On January 11, 2023, two friends — Eleanor Hamby and Sandra Hazelip — set out to go around the world in 80 days. So far, the 81-year-olds have been to places like Antarctica, Argentina, Zanzibar, Bali, and Australia, and they’re only halfway through their trip. They plan to visit all seven continents before they’re done.
Hamby and Hazelip are not alone. Older adults often go on adventures and achieve amazing things.
How to get started on your own adventure or accomplishment
You don’t have to go around the world to do something exciting—you can be extraordinary in your own home. Captain Sir Thomas Moore raised $40 million for Britain’s National Health Service during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking laps with a walker around his small garden at age 100.
Even if you’re not going to be in the Guinness Book of World Records or appear on TV, you can still strive for accomplishments that are personally meaningful or just plain fun. For example, you could challenge yourself to walk a mile every day for 20 days, crochet a blanket for each of your grandchildren, or volunteer at a local charity. The possibilities are endless.
To get started:
- Think about an activity you like to do or would like to try.
- Think of a way to measure or quantify your progress.
- Set a goal that’s achievable, but that takes some work and determination.
- Connect your activity to making a difference—whether you’re challenging yourself or contributing to the community.
- Then, tell people about it. Telling just a few people increases the likelihood that you’ll achieve your goal.
These personal challenges can give you something to look forward to, something to talk about, and, if you achieve your goal, something to celebrate!
Need inspiration? Here are some examples of people who accomplished great things later in life.
Sports and adventure
- Fauja Singh took up running at age 89 to help process the grief of his son’s death. He ran several record-setting marathons, and at age 100, became the oldest person to complete a marathon. He was a torchbearer at the London Olympics in 2012, and he’s still a fitness advocate at age 112.
- Gladys Burrill started running marathons at age 86 and became the oldest woman to finish a marathon at age 96.
- Yuichiro Miura became the oldest person to climb Mount Everest at age 80. He’s planning to try again when he turns 90.
- Margaret Ringenberg started flying airplanes in World War II. At age 72, she completed the Round-the-World Air Race, and at 79 she flew in a race from London to Sydney.
- John Glenn went into space for nine days at age 77, orbiting the Earth 134 times.
- William Shatner, Captain Kirk from Star Trek, became the oldest person to fly in space at age 90.
- Dorothy Davenhill Hirsch became the oldest person to go to the North Pole at age 89.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder started writing her Little House on the Prairie books at age 65.
- Frank McCourt, who started writing at age 65, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for his book Angela’s Ashes.
- Peter Mark Roget used his hobby of categorizing words to help with his depression, and, eventually, he published his first thesaurus in his 70s.
- Grandma Moses started painting at age 76 after her arthritis made embroidery difficult. When she was 88 years old, Mademoiselle magazine named the esteemed painter “Young Woman of the Year.”
- Stan Lee, who co-created comic book superheroes like Spider-Man and Iron Man, published his last book at age 86.
- Fashion designers Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, and Vivienne Westwood all helmed major fashion labels in their 80s.
- Estelle Getty got her big break as an actress at age 62, landing the role of Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls.
- Christopher Plummer, a.k.a. Captain Von Trapp, won his first Oscar at 82 for the movie Beginners, becoming the oldest person to win an Academy Award.
There are also countless examples of notable older adults that have made a significant impact in business, science, and philanthropy. When it comes to adventure and achievement, there’s no age limit!