You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. – C.S. Lewis
I didn’t start writing my first book until I was 40 years old, working two jobs, with a wife and two kids. I finally published it seven years later. Now in my 50s (down to one job), the trilogy is done, and I’m working on three other books with lots of other ideas waiting in the wings. Of course, I’m still pretty much unknown outside my own circles.
So, as an unknown 50-something writer, am I too old to be a successful author? Did I miss my shot by not starting 25 or 30 years ago?
Are you kidding?? I’m just getting started!
What about you? Are you too old for dreams? If you said “yes,” let me give you a polite, yet straight-forward answer:
Baloney! (See? That was the polite version.)
Just because you may be past the bloom of youth (I sure ain’t no spring chicken), doesn’t mean your time for dreams and grandiose plans is over. All it means is that you’ve got more life experience to make those dreams come true! Don’t believe me? I’m sure you recognize at least one or two of these names: Ray Kroc, Julia Child, Grandma Moses, Colonel Harland Sanders. What do they all have in common? All of them were what you call your “late bloomers.”
- Julia Child, who wrote the definitive book on French cuisine, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, wasn’t exposed to fine dining until she was 34 (Heck, she didn’t even start cooking until she was 32!). The book wasn’t published until she was in her late 40s. It was such a huge success it went through 34 printings up until 1983 before it was revised. When she was 51, she began hosting her own television cooking show, which ran for ten years. In all, she participated in 13 different cooking series—well into her 80s—and wrote 17 cookbooks. Her attitude about what she did can be summed up in this quote from her: “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” That’s not bad advice for almost any dream, is it?
- How about Colonel Sanders? Did you know, at the age of 40 he was serving fried chicken in his service station in Corbin, Kentucky? He did alright, moving up to a motel/restaurant/museum business. But at age 65, his business failed due to a new highway. So, he went looking for franchises, and the rest is history.
- Ray Kroc. Now that name may not be as familiar. He was born in 1902, did time in the service, and then afterwards worked in a number of occupations. Jazz musician, paper cup salesman, and radio DJ, to name a few. After working in a restaurant for a while, he started working as a multi-milkshake mixer salesman. Finally, when he was 59 years old, he purchased a small restaurant chain from Richard and Maurice McDonald. And I’m sure you know what happened after that. You may even be one of the “billions served” at McDonald’s.
- Finally, there’s Grandma Moses. She was a revered American folk artist, whose paintings are known worldwide. Exhibitions of her work broke attendance records all over the world in the 1950s. Guess what? She didn’t even start painting on a regular basis until she was in her 70s. She turned to painting because she couldn’t do embroidery any more due to arthritis.
I hope by now you’re starting to see that success and achieving your dreams has very little to do with how old you are when you start. It’s not the age, it’s the attitude. When you worry about how old you are, you’re looking behind, spending your time thinking about what could have been, and where you could be now. The woulda, shoulda, coulda dance. The only thing you’re going to do spending your time looking behind you is to walk into a tree!
You can’t change yesterday, so make up your mind to change today and make a new tomorrow. Take Julia’s advice, and jump in with a what-the-hell attitude, and start cookin’!