Finding Success Later in Life

As we grow older, we tend to set (unrealistic) expectations for ourselves. And when things don’t go as planned, we end up disappointed, which kills our morale. We fail to realise that finding success later in life is entirely achievable.

Let me tell you a short story about finding success later in life.

At age 65, a man was living off $105 a month in social security checks. He had contemplated suicide, and it’s fair to say he’d had a tough life. 

When he was seven, his dad died. He dropped out of school at thirteen; by seventeen, he had already been from a handful of jobs.

Our protagonist was married and divorced by twenty-two – losing contact with his only daughter. 

By the time he was forty, he had a plethora of failures under his belt. 

But, our friend was a passionate cook and loved to cook fried chicken for his friends. 

And so, when he was in his forties, he finally found success in selling his famous fried chicken. People travelled from all over the USA to buy it. 

Selling fried chicken was his first real break, and soon, he could buy a shop and an adjoining motel. 

You won’t believe that both buildings burned down shortly after he purchased the motel.

But he knew he was on to something, and he quickly rebuilt. Only to be stopped in his tracks by the onset of the Second World War. 

By now, I’m sure you can guess who I’m describing. Yes, it is Colonel Sanders.

Time after time, he tried, and each time he lost the lot. Was he too late to find success?

After the War, now at the ripe old age of sixty-five, Sanders was quite dissatisfied with his life’s direction. 

The Colonel had no money in the bank, no business and (some would have argued) no prospects. 

But he believed in himself. 

He knew he was a great cook; his patrons had always told him so. Short on cash, he borrowed money and left Kentucky with the idea of selling his recipe door to door. 

Sanders had a tough time and visited over one thousand restaurants before receiving his first meaningful yes.

Then the floodgates opened. 

By the time Colonel Sanders was eighty-eight, the six thousandth Kentucky Fried Chicken had opened, and the Colonel was a billionaire.

Lessons for Finding Success Later in Life

There are a couple of interesting morals to Colonel Sanders’ story. 

1. Perseverance

First, there is a story of perseverance. 

If you have a dream, no matter what life throws at you, there’s always a way. 

One thing I’m sure about, it’s that there’s no such thing as overnight success. And having perseverance is essential for success in business.

Sanders could have given up after visiting the nine hundredth store, and there would be no story. He would have forever deemed himself a failure. 

But he didn’t give up, and that’s why Kentucky Fried Chicken – better known as KFC –  is one of the most popularfast foods today.

The lesson is to focus on the bigger picture and remember why you started selling your product in the first place. 

Break down tasks into small, manageable chunks, and celebrate every victory along the way – however small.

The ancient Japanese proverb “Nana korobi, ya oki” means “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” 

We all have the ability to choose, never to give up hope and to strive for more. 

Focus – not on the reality before you – but on a vision for the future. 

Here are two ways to build your perseverance muscle to find success, even in later life.

Believe in Yourself

How often are you willing to try and try before you finally get it right? Twice, thrice?

Sanders tried one thousand times!

He didn’t give up because he believed in himself and had something to offer. 

Someday, someone would finally see that.

If you want to persevere, believe in yourself. You must have a positive mindset and believe in your ability to overcome obstacles to achieve your goals.

Maintain Motivation

To keep the faith, find ways to remain motivated. 

How? Find sources of inspiration and motivation that resonate with you.

Read success stories and surround yourself with supportive and like-minded individuals.

Another powerful practice to maintain motivation is visualising your desired outcome as vividly as possible.

Remind yourself regularly of why you started and the benefits of persevering. You could list the reasons or use a more visual vision board, pinned on your wall or using Pinterest. 

2. Don’t Let Age Define Success

It’s never too late to find success. 

Our culture often champions young entrepreneurs with dreams – for example, Forbes’ thirty under thirty celebrates the brightest young entrepreneurs, leaders, and stars.

However, the reality is that most business owners don’t even start their business until their mid-forties, and most don’t find success until much later on in life.

Everyone has the potential to reach their goals, regardless of their age. 

Stay motivated and focused on your goals, and never let age define what you can or cannot do.

Remain dedicated, with perseverance and a positive attitude to reach your goals no matter your age.

Wherever you’re at right now, as long as you keep holding on to your dream, you have the potential to change the world.

Here are two practical ways to make this happen:

Surround Yourself with Diverse Perspectives

When did we start to believe that success has a time frame?

Over time, many of us learn that because society enforces a negative belief.

Counter that! Engage with a diverse range of people. 

By interacting with individuals from various backgrounds and experiences, you find fresh insights and broaden your understanding of success beyond age-related expectations.

Check out Networking in and other Outside ideas events to interact with a diverse group of curious business people.

Measure Success on Personal Fulfillment

Success does not have a time frame. Finding success later in life is as valid as finding it early on.

Measure success by personal fulfilment and your sense of purpose.

Align your business efforts with things that bring joy, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment rather than societal expectations tied to age.

3. Stay hopeful

Regardless of how many trials you’ve faced, I encourage you to keep your spirits high and remain hopeful. 

Go fiercely after your dreams. 

It doesn’t matter how often you fail; you only need to succeed once.

Remaining hopeful in business can sometimes be challenging, but staying motivated and productive is essential.

How do you stay hopeful? 

Control the Controllable

The thing about life is this – there will always be uncertainty. The best you can do is embrace uncertainty when nothing can be done about it. 

Controlling the controllable helps us to direct our energy towards what we can control and let go of what is beyond our influence.

By staying focused on what you can actually change, you remain calm, grounded, and hopeful.

Focus on Learning and Growth

Each experience, both positive and negative, can drive you towards success. If you want to stay hopeful, you have to concentrate on what’s important. Self-pity won’t make you successful.

Embrace a growth mindset that allows you to continuously learn, adapt, and improve.

Take steps to develop your skills or explore new opportunities. 

And don’t forget to take time for yourself and recognise your achievements.

You can make your business dreams a reality with hard work and optimism to find success later in life.

Conclusion to Finding Success Later in Life

Like most things worth it, finding success later in life is tough but accessible.

Failure is inevitable and is part of even the biggest success stories. Every successful person has failed at some point.

Colonel Sanders was no exception. 

Going by his story, you must believe in yourself repeatedly, no matter what. 

The colonel started as a small business owner with a recipe and a dream and eventually built one of the most recognisable fast-food brands in the world. 

His story affirms success is possible later in life if you don’t give up.

And finally, it’s essential to never give up on your dreams and keep striving for success. 

It may take time, but you can achieve amazing things if you have faith in yourself and your abilities.

Colonel Sanders was sixty-five when he started his business – it proves that age is not a limit to success.

In summary:

  1. Embrace perseverance
  2. Don’t let age define your success
  3. Stay hopeful

Need help to see the bigger picture?

Outside ideas is on a mission to help small businesses grow. If you want support to find your success get in touch or look at our 1-2-1 coaching

Dream big!



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