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Many of us were born in cultures where happiness was not even under consideration. It wasn’t considered as a factor of decision making. For a lot of us who were born before internet became a thing that everyone uses, we had scarcity of information. We did not know a lot of things, and not just that, we did know what we did not know. I was born in 1981 and will hit 40 next year. So, I think a lot about ageism and my life.
The internet became a thing at the end of my teenage and I took it in my stride. I did know how I could leverage it to create something. I have meandered through most of my life, and most people my age have, without seeking their own happiness.
I do not know if happiness and following your dreams is a thing yet in 2020. I think it is, to a lot of extent. Kids who were born in the 21st century grew up with the whole set of the World Wide Web on their fingertips. They have had no paucity of information. They know what they want to know. We live in a world where information is not a challenge anymore.
There is no reason beyond financial risk that people should not follow their dreams. However, for people my age and above, it’s a big thing to be able to think about their happiness and dreams. They have families and they can’t afford to take risks the way a 20 year old who was born in the year 2000 can.
So, what should they do?
Spend the whole of their lives in materialistic comfort with the core deteriorating, since there is no depth? I don’t see how that’s a happy way to live a life. Should lives be happy or is it okay for life to be comfortable? These are important questions that each of us have to answer for ourselves. Different things matter to different people but I would never stop believing that personal happiness matters to everyone.
Thankfully, the world has had exceptions. The exceptions have been only a few but there have been exceptions. The exceptions are called exceptions because that’ what they are. As someone who started on his journey on self-awareness and having any dreams in his mid-30, I always look for exceptions. The following is a list of my favorite exceptions from all over the internet to get you started on the journey of following your dreams and your happiness, regardless of your age. For the purpose of this piece, I will only pick up examples of people who started on the journey of their dreams post 40, or close to 40.
1. David Ogilvy
Ogilvy is a household name in the field of advertising. It is one of the most respected advertising agencies in the world. However, Ogilvy did not start the agency till he was 39. Before founding Ogilvy and Mather, he worked for Gallup and credited a lot of his success in advertising to that experience. He was also an ex-farmer but could not make a living at it. There a lot one can learn from his story. He wrote one of the definitive books on advertising- Ogilvy on Advertising. David Ogilvy’s life is inspiring in a number of ways, and in the context of this article, the fact that he did not start his advertising career till he was 39, should inspire us to pursue what we believe in.
2. Giorgio Armani
Armani, the name synonymous with luxury around the world, did not start before he was 40. In fact, he was a nobody at 40. He launched his brand at the age of 41. It is incredible. Till I read his story, I would think that his brand has been around for a century. He sold his Beetle at the age of 41 to fund the business. The rest, as they say, is history.
He was 40 and fine, as per his story on GQ. 40, when most men settle into the lives they created in their 20’s and 30’s. To settle means no significant changes, and no excitement. Well, now, it is one of the most exciting brands in the world. That is for some perspective on life.
3. Grandma Moses
She got famous when she was a grandma. That explains her life. Her full name was Anna Mary Robertson Moses. She started painting in her mid-seventies. She graced the cover of TIME magazine when she was 93 and became a folk hero of her period. She had dabbled in painting as a little girl, but then life took over. After her husband died, a family member suggested her to take up her hobby and that led her to launch her career as an artist at the age of 76.
What a charming story of life that should inspire all of us to do something that doesn’t feel like work and defy whatever age means.
4. Colonel Sanders
No story on ageism and dreams could be complete without the mention of this man who is famous around the world for the brand he created- Kentucky Fried Chicken. There are several versions of the story available on the internet. However, all of them talk about how he became an icon in his late sixty’s or early seventy’s after he sold the rights of the company. As per business insider, he didn’t become a professional chef till he was 40 and became an icon after selling his company at 75 years of age.
His struggle to takers of his unique recipe of fried chicken is a matter of folklore and he did all of that in his 60’s. How late are us in life?
5. Ray Kroc
It makes sense to talk of Ray Kroc while we are talking of food. Ray Kroc was 52 when he opened the first McDonald’s franchise in Des Plaines, Ill. He had been a salesman for 34 years, when he went into a partnership with the McDonald’s brothers, He had been selling milkshake mixers before he found his gold. The story of McDonald’s is one of the most successful corporate stories of the world. Although it wasn’t his idea to start with, he was the one who took the business to the scale it is at now. He did not make it big through his life, but it was after 5 decades that he found an idea which made him immortal in the world of business. That’s how he found his happiness.
There are tales of him being rough on McDonald’s brothers since their vision didn’t match, but McDonald’s wouldn’t be what is without Ray Kroc.
Keep looking for your happiness like Ray Kroc did.
6. Henry Ford
Henry Ford is one of the most successful people of the human civilization and his story will always be told whenever people speak to grit and determination. However, he was beyond 40 when he founded the Ford Motor Company and later launched Model T which made automobiles a household phenomenon.
7. Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington founded the eponymous Huffington Post at age 55. She had been a writer and commentator for her early career but it was the post that made her a household name and a global personality. What a great story that is.
Now, we can go on and find more such people and there are a few more like Lincoln, Churchill and a few artists. The more we search, the more we realize that the world has some great stories of grit and perseverance of people who did not give up when they should have. They kept marching on, till they found their true selves and happiness.
What do we learn from these stories?
A. Only those who seek shall find
One of the features of these people is that their lives were a series of experiments and at some point, some experiment worked. That is because they were looking for their big break and always experimented in that direction.
B. They didn’t let their age stop them from making their dreams come true
Like Armani said here that a lot of us figure ourselves out later in life, and that’s fine. Think of it. Most people never really figure themselves out. They work in jobs, retire and then don’t know what to do with themselves post retiring from their jobs.
Even if we realize what we are meant to do later in life, it is better than never realizing it. If you do, you are fortunate. Do not stop yourself from going in the direction of your dreams.
In some of the cases of people who succeeded late, it’s a clear case of persistence. They failed a lot. Abraham Lincoln failed his entire life before he became the President of the United States of America. So did Colonel Sanders. Sanders just didn’t accept that he would live the rest of his life on social security.
D. Need for Independence
One of the reasons people go after their dreams at any stage of life is because they crave independence and they want to work for themselves. So, if that’s something you want to do and something you think would make you happy, you need to go for it.
What are the challenges in starting late?
I. Family and responsibilities
That’s one of the main challenges most people face when they think about their dreams with the responsibility of family. The only way to deal with this challenge to figure out a middle way between your dreams and your financial responsibilities. Make time to do what you love in your free time and cut back all avenues of time wastage like television or social media.
II. Fear of failure
It is important to manage risk since risk cannot be eliminated. The only way to go about it is by mitigating risk. Failure is a possibility and a likely possibility. When you try new things that you have never done before, there is a likelihood of failure. You do what you need to do in spite of the fear.
III. Inability of persist
A lot of people give themselves a year or two years at their dreams, after which they plan to quit if things do not work out. However, the most successful people plan to work on their dreams forever and the time commitment is as long as it takes.
If you are committed to your happiness, you will do whatever it takes to achieve it. It is more difficult than it would be had you been younger and that would require even more discipline than it would have needed earlier.
The entire purpose of this piece is to help you find inspiration to follow your dreams and your happiness with age not being a barrier. Yes, it is difficult to follow your dreams as you get older since we have limited time available on the planet, but most people give up on their dreams too early.
There are several examples of people who found their happiness late in life, and their example and their attitude to age and life should inspire all of us to follow our own happiness.
Yes, there are challenges but what’s a life where you didn’t take a shot at your dreams?
Thank you for reading.
The purpose of this blog to help you find your happiness. Please read the other posts on the blog, and follow so that you get updates when new posts are published. Please share any posts you like with your friends so that they can also find their happiness. If you have any feedback for me, please leave it in the comments and I would be happy to work on it. If you would like to support my writing and this blog, you may please send a donation through PayPal here.
I appreciate the time you spent in reading the blog and wish you happiness.
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