“Turning 50 Is Extremely Liberating”: One Woman’s Path to Her Dream Job

This is a Born for This case study. (Read others or nominate a friend or yourself.)

I love second act stories! It’s never too late (or too early, for that matter) to create a new life for yourself and change the world while you’re at it. Tonya Hobbs took a big risk, and she couldn’t be happier.

Here’s her story:

Finding the work I was born to do was the result of a full-blown, midlife-crisis. I had changed careers and returned to school for a master’s degree in social work at age 40, but as 50 approached I was plagued by the question “Is this all there is?”

I worked in a field I loved. My job was never done. Yet I longed for something more… I just had no idea what “more” really meant.


Tonya Hobbs, founder of Kymari House.

Reading The Art of Non-Conformity helped me take an honest look at my life and realize I wanted to work for myself in an enterprise of my own making. What I longed for—but had never been able to really put my finger on—was to create something totally new that would be useful to the world.

From there, Kymari House, a nonprofit agency providing services for children who are separated from their parents, was born. It has not been a smooth road, but I’ve learned so much about what drives me and how to succeed (and fail!) along the way.


One of the Kymari House visitors.

Turning 50 is extremely liberating.

At 50, I became aware that it was truly now or never. There was no more putting off or deferring my own satisfaction. I had no choice but to take chances I wouldn’t have at age 30. I actually wish I had been more brave at a younger age, but I know for certain I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be now.

It’s OK to start with nothing.

My partner Jeff Puster and I started Kymari House in 2012 with absolutely zero money, zero prospects, and zero idea how much work would be involved in bringing this enterprise to life. But we’ve managed to consistently grow the budget: it was $15K the first year, $78K the second year, and $95K at the end of the third year. We’re currently in our fourth year and are on track for a budget of around $120K.

Working a side job isn’t a sign of failure, it’s a path to success.

I worked multiple part-time jobs while growing Kymari House, and I still do side work so that I don’t have to rely solely on the agency for all of my income. I’ve grown very comfortable not having all my financial eggs in one basket and relying on myself.


The road was long, but Tonya’s dream job was waiting at the end.

By stepping off the beaten path, I found the work I was born to do.

If I had continued to follow “traditional wisdom” and make safe, respectable choices, Kymari House would never have existed, and I would be wasted and miserable. When I stopped following the rules (which in my experience are generally made for the benefit of others), I found a bright future and an adventure waiting for me each day.

Amazing things come out of the ether when you’re operating from that place of absolute truth.

After committing to my authentic passion with everything I have, the universe really has made a place for what I’m creating. I can’t tell you how many times the perfect solution to a problem just landed on our doorstep, completely out of the blue.

Life is not meant to be lived just running out the clock.

I firmly believe that what we do for a living needs to be connected to our innate passions, or else it’s just drudgery. Find that inspiration, no matter how many rules you have to break, or people you have to alarm. Today, I know I have more plans and ideas than I will ever be able to fully explore.

Learn more about Tonya and Kymari House here, and follow them on Twitter @kymarihouse.

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