I see the experience and results generally getting better over time (I swear I am not an optimist by nature). I now have the time to work on what interests me, and at my own pace.
What I'm getting around to is that just about every former colleague I'm in touch with that excelled at programming is still programming. To be able to do that for decades, you have to remain open-minded and adaptable, because the technological rug gets pulled out from under you all the time.
I've just admitted I'm not so much an expert on on anything anymore. However, with all the new techs popping up every five minutes, there's plenty of bleeding-edge stuff that nobody is an expert on...and that there is a niche, my friend.
To exploit it one must: learn, research, suffer, take notes, research more, suffer some more, give up, stubbornly try again, and eventually succeed. That is called experience, which is not the same as expertise, but it is valuable nonetheless.