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Yes, You Can Learn “New Tricks” and Be Powerful at Any Age!

By T. Kari Mitchell April 05, 2023 Mindset

Have you ever wondered about the origin of the old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” Does the underlying message have any significance in real life? I recently read several articles that referenced this saying, and they both struck a sensitive chord with me.

We Think Age Controls Our Life

The trouble is, when a number – your age – becomes your identity, you’ve given away your power to choose your future.

— Richard J. Leider

Basically, the saying suggests that age is the main determinant of whether you are capable of learning new skills. Or you can’t force people to change their set patterns and behaviors. Apparently, the saying dates back 500 years, with one reference to John Fitzherbert’s The Book of Husbandry, which highlights the challenges of teaching older dogs newer skills. But more about that later. First, let’s focus on you.

Our Thinking Diminishes Our Worth

Age is just a number. It carries no weight. The real weight is in impacts. The truth is that you can do it at any age. Get up and be willing to leave a mark.

— Israelmore Ayivor

I often hear my brilliant, seasoned sisters diminish themselves because of the year on their birth certificate. Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • I’d like to return to school and earn an advanced degree, but I’m just too old now.
  • I really want to play a musical instrument, but I’m not smart enough.
  • I always wanted to run in a marathon, but I don’t have what it takes.
  • If I pursue my passions at this age, I’m afraid people will laugh at me.
  • What if I fail? What will others say? How will my friends and family react to my authentic expressions?
  • What if…?
  • What if?


How often have you placed limitations on yourself because of your age? Here’s the fact of the matter: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is a myth! Don’t believe it! Your mindset will defeat the credibility of this old adage.

So Let’s Flip the Quip

Be open to new ideas. Embrace positive changes. Demonstrate an uncompromising commitment for transformation. Activate your trust and faith muscles.

Know that your concerns are surfacing because you are poised to do a new thing. And just think: If you don’t step out now in love, courage, determination and faith, you’ll never know what you’re made of.

I’ve always said that I will never let an old person into my body. That is, I don’t believe in ‘thinking’ old. Don’t program yourself to break down as you age with thoughts that decline is inevitable.

— Wayne Dyer

Vulnerability and authenticity are associated with risk-taking. But any challenging pursuit worth your undertaking can be daunting. When I decided to start my wellness business at the age of 62, I wasn’t thinking about age. I had “graduated” from my 32-year career as a public school educator and wanted to continue my life of service, but in a different way.

After overcoming my own health challenges naturopathically and getting health certified, I decided to dedicate the second half of my life to helping mature and seasoned women live their best lives by reclaiming their health, confidence, purpose and power.

Was I uncomfortable? Was I shaking in my stilettos? Absolutely! But I knew there was important work for me to do. As an Inspired Aging Motivational Speaker and Holistic Coach, I am in my purpose and enjoying the journey.

Our Self-Imposed Age Limitations Block Us from Progress

Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.

— Jackie Joyner-Kersee

And it’s not just me; haven’t you seen countless boomer women immersed in their passions, fulfilling their purpose, doing amazing things in midlife, and inspiring others to jump on board?

For example, 86-year-old Ernestine Shepherd started working out for the first time at 56 and became the oldest female body builder in the world. She has written a book and is still running fitness classes that are filled to capacity. Her motto is: Age is nothing but a number.

There’s no better time than now to recapture your dream and gallantly charge forth. Perhaps the following four tips will give you the encouragement you need to get fully engaged:

Schedule Some Me-Time

For the next few weeks, spend time reflecting on what’s important to you. Jot down a list of your strengths, talents and interests. Pay attention to your feelings when making your list and notice which thoughts make you smile. You’ll want to focus on the gifts that make you feel joyous. Spending sacred time with yourself will help you gain clarity.              

Reflect on Your “Why”

Go deep! How long have you been pondering this dream? Why is this dream important to you? What would you love to experience? How will you feel when you are immersed in this experience? Think about how your dream will not only elevate you to higher levels, but also how your life’s work will serve others. Imagine the positive impact you will make. Remember: Your talent has no expiration date!

Ask for Help

We seldom get where we’re going alone. Share your vision and rally support from your community of believers. We need cheerleaders on our team. Arrange to periodically check in with a trusted friend or someone in your inner circle. Do you know someone else who is interested in growing her dream? Meeting with a prayer partner is a great way to hold each other accountable.

Be Curious and Open-Minded

Dream big – start small. Investigate your options. Use your imagination – it’s the secret to your creative power. What practical steps can you take today? For example, if you want to organize a run for a charitable cause that’s near and dear to your heart, find out what’s required. If you want to take violin lessons, inquire at your local music stores and spiritual centers, and check online for possible leads in your community.

One call, one contact will lead you closer to taking direct action. In other words, each step will help you gain momentum. Release your attachment to a specific form or outcome and be willing to receive something greater. Allow your light to shine brightly.

The Canine Connection

If Fitzherbert were alive today, perhaps he would be surprised to learn that current research states you can, indeed, train old dogs. And because my motivation for encouraging you began with this old adage, I just can’t resist sharing a personal, heart-warming canine story that quashes the quote in question.

My heart swells with love and pride as I think about my late, beloved poochie pal, Jon Jon, the Dobie we rescued from an abusive farm environment at the age of seven. The sting from his suffering softened, and within the first few months in his new, loving environment, he began to flourish. And he learned some “new tricks.”

Slow but true, Jon Jon won first place in obedience school and easily captured the hearts of the judges and other contestants. I want to emphasize that all of creation has the potential to excel at their own pace and at their own level – any time. Unlike our pets, however, we have a say in designing our destiny.

The Underlying Message Is Love

Muffling your treasure keeps you tight and inauthentic. You’re not here to heel and wait for the next command. Is it time for you to break free, release false notions and face your bright future? You must love yourself enough to honor your Divine talents.

And when love is combined with faith, courage and determination, there will be no stopping you. You’ve got to have moxie, girl! You’re in the zone – so don’t postpone – your dream! Get ready to learn some new tricks.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What dream have you placed on hold? What seems to be keeping you from moving forward? Imagine yourself fully and authentically contributing your talents to the world. Share how you feel.

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Cherlyn Williams

Very good article. I’ve been an organist and choir director for many years but this January I began taking violin lessons. Soon l’ll be starting tennis lessons. I’m 65 years young!


Fantastic, Cherlyn! New learning keeps us relevant and actively engaged. Blessings, TK😇

shaggy maggie

Thank you for the terrific pep-talk!


And thank you for commenting here, shaggy maggie! Best wishes on your next exciting pursuit. TK😇

Barbara Morgan

I am 65 in August this year and I just got back from a kayak trip. I take my inflatable kayak paddles life jacket supples from northern Ontario to Florida. People ask me why not just rent a kayak. I like to explore new rivers and places and renting isn’t an option. I go it alone because no one I know wants to kayak and take the “risk” of going to unknown places. This year I took a day and kayaked the Ichetucknee River. It was a hard upstream paddle but I revelled in the birds a manatee floating along with me and the quiet beauty of being one with nature. Until a young boy trying to maneuver his kayak, saw me and said to his friends “watch out for the old lady in the kayak”. I looked around to see where she was, that old lady. Didn’t need to look far.


You’re an inspiration, Barbara! Wishing you tons of fun as you plan your next adventure! No limits! TK😇

The Author

T. Kari Mitchell (TK), founder of Lifestyle 120, is an Inspired Aging Motivational Speaker & Integrative Wellness Coach. TK is dedicated to helping mature women flourish. Her Sprout Your New Life course provides women with tools to reclaim their health, confidence, purpose, and power so they can rock their golden years. Connect with TK at tk@lifestyle120.com.

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