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20 People Who Only Achieved Success After Age 40

20 People Who Only Achieved Success After Age 40

As we look at actors, businessmen, and other geniuses who found success at a young age, we sometimes cannot help but wonder what we have been doing with our life. But not everyone hits their peak in their 20s to 30s. Here are 20 famous people who achieved success after the age of 40, and what they did to get where they became.

1. Samuel Jackson

The famous movie star was 46 when he played his role as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. Before then, Jackson had struggled with drug addiction for two years until he got his first major role in Jungle Fever in 1991.

2. Martha Stewart

Stewart worked in catering for years, but her role as “America’s housewife” did not materialize until she started writing cookbooks and other pieces on domestic living in her 40s.

3. Ronald Reagan

Reagan obviously had a successful acting career, but he first came onto the political stage when he delivered his famous “A Time for Choosing” speech during the 1964 election at the age of 53. He leveraged his past acting talents to become one of the most respected presidents of the 20th century.

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4. Henry Ford

In his youth, Ford worked as an engineer under Thomas Edison, where he worked on ways to improve the then new automobile. It was not until he was 40 that he founded the Ford Motor company, where he introduced the Model T five years later.

5. Abraham Lincoln

At the age of 40, Lincoln left the House of Representatives and went back to practicing law, his young political career seemingly over. He jumped onto the just-founded Republican Party seven years later, and then was elected President of the United States four years after that.

6. Reid Hoffman

Not every social media website was founded by some young tech genius. Reid Hoffman founded SocialNet.com in 1997, a precursor of sorts to Facebook. But he founded LinkedIn in 2002 at age 35, and then worked for years to make it the professional social networking site. When Hoffman took LinkedIn public 8 years later, he became a billionaire.

7. Lee Ermey

Ermey’s infamous performance as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket was his first major acting role at the age of 43. Ermey was originally supposed to be an advisor, but was cast as Hartman by impressing Stanley Kubrick with his knowledge of life as a Marine.

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8. Ray Kroc

Kroc worked various jobs including a pianist and a travelling salesman for a milkshake maker. Then at the age of 52, he met the McDonalds brothers and proposed that their restaurant could expand across the United States. By the time he died in 1984, McDonald’s had become well, McDonald’s.

9. Richard Adams

While he worked as a British civil servant, Adams told his two daughters a story about a rabbit, who insisted that he write it down. After writing it down two years later, he published Watership Down, which instantly became a children’s literary classic.

10. Jack Cover

Cover worked for NASA and IBM, and eventually used his scientific knowledge to create a weapon which could stop individuals without killing them. Today, police agencies across the world use his Taser to subdue criminals nonviolently.

11. Momofuku Ando

As Japan recovered from the end of World War II, Ando sought a way to provide quick and cheap noodles to his impoverished countrymen. At the age of 48, Ando developed the instant ramen which sustains college students everywhere.

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12. Alan Rickman

Rickman quit a successful graphic design business in his mid-20s to go into acting, but spent years working in theater until he was asked to play the role of Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

13. Sam Walton

Walton ran several stores, and failed many times in the process. But he learned from those failures and used the lessons to open the first Wal-Mart at 44 and become one of the richest men in the world. The store’s philosophy was simple, buy in bulk and sell them cheap. Today his stores sell everything from groceries to electric skateboards, and everything in between.

14. Miguel de Cervantes

Widely credited as the first Western novelist for his work Don Quioxte, Cervantes did not publish his first book until 38 and his most famous work at 58. Before then, he served in the Spanish Navy and struggled for years to find work which could support him as he wrote.

15. Julia Child

The woman who brought French cuisine to American televisions did not eat French food until she was 36, working for the OSS in post-war France. But after being absolutely stunned by French food, she studied the cuisine fanatically until she had enough knowledge to host The French Chef at 51.

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16. “Colonel” Harland Sanders

Sanders worked a variety of odd jobs throughout his life, and watched his first attempt at a fried chicken restaurant fail at the ripe old age of 65. But Sanders used his Social Security checks to begin franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken, which became the success it is today.

17. Tim and Nina Zagat

These two certainly enjoyed success throughout their life as a pair of corporate lawyers. But after making a list of local restaurants they liked or did not like, they expanded the list into a full-time business. Today, the Zagat list covers over 70 cities.

18. Charles Darwin

Darwin went on his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle at just 21, but his work as a naturalist was held back by health issues. It was not until he was 50 that he finally published On the Origin of Species.

19. Peter Mark Roget

Peter Mark Roget had an interest in lists and orderly language throughout his life. When he retired from his scientific and mechanical work in 1840 at the age of 61, he began preparing to work on a book which would organize words by their definitions. The first thesaurus was published in 1852.

20. “Grandma” Moses

Anna Moses loved to embroider, but when her fingers started to fail at the age of 78, she took up painting. Today, she is remembered as one of America’s great folk artists, who painted scene after scene of American rural life.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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