Almost everyone loves lists – lists that enumerate the best of (fill in the blank), the top (fill in the blank), the worst of (fill in the blank)…you get the idea. Today\’s list helps us reaffirm that “It is never too late to be who you might have been” (George Eliot – and remember, George Eliot is a pen name for a woman – Mary Ann Evans).

Here are 10 examples of late-blooming bloomers and how old they were when they “blossomed”:

  • Charles Darwin wrote Origin of the Species (50)
  • Ian Fleming created James Bond (45)
  • Colonel Sanders began franchising KFC (65)
  • Grandma Moses began painting (late 70s)
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder publishes the first of eight volumes of Little House series (65)
  • Ray Kroc opens his first McDonald\’s (52)
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas begins her environmental crusade for the protection of the Everglades (79)
  • Oscar Swahn, Swedish shooter, wins his first Olympic medal (60)
  • Clara Peller\’s first acting role in Wendy\’s “Where\’s the Beef?” campaign (81)
  • Virginia Hamilton Adair publishes her first book of poetry (83)

Of course, this list contains famous people, but how many others do we know who became entrepreneurs, or went to law school or medical school, or began painting or writing in later life. What makes it possible for people to reach great milestones in their later years? Research has shown us a some specifics: ability isn\’t pre-ordained, it can be expressed over many years through the interaction of our genes and environment; success can be obtained through Resilience, passion, and hard work (it\’s said it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours to become an expert); our brains attain their highest myelin level in our 50s (the myelin sheath is a fatty coating on nerve cells that helps in the transmission of information); and adversity (illness, early loss, etc.) can foster growth (think Chris Gardner in “Pursuit of Happyness”). There is no expiration on achievement!

Jan Cullinane is the co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale, 2007). She gives seminars on the (primarily) non-financial aspects of retirement through her company, "Retirement Living from A to Z."