Hate your job? Laid-off after 30 years in the same industry? Crave more meaning in your life? Maybe it’s time to start over – to follow your dreams and passion wherever they might lead.
Wait. Let me guess. You think you’re too old to reinvent yourself. If so, you need to talk to the doctor – Dr. Susan O’Malley, who has repeatedly remade herself over the past 40 years, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes in pursuit of greater satisfaction.
O’Malley spent her 20’s as a college dropout working as secretarial jobs. Her five-year plan, she recounts in Entrepreneur, was to find a man to marry and support her. That plan failed and left her broke. At 29, O’Malley returned to college to study nutrition, an outgrowth of her love of food. But three months into school she realized she really wanted to be a doctor! O’Malley started medical school at 35 and worked as an ER doc for several years. At 50, she found herself restless and decided to open a med spa from scratch, with zero business experience. At 63, she wrote a self-help book and became a motivational speaker!
O’Malley is hardly alone in changing her professional stripes often and late. Former lawyer Harlan Sanders franchised his Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was 62. A 50-year-old former accountant founded GEICO. Carol Gardner was 52, newly divorced, broke and battling depression when she started Zelda Wisdom greeting cards. The company is now worth about $50 million.
What were you saying about being too old to switch it up?
O’Malley shares this advice from her journey:
You’re the boss of you. No excuses. No ifs, ands or buts. YOU will determine your future. O’Malley says the best advice she ever got from her mom was, “One day you’ll be 50. You’ll either be a doctor or you won’t, but you’ll still be 50. That’s your choice.”
Ask for help. O’Malley faced all sort of obstacles that might have been insurmountable without the support of others. She was a single mom during medical school, for example. O’Malley had to overcome feelings of weakness, fear and vulnerability to ask for the help she needed.
Keep your eye on the prize. There will be rough patches on the road to your new tomorrow. Staying focused on the ultimate goal will get you through those times.
“You don’t have to be the smartest, you just have to be the one who won’t give up,” says O’Malley. “I made it through medical school with a baby and no husband, because I wouldn’t give up. Perseverance is a vital component to any success story. You can accomplish almost anything if you put your mind to it. I was a college dropout who became a doctor. Along the way, I became a warrior. Become a warrior.”