We live in a culture that worships youth. We’re constantly being told about the latest YouTuber or influencer who has managed to become extravagantly rich in their 20s or even earlier.
And it can make those of us who haven’t achieved that kind of success so early in life feel inadequate.
The truth is, there is no time limit on success.
Actor Samuel L Jackson didn’t get a major film role until he was 46 – just like Alan Rickman, who was also 46 when he got his first breakthrough role. Vera Wang didn’t start designing until she was 40, and Colonel Sanders was in his 60s before he started his first Kentucky fried chicken restaurant.
But success later in life often requires specific character traits that are different from those that can bring success early.
Here are some traits worth cultivating if you want your success to be a long journey.
It probably won’t come as a big surprise to see this at the top of the list.
After all, it requires enormous patience to keep pursuing your goals as the weeks turn into years.
I’ve found this in my own life. While I’m hardly mega-successful, I have managed to make a career out of writing, which was something I always dreamed about doing, even when I was a little kid.
But it was a long road to get here. I worked all kinds of undesirable jobs just to keep a roof over my head, and for years, it seemed like my dreams were never getting any closer.
It took a lot of patience to keep trying. But now I have the life I always wanted and that I waited so long for.
Being patient doesn’t mean sitting and waiting for things to happen to you. It means that you keep working on your goals over the long-term, without getting discouraged when things don’t work out quickly.
No matter what you attempt in life, you’ll run into obstacles. Generally, what defines your success in life is how you approach those obstacles.
People who achieve success later in life are people who cultivate resilience. That means when they encounter an obstacle, they use it as an opportunity to grow. To refine their ideas and practices and lead them on to greater success, instead of letting it knock them down and keep them there.
Psychology Today calls resilience, “the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before.”
In other words, resilience means not only dealing with the hard parts of life, but using them to make yourself better.
In the long road toward success, you’re practically guaranteed to get your share of setbacks. The people who achieve success later in life are those who know how to use resilience to turn those setbacks into the building blocks of victory.
Perseverance is linked to resilience in that both qualities are what allow you to keep on going through hard times.
Late bloomers are often characterized by their perseverance. It’s a quality that can keep you going for years when it seems like nothing is going your way, making it one of the most important when it comes to finding success late in life.
Change is the fundamental law of the universe. And in many ways, what defines our success more than anything else is our ability to adapt to change.
This is especially true for those who find success late in life. That’s because, as time goes on, we are subject to more changes.
Twenty years ago, it was almost impossible to build a career like mine. Becoming a writer basically meant either publishing books with major publishers or becoming a journalist for a magazine or newspaper.
But the Internet changed all that, and the people who did well out of it were those who were able to embrace the new possibilities of technology.
That’s just one example from a specific industry. But everything is changing all the time, and being able to adapt to those changes often ends up being the key to finding success late in life.
5) Lifelong learning
Dr. Seuss once wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Lifelong learning is essential to success. The thing is, you never know what you don’t know. All of us have entire areas of knowledge that we don’t even realize exist. And you never know what bit of knowledge will spark the idea that can lead to great success.
People who find success later in life usually do so as a result of a commitment to lifelong learning. They never think they know everything, but instead take every opportunity to learn as much as they can and use it to drive them forward.
One of the best things about finding success later in life is that you have lots of time to get to know yourself really well.
After all, few things in life will teach you as much about your own personality and abilities as failure.
That means by the time a late bloomer find success, they know themselves really well.
Often, this makes them immune to many of the pitfalls of success. Because they know who they are what they want from life, they are less likely to be drawn into the traps of celebrity and success, and are more mature and better able to focus on what they want, both in their personal and professional lives.
So often, success comes as a result of knowing exactly what you want and having a strong vision of how to get there.
As successful CEO and business expert Michael Hyatt points out, forming a strong vision of the future allows you to attempt what otherwise might seem impossible.
And it’s the strength of their vision that helps to keep late bloomers persevering for years at a time.
This is often an underrated component of success. After all, many people believe that in order to get ahead in life, you need to be ruthless and willing to trample all over anybody that gets in your way.
Actually, the opposite is true.
As this article in Forbes points out, empathy helps us to understand others, which in turn helps us to understand ourselves.
It also helps us to influence others, a skill which is extremely useful in leadership, sales, and all kinds of other aspects of achieving success.
Empathy helps us to understand the needs and desires of other people. Not only does that make us better, but it also helps us understand.
Those who achieve success late in life are often those who use the time to improve their own empathy and understand the feelings of others on a deeper level.
Another hugely underrated component of late life success is optimism.
I don’t mean you need to be blind to the dangers and pitfalls of the path you’re pursuing. Quite the opposite. You need to have a very good understanding of the challenges you may face if you want to achieve success.
But you also need enough optimism to see past the hard parts and keep your eye on your goal. You need to believe that you are capable of achieving what you have set out to do, and that things can work out for the best.
Everyone has a different outlook on life, but an optimistic viewpoint is something you can cultivate over time. And a healthy level of optimism can help to get you through the hard times while you work toward success later in life.
10) Tolerance for risk
Finally, this is another important trait for success that many people don’t recognize.
Everyone believes in the value of hard work. But far fewer people understand that what really gets rewarded in this world is a person’s tolerance for risk.
Sure, you can stay in the same town working the same job for years or decades. And it may feel safe and familiar. But it probably won’t get you anywhere in the long run.
People who find success, whether early or late in life, are people who are willing to take risks.
That doesn’t mean being reckless. Instead, it means taking calculated risks that may expose you to a greater possibility of failure, but also expose you to a greater possibility of success.
Finding success later in life
Do you sometimes feel like you’re lagging behind?
The truth about success is that you can find it at any age.
Sometimes, it comes early. Other times, it can take years or decades to get where you want to be.
Cultivating the traits in this list prepares you to pursue success over the long haul. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get to your goal.
All that matters is that you get there.
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