Don’t be afraid of coming out of your comfort zone – be afraid of staying in it.

Two years ago, I walked out of my life. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. In midlife, many women are settled with plans in place for their later years but I wanted change and couldn’t continue to live in an environment that no longer felt right, working at a job that was wrong for me.

So often we hear, ‘You only have one life, make the most of it, live each day as if it’s your last.’ But how many of us do that?

For years, I’d taken care of my mum, who passed away suffering from dementia. I’d raised my family, looked after other people and worked very hard. I’ve had a great life and there have been some amazing highs but life was no longer sitting comfortably with me and a voice in my head said, ‘Change it, before it’s too late.’ Making drastic changes involves big decisions and selling my house and walking away from the working world that I was a part of and my friendship circle, was tough.

But taking that leap of faith was the best thing I ever did.

I’d always had a dream. I wanted to be an author, to write stories and sell books. But I never thought I was good enough.

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CAROLINE JAMES AUTHOR BOOKS

Now as my body clock was ticking, my literary one was too, so in the first few months of my new life, I sat in the Caribbean sunshine, glued myself to a laptop and wrote, The Best Boomerville Hotel, then found a wonderful publisher who believed in me and suddenly my writing took on a more serious note. Boomerville is all about embracing the middle and later years. In my research for the book, I discovered that in the UK, one in three people over the age of 50 live on their own, a statistic that would never have stood in my parent’s generation. Things are changing, we live longer and are fitter and healthier in our later years and I’d love mid-lifers to look positively at getting older and embrace new challenges. As the government introduces social activities on prescription, to combat loneliness for isolated people, opportunities are out there to do something different and stimulate learning and new experiences, unexpected friendships and possibly love.

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In the writing world, I admired authors like Mary Wesley who had her first adult novel published at the age of 71 and Frank McCourt who wrote Angela’s Ashes at 66. Many writers flourish as they get older, by which time they’ve mastered their craft. I chose to write on a full-time basis and it was the best decision I’ve made in years.

Whatever your age, whatever you might do, a fresh challenge can feel like a rebirth, so don’t be afraid of coming out of your comfort zone, be afraid of staying in it. It’s never too late to being a new career.

BOOKS BY CAROLINE JAMES

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