guest post: age is a state of mind

Today’s post is another contribution from brip blap’s most frequent guest writer, Curmudgeon.  I like the list he incorporates in this article, and I’m doing alright on 3 of the 4…:

Young & Old, Let's Get it On!
I am fifty years old.
More or less (and it is not less).  I’m gainfully employed at a full-time job (the last time I changed jobs was just under a year ago), in what might be considered a middle management position, with a salary hovering around six figures.  I also have my own business that brings in perhaps half again that amount of income.  I live in a moderate-cost area of the United States, and this income is much more than sufficient to take care of my needs and wants.  I work largely at home, but have to be somewhat visible to both my employer and my clients, so I get into a car once or twice a week, and an airplane perhaps once a month.  More often, I get on webcasts.

Most of the industries I’ve worked in have been volatile. The one I am currently in is most definitely in decline; employment in the industry as a whole has probably shrunk by about a third over the last decade or so.  I have certain skills that make me more valuable in this industry, but they also require that industry to pay me more than the average bear.  My current employer laid off over ten percent of the company at the end of last year, but my job is secure for at least the foreseeable future.

In a recent post, Steve wonders if his resume is being rejected for new employment because he has, well, too much experience. That has prompted me to answer his muse in some fashion.  Have I at all suffered from age discrimination?  I have no idea.  My standard resume lists jobs going back to circa 1980 or so; the hair that I have left is approximately fifty percent gray, with no artificial coloring.  I am certainly a candidate for such a response.

Interestingly enough, though, most people guess my age at almost a decade less than my true chronological age. Perhaps some of that is due to genes (I can guarantee that none of it is due to Botox), but I would like to posit that most of it is due to a high energy level, willingness to question my own beliefs and experiences, and perhaps most important, willingness to learn radically new things.  I Twitter (though not under the Curmudgeon sobriquet), have several hundred LinkedIn partners, and IM with dozens of people that I have never met over the course of a week.

My boss is fifteen years younger than me. Does that make me inferior to him?  Of course not; it merely means that we have different career paths.  I respect him for his position, and he has come to depend on me for my knowledge and experience.

What is the lesson for those of you here who are aging, gracefully or not?  Try these:

  1. Keep an open mind. If you don’t honestly consider new ideas and incorporate the good ones into your point of view, you are old whether you are 20 or 70.
  2. Learn something new every day. Don’t skip a day, no matter how miserable you feel.
  3. Exercise regularly and vigorously. It’s not that hard if you set up a routine, and the more vigor that you show in your exercise, the more you show in your job.
  4. Treat everyone as an equal, and with respect. The executives will think you’re one of them, and the twenty-somethings will die for you because no one has ever listened to them before.

You can’t stop the forces of Time.  But you can behave in a way that does you credit, no matter what your age.  Give it a try.

photo credit: AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker