I was on the popular Question & Answer site Quora recently and a user asked the question:

What is the single insight that most changed your life?

The response from a user called Marshall Karp was a ‘perfect’ answer it was viewed more than 89,000 times and upvoted more than 2,000 times.

I want to share that response with you because it will inspire you to take control of your life today!


At the age of 39 I had it all. A loving wife, two fantastic kids, an apartment in New York City, a house in the country, new car, nice vacations and a high paying job as Creative Director of a hot creative advertising agency.

Everyone wanted to be me.

Except me.

On the outside I was the poster boy for Happy Successful Man Who Has His Whole Future Ahead Of Him. But deep down inside I was miserable.

I began to assault myself daily with that five-word mantra. The one that so many of us begin muttering when they find themselves wandering through that unfamiliar, unsettling neighbourhood known as midlife.

Is this all there is?

We don’t ask ourselves that question when we’re 25. It’s still too early in the first quarter of the game. We caught the ball on the five-yard line and we’re making our way up the field.

But at 39, it’s halftime. Do the math. The average man is going to live till the age of 78. I was on the back nine.

I know — your actual mileage may vary. You could get killed falling off a ladder at age 60. Or at the age of 100 you could fall off a hooker. There’s a lot of latitude in The Middle. But somewhere between 30 and 50 you’re halfway done. It’s up to you to decide when to look at the face in the mirror and say:

Is this all there is?

No. There’s a whole lot more. And I’m going to tell you how to get there.

Tonight I’m going to send someone to your house. He’s a teenager, about 17 or 18. He doesn’t know much about life — what teenager does? But he knows what’s cool. And after talking to you for a couple of hours, he’s going to be able to zero in on what’s a cool new direction for you to head in.

In fact, by the end of the evening, this kid is going to completely outline and plan the second half of your life. And that’s what you’ll do. Trust me, it will be cool.

What’s that you say? That’s the dumbest damn thing you ever heard? Why should you let some teenage kid with no world experience plan the second half of your life?

My answer is, why did you let him plan the first half?

This rut that you’re stuck in, this life that you’re trapped in, who planned it? Not you. Not the YOU you are now. Most of us form our life’s plans shortly after high school. Maybe we’re 16, maybe we’re 23, but for the most part we’re still kids. And then once we make a plan, we stick with it.

That was my insight. I was pushing 40 and still living the dream of some teenage kid.

That kid didn’t exist anymore, and yet I was still following the path he laid out for me. Most kids can’t project past next Saturday, much less conjure up what your life could be like 25 years down the road.

That was the moment I decided that the 40 year old me should start planning the life of the 60 year old me and beyond.

I was at the top of the ladder, and I suddenly realized I didn’t need one more rung. I wanted to find a new ladder.

I did. Climbing that ladder was at times terrifying, but never boring. Today I have all the things I had at the age of 39 and more. But this time around I’m deliriously happy with who I am and where I am. I still have dreams for the future, but I no longer wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and ask is this all there is?

My Act Two was conceived, written, produced, and directed by an adult. And I’m grateful for the insight that convinced him to take on the job.

Your turn:

What is the single insight that most changed your life? Share in the comments

PS: 3 random commenters will be get their phones credited with airtime on any network in Nigeria! (Selection will take place 48 hours after the post is live)


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