Is time passing you by? Age sneaking up on you? What do you feel right now?
It is fascinating the different mindset and attitude about time, age and what is considered ‘old’ or ‘too old’…
Think of Japan and the Far East in general, they have enormous respect for age, their elders and the advice and experience they gain gain from communicating with and listening to their elders. These communities also tend to have great longevity and high activity levels and far better resistance to disease.
Here in France (where I have lived and worked for over 10 years) it is the opposite. When I arrived here I was 46. I thought and felt I was active, dynamic and in the absolute prime of life with a world of opportunities in front of me – I was told in no uncertain terms that at 40 you are past it! One of the very few times in my life that I have actually been rendered speechless…
In the States, I have been told that people work until they are ‘old’ – they seem to be talking late sixties – but I have been given the impression that respect is decidedly lacking at that age and that it is youth and beauty that seem to be considered more valuable and successful. However, I have to say I know some real high flyers over there, one in particular who is 73, has worked amazingly successfully all his life and is still up there with the best of them and doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down or have any lessening of respect, but maybe he is an exception.
In the UK experience (with age) is valued and, except for certain industries, there doesn’t seem to be any particularly push to make people stop working early nor the feeling that they are ‘past it’ at a certain age.
I was 58 last birthday. My close circle of friends covers all ages and several nationalities but thinking of those who are my age and older, none of us have any feeling of being old or past it. We don’t feel we need (nor do we want) to slow down. We still like being crazy, adventurous, spontaneous and active. We are still creative and dynamic.
However, I think a lot of this is down to our mindset… Crazy, adventurous and spontaneous are probably quite important words in the last paragraph. We were all brought up to be independent, self-starters, to think outside of the box and to make things happen. We were brought up to lead more than to follow – probably made us ‘challenging’ as employees – lol. I think we are very lucky and obviously we encourage each other to really ‘go for it’, to do things differently like some rebellious club of naughty teenagers at times 😉
Many of my clients, particularly corporate, are stressed by getting older, worried about being pushed out of their position by the up and coming youngsters; or even worse, having devoted themselves to their career they don’t know what to do in their (forced?) retirement.
What do I say to them? Look at their talents, their skills, their youthful dreams, their valuable and well-earned experience and then refocus what they have. I tell them to think about it as though it was their best friend that they were talking to – we always believe in and support our best friend, we see their skills and talents even when they feel unsure – so what would they advise their best friend to do so they have fun, activity and a new and exciting direction for the future?
Do you ever get that feeling? What would you say to them? What advice would you give? Now can you do that for yourself?
When we think of passing 50, or of retiring, not as being the beginning of the end but the start of a great new and golden opportunity to do all the things that interest us, that we have always wanted to try but never had the time or the courage for before, we can see that far from it being a trip down the slippery slope waiting for the grim reaper but in fact a delightful and graceful step into a whole new, fresh and enticing world to dance in!