When I left my television news job in 2006, I didn't know exactly what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I had grown tired of being told what to do by people who were considerably younger and knew less than me. I was frustrated with being passed over for promotions. I definitely knew I didn't want to go back into corporate America and work silently into retirement. It was time for a midlife makeover.
Many baby boomers like me are quickly finding out that the golden years of retirement, as we once knew it, no longer exists. Whether we leave the workforce voluntarily or are forced out because of technology or younger employees, we now find ourselves having to create an Act II before the curtain falls for the last time.
What did I learn at the age of 49? Starting your own business is definitely against everything you learn in corporate America. When you work for someone else you're taught to go with the flow, play nicely in the sandbox and be a team player. Becoming your own boss requires a makeover in the way you think and act. Baby boomers didn't grow up with 24/7 technology so there is some catching up to do in the Web 2.0 world.
The first thing you have to do is believe you can do anything you want to do, no matter what your age. It is a mindset and if you don't have it, perhaps you need a business or life coach to help you.
Did you know Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't publish her first novel until she was 65-years-old? Her "Little House" series spawned nine books and created the hit TV show "Little House on the Prairie," which will live in the hearts and minds of the boomer generation forever.
Comedian Moms Mabley became the oldest person ever to have a Top 40 hit when her rendition of "Abraham, Martin and John" climbed to #35 on the Billboard charts in the summer of 1969 when she was 75. If they can do it against all odds, you can too!
The next thing you have to do is design, develop and implement your life reinvention business plan. It's one thing to have faith and a vision but without a plan of action, your business goals may never pan out. Before you decide to go into business for yourself, keep in mind that you need direction. That means you need a plan and your plan must include creating the kind of image that will make you stand out from the crowded field.
Finally, you need to dream BIG. Every success story starts with big dreams. If you're going to be a successful entrepreneur at midlife you have to believe the sky is not the limit. Just making enough to pay the bills or getting a few customers is not enough of an aspiration to fuel you forward. Have you ever heard Oprah say all she ever wanted to do was just pay the rent and get by? She had big dreams.
The journey to becoming successful in your own business at midlife will have its challenges, but you can do it with your complete makeover of courage, determination, motivation, inspiration and perseverance. It can be one of the most rewarding and best things you do for your Act II.
In my case, I decided to take the knowledge and experience I've gained over three decades and work on my own terms. I could put that same passion and energy into making myself as successful as I did working for someone else who didn't always appreciate it. So now just call me a media trainer.
Edith Pearlman, born in 1936, published her debut collection of stories in 1996, at age 60. In March, The National Book Critics Circle gave its fiction award to Pearlman for her story collection "Binocular Vision" (Lookout Books). She has published over 250 works of short fiction in national magazines, literary journals, anthologies and online publications. Her work has won three O. Henry Prizes, the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature, and a Mary McCarthy Prize, among others. In 2011, Pearlman was the recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award, which puts her in the ranks of John Updike, Joyce Carole Oates, and other luminaries. She told Huff/Post50 that with age, "You care less about popularity, write more freely. The ordinary experiences of aging alter and clarify your view of past, present, and future."
Alfred Hitchcock began directing in his 20s, but did his best work later in life. Hitchcock made "Dial M for Murder," "Rear Window," "To Catch a Thief," "The Trouble with Harry," "Vertigo," "North by Northwest," and "Psycho" between his 54th and 61st birthdays. The New Yorker called it "one of the greatest runs by a director in history."
Julia Child didn't learn to cook until she was 40, and published her first best-selling cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," when she was nearly 50. She was photographed sitting in her kitchen after it was moved and rebuilt from her Cambridge, MA, home in 2002 as part of an exhibit at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, held a number of jobs from streetcar conductor to insurance salesman through his 30s, according to KFC.com. In 1930, Sanders opened service station in Corbin, Kentucky, and cooked for travelers who stopped to buy gas. In 1955, at age 65, he began developing his chicken franchise. A decade later, Sanders had more than 600 KFC franchises in the U.S. and Canada. He sold the business in 1964.
Kathryn Joosten, 72, is a character actress who has appeared in more than two dozen prime time dramas and sitcoms. She's perhaps best know for her role as Mrs. Landingham, the president's secretary in "The West Wing." According to IMDb.com, she started out as a nurse and decided she wanted to be an actress in her early 20s, but life intervened: She married and had two sons, and later divorced her alcoholic husband and supported her kids by painting and hanging wallpaper in the mansions of Lake Forest, Illinois. Joosten performed in community theater and in 1991 got a job at Disney World in Orlando, moving her family there. In 1995, at age 56, she packed up and went to Hollywood. She landed her first part as an extra in "Family Matters" and went on to play parts in "Seinfeld," "Frazier," "Dharma and Greg," "Scrubs" and "Desperate Housewives." Her film credits include "Wedding Crashers" and "Bedtime Stories." Joosten is also a lung cancer survivor who works to educate people about the disease.
French artist Paul Cézanne initially studied law but began drawing and painting in his 20s. But his finest works came decades later. According to The New Yorker magazine, the paintings created by Cézanne in his mid-sixties "were valued 15 times as highly as the paintings he created as a young man."
Laura Ingalls Wilder's first book, "Little House in the Big Woods," came out in 1932 when she was 65. It was the first of her eight-volume "Little House" series.
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