this is not (yet) the place to share them.
But hold yourself accountable! Don't just let everything slide. Admit that there is something to change about you, something to make you a better human being. Not for those who have to look at your out-of-shape butt or those who have to deal with your mood swings. But for yourself! Try to lead a better life. Try that as often as you can spare it, so in the end you become truly better. A better version of yourself, which in top is proud and self-confident about the achievement.
And that in turn are the thoughts that should propel you, at all ages. Not unwarranted satisfaction with unattacked shortcomings but happiness from tackled hurdles.