Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.David Bowie
The fact is, we are living in an aging world where the old(er) are starting to outnumber the young(er). Due to a number of factors, we are living longer and facing the unprecedented challenges that longevity creates. Due to financial pressures, many of us have a need to remain in the workforce longer and we yearn for more meaning in our lives as we grow older. Changing careers or looking for work can be a daunting task for the aging and it creates undue levels of stress, anxiety and fear.
Unfortunately we are too often bombarded with negativity in regards to our aging. Age discrimination can be more subtle than gender bias or race discrimination, but it is likely more widespread since it spans all races and genders and is no respecter of persons. How old is too old? The answer to that question varies in every situation and the real key is to challenge the paradigm and shift the thinking.
If you think you are too old to…
- Start a new career
- Look for a job
- Begin a new relationship
- Take on a new challenge
… then the problem likely isn’t with your age, it is with your attitude. If YOU think you are too old, why shouldn’t someone else think the same thing? Before you can convince your boss to give you a new project or a hiring manager to give you a chance, you first have to convince yourself that you aren’t too old.
Here are 6 things you can do to attack the myth that you are too old.
Learn to turn negatives into positives
For every negative, there is a corresponding positive to balance it. Instead of wasting your time focusing on the negatives and lamenting them, spend your time finding and exploiting the positives that counteract it. Anticipate the barriers you will be facing in a job interview or a pitch for a new project and diffuse the negatives by making the positives a part of your presentation.
Emphasize your experience
This is a strength you possess, so use it to its fullest. You have paid your dues and been through the school of hard knocks. You can offer stability, maturity and wisdom, so be sure to highlight those areas and make them shine. Your story is worth telling, so take the time to refine it and deliver it with conviction.
Stay hungry and show enthusiasm
One of the criticisms of older workers is they have lost their fire and enthusiasm. You need to make sure you exhibit passion in your body language, your words and your attitude. Demonstrate you are hungry by taking on projects others avoid and make them meaningful. Find ways to add value where others won’t.
Keep learning and add skills
Another criticism is that older workers avoid training and career development. Make sure that isn’t true of you. Always take advantage of opportunities to learn. There are many free online courses you can take to enhance your skills or add new tools to your toolbox. The more you know, the more valuable you become.
Adapt to change
Avoid the clichéd approach of ‘we’ve always done it this way’ and be a risk taker. Don’t be afraid to try new things and learn new technologies. You may be an old dog, but you can and should learn new tricks, and you might find you even like it.
Stay healthy and active
Being young at heart starts with feeling young. Check your diet and make some changes. Eat healthy and learn to control portions. Drop those extra pounds and get active to increase your metabolism and energy levels. You will be surprised at how much younger you can look and feel with a few simple changes.
Have a strong work ethic
Avoid giving the impression you are looking for special treatment or concessions. Always be on time (or better, early). Don’t be the first one out the door in the afternoons. Build a reputation as someone who is a problem solver. Have a ‘can do’ attitude when asked to complete a task. People are more interested in finding solutions than better understanding the problems.
Don’t be a complainer! There are people in life who take energy and there are those who give energy. Be a giver.