Is it time to start looking at turmoil as a catalyst? The past 18 months have shown us that change can be an opportunity. This can be true even if the “change” we’re experiencing is the last thing we would have wished for! The big lesson being learned by many is that it’s never too late to pursue your life’s passion. That means that it may be time to revisit the “wild-eyed” and “naïve” ideas you had in your 20s  about writing a book, crafting a movie script, recording an album, launching a cookie empire, or bringing a one-person show on the road.

A few decades into your professional life may reveal that the barriers you thought existed between your ability to do something and your desire to do something do not apply any longer. In an era of streaming services, online storefronts, and direct-to-reader book downloads, older professionals looking for a “reinvention” don’t need to ask the gatekeepers for permission.

If This 85-year Old Could Do It…

While Russ Ellis is not exactly a household name, Ellis is an accomplished professor emeritus from UC Berkeley School of Architecture. Little known to many people, as he was teaching future architects how to build the structures of tomorrow, Ellis spent decades working on songs, mostly in his head. Finally, in 2021, at age 85, Berkeley Cat Records released Ellis’s debut album, “Songs From My Garden.” The album was positively received with accolades from the New York Times and pop-culture podcasters. Inspirational, right?

Uncovering the Passion That Time Buried

Many young adults set passions aside to pursue education, career, and family responsibilities. Years later, this doesn’t have to be the tragedy that some people make it out to be. Not everyone should feel like they gave up on their dreams because they ended up with an executive title instead of a record deal. However, the latter part of a person’s career may be the perfect time to revisit a passion dropped in favor of “more practical” pursuits. If you need proof that it’s never too late to give your dreams a second glance, here’s a look at some people who found immense success doing work they love to do later in life:

  • Martha Stewart only became known after publishing her first book at the age of 41.
  • Joy Behar of “The View” worked as a high school English teacher before launching her career in entertainment at the age of 40.
  • Vera Wang only realized that her true calling in life was to be a fashion designer at 40.
  • Stan Lee wasn’t even close to building his Marvel empire until he published “The Fantastic Four” at 40.
  • Robin Chase founded Zipcar after she decided to take time off to be with her children. She was 40 at the time. 
  • Harland Sanders had gone broke after being fired from multiple jobs before opening the first Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was 65. 
  • Tom Allen is famous for being England’s oldest yoga teacher at the age of 90. However, many people don’t realize that he didn’t even start practicing yoga until 55.
  • Duncan Hines didn’t start selling cake mixes until the age of 73.

You could spend all day reading lists of people who made it big after hitting middle age. So what do all of these people have in common? They: 

  • Weren’t afraid to reset. 
  • Were willing to walk away from the idea of what they thought their lives “should” look like. 
  • Never lost their curiosity. 

The bottom line is that it’s never too late to begin giving your passion the attention it didn’t get while you made other decisions and sacrifices in your life. What’s more, you may only now be able to identify your true passion because of all of the life experiences you’ve had. So it’s a season for giving your deepest desires the attention they deserve!

Peter Sherer is a nationally recognized career coach who offers clarity and confidence to mid-career and senior executives in transition. In just two short days, his rigorous assessment tools enable his clients to identify a meaningful assignment that uses all of their skills and experience. Learn more and get in touch with Peter today.