So my business partner sends me a request. She wants me to nominate her for the contest that honors those under the age of 40 who are successful in business. I adore my business partner so, of course, I followed through and nominated her. In the course of filling out the form, it hit me. The world no longer views me at age 43 as youthful. What a realization. If you’re under the age of 40 your youth is gone, well, according to the Business Journal anyway. Yet while I was struck by this “worldly” reality, it didn’t feel true to me and in many ways it didn’t matter. I would never trade my 43-year-old life for a 20-year-old life anyway.
Most women I speak to about this subject are usually pretty quick to agree with me. No one really seems to miss this lost youth (if it’s really lost and where did I misplace it anyway?). I think the result of having lived my life and more specifically having reinvented my life at age 40 is that I don’t have regrets or longings to redo anything. At age 43, I have my “quacking ducks” in a row, and I call the shots on who I want to be and how I want to live. This lifestyle comes courtesy of a long journey in which the lessons were plentiful, but they were absolutely learned and applied.
The fruits of reinvention are great. I think that is what a lot of women don’t understand until they’ve experienced it. When you live your life on purpose with passion and commitment to work toward your dreams, you will be incrementally rewarded and regret nothing. A lot of women I speak to about this subject are so caught in the fear and barriers to the possibilities they really don’t know that the tree will produce any fruit at all. They just can’t see past all of the worry, anxiety and fear of failure to see so much more.
Women will stop by to speak to me when I’m at trade shows, pick up my book Second Bloom , and immediately discuss their desires to reinvent and then proceed to list all the reasons “why not.” I find these discussions very challenging. When I tell them to kick the fear out of their lives and just strive to build a plan, they will often cry the “can’t-do-it” chant and here is why. Since I know better I will listen, try one last time to persuade them that it’s very possible (look at me and my business partner who chucked a six-figure job … in the middle of the recession no less), and then just shrug. I find these conversations so common and frustrating to get women to see the possibilities.
If you’re one of these women so completely stuck with a laundry list that seems so valid and real, I can tell you something very important. You will regret it. It will bother you a lot more than it bothers me that your youth – or more like your life – is slipping away. I wake up every day happy and look forward to my next project. Do you? Do you wake up every day happy to start the day or do you dread it? Do you feel your life is ebbing away from you? Are you tried, restless and dissatisfied with your family, job or friendships? Does something feel just out of place and yet you’re not sure how to put it back?
You’re not alone. Millions of women as I write this column feel this way. I meet them every day. They pick up Second Bloom  and say, “Oh, that is me.” They admire the 10-step planning tool to make a change, but a good many of these women put it down. “I can’t do that.” “Why not?” And let the excuses begin. The most common excuse I hear almost always relates to money. Want to know the phrase I hate most in the world? “I can’t afford it.” Girlfriends, here is the super secret truth that sits in front of you. It’s not brilliant. It’s simple. “You can afford anything you really want.”
It’s time to get real with yourself … not me or anyone else. I can tell you most assuredly longings turn to regrets. I don’t know about you, but I never, ever want to hit the end of my life full of regrets. I wished I had (fill in the blank). I would much rather reflect with joy and satisfaction that I got it almost 95 percent right (5 percent margin of error for being human). Wouldn’t that be a marvelous feeling? Want to know more how you can plan for a change? Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Michelle Gamble-Risley is a speaker, author and president of 3L Publishing . Her new book Smash: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Practical Marketing and Public Relations  takes a humorous and insightful examination of how to make your business a success.