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10 Insightful Tips From People Who Prove It’s Never Too Late

Let their stories be your inspiration as you set resolutions for 2022.

Photo Credit...Aubrey Trinnaman for The New York Times

By Lauren Reddy

Jan. 1, 2022

The arrival of a new year presents a moment to set goals and reconsider what’s possible. As the people we featured in the Times series It’s Never Too Late prove, there is no one way — and no deadline — when it comes to pursuing your dreams. We gathered some of their best words of wisdom. Let their lived experience and encouraging tips (Dream big! Don’t let fear stand in your way! Do something new!) provide you with a dash of inspiration as you set your 2022 resolutions.

Photo Credit...Aubrey Trinnaman for The New York Times

You first have to figure out why you think you can’t do something and ask yourself if that’s a valid point. Look, there’s somebody telling you every step of your life what to eat, what to wear, that you can’t sleep without this drug, and it’s all nonsense. You can decide for yourself what you think you’re capable of. It’s just so sad when people say, oh, I’m 50, I can’t … fill in the blank. Try it anyway! Who cares! You might be surprised.

Dierdre Wolownick, who climbed El Capitan for the first time at age 66.

Photo Credit...Video by Aubrey Trinnaman for The New York Times

Don’t give yourself an option to give up. I never thought about quitting. If I invest mentally, I don’t quit.

Vijaya Srivastava, who learned to swim at age 68.

Credit...Leslie Ryann McKellar for The New York Times

Don’t be afraid of embarrassment or opening yourself up to criticism. You have to be OK with not having mastery over something. And don’t let fear stand in your way. It will get less scary every time you try.

Rose Young, who learned how to ride horseback at age 63.

Photo credit…Nate Palmer for The New York Times

Do something that involves other people. Even one other person. Getting out of a groove — sometimes you just need company. There’s this fantasy that creativity is something you do alone, by candlelight. No! Do something with other people who are as genuinely interested as you are.

Russ Ellis, who recorded his first album of original music at age 85.

Credit...Prarthna Singh for The New York Times

Dream a big dream, then figure out what all the little incremental steps are to get there, and hit those steps one by one. There are always obstacles. Loved ones can be an obstacle, money can be an obstacle. It’s not easy. There’s lots of sacrifice involved, but you can dream a big dream and make it come true.

Richard Klein, who moved to Mumbai to become a Bollywood actor in his 40s.

Photo Credit...By Morgan Hornsby For The New York Times

If you’re feeling stuck, being patient and not freaking out about it is so important. Everything you do gives you experience and skills and tools, wherever you go.

Martha Prewitt, who left her opera career behind to run her family’s farm in Kentucky

Photo Credit...Nate Palmer for The New York Times

Do something new that you normally wouldn’t do, or something you hadn’t planned on doing, or something you’re passionate about. Take an acting class or a cooking class, or go to a museum. These things let you connect to other people you might not have met ordinarily. It can make your life more lively. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Think of something you want to do and then ask someone if they want to do it with you. Don’t be afraid to let things happen.

Phyllis Raphael, who found new love in her 80s.

Photo Credit...Matt Eich for The New York Times

Embrace rejection and find your people.

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, who published a celebrated debut book at age 50.

Photo Credit...Evan Jenkins for The New York Times

Be as open as you can be. Be as honest as you can be about who you are. Because ultimately, love overwhelms.

Vica Steel, who enrolled in seminary to become a Lutheran pastor in her 50s.

Vera Jiji, 93, at her home in New York with her cello. “It has given me a way to communicate without using words,” she said.

Photo Credit...Justin J Wee for The New York Times

Do not be afraid to go back to something you loved. People say no to things too quickly. We aren’t always our best friends. Your passion or skills are still there. You will remember more than you think. All the information about music I thought I’d lost was in a part of my brain that wasn’t talking to me until I tapped back into it.

Vera Jiji, who returned to playing the cello at age 62.


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