Having coffee with an old friend last week, I realised that one of my hottest of hot buttons is someone using the "too old for that" phrase.
"You shouldn't move - you're too old to make new friends."
"I'm too old to start a business although I'd love to."
"You're far too old to take up abseiling / pot-holing / bungee jumping"
I've heard these sort of comments a lot recently, remarks that made me want to stand on the nearest table and start shrieking with frustration (I don't because I'm introverted and English) or at the very least, demonstrate my very best cross-patch, pouty face.
And the reason they make me so mad is that because:
1.) At the age of 51, I feel I'm far too young to start restricting myself in this way
2) Hey, it's not over, until it's over
3) By the time I've reached 93, 51 is going to seem like my teenage years.
Now, of course, I'm not denying that I'm too old for some experiences. I'm way past it to win Young Speller of the Year award and no doubt passed the age limit years ago to join the Become a NASA Astronaut programme. But the point is, I think many of our self-imposed age restrictions are crazy, wasteful and downright bonkers.
Start ice skating at 46 never having been on a rink - why not, I did it!
Learn scuba diving in a local pool like my Alexander Technique teacher who decided to do this when she got to 80.
"I got my certificate, but wasn't that keen on all those tubes and underwater breathing. So then I turned to t'ai chi and I love that, it's part of my morning routine. The next year, I decided to learn Esperanto and I've never stopped. It's a fantastic language and recently I came out with a distinction, passing the exam with 83%." She later said when interviewed.
The point is, that we don't have to decide once we hit forty that life has to follow a predictable course with no room for growth, expansion or change. That's why my toes curl in delight every time I hear of a couple who have married in their eighties or a business leader who is still teaching in her nineties, or of a woman who has taken up weight lifting in her seventies.
Now I know you can argue that aging can be far more difficult for some people through accident and illness and I'm certainly not denying that luck can have a hand in how we live our later years. But our attitude towards aging is also a major influence in what we're prepared to grab with both hands in our midlife and beyond, how we respond to life's challenges and how we nurture our spirit.
That's why I'm delighted to see that more and more of us over the last few years are deciding in increasing numbers to join younger women and to step into online entrepreneurship. We’re creating businesses that are thriving and flourishing all thanks to the amazing power of the internet and social media and entrepreneurship in this age group is soaring.
Technology provides opportunities that even a few years ago would not have been open to us without wads of cash. and reaching out across the globe, we can now easily find customers on the other side of the world.
So if your dream is to start a business and use all the amazing experience and wealth of knowledge you've gained over the years, start it now. Don't stop yourself by listening to thoughts that it's too late, or you're too old - this is simply not true. Keep developing your expectations of yourself in midlife, push yourself a little and enjoy the exhilaration of knowing you rose to a challenge.
Women all over the world are building businesses teaching others how to exercise and eat healthily, run a business, develop artistic skills, you could be one of them and now is the perfect time for you to begin.
There are always reasons why it's never the right time to start your business. You may be too young, too inexperienced, not photogenic enough for your website shots, too short, the wrong colour, not glamorous enough, too fat, too thin, being too old is just one in a long line of (dare I suggest), excuses rather than reasons.
You may feel that the technology is beyond you or that the complexities of running a business are likely to send your mind into a spin but there is always a way to learn a new skill, to develop the knowledge or to find someone to help. Believe me, you're more than capable of this.
Midlife and beyond doesn't have to be a slow, increasingly speedy decline to The End. It could be the start of one of the most fulfilling chapters of your life but it starts with a decision. You have to make a choice and you need to make the commitment to keep on learning and growing.
So when are you going to get started?