CAREER TRANSITIONS- QUESTION(S)
If your are a person in the 50+ demographic, are you ready to find your calling in life?
The transition from a long 30-35 years in the corporate life to a for-profit small business or a non-profit social enterprise is not an easy one; especially if your not in your young body anymore.
If your already standing at the side of the encore stage, what need in the world will ignite your passions in your heart, tap into your personal gifts and educational background, and bring new vitality to all?
Isn’t it time to think of seniors 50 plus as entrepreneurs or even active and productive encore career participants, and not the traditional image of seniors as primarily being unproductive and only concerned about entitlements. So, where does this traditional negative image of seniors come from?
PLAYING ‘OLD PERSON’
An example of trying to define the traditional negative image of seniors is found in the book titled, ‘Enjoy Old Age’ written by authors, B.F. Skinner and M.E. Vaughn. These authors explain that all the world’s a stage, and you are not the first to play the part of Old Person. The audience has seen the play thousands of times and knows your lines better than you do. The role you are expected to play is not flattering. The Old Persons who have walked the boards before you have been crotchety, stingy, boastful, boring, demanding, and arrogant. They have complained of their illnesses and many other things. The audience expects such a performance and will not tolerate many changes. And just as an audience will laugh at everything a great comedian says, so it will interpret your slightest gesture as the skillful portrayal of a familiar, and usually unpleasant, character.
UNCHARTED COURSE- DRESS REHERSAL
The Reverend Sam Shafer, a parish priest living in Oakland, California stated three questions to help you find your calling in life.
1) Who am I? Distill what you have discovered about yourself during your life and uncover the attributes that have been elusive or buried for a long time. It is also helpful if you are nobody but yourself in a world that is always trying to make you everybody else. Fight one of the hardest battles a human being can fight……discover a new purpose in life that will require you to live more authentically. Do not bend to the outside forces around you.
2) How do I function best? How are you wired and in what circumstances do you perform best? What natural talents and learned skills do you have to contribute? You may have knowledge of your abilities, but other gifts may be waiting to be discovered. You need to carefully assess your natural talents, favorite skills, and the fields of knowledge you have gravitated towards most of your life. What have you been praised for doing well? What experiences have you had that ignited a passion?
3) Why am I here? Take a leap of faith that you were put here for a purpose, that you have been given gifts you require to achieve your mission. What is the place that you can provide the greatest good? Finding that place may not be easy, clear, or concise because it is a work in progress.
A providential force beyond your control is always going before you and opening doors for you to walk through. It may take two to three years of shedding old ways of thinking and then you will discover your heartfelt passions. New pathways will become clear. Remember that the journey is an integral part of the mission, and both the passionate heart and the needs of the world are constantly changing.
This is the most exciting time for most seniors 50 plus who want to become more active, creative and productive in their own pre-retirement or retirement life. When your standing at the side of the encore stage think about people like Paul McCartney, 71 year old musician who tirelessly gives 3 hour performances at an unheard of number of new live concert appearances every year OR Susan Boyle, 50 years old who stood at the side of the encore stage in a Britain’s Got Talent appearance and boldly declared that “I’m going to rock this audience,” and she did putting on a stellar performance even though the crowd initially was laughing and snickering.
Cicero in the middle ages said that life is a play with a badly written last act. If this is not your particular fate you’ll need to find out HOW you can play the ‘old person’ in modern dress and more important to learn some new lines and a new stage business.
A GREAT PERFORMANCE
Again, B.F. Skinner in the book, Enjoy Old Age’ said that “when played with skill the part of ‘old person’ is marked by tranquility, wisdom, freedom, dignity, and a sense of humor. Almost everyone would like to play it that way, but few have the courage to try.’
If only a few seniors have the courage to re-invent or re-educate themselves to have a great performance, then I think we’ll need to create and set-up ‘special workshops’ to facilitate a new senior’s mindset; and then provide some hands-on mentoring in such a way that everyone who plays ‘old person’ will give a better performance.
Also, I think it’s important to say that all the seniors cannot be placed in the same box. Every senior including myself are different as individuals. Many seniors will need economic security since in Canada we still have 300,000 seniors struggling and living below the poverty line. Seniors will need multiple sources of income to balance the present and future high cost of living that can be very challenging for most seniors trying to live on a fixed income. I suggest that the Federal Government could seriously consider a ‘Guaranteed Annual Income’ which could act as an economic foundation for ALL seniors. This development will allow seniors to get back on the encore stage, without having to worry about paying off the mortgage, paying the rent, or even having some extra money to play a round of golf, or possibly startup a small business or pursue an Encore Career.