Despite the liberalisation of retirement age and our ever-increasing lifespan, we remain stuck in traditional mindsets about how our lives will look once we are over 50. Gold carriage clocks and Over 50s Life Insurance aside, the idea that we will quietly hang up our briefcases the day before our 65th birthdays and then turn our attention to gardening seems extraordinarily arcane and yet that still appears to be what most of our employers expect.
We look at ourselves and see a switched-on, effective, up-to-date operator and can’t imagine retirement. We look at other people and can easily see slow, ineffective, out-of-date old duffers who ought to have been pensioned off years ago. Those other people may well be our own age. What goes on in our own minds is, sadly, not what is going on in the minds of those we work with. A lot our thinking is informed by lifelong conditioning and, dare I say it, decades of personal prejudice.
We all need to think differently about workers over 50 because if we’re not there already, we soon will be. But we also need to think differently about ourselves. Do we know enough? Are we up-to-date? Do we dismiss the interests and concerns of those a couple of decades younger? Ask yourself what – in your heart of hearts – you think about these things:
If you consider them all to be nonsense then, I’m sorry, but you ARE out of touch. If you think them all to be the province of millennials but not your generation then, again, you ARE out of touch. If you think they are things you ought to know about but don’t, well done, you’re getting there. If you could write 500 enthusiastic words about them then bravo, you’re keeping up (or you’re a millennial yourself).
Whether you are staying where you are, seeking new opportunities or setting up a new venture, your experience is only half of what you need and sometimes the less important half. What you also need is to be relevant, open-minded and ageless because you can be certain that you will be working with – or even for – people who are firmly embedded in the 21st century. The grey hair and wrinkles may well set you at an instant disadvantage, so don’t let your knowledge and attitudes push you further back.