November 15

When are You Too Old to Start Over?

When are You Too Old to Start Over?

By Deborah Johnson

November 15, 2019

entrepreneur, management, network, side business, transferable skills, trust

Been There, Done That?

Feeling too old to start over? Irrelevant, outdated, tech-challenged, the world passing you by?  Does the thought of starting over make you break out in a cold sweat? You’ve been there, done that and now are ready to live a little in your second half! There’s good news! You can live life to the fullest and still pursue your dreams with a start over attitude that won’t stress you out! Plus, it may even help you live longer with greater enjoyment and health!

In the book Life Reimagined by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Barbara encourages those at the midpoint of life to think about the future, keep up with current events, read and even garden.  All of those actions are proactive, engaging and intentional. Confidence and assurance are extremely attractive qualities and are often squelched with a negative, not-good-enough mindset at halftime. However, life after 40 (officially halftime! See: How Do You Know You're at Halftime?) is truly a tremendous time of life, full of opportunity to those who are open to it.

Denise Park, neuroscientist at University of Dallas says of halftime, or midlife, You’ve reached a stage in your life where you have both cognitive resource—that is speed and memory, and at the same time, knowledge, experience and judgment. She asserts that halftime is the most efficient, effective time of your life! But she also affirms that slow sometimes outperforms fast. People are in such a hurry.

Slow and Deliberate Wins

Remember the tortoise and hare fable? Anyone who has seen a hare or rabbit in action knows how fast they hop and run. Our little dog, Amelia really thinks she could catch one! The hare was so confident during the race with a tortoise that he stopped and fell asleep! Thinking he was taking a short nap, the tortoise kept moving every so slowly, but didn’t stop. The hare slept so soundly he didn’t hear the tortoise pass him up and win the race. This little Aesop turn-of-the-century Fable still holds a valuable lesson for us today.

When looking to start over, restart or even restructure your life and business, slow and deliberate usually wins. This is why I really encourage a side business you can build slowly, step by step, alongside your present work. Some call this a side hustle, or entrepreneurial venture and all those terms work. They all differ from a day job on someone else’s clock and 46% of our population are contemplating this entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Launching a business or project on the side helps you test the waters and see what is working or not working with minimal risk. It will fuel your excitement as your business builds and give you important feedback and direction for the future. I’ve never heard someone say it wasn’t worth taking a couple extra months or even an additional year to develop a strong or more effective program.

Starting Over-Deborah Johnson

Encouraging Statistics

Here are some encouraging statistics for those at halftime starting over or creating a side business.

A 50 year old startup founder is 2.2 times more likely to gain success than a 30 year old.

Nearly half of women business owners are between the ages of 45 and 65.

67% of business owners over 50 are making a profit. But success is more than money. 76% say that happiness is key and their happiness meter is 8 or above. (On a scale from 1 to 10) You can read more about a happiness meter in my interview with Jim Hietbrink in Stuck is Not a Four-Letter Word.

The 55-64 year old group accounted for 26% of new entrepreneurs in 2017. Many discover the advantage of partnering with the younger generation. A great illustration of this is Toni Bennett and Lady Gaga with their Cheek to Cheek Album in 2013, which became Bennett’s second number one album and Gaga’s third. Bennett is currently a young-at-heart 93 year-old.

People over 50 have an expanded network as well as experience and skills. Most know how to stick with a project. Some also have supplementary resources available and want to create significance, not just success.

Next Steps

Now that we’ve confirmed there’s hope and a chance for true success for those who want to start over, restart or pursue a dream at halftime, what are the next steps? If you’re thinking working for yourself includes sleeping in until 9AM, having your coffee, reading or watching the latest news and then scrolling social media to start your day, you are in for a huge wake-up call! Most reading this realize the absurdity of that notion, especially with a start-up!

Creating your own schedule is a huge draw to entrepreneurship but the reality of moving from a place where you had top-down guidance to one where you create your own rules is a challenge for many. There are multiple steps involved, but the first and most important step is affirming your skills, network, and experience. (Download the Side Business Template to get going!)

Case Studies

My friend Roy Embry from Eatonton, Georgia gets up at 4 A.M. every day. He loves his work as a fourth-generation farmer. He owns a transport system for sand, gravel and farm supplies. He actually expanded his cattle business, into the transport business when the milk and dairy cow market started dropping out. Local farmers needed to move equipment and arrange for fertilizer pickup so he saw an opportunity. He starting purchasing trucks and other equipment to meet the need, thus expanding his business. Roy still owns plenty of cows—over 800 I believe, but keeps very busy with the other part of the transport business and loves it. He’s thankful every day for his good health as he’s in his mid-70’s!

Deborah Johnson-start over

Bobbi Brown, 62, and former owner of Bobbi Brown cosmetics, is another great example of starting over at halftime. She sold her makeup business to L’Oreal to go completely on her own. She wanted to start a business that still helped women, but approached all things wellness with beauty, travel and everything else in between. She actually shared that she was at a loss of what to do after making this change because all of a sudden she was without a net.

What Bobbi Brown felt is very common and she went on to say the smartest decisions she made at that point was to work with a coach. She had left a huge brand and now needed some guidance. It was a very wise move and she is on her way to create even more impact at this stage of her life with @justBOBBI.

I will leave you with one last example, Ernestine Shepherd. She’s 78 years young and is the world’s oldest female body builder. She started training at age 56 and her arms look incredible.  To get those arms, she had to have a good plan and develop the habits to stick with that plan. I’m not sure my clean-and-jerks will ever get me there!

When to Quit?

Only 5% of Americans nearing retirement age actually intend on retiring. It’s encouraging that most people don’t just want to stop working.  But it’s also important to know and embrace limitations, especially physically. It was such a privilege to recently experience Burt Bacharach in concert at age 91, still sharp as a tack with his piano and conducting chops as he has written hit after hit, performed by many major artists. This concert was in contrast to seeing another artist of a certain age that had to be carried off the stage in a wheelchair as she couldn’t even finish the first act. She should have quit one concert sooner! This is a good lesson to us all, but don’t let fear make you quit too soon! 

Four Takeaways on Starting Over

One: Master your Mindset. Take the not-good-enough and the imposter syndrome out of your self-dialogue! Take a proactive, intentional approach to pursue your goals and dreams.

Two: Put a number on your Happiness Meter. Aim to be an 8 or above in on a scale from 1 to 10.

Three: Affirm your network, experience and skills. You are worth starting over with the work you love to create your ideal lifestyle!

Four: Don’t be afraid of making a change, but also embrace your limitations. When it’s time to get off the stage, do it!

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Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. She also hosts the popular podcast "Women at Halftime." Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work at mid-career or during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of multiple books, over twenty albums and musicals and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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