When Is Too Old

When I was in my 20s, I thought that was the best time in my life to carve out a career. I had energy, decent looks, ambition, and most importantly, time. When I did not meet my own expectations by the end of my 20s, I was disappointed. I feared that I had missed the train.

When I was in my 30s, I had more life experiences and more clarity about my career. I had a better idea of what I could do better, and what was not my strength. At the same time, my available time to do work had significantly reduced, with marriage and two kids. Raising a family took time, and I wanted to be around my family, so jobs that required much traveling or time away from home were a no-no for me. Most people I talked to started to tell me: after I hit 35, it’s going to be very, very tough to go back to a corporate job. If I see no future running my own business, better quit before it’s too late and go find a job. It set up a lot of anxiety in me.

Now I am in my mid-40s, and the facts are, I am not on Forbes 30-under-30 List, nor am I a distinguished alumnus. I am probably a very average mid-40s, with a receding hairline, and weight that has to be carefully managed (or perhaps “ruthlessly suppressed” is more apt) and increasing demand from my own family and extended family.

Strangely, the crushing anxiety I had in my 30s did not get worse. It became more manageable. One thing I have realized is that while the poster boys and girls among entrepreneurs created unicorns in their 20s and 30s, they represent the exception, not the rule.

As an entrepreneur, I have a longer runway compared to a corporate person. As a slow learner, I have learned my lessons from the school of hard knocks over the past 20 years, and God willing, I still have the next decades to apply them. Since I am my own HR department, I can decide when to quit. There is no mandatory retirement age for entrepreneurs.


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