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Changing Your Life at 76 – One Woman’s Story

If you’ve been feeling unsatisfied at work, Ali Davies is here to remind you that it’s never too late to make the big career change! Read more from Ali on her blog

Creating change in your life as you get older can sometimes feel like a mountain to climb.

At those times, it can be really helpful to learn from people who have changed their life at a much older age, despite the odds being stacked against them. Here is an inspiring example:

Changing your life when the odds are stacked against you.

Imagine you are 76 and want to set up a business for the first time, with no prior experience, in a country that is pretty much bankrupt (Ireland) and make a great success of it in less than 12 months?

Sounds like the odds would be stacked against that doesn’t it? But that is exactly what a client I worked with did.

Betty Smith - Changing Your Life at 76 - One Woman's Story

Meet Betty Smith

(Important note: all the work I do with clients is held in the strictest confidence, so everything you read here is published with Betty’s approval and kind permission).

I first met Betty when she signed up to do my Successful Women in Business programme (a programme that takes people through a step by step process to create change to get the results they really want in their life and work).

She had signed up because she had a financial need to earn some money and she wanted to get some clarity about the best way to do that and work out a way forward.

As the programme progressed Betty came to one of the group sessions and announced that she had come up with a business idea and had started a food production business.

Her idea was to produce Poitin (pronounced “po-cheen”) Marmalade.

(For those of you that don’t know what Poitin is, it is an alcoholic spirit unique to Ireland. It can legally only be manufactured in Ireland – in the same way that champagne can only be manufactured in the Champagne region of France).

At the tender age of 76, Betty was on the path to what would become a thriving business in just 12 months. Thriving in the worst economic crisis Ireland has had in living memory. Thriving even though she had no prior experience of running a business.

But before it got to the “thriving” stage, there were all sorts of challenges to navigate.

For example:

  • She needed money to cover the start-up costs. But due to her age and the Irish banking crisis she couldn’t get a loan. So she had a good sort through her house and sold a load of stuff. That gave her enough money to get started.
  • She had no experience of running a business so there was a mountain of things she had to learn.
  • She faced a lot of negativity. Including a number of people telling her that her idea had no potential. Some even, patronisingly, suggesting she should just go home and enjoy her retirement!

But Betty refused to be deterred by the many challenges that crossed her path. She found a way round each and every one and kept moving forward.

After twelve months, her product was in a national supermarket and a number of other retailers. Her customer list is growing all the time. She has been featured in numerous newspapers. Now, three years later, she is in 31 branches of Ireland’s largest supermarket chain and numerous other retailers too.

As she looks forward to celebrating her 80th birthday next year, Betty is thriving and so is her business.

So what can we learn from Betty’s inspiring story of changing your life at any age to get the results you really want, even when the odds are stacked against you?

Betty and I discussed this at some length. Here are some of the factors that contributed to her sucess:

  • She took action consistently and persistently.
  • She committed to learning skills that would help her achieve her goals.
  • She didn’t know “how” to make it happen but she let go of needing to know “how” and just committed to finding a way.
  • She experimented – a lot!
  • She didn’t allow herself to get knocked off track by challenges, setbacks, problems and negativity of others. She learnt from those things, implemented what she learnt and moved on.
  • She was solution focussed, outcome driven and creative in her problem solving.
  • She reached out for help and created a good support network.
  • She was willing to step outside her comfort zone.
  • Her mindset was “I have to find a way to make this happen now.” (As Betty pointed out to me, at her age, having a 5 year plan isn’t really an option – it HAD to happen NOW).
  • She made decisions fast, acted fast, failed fast, took calculated risks and repeated this cycle ongoing.

I asked Betty of she had any tips that she would like me to include in this article. This is what she said:

“There are always challenges in life, work and business. Accept that and commit to overcome them. Experiment. There is always a solution. Take action consistently. Success isn’t a straight road. Keep a sense of humour.”

Betty’s journey is an inspiring example of creating change in your life at any age, even when the odds are stacked against you.

Ali Davies

Ali Davies helps people create change to design the life and results they really want. You can find out more about Ali and her work at

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Kathy @ SMART Living

Monday 8th of June 2015

Hi Ali! Thank you for sharing Betty's story with us. She sounds like an incredible woman. Just that she would seek you out to coach her to move forward with her dream is a testimony to the type of woman she is. She wanted help, found what she was looking for and never looked back. May she be an inspiration to us all. Thanks again for sharing! ~Kathy

Carol Graham

Monday 8th of June 2015

My kind of woman! Thank you for the inspiring story

Ali Davies

Monday 8th of June 2015

So glad you enjoyed the article Kathy. Yes, Betty is an incredible woman. I learnt so much from her and it was a joy and an honour to spend time with her and support her in her journey and tranformation.


Monday 8th of June 2015

Very inspiring read. Thank you for the reminder to keep a sense of humor, so important and often forgotten in the craziness!

Ali Davies

Monday 8th of June 2015

You are so right Jane - a sense of humour is so important. Especially when navigating periods of change.


Monday 8th of June 2015

What a wonderful story! A good product and perseverance and hard work are a winning combination. Thanks for letting us know about this interesting woman. Kimberly

Ali Davies

Monday 8th of June 2015

Kimberly. so glad you found it interesting. She really is an inspiration to us all.

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