Are You Embracing Challenges and Realizing Dreams?

Life has a way of presenting us with challenges and dreams that linger in our minds and hearts, no matter what our age. For many, these dreams may have been set aside due to various life circumstances—family responsibilities, career demands, or simply the fear of stepping into the scary unknown. However, reaching an older age doesn’t mean the end of pursuing your big dreams. In fact, it may be the perfect time to embrace those long-held desires and overcome the challenges that come with them. Challenges and Dreams

The Nature of Dreams and Aspirations

Your dreams are deeply personal and can range from:

  • Completing the degree that you started but had to abandon due to life circumstances
  • Mentoring younger generations
  • Starting a business
  • Starting a charity
  • Traveling the world
  • Volunteering for causes close to your heart
  • Writing a book

For those of us who love the arts, your dreams could include:

  • Being in a theater production
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Learning a new skill like painting
  • Writing a screenplay
  • Directing a film
  • Holding a solo exhibition of your photography or artwork

For those of us who love nature and travel, your dreams could include:

  • Embarking on an expedition to remote and unexplored parts of the world
  • Growing a sustainable garden
  • Learning to pilot an aircraft.
  • Sailing across oceans

You may have always wanted to master a foreign language and immerse yourself in a different culture by living abroad for some time. You might envision restoring a historic property or designing an innovative product that addresses a social or environmental issue. These challenges and dreams often reflect our true passions and the aspects of life that bring us joy and fulfillment. For those who value adventure, your dreams might include:

For older individuals, these dreams might have matured over time, becoming even more defined and meaningful. Some of your dreams might be about what you leave behind. Do you have a vision of building a legacy through the creation of a family business that can be passed down through generations?  Do you want to write a memoir to capture and share your life experiences? There are also lost dreams that people yearn to rediscover and revive. Perhaps someone once had the ambition to compete in sports at a high level but had to give it up; now they might seek to train for and participate in senior athletic competitions.  A woman with the lost dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida in her 60s, The Other Shore: The Diana Nyad Story is beautifully shared by senior actresses, Annette Bening and her coach, Jodie Foster.

For me, a lost dream was to have a fairytale wedding, complete with fairytale characters in a magical location where I am the princess who marries her prince charming. Disney and bedtime stories had implanted these dreams deep into my mind. The same is true for many children around the world. This dream came true for me this year in my 50’s with grandchildren as my fairytale characters. These dreams, both ambitious and long-lost, resonate deeply because they are tied to our identities and our sense of purpose. As individuals age, the clarity and significance of these dreams often intensify. They represent not just aspirations, but also the culmination of years of experience, knowledge, and self-discovery. Pursuing these dreams later in life can bring profound satisfaction and a renewed sense of vitality, proving that it is never too late to follow one’s passions and turn dreams into reality.

The Challenges of Pursuing Dreams Later in Life

Pursuing big challenges and dreams later in life comes with a unique set of challenges. These challenges, while formidable, are not insurmountable. Understanding and addressing them is crucial for turning dreams into reality.

1. Health and Energy Levels – As we age, physical and mental energy can wane. Health issues may arise, making engaging in activities that demand physical effort or long hours harder. However, with a focus on maintaining good health through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and mental wellness practices, many older adults find they can still pursue their passions effectively.

2. Money Concerns – Financial stability can be a significant concern. After retirement, the fixed income might not seem enough to fund a new business or extensive travel. Proper financial planning, seeking out grants or loans designed for seniors, and starting small can make a big difference. Many older adults also find success in leveraging their existing skills and networks to create new income streams.

3. Technological Barriers – The rapid pace of technological change can be intimidating. Whether it’s starting an online business or using new tools for creative projects, the learning curve can seem steep. However, many communities offer resources and classes aimed at helping seniors become more tech-savvy, making these tools more accessible.

4. Social and Emotional Challenges – Starting something new later in life can sometimes feel isolating, especially if friends and family do not share or understand the same dreams. Finding a supportive community, either online or in-person, can provide encouragement and companionship. Mentorship from those who have pursued similar paths can also be invaluable.

The Strengths Older Adults Bring to Their Dreams

While the challenges are real, older adults also possess significant strengths that can aid in realizing their dreams.

1. Experience and Wisdom – Years of life experience bring a wealth of knowledge, problem-solving skills, and emotional intelligence. This wisdom allows for more informed decision-making and the ability to navigate setbacks with resilience.

2. Established Networks – Over the years, many have built extensive professional and personal networks. These connections can provide valuable resources, advice, and support when venturing into new endeavors.

3. A Clearer Sense of Purpose – With age often comes a clearer understanding of what truly matters. This sense of purpose can provide strong motivation and drive, ensuring that the pursuit of dreams is aligned with personal values and long-term goals.

4. Freedom from Earlier Responsibilities – For many, older age brings a release from earlier responsibilities, such as raising children or full-time careers. This newfound freedom can provide the time and mental space needed to focus on personal dreams.

Steps to Pursue Big Challenges and Dreams

1. Clarify Your Vision – Start by defining your dream clearly. What do you want to achieve? Why is it important to you? A clear vision provides direction and motivation. Make a vision board and hang it on your wall to help you visualize your dreams.

2. Set DREAM Goals – Break down your dream into smaller, manageable goals. This makes the process less overwhelming and allows for steady progress.

3. Create a Plan – Develop a detailed plan outlining the steps you need to take, the resources required, and potential challenges. A well-thought-out plan increases your chances of success.

4. Seek Support – Surround yourself with supportive people. Join groups or clubs related to your interest, find a mentor, or connect with like-minded individuals online.

5. Embrace Lifelong Learning – Stay open to learning new skills and acquiring knowledge. Enroll in courses, attend workshops, and read extensively. This not only aids in achieving your dream but keeps your mind active and engaged.

6. Stay Positive and Resilient – Maintaining a positive mindset and being resilient in the face of setbacks is crucial. Every journey has its ups and downs, and persistence is key to overcoming obstacles.

7. Banish the Doubt -Inevitably doubts and fears will creep into your mind as you pursue your big dreams. Banish the doubts and fears from your mind.

Real-Life Examples of Late Bloomers

Many individuals have achieved remarkable feats later in life, proving that age is just a number when it comes to pursuing dreams.

  • Diana Nyad: I recently watched this film with Annette Bening playing Diana Nyad and Jodie Foster, playing her reluctant but awesome coach. At the age of 64, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. While I have absolutely no desire to attempt such a feat, I am impressed by the commitment and stamina of this athlete and coach. I am also impressed by the actresses who portrayed her. You can find the movie, The Other Shore: The Diana Nyad Story here Nyad
  • Colonel Sanders: KFC is a household name all around the world now but did you know that Harland Sanders founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise in his 60s, after many business ventures? In the book, “Colonel Sanders and the American Dream,” author, Josh Ozersky shares the story of the man who became familiar to fans of his original fried chicken, Colonel Harland Sanders. Colonel Sanders was a natural salesman. When his career didn’t flourish practicing law or in the Army, Sanders would grow a fast food empire from a humble start selling his home-style cooking in a cafe. I have been at a KFC and overheard a new employee being sworn to silence about the well-guarded “Secret Recipe” of 11 herbs and spices.

Colonel Sanders

  • Grandma Moses: You have probably seen the artwork of Anna Mary Robertson Moses, known as Grandma Moses, on plates or decor items. I have always loved her simple slice-of-life illustrations of everyday living in her time. She began her painting career in her late 70s and became a renowned folk artist. Grandma Moses
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: Growing up in the Midwest, my father would read the delightful stories of Laura Ingles to us, as a child. We would often light an oil lamp to transport us back in time. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Author of the “Little House” series, Wilder published her first book at age 65, with the help of her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

  • Frank McCourt: Frank McCourt published his first book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir “Angela’s Ashes,” at age 66.
  • Fauja Singh: At 89, Fauja Singh took up running and went on to complete marathons, becoming the world’s oldest marathon runner.
  • Ray Kroc: Ray Kroc was 52 when he joined McDonald’s and turned it into a global franchise, making it a household name. Check out the movie The Founder
  • Julia Child: Julia Child didn’t publish her first cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” until she was nearly 50, which launched her career as a celebrity chef. The movie Julie & Julia is a delightful version of Julia Child’s Story
  • Vera Wang: Vera Wang entered the fashion industry at 40 after a successful career in figure skating and journalism, becoming one of the world’s most famous designers.
  • Georgia O’Keeffe: Georgia O’Keeffe, a major figure in American art, continued to produce influential works into her late years, with some of her most famous pieces created after she was 60. Learn more about Georgia O’Keefe in this movie
  • Martha Stewart: Martha Stewart launched her successful media and home living empire in her 40s, but her career continues to flourish, with new ventures and publications keeping her brand vibrant and influential.

Pursuing big challenges and dreams later in life is not only possible but can be incredibly rewarding. The challenges are real but can be navigated with the right mindset, resources, and support. By leveraging the strengths that come with age and experience, older adults can turn their dreams into reality, enriching their lives and often inspiring others along the way. Embrace your dreams, face the challenges head-on, and remember that it’s never too late to follow your heart. ( This article is a work in progress, please come back and read future updates.) I’m Kimberly Design Love, author and lifestyle designer. It’s never been a better time in history to pursue your big lofty dreams at any age. Get started with the Dreamers Guide to Goal Setting.

Kimberly Design Love