It’s too late to stop now

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So this is what being 40 feels like.

I hit the big milestone yesterday and had a fantastic day, with lots of lovely messages of congratulations from family and friends all over the world.

I know for many, including a lot of my best friends who will also break that particular barrier this year, it’s a time of crisis, and I thought I’d be the same.

But the last year-and-a-half of being self-employed has put paid to a lot of that – if you spend all your time doing what you want to do, what is there to be scared of in the future?

And besides, for our generation the world is a much more forgiving place than it was when our parents reached this age.

We have access to a lifetime of education and information over the internet.

The possibilities open to us in terms of retraining and new learning are almost endless, bound only by the amount of time and money we can devote to them.

Information is widely available for free, and academic qualifications (not, I would stress, the kind you buy for a hundred dollars from Roadkill University, Alabama) are more accessible.

People are no longer trapped in job roles they took on when they left school or college, and a varied CV is now seen as something of a bonus rather than a sign of instability.

But most of all, what we have is an ability to use our resources more effectively, and the most important one of these is the one that worries us most as we age – time.

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Technology allows us to do things faster and better and more reliably than ever before. If we are truly sensible about its use we can automate much of the boring stuff like paying bills and instead use that time constructively.

But what I’m most grateful for is the seemingly infinite number of second chances that this life is prepared to offer us. I spent the first 38-odd years of my life convinced of what it was I wanted to be when I grew up, then steadfastly avoided becoming it.

But the sands of time wore away at my resistance and I succumbed, and I’m now the writer/journalist/chancer I always wanted to be, but was afraid I would never become.

What scared me most was the possibility that I wouldn’t be any good at it, and that’s why I didn’t try it sooner (indeed, there are some who would claim that I’m still not any use, but they’re not the ones paying my invoices…).

I’ve always been suspicious of people who say they have no regrets, and there are plenty of things I wish I’d done differently- for starters, I might have gotten to where I am now a damn sight quicker.

But no matter. The most important thing is for us to remember that we are never too old to change or to try new things, and that time spent learning from our mistakes is time well spent.

And what difference does it make if it takes you until your 40th birthday to get to where you want to be in life?

With any luck, you’ll have another 40 years to enjoy being there.


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