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Starting Up or Starting Over: Why It Helps to Be a Misfit

Jeannie Edmunds is an expert at starting up businesses and starting over in life. In an excerpt from her new book, she offers 9 lessons for renewal and fulfillment.
Adapted from the new book Start Me Up: Tips, Tales, and Truths about Starting Up and Starting Over by Jeannie Edmunds


As humans, no matter where we live or what language we speak, we yearn for a healthy mix of adventure and safety. We want to feed our families and take vacations. Sometimes we don’t want to have to make choices but recognize that we must. Most important, we don’t want to reach the end of our lives regretting the chances we didn’t take, the opportunities we shouldn’t have left behind.

Join Jeannie Edmunds tonight (June 21st) for a book launch event that will feature women who have successfully started over, plus a gospel choir! 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Click here for all the info.

No employer I ever met was looking for someone with my resume. I wasn’t a “this” or a “that” as a profession. I fell into most jobs by accident or through personal referrals from friends or colleagues. With a wide range of interests and a willingness to pay my dues in every decade of my work life, I’ve picked up a variety of useful skills and have been employable and employed most of the time. David Epstein’s book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World validates my experience. Being a generalist is my specialty, and I’m grateful to draw on it as a start up skill set.

People with my kind of operating system have spent our lives compensating for the fact that we are mostly misfits in the world of organizational charts and job titles. Our inquiring minds can make us fascinating conversationalists, insightful strategists, useful travel companions: We always find the best restaurant because we’ve read all the reviews and asked the right people.

Read More: How I Found a New Career (and Started Yoga Teacher Training!) at Midlife

Taking Chances

jeannie edmunds, starting a new career after 50
Author Jeannie Edmunds

All I’ve ever done is take chances. I’ve rarely made the “safe” choice in my career. Yet I’m still standing. An inquisitive, avid reader and lifelong learner, my rapacious curiosity has impelled me to reinvent myself over and over. And that has made me fearless.

Comedian Jonathan Winters said, “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.”

I’ve been a wanderer, an artist, an inventor, and an entrepreneur, with all the attendant ups and downs in income and stability, changes of zip codes, and, too often, the terrifying feeling actors get after a movie wraps: “I’ll never work again!”

In an unfriendly economy, it can be dangerous to leap without a net. Who would be crazy enough to leave a job to travel or start a new enterprise with a rebellious teenager at home? Me. It’s been a thrill ride, and so far, it’s been great.

No matter how old you are, if you’re feeling stuck in an unfulfilling job, maybe you haven’t allowed yourself to imagine all the possibilities outside your current field. I, someone with no connections, in some cases no experience, and no inheritance on the horizon, managed to build an exciting, successful life and career by continually starting up and starting over. So can you.

9 Key Ideas to Remember When Starting Over

  1. First step in starting over? Look behind you. Someone from your past may have changed, and you probably have too. Maybe it’s time to reconnect.

2. Starting up and starting over takes mental focus and physical stamina. Get your body and mind ready. Age, income, education, geography, cannot limit you–unless you let them.

How do you know whether to pay attention to your fears or your dreams?

3. You may stumble a few times as you find your footing whenever you start a new job or a new venture. It’s okay. You’re learning. Follow the philosophy of the startup: Recognize that failure is a possibility. Just try your best to learn something from your mistakes.

4. A low-paying job can give you the chance to learn a new industry and build your network. Consider it paid vocational training. And keep the contact info for everyone you meet. You never know when you might be able to help each other.

5. How do you know whether to pay attention to your fears or your dreams? Good question. Just trust, do your best, and be open to new challenges and opportunities, even those that happen by accident. Embrace the serendipity and uncertainty.

6. If you’re looking to make a change in your life but you’re thinking of all the reasons why you can’t, don’t throw yourself a pity party. Identify someone who could be your future mentor, business partner, or employer. Find someone who is already doing what you’d like to do. Connect with her (or him) and ask for advice and/or introductions. Wear a smile. You know how you take selfies showing your good side? Everyone has strengths. Emphasize yours.

7. Comedian Jonathan Winters said, “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.” The more you build and nurture your network, the greater your chances of getting a referral or a tip about a new opportunity. If you are introverted, it’s OK. With the internet, you don’t have to meet people in person, so long as your phone, email and messaging game is on point.

8. Even after retirement, even in your 70s and 80s, if you are called to start a new business, or a new career, there’s nothing stopping you. You may have other issues, but you’re not too old. So long as you’re healthy, starting something in your 70s and 80s may provide extra income and will certainly enrich your life.

9. Living well is not the best revenge. Feeling successful and confident after feeling neither is.

Read More: Fired! Bouncing Back From a Midlife Pink Slip


Jeannie Edmunds is a consultant known as Start Up Jeannie. She has advised 100+ companies in tech, digital media, ed tech, fin tech, fitness, natural products, food and beverages, beauty, health and wellness, cannabis and other plant medicines. She’s been a writer, producer and director in television news, documentaries, and infomercials.


By Jeannie Edmunds


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