3 women who found their passion projects after 50
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Have you always dreamed of starting your own business or learning a daredevil hobby – but don’t have the confidence to just go for it? It’s a familiar story and that lack of self-belief can stop us going after the things we really want.
Well, it's about time that changed. Let these inspiring women give you the jolt you need.
From career changes to facing their fears, they all found their passion after the age of 50 (and they couldn’t be happier about it).
“Learning to sail helped me get over my divorce”
“As a couple, we’d always discussed learning to sail together and going off around the Greek islands on a boat – but of course it never happened. When we divorced after 33 years together, I decided that if I didn’t learn to sail now, it would just be another one of my dreams that ended with our marriage.
I wanted to prove to myself that I could do these things on my own. I Googled our local reservoir and found they did beginner courses, so off I went. When I arrived, there was one middle-aged man there, but everyone else in the class was under 25 and I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’ But then I told myself I didn’t need to love it; I just had to experience it.
Fast-forward to today and I now have my level one and two sailing qualifications. I wouldn’t say I’m a competent sailor – more of a work in progress! But I can now get around a course without capsizing, at least, and there’s no better feeling than hanging off the side of a boat as you go along at speed – it’s an amazing rush.
When you’ve been in a relationship your whole adult life, it’s empowering to realise that you can push yourself and achieve your dreams on your own… you just have to work a little harder and be a little braver. Since learning to sail, I’ve also tried jiving classes, swam in deep water and climbed the highest mountain in England. Next on my list is to walk from one side of the UK to the other, and then… who knows?!”
If you're trying a new sport and stepping out of your comfort zone, make sure you have everything you need, as it will make you feel more in control. Ask someone who’s already tried it what to wear and then get the right kit. And don’t forget about the little things, like wearing comfortable underwear or using Always Discreet to protect you from any leaks. Then you’re ready for anything!
“I went from high flyer to buffalo farmer”
“I started working at a market-research company in 1986, and back then, having a career was about longevity. By the time I left in 2014, I’d worked in global roles with big international clients, managed large teams and moved around within the company – but I knew it was time to try something different.
Whichever role I was in, I was still drawing on 30 years of experience and started to feel stagnant. I had an epiphany that I could try something else – if it didn’t work, I could always go back.
I married my husband in 2013, and he runs an unusual business, Napton Water Buffalo – farming a herd of 300. For a couple of years I was still working in my old job but helping him at shows on weekends, where he’d sell buffalo sausages and burgers, and I’d do some sales and paperwork. But the balancing act was frustrating for everyone, so in the end I decided to walk away from my well-paid job – with pensions and all the benefits that come from being in a big company – and work on the farm.
Now, no two days are the same, and the job changes depending on the season. We process all the meat and make the sausages and burgers, and then throughout the summer we’re at markets and shows selling them. People love to give us feedback and become invested in the story of the products.
When you work in a big organisation, you don’t get that feedback, and in management you’re only ever involved in the last five per cent of a project, whereas with this I’m involved in the production. My husband thought I’d last about a year before I’d be doing some consultancy work, but I’ve never felt the need to go back, and now we’re looking to expand and launch a mail-order business.
When it comes to making a career change, you can overthink things, but as you get older and no longer have to wrestle with the pressures of having a young family, it’s time to start thinking about yourself.”
“I found happiness making breakfast”
“In my youth, running a B&B was a daydream of mine; I thought it would be a nice idea, but never believed I’d actually do it. I’d always worked for big companies, and for the last three years of my working life I was a railway station assistant. It was a customer service role, but I was feeling deflated as I never had the power to change anything, and I had no patience for dealing with the troublesome teenagers who hung out at the station.
When I turned 55, I realised I needed to do something different. As fate would have it, I was out having dinner when a friend told me about a guest-house business – Number One B&B – that was coming up for sale. I had to carefully weigh up my finances, but I decided to go for it.
The guesthouse has four rooms and each day I make the breakfasts – everything from eggs benedict to vegetarian halloumi hash – and service the rooms. In the beginning it was hard work – I’ve never done anything like this before and had to learn a lot of new skills quickly.
It’s the things you don’t think about that are tricky, such as credit-card compliance and learning how to do social media and manage a website. On my first morning, I realised I didn’t even know how to turn the oven on! But now that I’ve grown in confidence, I really enjoy it and I’m so glad I took on the challenge. And I don’t have nightmares about overcooked poached eggs anymore!”
Are you working on your own passion project? Tell us about it below...