You look around yourself at work. Every new hire is well under the age of 30 and the number of co-workers in their 50s and 60s seems to be rapidly vanishing. As you get into your 60s, you can’t help but wonder, “Am I next?”
Or you’re in real estate, or a consultant, a professional, or other solo flyer and you realize that your clients are getting younger and younger. How much longer will they consider your services valuable?
The short answer? As long as you do!
No, really, I kid you not. Studies have shown that there’s a major difference in attitude with older workers. There are those who are happy in their jobs and careers, still “moving and grooving” and those who are unhappy and basically just surviving.
Some time ago, I had the pleasure of working with a then 68-year-old oral surgeon in my capacity as a trial consultant. She is still greatly sought after by patients, despite her white hair, wrinkles, and impressive trifocals. Contrast this with the 59-year-old vascular surgeon I worked with whose practice is rapidly diminishing. He is looking for a way to retire as soon as possible.
He’s fed up with having to keep up with the advances in his field (which he resists at all costs). He is impatient with the increasing unwillingness of patients to rely solely on his recommended modes of treatment. He says, “I’m getting too old for this.”
His comment is telling. The vascular surgeon wants to do things the way he always has done them. He is failing to recognize or accept that change is inevitable. The oral surgeon, on the other hand, enjoys keeping up with the new technologies and procedures in her field. She attends seminars, reads the latest research, chats with colleagues of all ages to learn how they are doing things.
She accepts patients’ googling everything under the sun or trying alternative therapies. She gives their investigative attempts serious consideration. In a word, she moves with the times, not against them.
It is not our years that age us, it is our unwillingness to engage in the present or the future. It is our stubborn attachment to the past that relegates us to the useless and unwanted.
Not only that, but it makes us feel bad. Those who resist learning or updating their skills, and choose to avoid involvement in workplace changes or initiatives end up feeling overwhelmed by the demands of their work. They feel negatively perceived because of their age.
This is not to say that we need to embrace everything new and drop all that we have developed or learned before. But rather, that the great advantage of our years is that we DO have the experience of all that came before. When we then integrate what is new into our existing body of knowledge, we come out stronger and wiser.
That is the great gift we have to give our customers, clients, employers, and co-workers. All that we have learned, combined judiciously with all that we are learning and have yet to learn.
Instead of looking at developing new skills or ways of doing things as a hardship, think of new learning as a chance to be young again.
Isn’t that what youth is all about? From infancy to adulthood, life is primarily about learning, about discovering all manner of things about ourselves, the world we live in, and those we interact with.
Why stop because you’ve hit 60 or 70? On the contrary, life is more exciting and enlivening the more we actively and wholeheartedly engage in it.
Go for it! Welcome that new whatever, and have fun with it! You are better, wiser and more capable than ever before – as long as you let yourself be so.
Do you see learning new things as a way developing new skills or as a hardship? Do you think of new learning as a chance to feel young again?
Tags Getting Older