I’m a little older than 38, and let’s just say I’m between jobs right now. I know being a stay-at-home parent can’t last forever, so at some point soon I will have to roll up my sleeves and try to re-enter this nightmare of a job market. Thus, you can imagine my dismay when I read a recent article on The Onion entitled “Study: 38 Age It Too Late.” I am fully aware that The Onion is complete satire, but regardless, there are some things you just don’t want to hear. The article stated that once an individual reaches the age of 38, it is too late to make any meaningful life changes.
“Our analysis indicates that if people turn 38 before getting the job they always wanted, meeting that special someone with whom they can settle down, or accepting themselves for who they are, they never will,” said study coordinator Dr. Erik Heuer, adding that those who haven’t “figured things out” by their late 30s die sad, miserable, and alone 100 percent of the time.
Even though it’s not meant to be taken seriously, this message can still be discouraging to a lot of people. The truth here is not so black and white—changing careers at middle age has both its pros and cons. Obviously in this economy, anyone looking for work is in trouble. Middle age job seekers are at an extra disadvantage because employers tend to give them the evil eye. However, if you’re following your passion, age doesn’t matter. There are many examples of those who have accomplished much regardless of age or background.
I have two personal friends who have written books recently. Both came from completely different backgrounds. Ismet Prcic was originally from Bosnia. He spoke broken English when he arrived in the United States, where he studied writing in college. He will be almost in his mid-thirties when his first novel, “Shards,” will be published internationally later this year. And trust me, this is going to be big. Kelly Hess, an old friend from high school, recently self-published his first novel, “Eyes of the Enemy.” It’s the first part of a trilogy called “BlackMyst.” The eBook version is available on Amazon, where it is currently getting very favorable reviews. Regardless of age or background, if you have the talent and work hard, anything can happen. It’s not too late.
Internet personality and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck was in his thirties when when he created Wine Library TV, what he calls “The Thunder Show.” He had taken his father’s brick and mortar wine shop online, and grew the business by over ten times. Then with his YouTube video blog, Wine Library TV, he got himself noticed by reviewing and talking about wine in his own way. To say that the show took off would be an understatement. He then used that notoriety to pursue his real passion, business development. He recently published his second book about business, and currently does speaking engagements all across the country. If you have the talent and work hard, anything can happen. It’s not too late.
Author Diana Cosby retired early from the Navy at 36. She then stayed home with her three children, and finally started working on that first novel she always wanted to write. She had to get up at 4 a.m. to find the time. When she eventually completed her manuscript, it was rejected over 100 times. But she educated herself by taking online writing classes, and continued to get up before dawn. Her first seven novels were also rejected many times each. However, nine years after she started writing, her eighth novel was accepted by a publishing house in New York City. After so much time and work, her excitement was understandable:
“The first time I saw my novel in a bookstore, I stared at it in shock. When I noticed someone nearby, I blurted out, ‘I wrote that.’ I’d always dreamed of saying those words.”
She was 47 when her first published novel was released. Since then, she has published two more novels, and another is due out later this year. If you have the talent and work hard, anything can happen. It’s not too late.
Especially if you are a creative person with even a little entrepreneurial spirit, this new Internet age levels the playing field. All you need to figure out is: what is your passion, how much do you know about your passion, and how hard are you willing to work for it. Networking used to be some weird ethereal thing that people did at parties and social gatherings. If you weren’t a naturally outgoing person, you were kind of screwed. Not anymore. Social media has changed all that. Now you can interact and network with people across the country, or across the world, instantly. And with the nature of social networks like Twitter, each interaction tends to lead to even more interactions.
People say that the with the state of the current economy, the American dream is dead. But that doesn’t really matter anymore. We now live in a world economy, and we are all citizens of this world. And with the Internet and social media as your tools, you can live your dream in this world. If you have the talent and work hard, anything can happen. It’s not too late.
Source: garyvaynerchuck.com, The Onion, Woman’s Day
Occasionally I meet someone who tells me their chance to live their dream has sailed. The sentiment baffles me. As long as we’re living, we have a chance to fulfill our dreams! My dreams of studying medicine have been postponed for the moment in favor of spending time with my son, but that’s not to say they’ve been set aside completely. Not a chance! If I’m lucky, I have decades left to dream and to be so, so many things. That’d be so even if I hadn’t had inspirational 60-year-old classmates at UCLAw. 😉
I love this post, Jeff. Success is a matter of interpretation, I believe. Most Gen X’ers aren’t even starting to have kids until their ’30s, so if we were doomed by age 38, how depressing that would be, eh? Yes, I totally agree with the Closet Monster above, as long as we are alive and have our wits about us, we can continue to dream and look to fulfill whatever those dreams are, including everlasting love, new careers, or perhaps working towards keeping a simple life. It’s all relative.
I happen to believe that you’re never too old (or too young) to start all over. So, what… when you’re 38+ your dreams are dead in the water? Hell no! Age makes no difference… it’s the difference YOU make that matters.
I agree that it is never too late for some things, but for others it probably is, at least if you want to make a living at it. Writing is one of those things that can definitely be done, and probably done better, as one gets older. Music is probably just the opposite. Try marketing a band full of out of shape 40 year olds. Not happening.
Anyway, my “little one” is 18 in December so I might make a go at “following my bliss” but it is going to be hard making a living drinking craft brews, playing vintage video games, and collecting records…
So tell us, what are you thinking about doing when the time comes? Do you think you can make a living off of words and social media? If so, how?
Hey, out of shape 40 year olds is this year’s lense flare. 😉
I just think if I put enough words in the right order, something good will happen. Fingers crossed. I’m still trying to figure out the “making a living” part of it. It’s all about using social media to build interactions, create relationships- as opposed to just broadcasting things at people. For reference, I’d suggest checking out the book “Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuck. It’s painted in broad strokes, so to speak, but that’s pretty much the blueprint for how to do it.
What a scary concept “being too old.” Honestly, unless you’re dead, you are never too old for anything. You just might not do it as well compared to your younger self, but you’re still able to do it. Think about all those parents who were told they were “too old.”
Keep your dreams. It gives you something to look forward to.
Thanks Kalley, your comments are always appreciated.
And we all need something to look forward to.
35-year-old dad here still hoping to find/make a career for himself soon. New to your blog, but I suspect we have a bit in common. Thanks, Jeff. You’ve got a new follower.
Thanks Chris. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile. There’s beer in the fridge.
I think it’s a fear tactic being used by millennial because they have a hard enough competing with the baby boomers for jobs, they don’t need any more “older” people to compete with. Millennials are very lazy and very cutthroat at the same time.
Maybe for you folks out there in the US or EU, 38 is the age that you really “begin” to discover yourself / unleash your true potential / use your gifts to the best. However here in Taiwan youre finished once youre 30! 😦