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5 Thoughts for a Successful Change Later In Life

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old” - Peter Drucker

It’s April 1978, and Bernie Marcus an executive at age fifty is now unemployed after being let go by his company. Marcus is thinking big when he joins forces with another unemployed executive Arthur Blank, with the help of a friend who arranged financing to help them with a start-up. From their first two locations in 1978, their Home Improvement Company Home Depot has more than 2500 locations today and reporting more than $100 billion in total revenues.

Many people start over later in life and become more successful than they were in their younger years. I was in my mid-fifties when I decided to transition into another field. I knew for the last half of my life to outdo my first half; I would have to take my leadership game to another level.

I envisioned what the new career path looks like, I know I’ll be writing more, more than my usual outlines for my speaking engagements. I wonder, can I add more value to more people than I have previously? I’m confident and realistic so, I ask myself can I change course in midstream and still be effective? Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, along with many others prove you can successfully start over later in life.

Some Notable People Did Their Best Work Later in Life

Did you know Peter Drucker wrote more than half his books after age 60?

Harland (Colonel) Sanders franchised his Kentucky Fried Chicken at 62.

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield didn’t gain national fame until he was 46.

Stan Lee of Marvel fame was appearing in Marvel movies at age 91.

Whether you’re starting over or just shifting gears, the will to do something different and succeed will give you an edge.

“We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are.”John Maxwell

Starting over is difficult and challenging but not impossible, and many people do it successfully. I’ve learned the world won’t step aside because you're educated, but it will make room for your gifts; if you know why you have them and how to use them. Your gifts and talents are the keys to your success and fulfillment in life, even if you’re planning on starting over.

When I decided to start over, my mind was telling me not to, but my heart was saying I must go for it! I followed my heart while thinking and working through the following five points; they may be of help to you if you’re contemplating a career change or shifting gears later in life.

1. See Everything Through the Lens of Your Life’s Purpose

The second half of your life can be the most fulfilling and productive. Pressing your life’s reset button requires intentionality; It’s empowering to see your daily agenda and appointments as an occasion to continue adding value to others.

Living from your life’s purpose makes every plan and appointment an integral part of your long-term strategy. Intentional living provides the focus, motivation, and perspective you’ll need to finish strong and leave an inspiring legacy.

2. Staying in Your Lane While Navigating Change

Your gifts and talents are unique to you, and continuing to develop and utilize them, drives you through the transitions. Marcus and Blank were already in the Home Improvement field; they decided to take their skills and know-how to new levels.

Staying in your lane as Marcus and Blank did places the odds for being successful in your favor. You should never be satisfied with anything less than living in line with who you are. Your natural gifts and talents, which made you successful in the past, will play a major role in your future as well.

3. Know Who You Are

Peter Drucker says, “Whenever people are on the road to success, they tend to think of repositioning as something they do if they’re a failure. But I would say that you ought to reposition when you’re a success because that’s when you can afford it.” But no one can reposition for significance, without first knowing who they are and where they belong.”

4. Be Confident in What You Do Well

What skills come most naturally to you? Your skill sets are the best indicators for what your life purpose is. They are what you’re most passionate about because they’re how you’re hard-wired for proficiency. Take some time and ask yourself

  1. What do you love doing the most?

  2. What comes most natural to you?

  3. Do you have hidden talents?

  4. Can your favorite hobby today become a career tomorrow?

I highly recommend taking a personal leadership assessment; even if you’re in the right career it will help you fill in the “why” behind all you do and take your game to a new level. (1)

5. Reset Your Priorities

After completing the assessment and reviewing your results; start aligning your goals and objectives with your purpose. Draw up a five-year plan, a three-year plan, and yearly objectives that point you to where you want to be. Have quarterly goals each year to keep you on track.

Bob Buford and Ken Blanchard said, “Great leaders bring two vital ingredients to their organizations: vision and values. As it turns out, those two items are also critical to figuring out what’s next for you as an individual. If you have led a great organization or even been a part of one, you know how powerful these two ingredients can be.” (2) So, why not give your skills and experience an opportunity to take your life to the next level?

“Don't worry. Just when you think your life is over, a new storyline falls from the sky and lands right in your lap.” - Rebekah Crane

(1) To learn more about our leadership assessment visit

(2) 10 tips for building a successful second half

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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