Getting older doesn’t mean getting duller
60 is the new 40, 40 is the new 20 and 100 is actually the new 30.
If you’ve ever wanted to take up something but thought, “Nah, I’m probably too old…” then perish that thought. For shame.
Ages are just numbers that too often hold us back from trying new experiences that we might very likely excel in.
Unless of course you’re a 62 year old from France hoping to get a work visa in Canada. In that case 35 really is 35.
Maybe you’re a 50 year old who’s always loved martial arts movies and have deep down always wanted to give it a crack. Well you can.
Or you’re in your 60s and would quite like to learn Japanese but have heard languages are best learned at the age of 3, so why bother? Firstly, you’re way smarter than a 3 year old and are more than capable of taking on the thrills of a new language.
These days we’re so well-informed on how to live healthily (or not) and have so much access to any information we need.
Plus as we get older we gain wisdom from past experiences that we can apply to any new pursuits.
“Past experiences” of course can be translated as “past mistakes” and in some cases a lot more mistakes than others. But never mind, live and learn and all that. Move on and start trying stuff.
Heck, the mighty Samuel L. Jackson was in his mid-40s when he was cast as the unforgettable Jules in Pulp Fiction. Until then his career was held back by pesky heroin and cocaine addictions.
However at 42 he entered rehab, cleaned himself up and blew people away with his career-launching role in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever.
Then QuentinTarantino came knocking and the rest we know.
Here are some examples of common folk just like us who laughed in the face of Age.
If you build a top notch night club, they will come
Nikki Spencer was in her late 40s when she wanted to go out with some friends and dance. Preferably to music that she liked and at a place that wasn’t…well, crap.
She was out of luck. Not only did she feel like she was gatecrashing her daughter’s party but the music just didn’t do it for her.
Nikki was after a place for people her own age that played music they loved – think 70s / 80s disco, soul and funk.
Simple. She decided to start her own club. Nikki had some experience in putting on events for charity and her daughter’s school and figured that was enough.
She hired a ballroom, found a DJ and recruited some pals to help with the crucial task of handing out flyers. Nikki named the club Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet after the 70s disco hit.
Technically it wasn’t that simple as she was a single mother balancing work, her daughters’ lives and a new venture.
Nikki waited until her daughters were snoozing then went to work. Planning, marketing and begging.
In the age of social media being the go-to for promoting businesses, she still swears by the good old-fashioned flyer.
Never mind your paid Facebook ads or Twitter promotions. Pffft.
A flyer given to a journalist gave her some exposure on BBC Radio 4 which led to further bookings.
The first night attracted 250 people and it took off from there.
Boat cruises, national tours and 850 people in a nightclub, all grooving and worshipping music that isn’t crap.
When a 50 year old man decides to take up a martial art the reaction might be, “Good for you Pops – Tai Chi?”
Tai Chi – sorry, not enough head kicks or punching for the likes of 63 year old Ron Roe who is one of many over 50s being drawn to the “hard” martial arts.
These include Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Kung Fu and Judo. “Hard” martial arts basically translates as “fun”.
Roe got into Tae Kwon Do when he was 50 and is now a certified black belt. Tae Kwon Do is from Korea and entails plenty of kicks with close contact strikes.
The high intensity and physical sessions have seriously increased his flexibility and balance. Plus he could effortlessly destroy a watermelon with a snap kick if you were to hold it over your head.
They don’t hand out black belts like participation stickers in Tae Kwon Do. It took Roe a good 9 years to earn his black belt and has since progressed to a 3rd degree level of this awesomeness.
The semi-retired health worker from Colorado wasn’t thinking “black belt” when he started off.
“I didn’t think I could achieve a black belt because I was getting kind of old,” he says.
Roe is one of many over 50s getting into martial arts across the globe.
“Anyone my age can do it if they have the desire”.
Respect your seniors.
No experience? No worries.
Dave and Trudy Bateman were in their late 50s when they decided to say goodbye to their day jobs and team up in a business venture.
They bought a coffee farm in Hawaii, lacking any experience whatsoever, unless drinking it counts.
“What I knew about making coffee you could fit into a coffee cup,” says Dave.
He was a largely self-employed lawyer and Trudy was an emergency room nurse which aren’t traditionally the career paths to launching a coffee business.
However the organizational and people skills they acquired from their jobs was to serve them well when starting up their company.
Dave was visiting Hawaii on business and was blown away by the taste of Kona bean coffee, grown naturally in Hawaii.
Hawaii. White beaches, blue ocean, clean air and lush rainforests. This wasn’t Siberia, with all respect to the good people of Siberia.
Trudy and Dave had been contemplating a change in lifestyle.
“Not retirement, but a change in life,” says Bateman. A philosophy that’s becoming the norm for many people reaching retirement age.
However this wasn’t just opening up a café around the corner from their house.
This was uprooting from the mainland and learning how to run a farm.
A farm – with tractors and stuff.
They played it carefully and learned as much as they could from the coffee farm’s previous owners. Everything from repairing machinery to pruning crops and fertilizing.
The next step was actually selling the coffee and they tapped into their entrepreneurial spirits that had been lying dormant.
They started roasting, then they started up tours. Next was connecting with buyers overseas and promoting the unique Kona taste.
The coffee was darn good. Business started thriving and they were able to start building a team.
“The trick is to hire people smarter than you” says Dave, which sounds pretty smart in itself.
Now in his early 70s, Bateman spends his time between speaking to investors and overseeing the running of the company.
From spreadsheets to squat jumps
Houston-based Marilyn Emanuel became a personal trainer at 56 almost by accident.
Her office had a gym which was ideal for Marilyn who’d always been into fitness and loved her gym time.
She’d hit the gym at 5:30 for a good wake up workout. By 7:30 she’d be at her desk, all corporate like and tapping away at spreadsheets.
Nobody was any the wiser – the perfect crime.
However word got out that this lean, glowing recruiting manager was a fitness whiz and colleagues soon started begging her to help them with their workout.
“I would always say yes but I’d let them know I wasn’t certified” she says. “One of my clients asked ‘why not?’ and the question stuck with me.”
A Eureka moment.
The now 69 year old got her qualifications as a personal and group trainer and now mainly trains over 50 year olds which is a demographic she’s passionate about.
“My friends who are over 50 often feel intimidated in gyms so they give up” she says.
The buffed and beautiful images used so often in the fitness industry is a hard sell to older people simply wanting to improve or maintain their fitness.
Emanuel can relate to her clients and keeps the workouts relevant to their needs, focusing on balance, strength and whole body movements.
She balances this while still doing consulting for the recruitment industry.
Honestly, would it kill her to lie on the couch in front of Netflix, wolfing down Pringles?
The longer you live, the more chances you have to try different things. If it’s a business you have several advantages after 50. Work and life experience, savings and crucially – a network.
You may not have thought of your contacts of friends, colleagues and former associates as a network but that’s what they are.
As for taking up web design, the French horn or tap dancing, your only restrictions are lack of enthusiasm or will. If you have these in spades then away you go.
Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with lying on the couch bingeing on Netflix.
You’ve earned it.