New Year’s Resolutions: How to Create Lasting Change at Any Age

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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The Young At Heart Chorus Playbill

This week I found something special quite by accident.

Tuesday night I was having a coughing fit, so I made the decision to take some cold medicine and just go to bed.  I turned on my TV to the local PBS channel to wait for the medicine to work.

Instead of going to sleep, I was sucked into watching one of the most inspirational documentaries I have ever seen.  If I were handing out the 8 Women Dream Inspirational Award to a film, it would go to this movie and the people featured in it.

Independent Lens on PBS was airing the documentary Young At Heart.

This film features the Young At Heart Chorus. Their story is how choir director Bob Cilman organized the [email protected] Chorus by asking residents of an elderly housing project in Northampton, MA to perform in his choir. The documentary follows the current group as they perform in several concerts.

The performers in the choir range in age from 73 to 89.

Some of the performers have prior professional theater or music experience – others have performed extensively on the amateur level – but there are some who never stepped onto a stage before turning 80.  Unfortunately, most of the amazing music videos featuring this group online won’t allow the embedding of their videos on other websites.

This makes it difficult to share their story on 8 Women Dream.

So I will try my best to encourage you to go watch their videos by clicking on the links in this post for them – even if you are the type of person who never watches videos online.

The following is one of the movie trailers —

This 2006 documentary film has won two Rose d’Or awards, the LA Film Festival Audience Award, the Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival, and won at the Paris Cinema International Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Bergen International Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival and more.

This movie is an incredibly moving documentary, especially when Young At Heart singer Fred Knittle sings Coldplay’s Fix You. (Fox will not allow embedding of his video).

I promise you will be glad you did.   He reminds me that we still live in a tender, amazing world graced with people like him. I also encourage you to rent this film – or buy it – and watch it whenever you feel like quitting your dreams.

If their stories don’t convince you that you are never too old to dream, or that you should continue with your dreams no matter what, then I offer you the following argument

  • Artist Bill Traylor started drawing at age 83.
  • In her 90’s Irene Wells Pennington took over her husband’s oil business after he went senile, turning it into a fortune worth $600 million.
  • Colonel Harland Sanders began his franchise in his 60’s.
  • Joshua Millner of Britain was 61 when he won his Olympic gold medal in Free rifle, 1000 yards.
  • Oscar Swahn won two Olympic gold medals in the running deer, single shot event at the age of 60. He won his last medal, silver, at 72 making him the oldest medalist.
  • George Foreman became the oldest man ever to become heavyweight boxing champion of the world when, at age 45, he knocked out Michael Moorer, age 26, to reclaim the title he held 20 years earlier.
  • After his critically acclaimed film Francisca (1981), Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira became a full time filmmaker at the age of 73.
  • Harriet Doerr published her first novel at age 74.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first novel in the Little House series in her 60’s.
  • Nirad C. Chaudhuri published Three Horsemen of the New Apocalypse at the age of 100.
  • The first edition of Roget’s Thesaurus was published by Peter Mark Roget when he was 73.
  • At the age of 89, Doris Haddock walked 3,200 miles from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness for the issue of campaign finance reform.
  • At the age of 52, despite battles with diabetes, arthritis, and having his thyroid gland removed Ray Kroc started the McDonald’s brand.
  • And we all know Grandma Moses didn’t begin to paint until she was 76.This Year I Will: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True

I think part of the secret of achieving your dreams at any age is doing what author MJ Ryan’s suggests in her book, This Year I Will: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True

Her suggestions for creating lasting change at any age are –

  • You must be specific.
  • You must plan.
  • You must prepare.
  • You must really want it.
  • You must make a commitment.
  • You must take action.
  • You must re-evaluate when things aren’t working.
  • You must get back on track when you slip up.

For anyone who has already broken their New Year’s resolution by giving up on working on the fulfillment of a dream; I hope the videos mentioned above, the film [email protected], and the dream ages featured here in today’s post, help inspire you to re-commit to yourself and your dreams.

Buy the Young@Heart Documentary on Amazon

Re-commit to New Year’s resolutions you will actually keep this coming year.

And start again.  They all did.

Keep on dreaming –


  • Tina

    Very informative blog on dreaming and I love all the – actually, I love everything I have read so far!!! :)

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Thanks – the lake was beautiful nd I am sore, but you won’t hear me complain after watching these seniors in this choir!

  • Remy G

    Such wisdom! The idea that dreams and goals are important to watch and re evaluate is very important. We shouldn’t worry if things don’t go exactly as planned – we just take a look and go at it again – “be committed” as you said above. And way to go on the walking around Spring Lake! Rem

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Thank you Lisa. As I turn 50 this year I am suddenly appreciating as much time on this planet as I can possibly squeeze in. These people live life to the fullest to the very end – and I want that to be me too!! Just like your story of that wonderful couple . . . and I can think of just the guy I’d like to do that with when I am their age!

  • Cath I LOVE this post… Soooo inspiring!!!! Loved the list of all those amazing folks who did things at what to most might seem inconceivable ages… I really think human capacity to create is virtually infinite and we just need to tap into spirit, our own belief in ourselves, and really just GO FOR IT (leap past all the fears of being too old, too young, too thin, too fat, too this, too that, too WHATEVER!).

    Thanks for an awesome reminder of that! :)


  • Catherine, Site Admin

    I know – these people in the film are amazing – so young at heart and full of life.

  • I love this movie. I saw it too! That performance Fix You and when the choir performs at the prison made me cry. This is such an amazing film. Now I wish I could see them live in concert. I love what one review said about them: “Our friends are not ignoring the cold, hard facts of old age–they’re transcending them.” —Montreal Mirror 2001 Genevieve Paiment, 2007. Rock on [email protected] and 8 Women Dream!

  • Kim, the traveler

    I have to remind myself this as I walk into the interview room with a bunch of 20 somethings.