Latepreneur & Mental Illness

In Canada today is the Bell Let’s Talk mental illness campaign. The goal is to break the silence around mental illness and getting support. I strongly support this initiative because mental illness touches us all in someway.

Being a founder of any kind, whether you are going it solo, are bootstrapper or have a large team with VC funding, it will push the limits of your sanity at some point. Building a business from the ground up tests your emotional intelligence in some very unexpected ways.

This is not more true than with latepreneurs since there are very specific emotional challenges with this cohort.

Like working Moms, guilt often factors in. Latepreneurs have literally spent their adult lives giving to their families. It’s easy to say to your family, ‘“it’s my time now”. However, the realities are very different when faced with saying no to the same people who have depended on you all their lives. It is a hard habit to break and it comes with an unexpected guilt hangover. The kind that no grease-laden brunch will fix.

We also have new kinds of competing priorities. Our parents are getting older and they need us for care, for financial support, for just our time. When it is a now-or-never time for latepreneurs it can be a difficult and delicate balancing act helping our parents navigate the last stage of their life with presence.

When you have spent your whole life focused on creating security the level of risk involved can be catastrophically overwhelming as can the doubt from naysayers concerned for your upcoming years as a senior. When this is coupled with a dramatic learning curve it can lead to deep, dark areas of questioning your decisions and a feeling of drowning for many latepreneurs.

All of this can add up to intense anxiety, depression and a sense of isolation that latepreneurs live with rather than addressing and can get out of control, fast.

There are some important steps you can take to manage the consequences of emotional fallout:

  1. Check in with yourself regularly. Self-awareness is key not only to running your business, to being a great leader but also knowing when things are getting very far off track.
  2. Talk to (find) someone you trust, who gets you, who supports you and your latepreneur journey. I cannot emphasize how important this is and how crucial it is to have all three elements show up in the person you trust with when you don’t trust your thoughts.
  3. If there is not a person in your circle that can provide the support you need look for a group or create meetup group of other latepreneurs that are on the same rocky boat ride.
  4. Finally, if things are getting too out of control never hesitate in seeking out a professional.

Remember, what you are doing is brave and important. We only get one shot at this life, so live it.

I’m rooting for you!