Last week, we tackled the tricky question “Can I do this?” So this time, we’re going to address a sneaky one that often creeps into the decision-making process of someone who’s considering to reinvent himself and his career.
“Am I too old to make a change?”
This question is one that makes me smile whenever I hear it.
Only you can answer this question.
I believe dealing with change has less to do with age and more to do with your willingness to rock the boat and get wet, nauseous, and sticky for a bit.
A thirty-five-year-old person may be unwilling to go through all the hassle, whereas another fifty-year-old person may be open to everything that goes along with change.
So as much as I hate getting this answer, I will give it: it depends. Specifically, it depends on you.
If you’re looking for inspiration and a shot of chutzpah, a quick Google search will give you hundreds of articles about people who achieved success late in life.
Here are five of my favorites:
- Julia Child published her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking at the age of forty-nine. She didn’t even know how to cook until she was in her thirties.
- Alan Rickman started his career in graphic design. He was pushing thirty when he decided to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. He landed his first film role at forty-two.
- Vera Wang started designing when she was forty. Before then, she was a journalist and an editor at Vogue.
- Ray Kroc bought McDonald’s when he was fifty-two and grew it into the world’s largest fast-food franchise. Before then, he was a milkshake machine salesman.
- Tim and Nina Zagat were lawyers when they published their first collection of restaurant reviews under the Zagat name, which became a mark of culinary authority. They were fifty-one.
Then, of course, there’s Diana Nyad. We all know her by now. At sixty-four, and after five previous attempts, she finally achieved her long-time goal and became synonymous with everything that has to do with perseverance and following our dreams. But before that claim to fame, she started her career as a novelist. At twenty-eight, she made her first attempt to swim the shark-infested waters between Havana and Key West. She was not successful. Well, you know the rest.
And these are just the famous people.
You can imagine the hundreds and thousands of other people who are restarting their careers past their thirties—people just like you and me who we will never read about because they’re not celebrities.
For this reason, I make a point of interviewing these people and profiling them. Check out their stories for inspiration or when you need a real kick in the pants.
I’ll tell you where I get my kick in the pants. My father, to whom my book Break Free was dedicated, grew up in poverty.
With no money to go to college, he went to work immediately after high school. He entered the police force and worked his way up while also raising a family (two kids at that time; I wouldn’t arrive until much later).
But he didn’t give up on his dreams. With my mother accepting odd jobs to supplement the family income, my father pinched and scraped so he could save enough money to attend college on nights and weekends.
Slowly but surely, he finished his undergraduate degree, then went to law school when he was in his thirties. He graduated, passed the bar, and become the lawyer I knew him to be in his early forties.
Years later and long after he was gone, I would realize that he was the first person who ever showed me it’s never too late to be who you want to be.
Whether or not you’re too old to change career (and life) direction is ultimately, up to you. Whether or not you’re willing to rock the boat. Whether you’re willing to get wet and sticky for your dream. Or not.
This week, consider the following:
- What does it mean for you to achieve your desired work/career?
- What are you willing to do in pursuit of it?
- What are you willing to live with and without in exchange for the prize of achieving your goals?
Then share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Break Free: The Courage To Reinvent Yourself And Your Career is now available on Amazon, in print and Kindle versions. It is all about helping you make the critical decision to take command of your career direction so you can build the one you want. You can click here to learn more about it.