I got an email from a reader last week with the subject line “How to Start Over”. In it, the reader shared his personal story: being about 10 years into his career, balancing life with kids, a family and a big corporate job, all while trying to establish his own digital platform and business — and feeling like it’s time to break free and change things, but feeling overwhelmed by the idea of “starting over”.
He brought up a point that I’ve been confronted with many times. I wanted to share my response to his email, with one overwhelming preface: You’re never “stuck”.
As much as it may feel like you can’t get out of your current situation, as much weight as you put on the importance of maintaining your nine to five, as much fear as you have of disappointing your family — regardless of your current situation and regardless of your age, you’re never ever stuck.
Here was my email response:
“…I think you bring up a point that folks are faced with time and time again. I always share the story of my dad and I playing golf last year. He’s been an accountant for almost 40 years, and he’s always been apathetic to his work and has always told me he’s just “working to retire”. When I asked him why he doesn’t quit and do something else, his response was that he’s been doing what he does for so long, and it just “is what it is,” and that he doesn’t know what else he would do.
Believe me, I can understand the sentiment, and it’s hard to get into something new when you’ve been doing the same old thing for so long. But it was this conversation that inspired me and continues to motivate me to not waste a moment that I have to work on doing what I really WANT to be (and should be) doing. It’s kept me humble and active in continuing to build my business and establish myself professionally.
The best thing I can say is that you’re not stuck. You never are. It’s not easy to break free and do your own thing, especially with the added responsibility of supporting a family. But if I, a 27 year old with not a heck of a lot of experience, can get fired and start a business at age 24, someone at age 35, or 50, or however old, with a lot more life and work experience, can certainly do it. It just takes creating a plan of action for yourself, and not being defined by your age or held back by your current situation.
Take things one step at a time. You don’t have to quit TODAY and go “pursue your passion.” Create a plan. Start working on your passions on the side (it sounds like you already are), and set yourself up to make an easier transition in the not-too-distant future. It also REALLY helps to set a deadline for yourself — a date to take the leap — and work toward that…”
We’re afraid of disappointing our family. We tell ourselves that we’re not good at anything else except what “we do”. We’re terrified of change. We convince ourselves it’s “too late.”
The only way you’ll be disappointed is if you never try. The only way to know if you can’t do something is if you give it an honest effort. It’s only “too late” when you die.
The best thing you can do is to start. And it’s never too late to get started.
How to Start Over (Hint: It’s Never Too Late) [Life Without Pants]
Matt Cheuvront is the founder of Proof, a full-service branding shop, and is the mind behind Life Without Pants, where he shares his perspective on entrepreneurship and living — without restrictions. Reach out and stay connected with Matt on Twitter @mattchevy.