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It’s Never Too Late to Define Yourself // Inspiration from Julia Child

happy monday, you guys. this is the start not just of a new week, but a holiday week. and we’re taking the whole. thing. off. it’s our first real week of vacation all year. i know. not good. but hey — better late with the vacation than never, right? we used to be good at using our vacation, but somewhere along the line, we just felt too responsible for too many things, and it got a lot harder to step away. maybe we can still get better about using our vacation time in these last two years…

we talk a lot here about redefining ourselves in early retirement, especially making sure that we consider before we actually leave our jobs how we’ll obtain self worth and fulfillment post-career. but we recently realized that redefining isn’t really the right word to use at all.

we believe that most of us have never truly shaped an intentional life, and instead have defaulted into a lot of the circumstances in our lives, because those strings of little decisions have a way of turning into big decisions that we feel like we never actually made for ourselves. we don’t reach some gate at age 18 or 21 or 25 or 40 or ever where we are asked to proclaim, “here’s who i am and what i want my life to be about.” instead, it’s the mundane, daily decisions that add up to something much bigger than we ever intend. but, for so many of us, we want to opt in to that life we choose affirmatively instead of merely forgetting to opt out of the default choice.

in thinking about the life that we truly want to live, and how we will thrive within that, there’s truly no re. the right word is simply “define.”

our society is built around certain age milestones: graduate from high school around age 18. graduate from college around age 22. get married and/or have kids in your 20s, be a “grown up” in your 30s, etc. but these milestones are artificial creations, and they exclude a lot of people. even for those of us who fit the mold on the milestones, those milestones don’t actually mean much of anything. but they sure feel like they mean something, and what they seem to mean is: if you don’t do certain things by certain ages, you’ve missed your chance. or you’re late. or you’re a failure. and it’s too late to go back and make a different choice.

but that’s simply not true. it’s never too late to define yourself. or if you actually did deliberately define yourself at one point, it’s not too late to change that.

and this isn’t just a pretty thing to assert — it’s absolutely true. those of us on the path to early retirement know this at least a little bit, on some level, since we are willing to give up the thing that defines the vast majority of people — what we do for a paycheck. but it’s a good reminder for everyone. you’re never stuck for real, though you may feel stuck. and it’s never too late to make a different choice about what you want to be when you grow up.

to make sure i never forget this, i have a portrait of julia child on my office wall, and i see it every day when i’m home. julia child is one of my absolute heroes for a number of reasons. her attitude was always so positive and infectious. (if you haven’t read her book, my life in france, i can’t recommend it highly enough. it is truly effervescent.) her mantra was never to apologize for something you cook. she was big and gangly in a world of petite people, and she never apologized for that either. she lived into her 90s despite eating plenty of butter and cream. and, most of all, she didn’t find her calling until she was in her 40s. but when she found it, she poured every drop of passion and hard work she possessed into making her calling a reality. and this was before there was any sort of path for her to follow. sure, others had published cookbooks, but very few americans — especially women! — had graduated from le cordon bleu, and almost no one had had a cooking show on tv. she found a path that was truly her own, and she did it joyfully.

whether you love julia as much as i do doesn’t matter — what matters is that we all learn from her example. she could have had that first life-changing meal of sole meuniere back in france, and done nothing about it. she could have thought, “oh, i’m too old to try something new,” or “why bother following this thread if it won’t lead to a career?” or, in a more period-appropriate way of thinking, “i’m just a housewife. i can’t have my own ambitions.” but if she had any of those thoughts, she didn’t let them stop her. and she almost certainly didn’t know where those thoughts would lead her. she just knew that dining in france had blown her mind, and she wanted to create some of that herself. she started taking cooking lessons, and spent countless hours learning to dice onions and potatoes to uniform perfection, and to roll out an ideal pastry crust. the cookbooks and the cooking show came later. but they started with that germ of an idea, fed by her curiosity and inquisitiveness.

need more examples besides just julia of people who found their calling later in life? my favorite is the painter grandma moses, who never so much as picked up a paintbrush until she was in her 80s, but went on to have a short but spectacular career. laura ingalls wilder didn’t publish little house in the big woods, her first book, until she was 65. and there are plenty of others — elvis costello was a computer programmer, andrea bocelli was a lawyer, nate silver was a management consultant, ken jeong was a practicing doctor, and martha stewart was a mere caterer before she become the lifestyle guru. and let’s not forget how michael jordan decided he wanted to take up baseball in his 30s (okay, maybe not the best example). ;-)

and those are only the famous people. there are undoubtedly countless examples of people who, no matter how far into a career or how advanced in age, dared to ask “what if…?” and then follow that thread with curiosity, an open mind and an open heart.

those are the people we want to emulate. we’re 36 and 39, and we don’t yet know what our callings are. but we know they’re out there, and we want to put ourselves in the best possible position to find them. right now that means saving as fast as we can, so we can free up more time for exploration. and for always, that means staying curious, asking questions and always being open to possibilities. never letting the thought, “that ship has sailed” cross our minds. because we haven’t defined ourselves yet, and we’re in no hurry.

are you one of the lucky few who’s found your calling already? or are you like us, and still trying to figure it out? any great strategies for staying open so you don’t miss it when it pays you a visit? please share in the comments!

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64 replies »

  1. I love Julia, and I don’t like butter, cream or aspic or 98% of any of her recipes. I think it’s so cool that she spent years as a government employee and thinking that she should yearn for a husband and children only to find out years later that happiness wasn’t predicated on other people’s opinions.

    Love that picture, and I can’t tell you how much it in particular resonates with me.

    • Haha — I’m mostly vegan and have celiac, so I can eat exactly nothing that she cooks — but I adore her anyway. :-) I’ll watch her cook a chicken or whip up a souffle all day long. I love the way she’ll laugh at herself, and never takes anything too seriously — including those societal expectations, like you said! Glad you love the picture — when I first saw it, I knew I needed to put it up in my office so I could see it every day. :-)

  2. This is so awesome. I don’t know my calling either. :)

    Two things that this makes me think of:

    1. Alice Munro didn’t publish her first book until she was in her late 30s, and she won a Nobel Prize while in her 80s!

    2. I love this quote by George Eliot: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” (There may be a slight focus on regret here, but I think it’s still relevant to what you’re saying.)

    I’m so excited to read this Julia Child book — thanks for the recommendation! I’m headed to the library site right now to reserve it. :)

    • Please do read Julia’s book. It’s magical. I love her. That’s part of why I have her portrait on my wall (the picture in the post), to remember her absolute positivity and enthusiasm for life. (It’s also in my office because it shows her working hard, which is good for my workspace!)

      I LOVE Alice Munro, and she’s another great example. Also on the book front, have you read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic or Anne Patchett’s This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage? Both talk a lot about writing and creativity, and I somehow think you’d love them both. :-)

      • I am totally going to read it! I’m crossing my fingers that the library can get it for me before Thanksgiving. I’ve also been on the waiting list for Big Magic for a while now…it’s a popular one, it seems. :) And as for Ann Patchett, I do love her (in particular Truth and Beauty — *totally* worth checking out if you haven’t already), but I wasn’t aware of this new book. Back to the library catalog! :)

  3. I love that you shared Laura Ingalls Wilder as an example. We were just talking about her late-start fiction career last night! We definitely view our current jobs as great for now but not forever, but we also want to remain flexible so we’re brainstorming more than planning for the future right now. We’re comfortable with this since we have a while till we’ll make a big change.

    • Realizing that Wilder didn’t publish until she was 65 makes me want to go back and read the series again — it has been decades for me. :-) But it definitely makes us feel better, knowing that we want to write a lot in ER, that we haven’t missed the boat! And your approach to your current situation makes total sense — stay open and flexible in case something awesome comes along, but keep saving away for your planned big change.

  4. I haven’t found my calling yet, but I have a suspicion of what it is. I think that peoples callings change throughout life though, and that is why it is a good skill to be able to redefine yourself. Unfortunately, I think most of us are too scared to break free and take a chance from what may be a very comfortable job, to take a risk at a better life. I know I am for one… but I have put in a few applications for a new job in a different field, so we shall see if I am even qualified to make that leap…

    • Agree with everything! That we can change our calling or passion over our lifetimes, maybe quite a few times, and that fear is ultimately what holds most of us back. I hope you’re able to make your teaching dream come true! :-)

  5. Great article! Got me thinking.

    Your stories remind me of one of my favorite authors and thinkers, Joseph Campbell. He coined the phrase “follow your bliss.” Here is a quote from pg 120 in the Power of Myth:

    “if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

    Following your bliss is similar to Julia Child’s path. It starts with simple curiosity, a spark, and enthusiasm. Following the path does not always lead to fame and fortune. But the opposite of following your bliss is “a wasteland,” where you may be successful on the outside but you are empty of meaning or connection to inspiration.

    I prefer this idea of following my bliss to finally figuring out an ultimate calling. That’s too much pressure!

    • I had the Power of Myth on my reading list for the longest time, and it fell off — thank you for the reminder to put it back on! And I love thinking of it as “your bliss” instead of “your calling” — we’re not afraid of a little new ageyness here. :-)

  6. This is an interesting question. I THINK that I have found my calling, and it definitely has nothing to do with information technology! :)

    For me, it’s photography and videography (and it’s extensions, like photo blogging, podcasting, etc), and it’s always been a hobby of mine even when I was a child. I wrote before about my dark room in my parent’s basement where I would develop my own black and white film and print 8×10 images. It was tremendous fun, and it only reinvigorated my love of this particular creative process.

    Unfortunately, using photography to pay the bills can be really, really tough. There are successful wedding and nature photographers out there of course who make their living with their camera and creative process, but for me, I was already engrained within the MUCH EASIER money-making world of IT, so I just kinda left well enough alone and chalked up photography as a hobby.

    Post-retirement, I will spend a lot more time pursuing these interests. I am not sure where all that will take me yet, but the time will be there, and I already have the inclination to get more involved in this area to see where it takes me.

    You never know, I might have a whole new “Career” on my hands making some extra dough with my camera after we’re done full time work.

    Good luck finding your calling. I think that once you’re truly able to reflect on your lives after full time work, your true callings will probably reveal themselves.

    But a quick exercise – think about what you liked to do as a child. Many people find that their childhood hobbies actually translate pretty well into their adult hobbies.

    • You’re talking to two people who also built homemade darkrooms in our parents’ basements back in the day. I can sniff photo chemicals and be instantly transported. :-) (And I even went to art school for a time to do photography, so right there with you!) But yeah, hard to make money that way, or to justify having gone to regular college. But just like with you, photography is high on our to do list in early retirement (in truth, it always has been — reflected in our header photos!) And I know for me, there will be a lot of writing, but no idea yet what form it will take… fiction? Investigative journalism? Art history? That’s something I hope to explore. And we know we want to do some major charitable work, but that’s a bit of a tabula rasa, too… so lots to explore! (Honestly, I’m glad not to have all the answers, because the journey is the fun part!)

  7. I actually spent most of my twenties defining myself how society told me I should define myself, the right job, the husband, the kid, the home and then I hit my 30s and realized that wasn’t really me. At 35 I finally discovered who I should be and the last two years have been filled with happiness because I am living authentically me and not a character of what I thought I should be.

    • LOVE your story, Shannon. We get so inspired by people who have the guts to leave the comfortable path and live authentically, even if that road has more obstacles at first. You rock!

  8. I like to think that teaching is my calling, but I think it’s possible to experience different iterations of a calling or a passion. I plan to stay in the classroom for a long time, but I dream of helping with literacy initiatives in far away places, too.

    I hope to always be a work in progress – always moving forward and evolving.

    • Completely agree with you! Passions and callings can take all kinds of forms and durations. I hope you can live out that dream of helping literacy in far off lands!

  9. I found mine. I found it at a young age, fell in love with it, got awesome at it and then had to quit to protect my heart. Thankfully, the time my milestone path wanted me to finish school fit perfectly into stepping away, building a thicker skin and finding a different way to get back in. Right now it’s very part time and I love every second of it. Someday it will be a career or maybe it won’t. Either way, can’t stop won’t stop!

    • So of course I’m now SO CURIOUS about what your passion was/is! But I can also understand — I had a passion that even came with a dream job, but alas I couldn’t get that job, no matter how hard I tried, and I had to move along. But I’m hopeful that I can bring part of it back one day, maybe even to this blog after we quit.

      • There is nothing glamorous about this work. Even worse, it’s not well paid. I actually had the opportunity to go after the dream job before I took the job I have now.
        I had to figure out that I have more than one passion. This and travel. If I took the dream job, I could do what I love, but not travel. My current job allows me to travel and have fun on the side. Its been a good choice so far.

  10. I’m on PTO all week too! We can only carry over so much PTO into the next year and I’ve never “lost” any yet (and don’t plan on it). I wrote a similar post today about how I really haven’t found my passion yet I don’t think. I have things that I enjoy in my spare time but not sure if they are my passion. I have lots of things I like to do, so I concentrate on those that make me happy. Maybe financial literacy will be my calling, or woodworking, or traveling? I don’t know but I’m willing to try them all!

  11. You hit the nail on the head with this article. We just end up by making decisions or not making decisions throughout our lives. Some of us definitely get luckier than others when it comes to jobs and I am mostly grateful for my winding career path. However, we are now in our forties we have decided to really push for a change and, as with nearly everyone, money is the only real issue. I’m not too worried about what I define myself as but having a meaningful and enjoyable life.

    Thanks for the great essays. We both look forward to them!

    • Thanks, George! I definitely love your point that we also don’t need to worry about how we define ourselves — just create your own path, and don’t look back!

  12. “and it’s never too late to make a different choice about what you want to be when you grow up.” Word! I love those stories like Julia and other people in their 40’s and later redefining what they do for a living, especially because I’m someone in my 40’s kind of doing the same thing. I was on the typical corporate ladder for a long time until my world was rocked. It doesn’t mean it’s over, but a new beginning, as long as you don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

  13. Isn’t that what this whole early retirement journey is all about? It’s about setting up the finances to allow us to redefine ourselves as many times as we want! I love stories like Julia’s. Finding a passion is exciting. Mr. T loves creating (and I love helping!), so that’s where we’ll start. But that could evolve, we could change, and we won’t have to limit ourselves. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • I think for a lot of us, that’s exactly what it’s about! And I love your point — once we reach financial freedom, none of us have to limit ourselves. We could be passionate about 10 things, and never worry about which of them might pay the bills. Yay!

  14. I’m not sure I have quite found my calling – and if I have, then I haven’t had the chance to dig deep enough into it to determine if it’s the one. :) I think my curiosity can be a blessing & somewhat of a distraction. I always want to learn more, dip into other hobbies, learn how to accomplish things I am unsure about, and determine what untapped potential I have. Along the way, I’ve realized that it sometimes has hindered me from actually “mastering” in anything – but at last it allows me to have knowledge on a little bit of everything. I think one of the biggest strategies I use is recognizing opportunity. I definitely think that some “luck” can come to fruition when preparation & opportunity meet (as the quote says). Being able to discover moments of opportunity has allowed me to take off into different ventures, meet new people, contribute to others, and learn more about myself. I do wonder what callings I would discover if I did not have any constraints (i.e. time, energy, resources) – but I try to maintain the notion that I can make excuses for anything & that won’t get me anywhere! Throwing those constraints aside also allows to discover those callings in life.

    • I completely know what you mean about curiosity being a blessing and a distraction — I feel the same way! But, if given the choice, I’d still rather be a deeply curious person, even if it means that my path is more meandering sometimes — I’m sure you’d agree!

  15. So I might take your thought one step further, why “define” anything? Colors only have names so that we can communicate with one another, much like job titles exists solely for people to quickly understand what you do between the hours of 9ish and 5ish (or some other block). At what point is something orange or red? At what point are you your job?

    When I think about what I’m doing, it’s been focused on overcoming a series of challenges. Of learning something new and getting over the learning curves. What do I call it? I have no idea and I’ve grown comfortable with that idea. :)

    • So true, Jim! I think sometimes labeling things can give them more power, like proclaiming, “I am a writer.” But other times, it makes total sense to dabble and not define anything.

  16. My DW has been a little nervous about early retirement, because it is not what most people do. I pointed out that we made a bigger life-change when we graduated from college, went and found jobs, got married, and had a son a few years later. That was a HUGE life change (and we were broke), but all of those are things you are expected to do at that age. That’s what makes early retirement an adventure. The unknown.

    • Isn’t that funny — big life changes don’t seem so big when they’re following the herd, but go it alone, and suddenly everything feels so big and scary. Fortunately we have a big support system here in FIRE blogland! :-)

  17. Oh this is going to sound so lame in comparison to all the wonderful books you’ve mentioned, but I LOVED the Julie and Julia movie! She really was such an inspirational woman. I’m considering asking for The Art of French Cooking as a Christmas gift – although at the same time I’m considering trying the Whole 30 eating plan, and I get the sense that they would be fundamentally incompatible eating styles, haha.

    I’m doing the baby-steps-into-a-new-thing right now as part of how much I’m enjoying blogging about my finances. While I don’t know if it’s a whole new career path, I’m going to take the first of the CFP courses at night next semester to see how I like it – I have this crazy idea that I miss working in customer service and would love to one day work with clients on financial planning, but who knows! I figure a good first step is taking the courses, because I love this stuff anyways. If nothing else, I’ll be a somewhat more informed hobby blogger, and I can take the knowledge with me in my regular life.

    Thanks for a wonderful post and a great, gentle nudge that yes, signing up for that class is a good idea.

    • Haha — yeah, Julia and Whole 30 probably wouldn’t get along too well. If you just want some Julianess, read My Life in France, and skip the cookbooks. Her spirit comes through loud and clear in the book, and is infectious.

      How awesome that you’re taking CFP courses!!! You’re right — it will for sure benefit your blogging, which will benefit all of us lucky enough to read your blog! And maybe it will be more. Either way, yay for you!

  18. I have definitely got to where I am somewhat on autopilot… taking the default decisions… I am not unhappy with how things have turned out though, so I am quite lucky. I think I may have found my calling… but it is only a hobby now… But I really like the idea that we can always change the path we are taking, and if that one doesn’t lead where we want, or if we change out mind, there will be other paths to take in the future…

    • That’s amazing that your autopilot path has put you someplace you’re happy to be! Wonderful. And even better that you’ve found a hobby that you’re passionate about, and which could turn into more! Thanks for commenting. :-)

  19. Such a beautiful post :) I’m working SO hard right now to figure out my calling/passion. It often feels like the impossible task, but I’m trying to keep the faith, haha. It’s nice to hear that I’m not alone in the journey :)

    Thinking about passions always makes me feel so lucky to live in a world with the Internet. Barrier to entry is almost nonexistent for so many fields now. (on the flip side, I think that can make it feel even more overwhelming sometimes though! haha)

    • Thanks, Taylor! :-) You are definitely not alone in the journey — I think most people who follow a traditional path never find it. But I LOVE your point about the internet and barrier to entry — it’s so, so true! We can find out a lot more now about a lot more things, and it’s easier to dabble in something and write it off without fully committing to it. I hear ya on it sometimes being overwhelming, though! :-)

  20. I used to feel bad about not having “figured it out.” Garrett figured out what he wanted to do when he was younger, so he’s enjoyed more career satisfaction than I have. I’ve gone down many a road to find one dead end after another. Over the weekend, I reflected on why others have figured it out and yet I haven’t. I think this is a much larger conversation, but I think my preoccupation with financial security got in the way. I look forward to the clear-headed thinking that financial independence will offer us.

    • We understand that feeling, especially because of how much our careers have done for us — we feel like we owe it to our employers or to our careers to be 100% grateful to them and dedicated to them. But it’s kind of a “the heart wants what it wants” moment — we just don’t completely love working, period! And like you, we can’t wait until FI when we can really explore this question.

  21. I think you’re doing exactly the right thing to set yourself up so that once you discover your calling, you can go for it. Finances are SO often the primary obstacle between a person and the pursuit of his or her passions. Imagine what would have happened – or not happened – to Julia Child if she had not had the means which allowed her to pursue her interests. Until this time, wealthy people had advantages that working class and even middle class people did not have. Now, if the middle class plays it right, there are all sorts of options open to us. It’s great that you won’t need to say “no” to your interests because of limitations imposed by a lack of money.

    • Oh, so true! Freedom is a major privilege. Although in the past women were limited in what they could do professionally, which sometimes led to some interesting creative pursuits! But yes, we’re so thankful to live at a time when achieving financial freedom is possible.

  22. I think last year I wouldn’t have been able to answer this question, definitely not two years ago. Like your example, we’ve very much followed the cookie cutter protocol of how we should live… Graduated high school at 17, married at 19, college at 21, kids at 21/23/25, pretty good 7 1/2 year career in the Air Force so far, and got selected to get my doctorate in physical therapy, which I’ll graduate from in 8 months. Everyone always measures my success by this…how long I’ve been married and the number of kids I have, and they especially make a big deal if they know I’m not quite 30 yet. I definitely am proud of what we’ve accomplished, but like you said, it’s not true success if you’re not being yourself and loving life every day. Luckily for me, I think being a wife, mother, daughter, and physical therapist really is my calling. I enjoy the profession, although I’m still in the honeymoon phase since I haven’t actually graduated, but I’ve been working the 0700-1700 clinic days for long enough to know I love the job, I just don’t like waking up for it!! :P I really do enjoy helping people and making connections with patients. You grow a really strong bond with some of them and it just really feels great when they come in for follow-up appointments and they tell you how much better they’re feeling. Or when you can do a treatment in the clinic and see instant improvement. And I also just really truly love being in the kitchen and making healthy foods from scratch, or just baking a fresh pumpkin pie for my babies. I think in the future if I’m able to do all these things and set my own part-time work schedule so I don’t have to work five days a week and feel exhausted every morning when I wake up, then I’ll be truly happy. Oh, and of course have a big garden (that I’ll actually have time to upkeep) and a decent flock of chickens ;)

    • It is beyond awesome that you have found your calling within your family and at work! I’ve always thought PT seems like a great career, though I can definitely stand not wanting to work those hours, and wanting the time with your kids. Even if you wish you had more time for them, please keep sharing your kitchen adventures with us! :-)

  23. About 6 months ago I got majorly depressed as I could not “find my passion”. I read all the books, tried all the exercises, but nothing felt authentic and inspiring. So I took the one piece of advice that “your purpose will find you” and focused on creating my next life. Using visioning techniques, positive affirmations, and basic planning skills. I recently came back to purpose/passion… too many of the things I read continue to say “you must have a purpose defined” so that you live a long, satisfying life. And again, it’s just not coming clear. I actually have a blog post drafted about it! I still can not articulate my passion/purpose in life. I can however tell you who I want to be for the next few years and how I want my life to reflect that. Is that a life purpose/ a calling? No, but it’s good for now.

    • Such a great point you’re making — society has a way of making us feel like we’re doing it wrong no matter what we do! I think “passion” and “calling” have taken on too much meaning, and in truth, it’s really just “what excites you about getting up in the morning?” It could just be trying a new recipe today, or seeing some friends, or having some new experience. It doesn’t have to be capital “p” Passion. I love the strategy, too, of figuring out your five-year plan. You don’t have to figure out your whole future, but five years from now, what do you want to be able to know you accomplished? Always love your thoughtful comments, Pat! :-)

  24. I love this! Just shows that you should never stop looking to figure out who you are and what you want! You are never stuck with the hand you are dealt. Enjoy your time off!

  25. I loved this post so much – I read it laying in bed and kept nodding my head over and over in agreement! I feel like there are so many million callings I want to answer in life, my challenge is finding the right ones that will stick. I’m easily inspired but don’t always follow through with everything I pick up … It’s great to be reminded that no matter, you aren’t stuck! It’s so easy to fall into, “oh, I’ve already spent so much time/ money/ whatever on this that I can’t walk away…” and that attitude can be SO debilitating.

    • So true! I get stuck in that same kind of thinking sometimes, too: “Oh, wouldn’t it have been nice if I’d thought about that earlier, when I could have done something about it?” But realizing that it’s rarely too late (unless perhaps your goal is to be an Olympic athlete!) is hugely empowering! :-)

  26. Thanks for the thought-provoking post! I agree, it’s never too late to define/re-define yourself. And maybe even necessary for a happy and interesting life, as we’re all in flux.

    That’s a beautiful photo of Julia Child. I had no idea she launched her fame in her forties. I don’t know much about her but assume she probably wasn’t FIRE’d in her 40’s either (?). How inspiring!

    I’m like you in that I haven’t found my calling yet, but I think I am close. You know that feeling of working towards something that you can’t really put your finger on, but it feels right just not there yet? That’s a bit how it feels over here. I’m excited, but not necessarily about something specific (asides from FIREing). Yes, I’m one of those very annoying people. :P

    • Yeah, Julia and Paul were not independently wealthy, and had to work (or at least he had to), which I think makes it all the more impressive.

      How exciting that you have that feeling that you’re on to something. I hope you get some clarity, but either way, keep following that thread!

  27. Great post. I thought I had pursued and found my calling – but then it became a job. Or maybe my calling has changed. Or both. Love the examples provided here of people who have reinvented themselves at mid-life or later. It’s a great reminder to all of us that this is very possible. We should also realize that it is possible for our callings to change over time – perhaps multiple times- and that’s ok!

    • Thanks! I don’t know if this applies to you or not, but for us, the jobs that we thought we wanted turned out to be different from what we thought when we were in college and younger. I think that’s a big part of becoming an adult, actually, is realizing that nothing is what you thought it would be as a kid. Maybe that applies to you, too. Either way — YES, you can definitely define or redefine yourself anytime! :-)

  28. I read “my life in france” on a trip to Greece where we’d scheduled a 2 night “layover” in Paris on the way home. So as soon as we settled our bags in the hotel we walked to the Eiffel Tower (my first time there, tears) and then walked ourselves over to her home on the Rue d’Loo! :) Was so fun to see her apartment building hot on the heels of reading the charming book.