As many of you will see from my earlier post, I resigned last Friday.
As you can imagine, I talked to my family and friends before making this decision. During these discussions, I received some interesting comments.
Most of the feedback was based around money, which made sense. It is one thing to chase after what you want in life, quite another not to be able to pay the electricity bill.
The other major issue of contention was based around my age.
I probably haven’t mentioned this before on my blog.
I am 45 years old. I will turn 46 mid 2011. I am not a twenty something blogger. (No offence intended to 20 something bloggers, I read and am a fan of many of your blogs).
So what does age have to do with following your hearts desire? Plenty as it turns out.
Here are some of the fears that raised their ugly head during discussions with people.
You will find it hard to get another job
I had quite a few people whip this little gem out. They may have phrased it differently (you aren’t getting any younger you know) would be one charming example, but the meaning was the same. The meaning being – you are nearly 50, so you might have a hard time getting another job. Safer to stay put.
I have to be honest, this doom and gloom advice did get me thinking.
I have heard personal experience stories from friends that tried to get jobs into their fifties and had a particularly hard time. It took one of my female friends a very long time to get a job that she was qualified for. Around 20+ interviews long time.
A similar version of – you will find it hard to get another job – is if you get out of the market, it will be hard to get back in. Whilst this may actually be the case for professions that require actively working in a particular profession and partaking in regular industry training, I do not feel it applies to being a personal assistant.
After I got over the initial impact of this issue, I realised what holding on to this fear would do to my life (if I allowed it). It would leave me floundering in a job that I had outgrown which was making me unhappy. Is that what I wanted for the next twenty or so years of my working life? No thank you.
You won’t have enough energy
I am the first to admit I do not have the stamina or energy of a 23 year old. However I do have more commitment, drive, tenacity and a whole bunch of other qualities, that I did not possess in large quantities when I was 23.
Whilst this issue may have some merit, it is hardly a valid reason to stop you from doing what you want.
My theory. Do something you love – you will be surprised how much energy you have. Taking the occasional cat nap won’t hurt either.
You will be competing against people a lot more experienced (and younger) than you
Competing against people more experienced is par for the course in any profession, let alone when you are trying something new and starting out. While I need to be aware of my competition, worrying about how experienced they are or their age range is not going to benefit me in any way.
Learning as much as possible, doing my best work and accepting that everyone has to start somewhere will hold me in much better stead.
You won’t be at the same level as your friends
Basically I am starting a new career from close to scratch. Most of my friends are getting to the stage where they are excelling in their chosen professions. Earning great salaries, getting promotions, upgrading to better jobs in the same industry. Some are even retiring early.
I will be at the opposite end of that spectrum.
This one doesn’t actually bother me all that much. I have often done things back to front to what my friends were doing. When I was 18, I was engaged while my friends were out partying. When they started to get married, I was single. When they started having kids. I was throwing on a backpack at 38 and travelling through South East Asia and Eastern Europe by myself, having the time of my life.
You get the picture. I have no problem running against the tide to what other people are doing.
You shouldn’t be doing that at your age
I read a lot of great blogs about people leaving their jobs and becoming entrepreneurs or travelling the world and taking extraordinary risks. I am also aware that a lot of them are a lot younger than me.
As I mentioned above, I have hardly taken the conventional path through life so far. In some people’s eyes, at my age I should be married with a couple of children, not chucking in my job and trying to change my career. The people that think this however are not me.
Writing this post is making me realise how old I am making myself sound. I am 45 – not 105. Time to stop feeling old!!!
Age is a positive driver
Some of these conversations came as quite a surprise to me. Whilst many of these things had no doubt crossed my mind , I didn’t see them as major barriers until I started talking to people. I have never acted my age, nor thought of myself as being defined by being a certain age.
Once I ran around the above fears in my head a few times (a few times too many, I might add), I realised something. Firstly, I should stop listening to the opinions of everyone else and trust my own instincts and secondly, my age is one of the positive driving factors for stepping up and taking a risk. To be blunt, if I don’t take the step now, I may never take it and that is not a situation I am willing to accept. Now is the time to strike out.
I personally believe that we should not be defined by our age. There are 18 year olds out there doing some amazing things. There are also lots of 65 year olds doing the same. Each to his own at any age. Be bold and take a stand for what you believe in.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you have any experiences of age being a problem in taking a career risk or a risk in general? I look forward to your comments below.