The Inspiration You Need To Change Your Life

How often do you tell yourself that you’re “too old” to learn something new, get fit, write that book, get that business idea off the ground or go after your dream job? Once you’ve read this, the answer will be ‘never’. Age is only a barrier if you make it one, as these celebrities prove…

It’s Never Too Late To…

Go back to school…

Steven Spielberg finally completed his film degree 33 years after dropping out of Cal State University, whilst, in a case of life prefiguring art, former child star Mayim Bialik took a break from TV to complete her PhD in neuroscience, three years before landing the role of neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory.

In the UK, as our working lives lengthen and job insecurity rises, record numbers of over-50s are heading off to university for the first time. St Patrick’s International College, the Greenwich School of Management, the London School of Business and Finance and the University of East London are amongst the most popular destinations for older students, each admitting more than 100 over-50s each year.

Start your own business…

If the idea of going back to school fills you with horror, don’t despair. Before founding Spanx, Sara Blakely spent several years working as a door-to-door fax salesperson, having failed her law school admission test. Frustrated by the seams of the control-top tights she was required to wear as part of her uniform poking out from her open-toed shoes, she decided to cut the feet off… and the rest is history.

Having been turned away by almost every established hosiery mill in the U.S., Sara finally caught a break, to become one of Forbes’ 100 most powerful women in the world. The lesson? If you truly believe in your idea, don’t give up.

Change your career…

We might not all be budding entrepreneurs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t stumble across our dream career a little later than we might have expected to. Vera Wang, whose name is now virtually synonymous with the designer wedding dress, didn’t create her first gown – her own wedding dress – until the age of 40. The designer had previously worked as a fashion journalist for 17 years, having failed to be selected for the U.S. Olympic figure skating team as a teenager.

Then there’s Kathryn Joosten, the former psychiatric nurse you might know better as Desperate Housewives’ Karen McClusky, a role for which she won two Emmys. Kathryn began acting in community theatre at the age of 42, before being hired as a Disney World performer at 46 and heading off to Hollywood at 49, winning guest roles in everything from E.R. to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, via Roseanne, Frasier, Scrubs and The West Wing.

Write a novel…

Do you have a book inside you, fighting to get out? Former teacher Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of The Little House On The Prairie series, based on her own childhood, didn’t publish her first novel until she was 65.

Then, of course, we have J.K. Rowling, who completed the manuscript for the first Harry Potter story whilst struggling with clinical depression and suicidal thoughts in the aftermath of her marriage breakdown and the birth of her first child. She may have seen herself as a ‘failure’, but, in the end, found that failure ‘liberating’, allowing her to dedicate her focus to her writing.

Learn a new skill…

Is there something you’ve always wanted to try, but thought you were ‘too old’ for? Or just something that happened to tickle your fancy as you flipped through a magazine or chatted with a friend the other day? Give it a go – after all, who knows where it might lead?

Julia Child, one of the world’s first celebrity chefs, played by Meryl Streep in ‘Julie and Julia’, didn’t publish her first recipe book until she was almost 50, saying, “I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.” Former housekeeper and farm worker Anna Mary Robertson Moses (known as Grandma Moses), meanwhile, picked up her first paintbrush in her late seventies, after arthritis forced her to give up embroidery. Her paintings now sell for sums in excess of $1 million.

Get fit…
She may be the poster child for wellness now, but former heroin addict Davina McCall lived off packet noodles until her mid-thirties, when, in her words, having children “changed the kind of person I wanted to be”. Now 48, she has 12 fitness DVDs, three books on healthy eating and a six-pack to her name.

Still not convinced? Take heart from Gladys Burrill, who became the world’s oldest female marathon finisher at the age of 92, having run her first at 86, or Madonna Buder, the “iron” nun who became the oldest woman to complete an Ironman competition at the age of 82, having begun her training at 48 and completed her first triathlon at 52.

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