It’s Never Too Late To Try Something New: Those Who Switched In Their 50s
The old saying that “there’s life after 50″ sounds like a quaint soundbite designed to give us older folk some hope as we head into the latter half of our lives. However, when you look at some of the most famous figures from history, it becomes apparent that many people have enjoyed their most significant achievements after the age of 50.
If life really does begin at 40, you’ll have had ten years to acquire a whole new set of skills by the time you hit 50 and it’s these skills you can use to explore new avenues in life. As we head towards retirement, we often start to focus on ensuring our financial affairs are in order, considering issues such as life insurance vs. life assurance. However, with the prospect of more free time on the horizon, it can also be a good time to consider a new hobby. Some hobbies, such as walking to lower your cholesterol, have obvious health benefits, while others may even lead to a whole new career.
Here are three inspirational examples of people who have enjoyed great success after the age of 50.
Grandma Moses: 1860 – 1961
Formally known as Anna Mary Robertson but affectionately dubbed Grandma Moses, this woman became one of the most famous artists in America and she didn’t even start painting until she was in her seventies.
Having been a farmer and lover of all things agricultural her whole life, Moses eventually took a leap of faith in her later years by becoming an artist. Using her experience of the world to produce some of the most iconic folk art in the US, Moses was completely self-taught and, despite being referred to as a primitive painter, her works have fetched as much as $10,000 each.
In fact, before her death at the age of 101, Moses had not only produced 1,500 paintings, won the Women’s National Press Club Award (1949) and had a day named after her (September 7, 1960), but she was also hailed as a “beloved figure from American life” by non-other than President John F. Kennedy.
Edmond Hoyle: 1672 – 1769
From chess and backgammon to a whole raft of card games, including whist and piquet, Edmond Hoyle literally wrote the book on gaming. After tutoring members of the upper class prior to 1741, Hoyle went on to publish A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist in 1742. He was 70.
A deal with bookseller Francis Cogan followed and, before his death at the age of 96, he’d not only published a myriad of books on various games, but raised the bar for technical rule writing. Indeed, the likes of noted technical rule writer John Loraine Baldwin were inspired by Hoyle.
Such is Hoyle’s influence that he’s been honoured by game manufacturers and organisations alike. From Brown and Bigelow playing cards naming their retail division Hoyle Products, to his 1979 induction into the Poker Hall of Fame; an award which is surprising as Hoyle didn’t actually write the rules of poker.
In fact, mapping the ins and outs of poker hand rankings, such as a straight flush beating a full house, is down to R. F. Foster. Foster outlined early versions of the game, which he believed had roots in the Persian game of As-Nas, in his book Foster’s Complete Hoyle (1937). So next time you’re enjoying a game of poker with your friends or next time you’re trying to remember whether a flush is a better hand than a straight, don’t forget raise a glass to Mr. Hoyle.
Laura Ingalls Wilder: 1867-1957
Despite growing up in a time when women were often pushed into putting motherhood and homemaking above any sort of career, Laura Ingalls Wilder bucked the trend by penning one of the most famous storybook series in US literature.
For the majority of her early life, Wilder was a teacher, but owing to her family’s propensity for travelling she eventually went on to write the first book of what would become The Little House on the Prairie series.
Publishing books between 1932 (when she was 65 years old) and 1943, Wilder earned critical acclaim across the US for her ability to entertain and engage children with her stories. However, it wasn’t until after her death that her work really captured the public’s imagination.
After acquiring the rights to produce a two-hour pilot movie, US TV network NBC began running a regular series of shows based on Wilder’s novels. Known as Little House on the Prairie and starring Michael Landon, the show ran for nine seasons (204 episodes) between 1974 and 1983. As well as attracting millions of viewers, the show made Wilder’s work an international hit and proved once again that you can achieve success after the age of 50.
As you can see, there are not only opportunities to try something new in later life, but there are opportunities to become hugely successful, and there are many examples to prove it. While you don’t have to become a technical writer, children’s author or artist, you shouldn’t be afraid to change direction. Instead of looking at 50+ as being the twilight of your life, you should start viewing it as the beginning of a brand new chapter.