I launched my company at the age of 47. Many may think about slowing down as they approach 50 or perhaps opting for a little more security. I dove head first into founding a start-up! I felt like it chose me. I was given a challenge and saw an opportunity to not only help myself but an entire population. If I was given this opportunity 20 years ago I don't think I would have been successful. I'll explain, I needed to experience the various roles and go through the uncertainty at times of where I was headed. This not only helped me hone in on my strengths but made me more resilient which is needed in the roller coaster of being an entrepreneur.
My advice is to start. Nike had it right when they said, "just do it." What I found in my journey is sometimes you have to dive right in, surround yourself with supportive people who will be honest with you, goal stack, smaller goals can add up to a big dream and lastly, believe in and value yourself.
Lessons along the way:
First lesson: There is no timeline for any of life's milestones
I turned 50 this year, how many lifecycle events I have witnessed over the past 4 decades, too many to count. I questioned how I was to measure my life without the major events like marriage and children. Well I did figure it out, it meant throwing the conventional rulebook or “story” out the window. You have a path and your age does not determine where you should be on that journey. Your milestones might look completely different than everyone else’s. And that’s ok. Celebrate your wins, whether weekly, monthly or yearly. It is your definition of what a win is! In my 20’s if someone would have told me you are going to be a founder of a start up in your late 40’s in the healthcare industry, I would have laughed. What?! I am going to be a filmmaker in Los Angeles. That was the dream, the plan, the course I set out for. I wouldn't trade my Hollywood years for anything, the experience helped shape who I am today. There are times you may want the clock to speed up or get to the next chapter. Allow yourself to be in the moment, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Second lesson: Let go
Let go and be open to what life presents. Stop comparing what your life should look like and embrace what you have, let go of the “story” and welcome an adventure. This pandemic is a perfect example of something not planned that can take us off course. The fear of what we cannot control can either paralyze you or propel you into creating something life changing. You may be trying to knock down a door when right next to you is an open window. I realized the more I held on to old beliefs the more I was sabotaging myself. I couldn't imagine not being in a creative field, but I discovered what truly motivated and fulfilled me, is helping others. Once I let go of what I thought made me happy, it opened a world full of opportunities. Letting go can be freeing, rewarding and scary, I bring that up in lesson 4.
Third lesson: Live your life, not your friend’s lives
The hardest decisions are ones that might separate you from a pack. You stand alone and wonder, are you doing the right thing? Are you being true to yourself? There were many times I just didn’t feel like I fit in, and it started at a very young age. I was the only Jewish kid in my elementary class and had a mom who embraced Judaism and had no problem educating and sharing our religion with others. She brought in a menorah and dreidels for Chanukah and while all the other kids had Easter baskets my mother brought in the ever flavorful matzah to teach about Passover. I sunk down in my chair and just wanted to disappear, I didn't want to be different. Add in the disruption of moving 4 times before I turned 14 for my dad’s occupation, I experienced religion as one area of my life that separated me from my friends, relocation was another. I was taught at a very young age to be resilient, take risks and stand up for what you believe in. If I didn't have this foundation and parents that encouraged me to be proud of who I am and to not fear veering from a path, I don’t know if I would have had the internal strength to launch a business at this stage of my life. It takes courage to trailblaze and venture down an unchartered road. Each of us has a purpose and a mission that another cannot complete. Take time to discover your native genius and all your uniqueness.
Fourth lesson: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Being uncomfortable and pushing yourself is a positive. Ask yourself honestly how many times do you not go for the job, the relocation, or the promotion because it challenges your comfort zone? The unknown is scary and it’ s normal to have doubts. The fear that you might not like the changes in front of you, or the possibility that you might not succeed, can keep you stuck in your tracks.
Make the decision to step out of the safety of the known and try something new. Why? Because this is where growth comes from. It’s like a muscle; you just need to keep working it and it will grow stronger. The challenge is there in front of you for a reason to help you move forward, you have all the tools to get through anything that is presented to you.
Fifth lesson: There is a next, and a next, and a next...
I thought by this age I would have it all figured out, but I realized that is not the point. The point is to keep searching, keep showing up and keep being open. It is not about knowing all the answers, it is about the journey to discover all of the roads you can venture.
There is a lifetime of nexts for you to enjoy.
This is what the myriad of paths to 50 taught me. It’s taken me all this time to feel comfortable in the discomfort of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. But, it’s in those moments of uncertainty that I feel the greatest sense of possibility.
Melissa Blatt is the founder of indipop, a marketplace that offers high-value, simple and affordable healthcare for the self-employed. Curious about healthshare plans from indipop? Within minutes, you can be matched with the best fit for your budget and needs. To get started, visit their website.