Relevance. That word is burned into my temporal lobe. I am a player who wants to keep playing. No time outs, no showers. I am in it, to win it. Until the dirt nap. When I am interviewing, relevance is always there in the conversation, usually couched as “at your stage of the game”.
Acutely aware of the ageism trap, they will invariably ask me why I want the position at this time of my life. Why would I want to put myself through the aggravation? I get it.
I understand an honest question deserves an honest answer. Because I want to remain relevant. I want to be valued for my life experiences as well as my technical skills, my people skills and my drive. My engine’s still revving.
It doesn’t put an end to the queries though. They will keep finding different ways to ask the same question. But I like the question. It deserves an answer. I like answering it.
I am not the only septuagenarian who still wants to be seen, heard and appreciated. We all want more than just the ability to fog a mirror. Ask any old coot a question on just about anything under the sun, and I guarantee you’ll get more than the cliff notes.
Most will go into a windup before the pitch so they can regale you with how they handled that particular problem when they were captains of industry, a business owner, or a star athlete in college. You see it in their eyes. “Those were the days, kid”
I get the “good old days” from guys decades younger than me, too. Their relevance has been diminished through time and inattention. After life has twisted its way around them, they fade. Like us all.
So your 401K gets wiped out, or you made some bad investments, a death, a natural disaster, any of which could pour you back into the workforce uninvited . We never know.
If your idea of workforce means something other than stocking shelves in a Safeway supermarket at three o’clock in the morning, then we understand each other.
At 71, on paper, I’m not getting the call. But if they meet me, and they see I’m I’m still vertical, with a pulse, brimming with energy, then we get somewhere. The game changes. For me, showing up is always the clincher.
The first thing is we need to take care of ourselves. That means doing more than golf or walking the dog. It means staying flexible, mentally and physically. It means staying current. It means cardiorespiratory, it means some form of resistance training. So you can present yourself as the vibrant, healthy, contributor that you are. Deliberately. If you feel good, you look good.
Your doctor, most likely, will be more than happy to give you something to wash away your blues, or medicate your neck pain without getting to the cause. Been there. I was told I was all washed up while still in my fifties. “You are getting older, you know, you’re bound to experience some pain in your joints and muscles.” Wrong!
Nothing beats a person down quicker than being passed over or ignored, whether it’s a love interest or a job opportunity. You need that at this stage of your game? In most cases, a firm “no” would be a mercy killing. Silence can be deafening.
Stay relevant, it’s earlier than you think. 🙂