So You Think You’re Too Old to Do Something New?
Do you think you are too old to start something new you want to do?
Several weeks ago I was talking to a former client and friend about her desire to start an interior design business. At 53, she recently left the corporate world and her highly paid executive job to regain her failing health. As she began to explore options of what to do next, she confessed that she was plagued with self-doubt and insecurity about her age.
“I am afraid that I am too old to start a whole new business in interior design. There are so many people out there who have been doing this for quite awhile and are younger than me. By the time I even get any traction—I’ll be 60!”
As I heard her words, of course my internal reaction was one of disagreement. Of course she wasn’t “too old” to do this and I even questioned the whole concept of what “too old” to do anything even was. But at the same time, I was reminded of a similar encounter I had last year, only with the roles reversed.
When my husband and I moved to Southern California a little over a year ago, we bought our house from a 96-year old man who had lived in the house for nearly 30 years with his wife. His wife had recently died and he had decided to sell the house and move into a smaller place near his daughter. He came back several months later to visit the neighbors, and we had the pleasure to meet this remarkable man in person.
At 96, he was in incredible health and didn’t look a day over 70. We all went out to lunch, and during the course of conversation, talked about a variety of subjects. Since he was almost finished writing his first book, he was curious about the publishing options I had explored when I finished my first book over three years ago. As we conversed, I told him about my desire to do two things: finish my PhD and host my own self-development online TV show.
And then I said the following:
“But I think it’s a bit too late to do those two things…”
I can still see the genuinely bewildered look on his face as he asked me the following question:
“Do you mean you think you are too old?”
I sheepishly nodded my head, a bit embarrassed confessing this to someone who was 96.
His expression said it all, but he smiled as if mocking me.
“My dear—I started law school when I was 50 and began a whole new successful career as a lawyer in my 50’s…” he began. “And now at 96, I am going to be a first-time author.”
His words not only made me feel a bit embarrassed for admitting what I did, but also for feeling them. His presence reinforced to me that the limitations we set for ourselves are only as big as we make them. While there are certainly physical and practical limitations in some areas (becoming a mainstream athlete may not be an option physically due to age), it doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue the dream with modified expectations of success.
Laura Ingalls Wilder published her famous “Little House on the Prairie” book and then series when she was 65.
Colonel Sanders started “Kentucky Fried Chicken” when he was 62.
Ray Kroc was 51 when he started being involved in the McDonalds enterprise.
Louise Hay was 52 when she published her blockbuster book, “You Can Heal Your Life” and began her career as a self-improvement guru.
Morgan Freeman was 52 when he starred in his break-out movie, “Driving Miss Daisy”.
The Zagats were in their 50’s when they left their jobs to pursue writing the famous Zagat guides.
Need I go on?
So if your age is what is holding you back from starting to do something you love or dream of, perhaps it is time to let go of your self-sabotaging thoughts and reframe them.
What would you do if you didn’t think your age was a factor?
What steps can you take to make that dream a reality?
How can you make the most of each moment, right now, to bring you closer to what you dream of?
What are you waiting for?
“Now” is all we have for sure.
Seize it and stop spending any more time being afraid of it.